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Soon, no more "custom" Carl Thompson basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CarbonTom, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. CarbonTom

    CarbonTom

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    Just was browsing his website for the um-tenth time, and noticed a new announcement:

    "As of February 5th, 2014 (Carl's birthday!) we will not be taking any more "custom orders."

    Immediately, my heart sank. I have been wanting one of these instruments since I started playing 15 or so years ago. And recently had been seriously considering putting some money down on one.

    After reading the excerpt, I am left wondering if he is only pulling orders off the current waiting list, or if those of us who have yet to express interest are still able to.

    The contact us section of the website seems to be dead, so I don't know how to contact them to put a deposit down if I can pull my sh!t together before Feb.

    Could anyone that might be more in the know than I, or someone on the current waiting list shed some light on the situation?

    Thanks,
    Tom
  2. Aaronbeh

    Aaronbeh

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    Hi Tom,

    I am alive and well, just incredibly busy (as we all are) and so I apologize that it takes me some time to get through the backlog of emails about Carl's basses. As of today I believe I am caught up so please let me know if I missed something from you.

    The note is real - Casey and I posted it over the weekend.

    FYI- this is my opinion/observation as I haven't spoken to Carl yet but custom basses take a lot of time and energy to source materials for, keep track of special requests, and ultimately build. Streamlining the bass building process will make things easier for Carl and ensure that people get their orders sooner.

    Just to be clear, quality will not drop and if anything the end result instruments will be higher in quality.

    I hope this helps - the news was shocking to me as well.

    -Aaron
  3. Teacher

    Teacher

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    Keeping quality alive is the most important thing.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Not clear at all. Your opinion regarding what? So is Carl going to streamline his operation and keep building? Is someone else going to build his basses after his birthday? Are CT basses no longer going to be built? Or am I just dense?
  5. Aaronbeh

    Aaronbeh

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    Carl will keep building after his birthday, just not custom order basses. I will know more when I speak to Carl later today.
  6. Charles Farley

    Charles Farley

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    Seems like a good move to me. I'm sure there is a 3-5 year backlog that Carl needs to get through. If he stops taking on new orders, that saves time discussing new builds with new customers, which may translate into more time building the instruments currently on order.

    If he gets through these orders and still wants to build basses, I'm sure there's a market for them. In fact, they'll probably sell for more if he builds basses and just sells them on eBay or direct through his website.

    Not sure what is happening, however, so I'll be curious what Aaron has to say when he speaks with the man, himself.
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    I thought all of Carl's work was custom orders
  8. dje31

    dje31

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    Have you seen CT lately? He's not exactly a spring chicken...granted, I'm sure his minions do the vast majority of the heavy lifting, but the company still has his name on it. He's likely working on his exit strategy.
  9. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

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    Aw crap...prices are about to skyrocket on the ones that are already out in the wild. Probably looking at an average of $1.5-2k per string for the ones with frills.
  10. RickC

    RickC Supporting Member

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    Sounds good to me. Rick Kelly has been doing a similar thing in the 6-string world; not taking any more custom orders and instead building "shop" guitars that are offered on a first come basis. The result there is he's been able to produce instruments at a faster rate than when he was taking orders, less stress for him no doubt because he can build what he wants with the materials he has available, more instruments available to the public than before, and you no longer have to wait years to get one - just be quick on the trigger. So far it hasn't seemed to affect the value of his earlier custom builds either.

    /rick
  11. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson

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    I'm doing the same thing. I no longer do custom order basses, or even custom features on my standard models. It simply isn't worth the extra hassle. They always take longer than expected, mostly from all the extra back and forth communications. And they rarely are profitable in the end. It's a better, more efficient business model to build standard models, that I really like, and then find customers who want them.
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

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    He should just have them made in Korea under license.
  13. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Supporting Member

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    :eek: :eyebrow: :rollno:
  14. Aaronbeh

    Aaronbeh

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    Hi all,

    I think the board has already arrived at an accurate consensus. I spoke with Carl yesterday and the facts are:


    • After February 5, 2014 Carl will no longer be taking orders for custom instruments
    • Carl will still be producing instruments after this date, however, they will be made using materials available at the time in configurations that Carl chooses
    • These instruments will then be sold on eBay, ctbasses.com, or through instrument dealers

    This should streamline the process for Carl, as he can build instruments depending on wood availability and prices and cut down on the time spent and complexity of tracking and going back and forth on custom orders.

    That said, there is some neat stuff coming out of the shop. Carl is experimenting with different woods - he mentioned cedar and pistachio - in order to keep weight down, and Anthony and I are working up a batch of titanium truss rods to further reduce weight.

    This is not the end, just a new chapter.

    Best,
    -Aaron
  15. Charles Farley

    Charles Farley

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    This is why I have such mad respect for Carl. He's turning 75 next year and has been building instruments and playing music his whole life, and yet he continues to evolve.
  16. sricabla

    sricabla

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    Cary Nordstrand use to make some excellent, excellent custom basses, but found a more profitable niche in Fender like instruments that are also excellent. He's a business man now and doing quite nicely with his line of basses. You almost never see a used custom for sale.
  17. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    I'm glad Carl isn't hanging it up, the man is a wealth of knowledge and a great inspiration.
  18. Toolmybass

    Toolmybass Supporting Member

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    I have wanted a CT since the first time i saw Primus live
  19. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum. Supporting Member

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    Should we expect these to be relatively similar to the custom basses in the broad strokes of design? Sorry, that question seems to have sprung out of my reading this conversation.

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