The body of the barred sand bass is rather elongate and compressed. The mouth is large and the lower jaw protrudes slightly. The color is gray white on the back, white on the belly and there are dark vertical bars on the sides. Barred sand bass can be easily distinguished from kelp bass by the height of the third dorsal spine. In barred sand bass, this spine is the longest of the dorsal spines, while in the kelp bass, the third, fourth and fifth dorsal spines are of about equal length. Barred sand bass can be distinguished from spotted sand bass by the lack of spots on the body.