There is no disputing it.
Fender makes amazing basses.
But that greatness comes with a hefty price tag that puts these instruments out of reach for most of us.
Luckily, Fender’s subsidiary Squier comes to the rescue with their budget-friendly alternatives.
A standout in their offering is the Squier Bronco model.
It is simple and basic, but gives you a ton of value, considering the low price.
And it has an unusual pickup configuration, which results in a unique tone.
Let’s take a closer look at our pick for the best beginner bass guitar and find out if it is the right instrument for you.
Table of Contents
Squier By Fender Bronco Bass Review: Overview And Features
This bass got its name and overall design from Fender’s old Bronco 6-string guitar. Produced between 1967 and 1981, it was a cheaper version of the Fender Mustang guitar.
The same goes for the Squier Bronco bass. It features a classic Mustang-style body, but it is a stripped down instrument.
It only has basic features, but that helps keep the cost way down. And for what you pay, you get a pretty amazing bass guitar.
- Mustang-shaped body made of agathis wood
- Maple neck with a maple fretboard
- 19 medium-jumbo frets
- Fretboard radius of 9.5 inches
- 30-inch scale length
- One Fender-designed single-coil pickup in the middle position
- Volume and tone pots
- Vintage-style 2-saddle bridge
- Comes with several finish options
Design And Construction
The Squier Bronco has a body made out of agathis wood. As mentioned, it is fashioned after the Fender Bronco guitar, which was itself a cheaper version of the Mustang.
The Mustang body shape is accompanied by a bolt-on maple neck, featuring a classic maple fingerboard with 19 medium-jumbo frets. The fretboard has a 9.5-inch radius, which makes it fairly easy to play.
The Bronco has a shorter scale length, measuring only 30 inches. This is a noticeable difference from the standard bass scale length of 34 inches.
This trait, along with the overall simplicity, makes the Bronco bass a great choice for beginners. It is also perfect for those who prefer smaller basses, and those who just need a simple instrument.
Pickups And Tuners
One of the most noticeable traits is that it comes with just one single-coil pickup. On top of that, it’s located in the middle position, which results in a rather unique tone compared to many other basses.
It is a Fender-designed single-coil pickup that’s made especially for this particular bass model.
This bass has a fixed bridge and sealed die-cast tuning machines. The tuners are smooth and accurate and this instrument stays in tune well.
Advantages And Disadvantages
- Really simple to use, perfect for beginners
- Surprising qualities at this price
- Great for those who prefer smaller-sized basses
- Unique tone
- Decent build quality
- Single-coil pickup only makes it less versatile
Squier Bronco Vs Ibanez GSRM20
The market for cheaper basses is pretty diverse. And surprisingly, you can find some pretty great instruments in this price range.
Another great option is the Ibanez GSRM20. Like the Bronco, it is also known for its shorter scale length and overall simplicity, both in terms of functionality and aesthetics.
This cheap Ibanez comes with a more modern-oriented body design. It has deeper cutaways and a total of 22 medium-jumbo frets, making it more versatile than the Squier.
The body is made out of poplar and comes with a few interesting finishes that can easily trick you into thinking that this is a higher-end instrument.
It also features a maple neck, but with a jatoba fretboard and a pretty flat radius of 12 inches. This is accompanied by a specially designed neck profile that makes the GSRM20 model really easy to play.
The instrument’s heel where the body meets the neck is ergonomically designed, making access to higher frets easier than on most other basses.
The hardware is also more modern-oriented, with a standard 4-saddle design, compared to the vintage 2-saddle one on the Squier Bronco bass.
This bass has an even shorter scale length than the Bronco bass. Measuring at 28.6 inches, it’s one of the best basses for beginners or just those who prefer to have a smaller instrument in their hands.
That said, many bassists would not want an instrument this short, so it really comes down to personal preference.
The Ibanez GSRM20 has two single-coil pickups in the classic P and J formation. The neck pickup is a split-coil one.
Additionally, we have two individual volume controls for each of the pickups, which opens up new possibilities for tone shaping.
Both basses sound pretty good, and we can’t really say which one is objectively better. However, we can say that they’re both surprisingly great for their price level.
Looking at all the specs, these two models are both ideal for a young beginner. Shorter scale lengths, especially on the Ibanez bass, are the most notable features of these two instruments.
The Ibanez comes with 22 frets and has easy access to higher frets. This makes it better for solo playing. On the other hand, Squier’s Bronco is more vintage oriented and simpler, which is an advantage for beginner players.
If you’re looking for a spare cheap bass, then both of these are a viable option. The Ibanez GSRM20 might have more features, but the overall feel and aesthetic features of the Bronco are more than worth the price as well, especially due to the maple fretboard.
Learn more in our full Ibanez GSRM20 review.
Squier Bronco Bass Review: Conclusion And Rating
The Squier Bronco Bass is cheap and you can’t expect it to work wonders. But it easily outperforms its price.
We can’t deny its surprisingly great feel. You don’t often find a bass, or a guitar, that features a maple fretboard at this price level.
The Bronco bass is pretty easy to play and is quite a reliable model. It can even be used for frequent gigging, at least as a spare instrument.
Sure, it’s somewhat unusual for bass to have just one single-coil pickup in the middle position, but it brings a nice twist to the tone. Due to this feature and its overall simplicity, we’d recommend this bass for genres like punk rock, classic rock, hard rock, and indie rock.
Summing up all the features, the Squier Bronco bass is one of the best choices for beginners. Nonetheless, it can still serve you well in later stages of playing, at least as a spare bass guitar. That’s why we give it a Musicaroo rating of 4.3 out of 5.