The 4 Best Cheap Fretless Bass Guitars – Reviews 2023

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So why get a fretless bass? Well, a bass guitar on its own is not an easy instrument to master, and there’s always the next level. Fretless bass guitars have been around for a long time. In recent years, this design has spiked in popularity due to many bass players looking for a challenge as well as more creative freedom.

When it comes to cheap fretless basses, you want something that features good materials, decent build quality and proper hardware. Today, we are going to show you our top picks for this category and talk about what makes them a good choice. So without further ado . . .

Here are our reviews of the 4 best cheap fretless bass guitars on the market:

Stagg BC300FL Fretless 4-String Fusion Electric Bass Guitar

Stagg’s BC300FL comes in as a very stylish ticket to the world of fretless bass guitars. They have used the standard Super Strat body shape, while the tonewood selection came down to alder. The neck is a solid maple piece with a rosewood fretboard on top.

All in all, the whole thing is built very well. In terms of electronics, you get a P/J passive configuration that has a decent output as well as dynamic range. Hardware is about as good as you can expect it to be in this price range. You have a standard fixed bridge with adjustable saddles on one side while the headstock houses four die cast tuning machines.

Interestingly enough, Stagg went with a true fretless design, meaning that there are no fret lines on the fretboard. Right out of the box, this bass might sound a bit raw. However, that is easily taken care of by taking it in for a proper setup. Actually, a good setup job is recommended no matter what kind of stringed instrument you are going for. At the end of the day, this Stagg is easily among the best cheap fretless bass guitars you can find.

Stagg BC 300 FL Fretless Bass, Review and Demo, Best Budget Bass

ESP B-204SM Fretless Bass Guitar

Here is an option that has the looks to stand out from the crowd and the smooth, rich tone most players are seeking. You might expect a bass with a natural finish like this one to cost a pretty penny, but this fretless model from ESP provides an exceptional value for the quality of the sound and feel.

In terms of tonewoods, the ESP B-204SM uses a combination of ash and maple, with rosewood for the neck and fingerboard. This is a fairly common combination, giving the tone depth without making it muddy. It uses passive pickups with an active 3-band EQ that gives you a lot of control over the nuance of your sound. The five-piece neck uses a bolt-on design and feels solid in your hands, with a thin-U contour that’s comfortable to play, even for bassists with relatively short fingers.

We felt similarly about the hardware. It’s nothing fancy but it’s reliable, giving you consistent intonation so you can focus on your playing. That’s really what you’re looking for in an instrument in this price-range. Overall, it delivers an impressive combination of looks, feel, sound, and value.

ESP LTD B-204 Bass | Demo and Review

Ibanez Workshop SRF705

You can always count on Ibanez to deliver instruments that mix classic sound with innovative design, and they keep this trend going with the Ibanez Bass Workshop SRF705. The combination of piezo pickups, quality tonewoods, and the extended fingerboard gives it a sound and feel more similar to an upright bass. This makes it an especially good choice for jazz players, although it’s versatile enough for any genre.

The extended neck is one of the features that sets this model apart from other basses in the SR line. It gives the SRF705 a wider range than other electric basses, expanding the sonic potential of the instrument. The piezo pickups use Ibanez’ proprietary AeroSilk technology to give you independent control over each string, letting you achieve the perfect balance between your strings. Since the controls are set into the back of the bass, it doesn’t take away from the clean, modern aesthetic of this impressive instrument. This is easily one of the best cheap fretless bass guitars.

Schecter Stiletto Session-4 Fretless Bass Guitar

Schecter’s are especially beloved in the jazz world, but have a following in a diverse range of genres, from metal to pop and everything in between. Schecter’s instruments have an aesthetic appeal and precision craftsmanship you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere at the price point.

The Stiletto uses swamp ash for the body with a maple neck. The asymmetrical body and natural wood finish give it a distinctive visual appeal. Sonically, it’s a versatile instrument with a balanced, complex tones from the EMG pickups. The adjustable bridge lets you set the action to your comfort standards and holds the intonation solid once it’s set. The Schecter Stiletto is a bit pricier than some of these other options, but it’s still cheap for a fretless bass, especially when you consider the quality.

All About The Bass - Schecter Basses

Cheap Fretless Bass Conclusion

Shopping for a cheap bass guitar, especially something as exotic as the fretless variety, requires a bit of caution. You are going to be run into compromises, which are absolutely normal. However, there are some things you don’t want to compromise on.

The most important ones are hardware and build quality. Hardware is essential because maintaining a key is far more important than sound. This is also ties into overall build quality. In this segment of the market, electronics are going to be more or less similar in terms of performance. You generally won’t find top-tier sound, but most modern affordable bass guitars sound rather decent.

The models we have listed above represent what we thing are the best choices on the market. This particular niche isn’t that forgiving to begin with, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find good solutions out there.

Just keep in mind that most of these guitars come out of the factory with a questionable setup. A change of strings, some work on the action and neck alignment can exponentially improve the way these bass guitars sound and perform. Either way, you definitely don’t have to nuke your bank account in order to get the best cheap fretless bass guitar. This is especially convenient for those who want something to practice on before going all in on a high end model. Good luck!

Written and Reviewed By

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

  • Marko is the senior editor and writer on Ultimate Guitar, the No. 1 guitar spot on the web, since early 2013. His work was also featured on a variety of other notable gear spots such as Guitar Fella, Consordini, and, of course, Song Simian. His musical journey began at a very young age, and he finally opted to pick up an instrument in his early teenage years. A fan of King Crimson. A travel enthusiast.

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