After scouring pawn shops for the perfect beginner bass, I came across a beautiful, shiny black Yamaha BB200 for $200 CDN. I have now owned and played it for 5 years.
In the past, I've played a Peavy which put tremendous strain on my neck and back. The Yamaha is nicely lightweight and suits my needs perfectly as I am not a serious player, but need something cheap and fun to jam with.
Seasoned professionals may sneer at the BB200's lack of power and punch (and backbreaking weight), but I feel that it is an ideal instrument for a beginner.
Solid and well put together. This guitar rarely goes out of tune.