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The bass guitar is one of the most crucial instruments. Because bass is such a popular instrument, the bass guitar itself is also notable. So much so to where different limited edition and coveted models have emerged — many of them are today high up in the price range. What are the most expensive bass guitars? Here’s our comprehensive list.
Ever since the early 1950s, countless musicians have played the bass guitar. It’s the perfect bridge between melody and rhythm and is a popular instrument seen in rock, blues, jazz, funk, and more. There are many types of bass guitarists, such as the guys who casually plucks basic notes to keep up with the band all the way to Victor Wooten-esque innovators.
The Fender Mustang bass is most famous for its staple player — Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones. Wyman could be seen playing it between the years 1969 and 1970. This bass from 1969 was auctioned off at $384,000. In addition, the buyer received Wyman’s other gear and even an amp.
We can understand why someone would pay that much, aside from its legacy. The bass has a beautiful orange finish and stripes at the side. The bright colors and stripes were meant to attract younger players; instead, the bass attracted the bass player of one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
This beauty was designed by Jens Ritter, one of the best-known luthiers specializing in electric instruments. He’s especially famous for his custom guitars and basses with their exceptional design. Out of all of the ones he designed, no bass can compare to the Royal Flora Aurum.
But Ritter doesn’t sell this one for cheap. This one is currently priced at $250,000. It previously had the record of the most expensive bass until a lucky person bought Wyman’s bass.
So, who did Ritter make the Royal Flora Aurum for? We have no idea. All we know is bass players drool over its premium materials, the maple with the breathtaking quilted pattern, and its overall hand-designed quality.
But c’mon, that’s not what gives it the six-figure price, right? Ritter went all out with this one.
The fingerboard inlay features flowers made of 24-karat gold, with platinum-dipped black diamonds on each leaf. This bass is literally dripping in gold; the tuner, bridge, knobs, and buttons are all made of gold.
Not only that, but diamonds top each knob. The knob position marks are made of green diamonds. If this bass didn’t get any more extra, the nut is made of ivory from a 10,000-year-old Siberian Mammoth. Yes, you read that correctly. And by the way, the Siberian Mammoth is extinct.
If this isn’t the fanciest bass ever, then I don’t know what is.
No bass is more recognizable than the Hofner 5001 Violin Bass that was famously played by Sir Paul McCartney himself. He purchased it immediately when he moved from playing the piano to bass.
He played this bass until it was stolen (McCartney got his second bass in 1963 and plays it to this day). It was originally a right-handed bass, but since Paul McCartney is left-handed, he flipped it upside down in order to play it. At the time, McCartney bought it used for $45. It recently sold at an auction for over $204,000.
James Jamerson’s 1961 Fender Precision Bass
Motown bassist James Jamerson is one of the most legendary bass players in the world. He was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and is responsible for the bass lines in some of Motown’s greatest songs, from the 60s and 70s specifically.
Jamerson played a Fender Precision Bass from 1961. In 2017, his bass sold at an auction for over $68,000. While Jamerson’s bass still has the beautiful sunburst color, it’s faded due to years of being played. This is what truly makes his bass special.
Fodera Guitars is a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in handmade guitars and basses. The bass that Fodera made for “bass master” Anthony Jackson is one of their best and most expensive models.
For a true innovator like Jackson, Fodera needed to make a one-of-a-kind bass. This six-stringed bass went through years of adjustments and tweaks until it was up to Jackson’s desires. Presentation II has a heel-less attachment to the neck and body and a hollow body. The body is made of alder wood in a hybrid design while the top wood and back are made of hand-carved holly.
How much does this bass go for? Over $35,000.
If you take a look at this bass, you understand why it’s called “Goliath Bass.” As the name suggests, this bass has a double-neck. Played by bassist John Judge, this was the perfect bass for him since it gave this bass legend endless musical possibilities. It’s a custom model by Alembic and will set you back $30,000 if you buy it today.
This bass is made of zebrawood, mahogany, maple, ebony, and purpleheart. The inlay features a design of a dragon holding a maiden captive. Judge came up with that design since he loved mythology.
The Jazz Bass is one of Fender’s most iconic basses. They started making this bass in the early 1960s, trying to appeal to jazz bass players.
As time went on, this bass became one of Fender’s most legendary basses, but this notoriety has more to do than the quality.
Bass players loved the custom colors feature. This was a big feature that Fender offered their customers during the 50s and 60s. This was possible since Fender used the same paint that car makers used. This paint was widely available during this time. However, during the late 60s, Fender stopped offering this feature.
Now, Custom Color Basses are extremely rare. Fender came out with a limited supply of these basses in their original color for the 50th year anniversary. If you find a Custom Color Bass from this special, it will cost you $28,000.
Zemaitis Heart Hole Bass Guitar
Tony Zemaitis was a British luthier. He died in 2002, but you can still see his guitar designs today. Zemaitis is most famous because he made guitars for some of the biggest rock stars in the 60s, such as Eric Clapton.
All of his guitars were metal-fronted and his guitars were innovative for the period. This brings us to the Heart Hole Bass, which was the first bass designed with a, well, heart-shaped soundhole. The bass is made of abalone, mahogany, spruce, and rosewood. Obviously, the heart soundhole gives the bass its famous appearance.
Today, this bass is worth $25,000.
Gibson blew minds when they released the Thunderbird in the mid-1960s. They followed closely in Fender’s footsteps, giving their basses custom colors. Like the Fender basses, the Gibson Thunderbird IV in custom colors is no longer made. Some of the original colors are worth a pretty penny. The rarest one is the cardinal red color, which is worth $23,000.
Fender developed the Precision Bass Guitar in the 1950s. This bass was inspired by the changing music landscape. Bass players loved the deep undertones of a double bass but they were difficult to hear over modern electric guitars.
The Precision Bass was the solution. This electric bass was not only powerful but also portable and smaller than traditional upright basses. That’s why the Precision Bass made rock n’ roll history.
While Fender only ceased production of the Precision Bass in 2020, you can find these basses just about anywhere and for an affordable price. However, the ones in specific colors released in the 50s and 60s can cost you as much as $23,000.
Travis Bean was a world-renowned luthier and was overall known as an innovator. Instead of wood, Bean made his guitars with an aluminum neck. This makes Bean’s guitars heavy and sturdy, but with serious massive sound quality. Oh, and it also makes his guitars more expensive.
He has released some of the most unique guitars and basses, including the TB2000. Made in 1974, this bass is extremely rare. It has an aluminum nut while other Bean models feature brass nuts. This puts this guitar at $15,000.
We’re mentioning Ritter again. While the Roya Concept is still a high-end custom, this one can fit most budgets. That is, if you want an extremely amazing bass. This bass is still priced around $12,000 but you get what you pay for. Ritter uses high-quality materials such as alder, flamed maple, and ebony. For the extra bit of flair, Ritter puts bright blue nylon strings on this bass.
Answer: Bass guitars are more expensive than guitars. That’s because more raw materials are required to build a bass. Another common reason why guitars are priced lower is guitar brands sell more guitars than basses. Many companies raise the price of basses to ensure they can make their bottom line.
Answer: The best bass guitar ever is very subjective. However, these are some of the best and high-quality guitar brands that make exceptional basses:
• Ernie Ball
Answer: Basses traditionally have 4 strings, though you can find 5-string basses. Which one should you choose? Most players will be okay with a 4-string bass, especially if you’re just starting out. However, there are many reasons to have a 5-string bass. For example, if you plan on playing heavier music, a 5-string bass allows you to play heavier music without de-tuning your bass.
Answer: We’re not talking about music-heavy. We’re talking about weight heavy. And yes, basses tend to be heavier than guitars.
The bass guitar has lower frequencies than guitars. To achieve those lower frequencies, the bass has to be larger. This not only includes weight-wise but also length-wise. Basses also require heavier speakers and amps to push that sound. For smaller bass players, the size of the instrument and required gear are very challenging to use.
Answer: Bass players get the short end of the stick. They’re picked on and many consider them to be lower on the totem pole of musicians. One joke I hear constantly is “bassists are failed guitar players.” But is that really true? Most bass players are not failed guitar players. Actually, many bass players I know picked up a bass before even touching a guitar.
However, this stereotype is famous because there are many guitar players who transition to bass. But there are many reasons why that happens, and not always because the bassist failed as a guitar player. Some guitar players realize the bass works better for their skill.
Some guitar players picked up the bass to join a band and ended up liking bass better. Many guitar players are also skilled bassists and go back and forth between the instruments.
Understand that bass is a harder instrument than you think, especially if you seriously want to play those fire basslines. I tried playing bass in high school and man, I got more than I bargained for.
Answer: Bass strings are significantly larger and more durable than guitar strings. You may wonder if bass strings ever break or if you need to ever replace your bass strings.
Bass strings can break, though not as easily as guitar strings. Common reasons why bass strings break include incorrect tuning, aggressive playing, and general flaws with the instrument.
The bass guitar is one of the most significant instruments in a variety of musical genres. It’s no surprise that some legendary basses have been created — and many of them cost a pretty penny.
Even certain features, such as a specific color, can separate a bass costing one grand to over ten grand! From Jens Ritter custom masterpieces to iconic basses from major brands like Fender, don’t attempt to buy these basses unless you plan on shelling out some serious cash.