Why the bass community is hurting itself.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by TRichardsbass, Jan 12, 2013.


  1. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass

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    Jun 3, 2009
    Location:
    The Real Jersey Shore
    Disclosures:
    F CLEF LLC, Music Industry Consulting and Sales
    Hello all. This is about basses and prices/pricing. Driven by a conversation I had with someone who was interested in buying my Alembic bass.

    I Put my Alembic Excel on the Alembic forum for a very good price. A little higher then I will take, but I left myself some wiggle room. At the same time, I put it on eBay for a couple of hundred more, to see if someone would bite, and to see what the interest was in it.

    An interested person contacted me after seeing my post on the Alembic forum. I sent all the pictures, showing that the bass really is like NOS. Includes all the case candy. My price was fair. We emailed a bit, then things went silent. I then put the ad on eBay. He contacted me again and asked if the one on eBay was my bass, which I told him it was.

    So, after that , I knew I had a very interested Alembic person. Who is looking for or watches Alembics. I told him that even though the bass was listed higher on eBay, if he was interested I had a little room in my price, and if he bought it I would end the eBay listing. I heard nothing back.

    I then did some research on basses I have been watching on eBay, and noticed that many of them have been relisted at least three times, going from a good price to a better price to a "make me an offer" price. About half of them sold at that point.

    After looking at that, it became clear to me. The internet economy has destroyed the price of everything, including bass guitars. And we are doing it to ourselves.

    My conversation with the potential Alembic buyer pretty much said, that if no one buys it, and you are selling it, you will continue to lower your price until it is "cheap" enough. The word "cheap' blew my mind. He was actually waiting until I would give it away. He actually said that my bass was at a very good price, but if it didn't sell on eBay he "knew I would start to lower the price much more because I wanted to get rid of it." Which, of course, is not the case, but it was his entire thought process.

    Now don't get me wrong, there is no problem in someone looking to buy something at a certain price point, and only buying if they get it there. That to me is fine. But it was the notion that he thinks that like your iPhone or other electronics the price just always goes down until its worth nothing. It is that thought process that is also making it hard for him or any of us to buy and sell, as most of us rely on selling something we have to buy the next. And if you continually race to zero, you continually devalue it, then the asset you need to sell to buy will also be worth nothing.

    Which is why to this day I am still astonished. My '84 Guild SB-602 is far and away a much better bass in every way then my old Fender ,81 P bass, but the P is worth about 3 times what the Pilot is. i see my era Pilots listed for $400 at times. That is the same price as a very cheap Ibby or Schecter, and it is monumentally better. And its made in the USA. And it has EMG pickups and a great active system. ALL USA made.

    I purchased my current Guild Pilot several years ago after my original started to fall apart. At the time, you could score a Pilot for about $600 in this condition, the guy was asking $800, and I agreed to $700, because that was still clearly less then it was truly worth. And it was a great bass. I had several people tell me to wait, because eventually it will probably go lower, because the guy needed to sell it. I purchased it anyway.

    My purchase price helps set the "price" for them everywhere, because with the internet now everyone can search and see where prices go. I believe in paying a fair price, and asking a fair price. Which is why I refuse to purchase anything used Fender with the excption of the the Fender Jazz with Kubicki electronics, as for some reason they are stupid cheap for what you get. Its maybe one of the best Fender Jazz bassses ever, and it is head and shoulders above any Fender Jazz of the same year. But my point is that I will pay a good or fair price, even if I know that I could wait the person out and maybe get another $100 or so off it. Because when I do that, it means I just took another $100 or so off the next bass of any kind I'll be selling.

    I am not saying pay more then its worth just for price sake. I am saying that, if the price is good, and you want it and you can afford it, think twice about waiting a guy out. In the end, its hurting you more then the guy selling it.

    I've said it here before, its a new world and there are a lot of things I don't like about it. But this "I should be able to have everything I want no matter what at my price point" mentality is just really driving many things the wrong way.

    The teller in my bank was telling me that she was mad because she made so little and didn't have good hours. I asked her if she did all her transactions at the bank or mostly online. She said online. I pointed out to her that she should go to school for computer and network programming then, because her job was essentially obsolete and sooner or later everything will be online only, and there will be no tellers. She asked me then how will she pay her bills because she doesn't want to be a computer programmer. I said to her, this very young lady, "you reap what you sow. You are part of a generation who doesn't understand what value is, who doesn't understand that one of the keys to everything is human interaction. Once you devalue that, you are no longer needed. And one website and one computer programmer now can do the job of thousands of you." Then I asked her if she bought most of her stuff online or in a store. She said online, because it was a better price. Then I explained to her that its a better price because they don't have a store. Which means they hire about one third of the number of people a store does. Which means that is 2/3 less people with jobs. And it also means that quickly enough, you will not be able to go to a store to get that thing you desperately need today, because there will either be no store or the store can't afford to stock what they used to. you reap what you sow.

    Which is my point. To me, the prices of basses, especially good US made ones like Guild or Peavey, or yes, even Carvin, are ridiculously low, and have only been in that realm for the last few years. Because we reap what we sow. So that nice Carl Thompson you just bought for $6K? Depreciated more then a car did while it was in its shipping box to you.

    My two penny rant for today.
  2. dfmilkman

    dfmilkman

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2012
    So in essence, the guy who's selling his bass thinks that basses don't resell for high enough. Shocker.
  3. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

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    Jun 18, 2004
    Location:
    los angeles, CA
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    I tend to price more aggressively and my basses sell quickly. It is a simple transaction really unless you have something that only interests one in a million buyers. I don't wait sellers out, but I also don't mess around when I sell. Some owners think their bass is worth more than others do, and some buyers and grinders who care more about "a deal" than the actual bass. Always been than way - the interwebs has just made it a quicker and more obvious process. Same phenomenon existed back in the days of the Recycler and before that.
  4. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
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    The Real Jersey Shore
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    No, not my point. I don't sell if I don't get what I believe is a true or good value. Just the thought process that is killing true value. And no, true value is not always set by "what the market will bear." Because today, the market can actually "bear" more then they will pay, because they are used to electronics, phones, TV's and other stuff that drops to nothing in a year because it is replaced by something that does exponentially more.

    Bass guitars are not that way. Same basic function, same sound. When we, the buyers, are treating basses like your laptop, we hurt ourselves.
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  6. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Is what someone is willing to pay for it.

    IMO, Used stuff (even in great shape), is not worth anywhere near what a the same thing new would cost.

    When I buy used, I shop around, and make an offer.

    Sometimes I get a good deal, sometimes I walk away.

    Gotta go now---- here comes my bus.
  7. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive Supporting Member

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    Jul 1, 2006
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    This isn't really a bass specific post, it's a discussion about how having a more open market combined with increased information causes price adjustments and changes the relationship between sellers and consumers.

    Bass playing isn't being harmed, only the prices that are being paid for gear -- both new and resale -- as a greater marketplace is now available and real time pricing reflects that greater accessibility and information.
  8. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Location:
    Queens
    I think the bass playing community is doing just fine. The interwebs changed the nature of shopping in today's world. It is what it is, in my humble opinion.
  9. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

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    Jun 18, 2004
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    los angeles, CA
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    Market determines cost. Individuals determine value. There is no "true value." And if Guild Pilots are dirt cheap, then you, as someone who values them, should be happy because you can buy more of them. But if you're selling, then you're sad - but if you're selling then perhaps the value to you is less "true" than you think.
  10. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass

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    Jun 3, 2009
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    That was what my real estate agent said about my house. Set an "aggressive" price and it will sell quickly. Truth is, for me, its not about moving something fast. Yes, make anything cheap enough and it will sell. I bet, if I put my Kramer 650B up here for $500, I'd have six thousand offers within a minute. Is that its "value?" No. But to me, I'm not in it to just move it. And yes, its that thought process about "the deal" that is doing it.

    I and several other makers refuse to use Hello Music for that reason. Great "deals", but killing the prices of all their stuff. I saw Fender Standard Basses on Hello Music for $449. The lowest guy anwhere else on the web had one for $479, and the eTailers mostly have them for $549-$579. So, if I wait long enough, I will find it for essentially just around dealer cost on Hello Music. My dealer network will quickly disappear, and also my dealers will have to lower their prices and make nothing on them, meaning they will not be able to keep their doors open.

    Which, more to the point, was my original point. We are killing ourselves, even in the resale market, by this "deal of the day" mentality. That Fender Standard Precision was still a pretty good deal at $549. If you really wanted one, you should buy it, make sure you got a good price but not worry about getting the greatest price ever.
  11. mystic38

    mystic38

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Location:
    Mystic CT
    Correctly stated above this has nothing to do with bass, but simple market forces.. and its very simply put "let the buyer beware" and in this case, i mean the original buyer.

    But, to your point, i disagree and will say no, the bass community is not being harmed one bit.

    The only loser in the scenario you described is the original purchaser of an item that decides they no longer want it... but the rest of the community benefits greatly from that by getting what they want at a discounted price.

    Personally if i have even a minute degree of doubt that i wont be keeping an instrument for the duration, i buy it used...
  12. Kryptos

    Kryptos

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    Fancy Gap, VA or Lyford Cay
    Well stated.
  13. Joedog

    Joedog

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    Jan 28, 2010
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    Pensacola FL
    Yes, if you try and sell something, especially on forums or Ebay, good chance you will get low offers (big surprise). I've bought and sold at some very reasonable (you'd maybe say unreasonable?) prices. But the deals got done, and both parties were happy. I also know folks who hold out for top dollar. Once in a while they get it, often, they end up not making a sale. It's your gear, so set your price as you see fit. But don't blame your lack of a sale on others selling "too cheap". Sounds a bit too whiny for my taste (but you brought it up). I guess it's called "market value" for a reason? I'm selling a house for a lot less than I would have thought 10 years ago. Oh well, that's life...ain't gonna cry about it. At least I have a buyer. I have a buddy trying to sell a house (overpriced) for 4 years now, not a nibble. We all have a choice as to sell or not sell.
  14. bassteban

    bassteban

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    Northern California
    Short version please
  15. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass

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    I think a funny side thought on my rant is that I see posted here a billion times that many of the guys here always want to try it before they buy it. Well, with the way the buying public is becoming interwebbed, I think soon enough we will start to see posts here with complaints that they can't find what they want in the stores and they don't want to buy without touching it. I will tell you that most retailers, even the bigger ones, are much less likely to take on new stock or new lines because of the margin and overhead in stores and the tough competition with internet only businesses. Yes, its a tough world, but there are very few ways a brick and mortar can compete when it comes to guitars. They get the same basic costs as an e-tailer, but have higher overheads.

    Customer service is normally where it makes a difference, but most people no longer care about customer service so long as its not horrible. If you buy over the web, you essentially have no customer service anyway.

    I know I'm never going to change the world with my thoughts, but maybe I can open the dialog. I mean, I don't want to hear about how little you got in trade for your Subaru and how little value it has when your thought process is deal of the day.

    Get used to paying shipping and a restock charge then.

    Bass Emporium closed its brick and mortar. He will be web only, but I am sure John will probably be even closing that out.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

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    ... but good for buyers.
  17. Grateful

    Grateful Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Everyone wants to buy a bass at a 'steal', then are all shocked when they can't resell it for what they probably should have paid for it. Sometimes they can't even break even on the steal price.

    Folks will either give it away, or hang on to it to avoid having to give it away and taking a bath on it. As soon as 1 seller 'gives one away' at a low price (which can happen for a variety of reasons), that suddenly becomes the new street price and fires off the next wave of people looking to get a discount from that price.
  18. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

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    Dec 15, 2011
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    This is gonna get interesting. Or really boring. Hard to say at this point. I like when I find really good basses for cheap. Maybe it's just me.
  19. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive Supporting Member

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    Realistically, retailers are going to be increasingly shifting to a "showroom" type of storefront, where you can put your hands on merchandise but the majority of stock will be offsite and shipped -- perhaps customized on demand-- from a centralized location. Look at how the Apple Store is set up. It's a good view of how retail is increasingly going to look.
  20. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Agreed. Bassists have been complaining about having to sell low and deal with cheapskate offers ever since there have been basses. There's nothing new under the sun here.

    New gear always depreciates, soon as you walk out the door with it it's value has gone down by some amount. That value won't be recovered for a long time or ever. So best to just kiss the depreciation goodbye and not worry about it.

    Buying gear to resell is a different discipline altogether than buying gear to play. Music shops and manufacturers do the former and the results are extremely variable as we all know. Musicians should probably only do the latter - we don't have the financial resources to resell and not take at least some kind of bath so we're better served to try to get our use out of it first.

    Finally, you'll _always_ get a cheapskate offer, in fact a whole bunch of them, when you go to sell no matter what it is your selling. Even if it's made of solid gold, someone is going to p$$$ you off with some kind of cheap-bastard offer. No way around it. You just have to batten down and weather, or keep the gear...

    LS
  21. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Location:
    TX
    The crappy economy is making everything used cheaper, and people are still not able to buy because of lack of funds. There are plenty of killer deals I see in the classified section here that do not sell or take a looonnngg time to do so.

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