Advice please: To buy/not buy a custom build!?!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by El Slap, May 10, 2012.

  1. El Slap

    El Slap

    Oct 8, 2011
    East Bay, CA
    Hey TB community,

    Since forming a reggae band a year ago, I've been looking at 5ers - I've been a 4-string player all of my 9 years of playing - and I've come across a cool custom built bass in my area. Obviously, I'm going to play it before I even think of handing over any cash, but seeing as I have limited knowledge of hardware, and since it's a custom build, I have no reference point to price it. Of course, some will say, "how much is the bass worth to you", but my point - I don't want to get ripped off.

    Any advice for what to look for/ask about would be greatly appreciated. The asking price is $900 and below are some of the specs. Any and all advice is much appreciated, so thank you in advance.


    Burl poplar top, mahogany back, rosewood fretboard
    Neck through, string through
    35" scale, 26 frets
    Ceramic and steel soapbar pickups, slight angle on neck pickup - tilts towards the bridge on the low strings
    Active electronics with passive toggle
  2. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Play it and see what you think. If it plays like it's worth $900 and you feel like you'll bond with it, then get it. Just give it a good once over and make sure there are no obvious flaws, and then get in touch with the builder, see what he has to say about it, e.g. original cost, special features, etc.
  3. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    if I were in a reggae band, I'd get a 5 string P-Bass. You could do some damage.
  4. CORBS


    Dec 28, 2010
    I would play that bass, it sounds like it would have a pretty massive low end. Is there a name on the bass, a builder that did it? Even small builders have some representation from TB members, someone else might have something the guy made and could give you a comparison point.
  5. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Sounds like a cool bass. Got any pictures?
  6. jumbodbassman

    jumbodbassman Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    900 is not a lot for any well built instrument
  7. I had the exact same apprehension 10 months ago. I couldn't find a medium scale five string that I really liked, so I was going to build one myself. That lead to the Luthier's Corner (here on TB) and I found a builder.

    I Googled the brand and the builder like crazy. Its amazing what youll find if you add "reviews" behind the brand name in a google search. Read everything I could. Priced other builder's similar instruments. I had multiple email conversations with him and decided on a bass he had just started to build and I should have it next week.

    Learn all you can about the brand and builder, play the bass, then make an informed decision. Good luck!
  8. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Any bass works for reggae, even upright. My two favorites are my roadworn Jazz, and my totally stock '03 MIK 55-01D Lakland Skyline. What lines you play, and the feel matter most. For getting low end, the amp and cabs matter more that the instrument. However tubby boomy bottom only is not really an effective bass tone in lots of rooms, reggae or whatever.
  9. El Slap

    El Slap

    Oct 8, 2011
    East Bay, CA
    Thanks a lot fellas. I've been corresponding with the seller and am going to contact the builder as soon as I get his info. There are no brands associated with this bass, otherwise I would have already researched/Googled/TBes the piss out of it.

    I agree that $900 isn't a whole lot for a good axe, but I'm not made of money, plus I'm a cheap SOB. I'm no gear head, but I take my playing seriously use every fret available to me and need a bass that can keep up, so I'm willing to drop some coin. I'll post some pics when i get the chance, but it's pretty dope looking.

    The pickups are ceramic and steel humbuckers, btw. Anyone know what that means?

    Thanks again for the input! Keep it c
  10. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    That could refer to the magnets in the pickups. I agree that $900 is pretty reasonable for a custom bass. If it's a small builder sometimes the resale isn't as high and that may be to your favor. Keep us posted.
  11. Soverntear


    Mar 17, 2008
    try and find the builder name from the seller. the specs and fact that its custom built make it worth the money but it all comes down to if it speaks in your hands.
  12. Try it out. I'm not dissing 26 frets, but my thumb doesn't like slapping on 26+ fret basses.
  13. Another consideration- if you buy it and don't like it, how hard will re-selling it be? I really thought hard about that before I paid for my nearly-here custom.

    I played a parts bass at Mom & Pop's that the repair guy built. It had Norstrands, a finish to die for, and rolled edge fretboard. Played way better than most American Standards I've tried. Asking price: $999. Resale value: not much. Blank headstock.

    It's a tough market to crack into, unlike the 80's market for crack.:p
  14. Soverntear


    Mar 17, 2008
    never mind the 80's market check out the 2012 market. crack heads everywhere
  15. El Slap

    El Slap

    Oct 8, 2011
    East Bay, CA
    So, apparently the builder went MIA a few years ago. I don't think I'd buy a bass without knowing the source, so maybe I'll just have to wait around for a good deal on a Warwick or Stingray. Here's a link to the CL ad Might still be worth a try...
  16. That is a sweet looking bass!

    All specs that you've given us look up to par (if they're all true and in good condition) and that bass will turn some heads.

    If you connect with it and it serves its purpose, I'd go for it. Maybe see if you can talk the guy down some.
  17. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I'd go and play it. It's beautiful. If the craftsmanship is good, you'd be getting a hell of a deal. OTOH, there's an Asian luthier ( Antonasai -spelling?) who makes highly inlaid custom-looking basses that are of only moderate quality.
    What's the builder's name?
  18. Worldeeeter

    Worldeeeter Inactive

    Mar 29, 2010
    Asheville, NC
    Suspicious...seems WAY too good to be true.
    Definitely play it - see if there are any dead spots on the neck, judge the electronics / sound for your style, give it a solid once-over.
    The seller may have no idea what they have; it happens all the time.
  19. genmed42


    Dec 31, 2011
    Wow, what a beauty! Wonder what it sounds like?
  20. I'm pretty damn sure those are a constant on eBay.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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