I have heard that to master anything takes 10,000 hours (see Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers"). So between beginner and expert we should expect to spend 10,000 hours playing (practice, rehearsal, and gigging). So how much money should you spend on gear over that same time? Electric bass is not an expensive instrument, and when you upgrade your equipment you can partially recover the cost by selling the old equipment. I would propose that even counting strings a budget of $10,000 from beginner to expert should be enough. So that means one hour of playing for every dollar spent. If you follow this rule it seems to me you will be reluctant to plunk down $2000 for a bass just because you like the color -- unless you have put in the 2000 hours of practice. Seem reasonable?