A question of quality

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by thrash_jazz, Feb 14, 2002.

  1. Lower end models by higher-end companies

    18 vote(s)
  2. Higher-end models by lower-end companies

    9 vote(s)
  3. Hmmm, not sure

    11 vote(s)
  1. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Here's a bit of a doozy that has been bothering me.

    In general, which kind of gear do you think is of better quality:

    - Lower-end models by a high-end company
    Examples: SWR Workingman's series, Conklin Groove Tools, Fender Mexican/Korean series


    - Higher-end models by a lower-end company
    Examples: Aria AVB-SB, Peavey Cirrus, Samick Valley Arts, Cort Curbow, Hohner B Bass

    Both types of products generally fall into the middle-of-the-road price range.
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I voted for the lower by higher option using this logic:

    The higher-end companies have to protect their brand. (unless you are Fender) So I don't think Eden would stick their name on Nemesis unless they felt it was a good product.

    Secondly, the research and development that goes into their frontline stuff eventually trickles down into their entry-level models.

  3. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Well, many of the American-made Fenders can cost $1500 or up, and from what I know of them (not too much) they do have good workmanship and use good quality material.

    By "higher-end company" I meant a company that makes mostly more expensive stuff and is just dabbling in the cheapo market, unlike some companies that thrive on it.
  4. I'm not sure I'd consider a $1500 Fender a high-end instrument. I'd consider it a high-end Fender, though - and again, no offense intended. I don't dislike Fenders, I'm on my third Fender (my first Jazz Bass).

    But - take that $1500 high-end Fender and compare it against Zon, Pedulla, Sadowsky, Modulus, Lull, Lakland and so on - and look at the difference in build quality.

    That said, I voted budget bass from high-end manufacturers.

  5. I'm going to be sad here guys!!!

    I'm a Quality Manager for an electronics company and the first thing I would ask you to do is define quality!!!

    Everyone will give a different answer!! Sorry to be a stick in the mud!!

    My feeling on Quality is that quality is the fitness for purpose intended of and article taking into consideration the availabilty and cost!

    Therefore to a 14 year old with $200 picks up a Squier P-bass and thinks it's a 'quality' instrument - 'cos it suits his playing style, gives him the sound he wnats, makes him look cool, he can afford it and he can go home now with it.

    I'm sure I'll get replies for this!!!!
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I think when you look into this range you have take things on a case by case basis, judge each peice of gear on it's own. Johnny, I agree with you I think, if the gear fits your needs, then it fits your needs.

    edit: I voted for not sure.
  7. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Well, I think that, when talking about basses, quality could be defined by several things: the feel of the instrument, the workmanship, the hardware and components, the attention to detail (inlays, intricate finishing, etc), and the most important thing: how it sounds. And some basses obviously do score more points in these categories than others do.

    Everyone might give a different answer as to what quality is, but in the end, it boils down to the same thing, doesn't it?

    I agree that a kid just starting out would be happy with an $200 starter bass, but don't you think he'd get something better if he could? Even a beginner would notice a HUGE difference between, say, a Samick and a Sadowsky!

    Allan and cruise4 - you guys are right, maybe Fender was a bad example, but you must admit that their American-made instruments are far better than the ones made elsewhere.

    Bliss - I agree about trying things out case-by-case, but I was mainly trying to find out which brand (higher or lower-end) would tend to be better, if they were both around the same price; also, what people thought about the matter.
  8. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I would reason that a high end manufacturer would know what's fluff and what's stuff and be better placed to trim cost by reducing the fluff and keeping the stuff. MTD would be my best example. Lakland is probably travelling along that path.

    On the other hand, I'd be concerned about a high end manufacturer who farmed out their low end work WITHOUT MAINTAINING THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF DESIGN AND QUALITY CONTROL . Thankfully I don't have any examples in mind just yet.


  9. Very well put, Malthumb.

    To turn this around just a bit, let me just say two words: Jack Casady.

    Although most consider this a red herring, this is a perfect example of top quality coming from a so-so manufacturer. Hey, everyone here knows how nuts I am about this bass, but, I'll be the first to say that Epiphone is not a high end Company. Most of their stuff is good, some less than good. I guess that Gibson and (the real) Jack Casady decided to make one model with no compromise in quality, and they did. I've heard of a few complaints about its workmanship, but, overall they have been very few and far between. If a Company (or a person) puts their mind to it, there's nothing that can't be done. This bass is an example of that creedo. I think some people still have their doubts about it just because the name Epiphone is on the headstock.

    And that's a shame. A lot of player don't know what they're missing. I think Epiphone owes me some $ for all the pitching I do for this great bass. ;)

    Mike J.
  10. Alot of Samick, Cort, etc's "high-end" models are damn fine pieces of kit - can't really find much to complain about, apart from the "label".

    And that's gonna be one of those things that people either love or hate.

    Is a Fender any better than a Samick because of the name on the headstock, even if the Samick is of better build quality?

    My bass is what we consider "high-end" (Ric), but i've played numerous other "cheapos" that had a better build quality. They still weren't a Ric, though! ;) :D
  11. As I thought, the poll results are turning out as I thought they would and the replies are meandering all over the place.

    This isn't a bad thing, and I'm not having a go at anybody - but quality is effectively in the Eye of the Beholder!!!! Everyone's definition of quality (like beauty) is different!

    Whilst everyone tries hard to objectively quantify quality - it is one of the most subjective things to actually do!

    A good example of this is the Samick vs Shadowsky point that was mentioned - it takes no consideration of cost! Quality at what cost?? Unfortunately one of the factors in considering quality is cost!

    Also the point about getting something 'better' if he could falls victim to the whole point of 'quality' - define 'better'. OK, maybe the kid buys a Squier P-bass, most people here would think if he had the choice between a Squier and a Shadowsky (money being no object!) he'd be stupid not to take the Shadowsky! However, maybe he just can't get to grips with Jazz shaped bodies for example! OR maybe doesn't like the string spacing, balance or some other attributes that contribute to his feeling about 'quality'.

    IMO - he'd take the Shadowsky anway, sell it and get something that would suit his needs, get and amp as well that suited his needs and maybe buy a car!

    I can''t remember who posted the examples above - but please I'm not having a go at anyone. I've been involved in Quality Assurance for about 12 years now, and have tried all that time to help people with common and easily made misconceptions about quality. Also, I'm not saying that I'm the worlds leading authority on Quality - I consider myself to be still learning. A good cliche for quality is ' Quality is a journey - not a destination'.
  12. I voted not sure, simply because I have played some low end basses, and like them better than some high end basses.
    Normally, the budget basses from high end companies would be better than the high end basses from the budget companies. But, IME, you can find a diamond in the rough with a low end bass, and a piece of junk with high end basses. Granted, the junk basses from high end companies are rare, but so is finding a Squier thats better than a MIA Fender.

    I payed $150 for my Squier P, and think it plays better than a $850 Fender P I played at the local music store the other day.

    Was my Squier a fluke? Probably. But It's an excellent bass, even totally stock. Imagine if I put some S-D 1/4 pound pups and a BadAss bridge... But, I'm stuck with the "stigma" of owning a Squier, as if I was a friggin' leper or something. :D :rolleyes:
  13. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    How can you put an MIM Fender in the same league as a Cirrus!?!?!?!?

    Much better example would be the lowest end alembic or something.

    MIM.... LOL LOL

    I voted for low end company high end gear, b/c I don't like paying for the name on my headstock. I pay for the instrument itself.
  14. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, you're sad :DLOL j/k!!!

    Anyway, not to be a stick in the mud when it comes to you being a stick in the mud, but consider this: you buy a MIM Jazz for a few hundred bucks and the frets are not completely leveled. For the same few hundred bucks you could buy the lowest end Spector.

    I specifically mention these two because I own a MIM Jazz that had to be taken to a luthier to have the frets leveled...and it was NEWwhen I bought it. The Spector is QC'd in a way that most manufacturers in that price range do: every Spector that comes into the US is personally inspected and set up by Stuart Spector. I'd take the benefit of Stuart's set up for a $300 to $400 bass ANY DAY!

    Thus, there is sometimes a difference.
  15. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    Yeah but I bet a Fender American Delux would beat the spector Q series.

    I don't think fender should be in the "high end" group in this poll.
  16. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    That's really cool spector does that though! Half the basses I try at guitar shops have HORRIBLE set-ups.
  17. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i singled these out to illustrate a point - both instruments are made by westheimer - one just carries their brand name - cort - and the other doesn't.

    i agree with johnny boom boo - "quality" is too subjective to allow too many sweeping generalizations, but i do think that there are some absolutes.

    quality could be defined as how well an instrument does what it's trying to do, how well its design is executed. how well designed it is is another somewhat quantitative decision that could be used to measure "quality"

    i would go with something that has someone's name on it, and i don't mean jay turser :rolleyes: :D the reason for this is that if a luthier of high end equipment is going to manufacture a lower cost instrument, he's going to want to make sure that the quality is met, whereas the larger companies, who tend to be the ones creating the lower level gear, are going to be more complacent towards dreck if they meet certain non-instrument related market concerns
  18. I'll chip in a couple of points here!

    Whilst I would agree that someone who is bold enough to put their name on their instrument - therefore they are staking their reputation on their product - is generally a better bet, ie you stand a better chance of obtaining a good quality instrument. And yes, thus far I have bought and loved 2 Spector basses! The Czech one I have I cannot really fault, the Korean one has some inconsistencies in it's finish - both have Stuart's name on them!!!

    RAM you point out that Stuart Spector personally sets up each instrument before it is shipped. Does he ever have a bad day??? Does anyone here ever have one of those days where you go to work, do your job and think - "that'll do". ALso do you have a day when you do your job and come home thinking "that was great, I'm proud of what I did today!" How about "I feel rotten - roll on 5 o'clock"

    This is called human factors! I don't doubt that Stuart checks his instruments 100% before they go. However, good as he is - he is still human. Studies have shown that 100% inspection is only at best 85% accurate - that is that of all of the defects in a batch of units on average only 85% of those defects will be found. In practice that can be more like 65%!

    In thinking about 'quality' would anyone want a guitar that was built on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon. Think about your own job before you answer!

    JT - you raise a good point, design. The aspect that I'm most interested in is design for manufacture! There are places I've worked in the past that I would have gladly went three rounds with the designers of products to show them what for!!!! They probably won an award for their design, but have never lived in the real world!!! I am not having a pop at designers in general - I've also known products whose designers were very thoughtful, I just wish they all could be that way!!

    Whilst I doubt this is true (the living in the real world part) of the majority of basses, I am always wary of any technique or process that is dependent on the pserson performing it!! This is back to human factors and off days!!!! How many of a bass manufacturers process require a master luthier to perform and not the apprentice!!!

    I'm actually enjoying this topic - it's been really interesting for me, I just hope I'm not boring you to tears!!!!
  19. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I think the Cort Curbow is in the wrong section, as it's a low-end offering of Greg Curbow.

    Having owned a couple from each category, I'd go with the low-end offering of a high-end company. I just haven't played many basses by low-end companies that really did anything for me. The high-end companis, while the products may be built at the same factory as the low-end companies, have a name to uphold, and have better quality components in general that I've seen.
  20. im pretty sure its sadowsky :smug: