I Bought 5 Cheap A$$ Basses (To See if They Sucked)

Do $100 basses actually work? Find out in this cheap bass shootout. No affiliates, no sponsors, no punches pulled.

0:00 - Do you get what you pay for?
0:48 - How I Reviewed the Basses
1:45 - Tone Battle: Rock
2:14 - Tone Battle: Motown
2:54 - Tone Battle: Pick
3:32 - Tone Battle: Slap
4:45 - Glarry GP
5:39 - Harley Benton PB-20
6:37 - Z ZTDM
7:31 - Polar Aurora
8:42 - Ebay Mystery Bass
9:14 - And the Winner Is… (+Why)
10:33 - Blind “Tone-Off” with Pricier Bass
11:32 - The Reveal: Did You Guess Right?
12:10 - Were They Any Good?
13:05 - Why Not Buy Used?
14:04 - General Buying Tips

Cheap Bass Links

Here are the five cheap basses I reviewed, in order, with some ‘interesting’ highlights from their product pages:

Glarry GP - https://www.glarrymusic.com/glarry-precision-electric-bass-guitar-p7.html

Good source for tech specs, plus more reviews. However, I clearly read this - “Buy a guitar and we will send a rich gift package.” Still waiting on my treasure chest, guys!

Harley Benton PB-20 - https://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_hbp120bk_ebass.htm

You can read a bunch more reviews on this page, which largely reflect my experience with this instrument in the video. Kudos to Harley Benton (and Glarry) for posting detailed specs on an instrument this cheap.

Z ZTDM - https://www.amazon.com/ZTDM-Electric-Exquisite-Burning-Student/dp/B083GR5HCY/

“A perfect instrument for emitting wonderful bass effect” - I read this sentence weeks ago and I still think about it sometimes. My main goal is life is just to emit a wonderful bass effect.

Polar Aurora - https://www.amazon.com/Polar-Aurora-Strings-Electric-Guitar/dp/B014IHHQ4I/

Tired of basses made out of rubber and foam that bend when you’re trying to play? Fear not - “the electric bass guitar is made up of a wooden body, which is characterized by firmness that allows you to play freely.” Revolutionary!

(note: this company has already disappeared since I did these reviews)

Ebay “New Professional” Bass - https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Professional-Golden-4-String-Electric-Bass-Guitar/312807244866

The cheapest of the bunch. According to this page, “To create faultless bass effect, you can not lack a professional bass guitar during guitar performance.” Can’t argue with that! Usually “professional” bass guitars have a brand name though…


Thanks to everyone who helped me pick out these basses!

What do y’all think? Cheapo fan, or brand names all the way?

19 Likes

Great video @JoshFossgreen! You may recall when I started playing bass a couple years ago, I purchased an $89 bass from Amazon to see if I would like it. Now, several thousand $$$$ later I’m still playing bass, so I guess I like it LOL. I was hoping to see my $89 bass in this roundup. It actually didn’t sound too bad to my untrained ears, but it did serve its purpose. I only kept it about a month before switching to the Yamaha BB235.

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Great video @JoshFossgreen! Not surprised that no school responded to your offer of donation. It’s a shame that Boards of Education have cut back funding for things like music programs and industrial arts classes.
PS: Especially liked the kittens.

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It’s all about the diet.

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My first one was I believe its Slovenian made Flight EJB 10 SB. It was around 130$ new. I still have it, it could use a fret and nut leveling so it could have lower action, but rest of the stuff is pretty amazing for the price.

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So I’m curious, I have a Sterling Sub 4 that I bought a few years ago for ~300 bucks and I was wondering if it’s worth it to throw money at it with a new pickup? Or save up for a newer bass?

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How does it sound?

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Really good vid, @JoshFossgreen. I don’t think people realize the potential for injury those fret wires can have. Had a little Hondo guitar when I was 13/14 which was my first, and the injuries were substantial. And of course I was new to it so I had no idea you could get someone to file those. Absolutely a dealbreaker. Someone could get turned off from playing because there’s just too much blood everywhere.

@Blazork - Sub 4’s are (typically) a nice guitar out of the box. What specifically do you want it to do that it isn’t doing for you?

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Agreed, they need to be filed down immediately!

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Hello @JoshFossgreen !

I remember when you were asking about cheap basses a few months ago (I suggested the Glary), and was wondering just last week if you were going to make the video. I glad you did!

I bought a used Squier and I built a nice Fender/Warmouth/Seymour Duncan/Hipshot PJ.

I always wondered about these bottom end basses, and I might consider one, but I’ve gotten hooked on satin finish necks. I would imagine these are all glossy necks, right?

As for future reviews, I’d like to see a shoot out between some mid-market basses like: MIM Fender, Sterling, Yamaha, Ibanez, etc. in the $500-$700 range. That’s a considerable investment for a test, I know, so I understand if you don’t do a test like that.

Thanks!

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I just got myself one of the new line.
Ive been into reading issues with those after @T_dub informed me about pup or pre amp being too hot and making distortion issues.
The one I received has none of those issues. I guess they solved them.
However if I received one which had issues Id surely do an upgrade.

Honestly once I got it and started pkaying with it I wouldnt change a thing. Unless down the line Id like to have more of a classic stingray sound with pup being in parallel.

But I dont see it happening soon.

However about upgrade vs new axe Id always go towards new bass, since even after upgrade it will still be stingray. I have that mindset where Id rather have one of everything, so I could develop taste and differences than stick to single one.
Unless your new axe would be higher level of stingray. In which case id still go for new bass.

That would explain me having jazz, ray and awaiting mustang. I just wonder what will be next.

And welcome to forums!

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It’s got an annoying fret buzz. When I got it, I took it to my local music store for a setup and the guy tried to get rid of it, but he eventually said “This is what you get for buying cheap guitars.”. Might take it somewhere else to get a setup and see if they are able to get rid of the buzz. The only real problem with the sound is the person playing it.

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Hopefully another setup will fix it. If a setup doesn’t fix it it might have a high fret and need fret filing. If that’s the case, for a $100 bass you may want to learn how yourself because it will most likely cost more than that.

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They all sound pretty good, I was surprised by the Glarry. It’s amazing that you can get a reasonably good, playable bass/guitar for so cheap now.

On his YT channel, Phil McKnight bought a Squier Affinity strat and then got it Plek’d (which costs more than the guitar)… and then he compared it to his favourite fender custom shop strat… he said the squier played as well as the more expensive guitar

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Let’s show some respect here, this is a ~300 dollar bass. But in all seriousness, you are correct, it is probably something I should learn how to do myself. I actually wanted to buy one of the Solo Guitar bass kits to get some more experience with setup and making sure everything works.

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Oh sorry! Missed that this was a sub4.

Yeah - I would say it’s probably worth pricing a fret leveling, or maybe even a PLEK or something. Or learning to do it. I have never done one but looked in to it - it’s not so bad but is a little labor intensive. Definitely will fill up an afternoon :slight_smile:

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Teaching yourself to do a setup IMHO is really useful. Not only does it save you money but I feel working on your own bass makes you appreciate it it more.

There are lots of great resources to learn how to setup a bass. Here’s a really clear example of what fret buzz is,what causes it and some of the methods to fix it. If you’ve got a specific question I may be able to help.

I bought a few relatively inexpensive guitars and took them all apart to mod them and rebuild them to see how they worked. Turns out it’s way easier than working on a truck engine - Fact.

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+1000. Everyone should learn how to, and do their own setups, IMO. Basic setups don’t require any tools other than a screwdriver and the allen wrenches that came with the bass and will improve things immensely. Don’t be put off by info online suggesting you need gauges, files, or other tools - you don’t, especially for the basics.

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Sorry, and maybe it’s just me, but if that’s his attitude about a $300 bass, I’d find a new guy. A $300 bass is not so “low end” that you have to deal with lousy performance from it. Sounds (to me) like he doesn’t know how else to try to fix it (or doesn’t want to bother) so he blames the bass. We’re not talking about a $59 ebay special here… Just my $0.02.

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Agree. I mean even if it was a $59 ebay special, you’re paying this guy for the service and that’s a BS response.

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