I have a problem. I know I have a problem. I've owned over 50 basses. The longest I ever kept a single one of them was my Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray 5 at 62 months. My Lakland 55-02 will eclipse the record in November). Average lifespan is about 30 days. Standouts were the 90's Warwicks, the MTD 535 and the Spector NSJH2. I've spent more than $50k on basses in the last decade and recouped maybe $20k of it. My friends in the community pick on me about it. Bandmates facepalm reflexively. It's bad.
So I've decided to try and put a stop to it. All of this exposure has brought me to several important conclusions. A treatise almost. They are (in no particular order):
1) Above a certain price range (roughly $1,200), most basses are of exceedingly good quality, and the quality of the imports goes up every year.
2) The world of basses between $1,200 - $2,000 is simply a higher-build-quality level of the world of basses between $400 - $1000; there's thousands of choices available to reflect your preference in tone, build, options and aesthetics. If you find one that has EVERYTHING you want, stick with it, if not, get ready for number 3!
3) Most of the "Custom" builders in the $2,000 - $4,000 market are not, in fact, custom builders. Most offer a choice of 3 or 5 body styles, a limited number of tops and standard or standard and premium electronics package. Want a different bridge? Tough luck. Want custom string spacing? Sorry.... Want a satin finish neck? Maybe next year. Ibanez offers more choices. Not all of the builders are like this... but most. This is made up for by a seemingly endless variety of 1/4" tops, none of which appeal to me. Pedulla makes a great bass. They make them one way. Choose your body style, choose your color, remit $6,500. For an all-maple bass with no options.
4) The $4k "Custom" Fender styles just aren't worth it. (To me..) I'm a Lakland endorser. STAUNCH. Lakland Skyline makes a better Fender than Fender ever could. Lakland USA makes a better Fender than Fender's custom shop ever could. But the difference in the two Lakies are not huge to a person like me... a great choice for the folks for whom the difference between a grand and three grand is like the difference between spare change and coffee money, but that isn't me. Sadowsky makes sweet-playing active jbasses for north of $4k. Alleva Coppollo makes a bolt-on, passive jbass copy for like six grand. Nice basses? Sure... there are a half a dozen guys within 100 miles of here who can make a bass to rival any of these for $2500. Is the $2,500 custom jbass from noname guy as good as the Sadowsky? YES. And it has the weird "V" neck profile you want.
4) If you can afford a Fodera or Alembic, get one. If not, you're not really missing much. I've played a bunch, owned two, and wasn't thrown off my seat with inspiration to play or awe of build quality on either. Awesome basses? Sure. In an entirely different league than the $4,500 bass from Mike Tobias you could buy 3 of for the same price? No way.
5) I can be very, very happy with import basses in the <$2k range, and will not ever be any happier with anything, regardless of price. So find the one that LOOKS and PLAYS the way you want in that range, and you're good.
All that (whew!) being said.... I've been driving myself nuts deciding on my next fourbanger. The decision gets much harder when you know you've set aside or saved enough money to get pretty much anything. It's down to a Lakland 44-02 that will have all of it's electronics replaced, or a Bacchus TF24 (Sadowsky M24 style) that will get the same treatment.
There's plenty of opinion on the Laklands here, and even if I could afford the Sadowsky M4-24 I still wouldn't buy it, because it's just an insane price to pay for what it is IMHO. Argue all you want, that's how I feel, having played em all. So I guess what I'm coming around to here is.... I'd love to get the opinion of folks who've owned the Bacchus basses, especially those who's basis for comparison include USA Laklands, Sadowskys etc.
If you feel a wrenching urge to lambaste me for my opinions above... feel free, as long as you ALSO have something to say about Bacchus