If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
In the pursuit of acoustic excellence, bespoke craftsmanship is the holy grail. There are endless prefabricated possibilities when searching for the perfect electric bass guitar. However, bass players will tell you that there isn’t anything quite like making your sound unique with an instrument of your own construction. One of one sound, from a one of one instrument.
Though the first bass guitar was built in 1935 by Audiovox, it was not until 1951 that it became popular with musicians, en masse, thanks to Fender and the Precision-Bass, or P-Bass for short. In 1960, Fender added to the bass guitar options with the Jazz bass. This version was meant to focus more heavily on the upper and middle ranges of bass playing, in contrast to the P-Bass, which stuck to the depth of the lower tones.
What You Need to Know About Electric Bass Guitar Bodies
There are two varieties of bass constructions: solid-body and hollow-body, each with their own nuances. The main difference in each design is with reference to resonating chambers. Solid-body guitars are able to be amplified louder without kicking much feedback, they can produce longer sustain than hollow-bodies, and because of their lack of resonating chambers, their design can be nearly as creative as your brain can dream.
Hollow-body guitars have a classic sound association; think jazz or folk, and genres that tend toward a more acoustic tonality. Where solid-body guitars offer those deep, rich, entrancing low frequency vibes, hollow-body constructions offer warmer low-tones and a slightly more soulful approach, depending on who you ask.
There isn’t a right or wrong design choice, it is purely a matter of tonal preference and design aesthetic opportunities. Our list provides a simple starting point for bodies to consider.
1. Fender Alder Precision Bass
Fender’s solid body is made from alder wood and is a prototypical bass body for any newbie looking to become a bass connoisseur.
This unit comes with pre-drilled holes for easy mounting and an elegant glossy finish. The body is configured for a traditional split single-coil pickup.
Alder wood, meantime, has wonderful qualitative hallmarks, creating balanced tones, with rich and clear sound.
Fender is one of the best-known names in guitars, and this bass guitar body is crafted at Fender’s workshop in Ensenada, Mexico.
PROS: Already stunningly painted.
CONS: Limited finish options.
2. Unfinished PJM Bass
A stunningly simple base model design that leaves room for endless customization potential. Well-made and crafted from a durable, solid wood body, the uncoated design lets you select your paint and finish of choice.
Pre-drilled holes make it easy to add your components.
PROS: Lighter body weight than others making it extra easy to slap the bass.
CONS: Some users have remarked the body needs some extra sanding.
3. Electric JB Bass Guitar
Solid body construction makes this jazz-esque guitar a great starting place for a custom rig. There is minimal sanding required, and the neck and controls fits easily into the grooves provided.
What we like: the sculpted curves make this a sophisticated choice for building your bass guitar. Sound is warm and nuanced.
PROS: Modeled after super premium guitars of the genre.
CONS: Some users have remarked the solid body design makes for a heavier overall build.