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Amazing looking bass that sounded/played poorly?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Growler, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. Growler


    Sep 26, 2004
    I wanted to start a tangent thread on this subject as I didn't want to pollute what is a pretty interesting thread...

    Anyhow, I was reading the thread on "Jaw Dropping Basses", and while I love the look of some of those beasts, whether they have amazing paint jobs, exotic woods/grains or ornate shapes. It got me thinking..

    What if you ordered one of these basses, and when you started playing it, either a) you ended up not liking the sound/playability of it; or b) you realized your existing P/J/MM/whatever sounded exactly the same/better.

    I'm not flaming those that purchase boutique basses or the boutiques themselves, and I love that there is a market for them. But has anybody had either of the above experiences? If you replaced your vendor with "ACME bass" that would be ok.
  2. None of my basses. I'm sure it's possible, but usually they play pretty darn awesome or don't leave the shop until they do. If something breaks, a lot of luthiers replace the stuff, quite often at no charge.

    As for the sound, that's all in the ear of the beholder. If you want an Alembic that sounds like a P-bass.....probably not gonna happen. You also hafta remember that a lot of custom one-of basses are experiments for both the luthier and buyer. Sometimes it's a hit, sometimes not as good. My Conklin, for example, has a killer piezo tone, although mags don't really blow my mind. The mag placement was to mimic my Peavey basses, which sounds good on a Peavey Cirrus, but when you put Barts in the same positions on a bass with radically different construction, it didn't quite get the tone I had envisioned. It's not a bad tone, but I probably could have obtained better results if I placed the pickups somewhere different. Fortunately, most come with a decent pre-amp that allows ya to dial in something that I dig. After learning from that one, I told Cliff Bordwell to put the pickups where he thought they'd sound best....and they did!!!

    Honestly, the real root of these arguments is that bassists rationalize that they'd rather have a bass with killer sound than killer looks. I also hear stuff like, I'd rather have a bass with one amazing tone than several not as good tones. Truth be told, when buying from a good luthier, he's not going to make you choose between looks and tone OR one killer tone vs. several crappy ones. You can get a bass that looks good, plays good, feels good, AND sounds good. You can have your cake and eat it, too.
  3. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    I had this Hagstrom Swede bass in black, back in about 1981. It passed through my hands like a hot potato.

    In the words of a great bass-playing poet, "Looked like a beauty, but played like a doody."

  4. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    I played a '62 that wasn't my cup of tea.

    Maybe the guy was a filthy liar, but it didn't hold it's own.
  5. Saved up for this bass for a while. But when I got it I played it for about two days before I gave up and went back to my old bass. It was too sloppy and loose sounding. Not tight sounding at all!

  6. shubball


    Sep 11, 2008
    I'm guessing if you buy a bass over the internet on looks, you're not going to do it blind - so you'll get info on it before you get it. And also, if it plays like a bag of nails, it doesnt mean you can't sell it on to somebody else. There must be hundreds of spud bases floating around on the internet from home to home!
  7. Matt Garrison's personal imperial. But don't have his touch. :)
  8. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    Well "big brother" is lurking but I once bought a B******** and it was not good. It looked absolutely killer, had a good tone, but the construction and playability were not good.

    I sold it as soon as I could.
  9. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    No personal experience here, but I do know a player with a beautiful quilted maple bass, a real show-stopper, but he much prefers to play his Fender Jazz.
  10. (checks Basso Gravitas's previously owned gear) Ohhhh...
  11. Played a Conklin that I didnt too much care for.
  12. mrniceguy715


    May 2, 2006
    a R bass but it could have be the setup. the tone was nice it was just uncomfortable the string spacing felt uneven but it was a adjustable bridge. it was light and had a great tone. just wasnt set up well. (sorry to my buddy he liked it that way)
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    I had one of these (in dark red) and used it as a main bass back in the 80's. Always wanted to like it because it looked cool... and as far from the norm as I thought I needed at the time. I wised up shortly afterwards;)

    I've played and owned a few basses that looked great but were disappointments when taken on a gig. I have no doubt that if I had the inclination to spend the time trying to "fix" what I didn't like I could've at least come close but my mindset is "why bother?" when I have basses that work right out of the gigbag.
  14. vegas532


    Nov 10, 2006
    Pensacola, FL.
    I once played a beautiful custom 8 (single course) string Warrior bass that, even though it played easily, had nothing special going for it tonally.
  15. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Georgetown, Kentucky
    The only time I've ever wanted an instrument completely by sight alone was when I saw mimaz's custom 5 string Tele bass. Amazing.
  16. biohazed


    Aug 31, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    This one is not as nice as osome of the other basses onthis thread but I bought a Hartke AK-5 Bass when they first released. and was the worst playing bass I ever saw. I had constant neck problems and it just played horribly.
  17. Same here. Have had several. Some good, some not. Don't own one at the moment.

    All that I have owned -- 4 IIRC -- have looked great.

    Mostly, I am overly un-impressed with the electronics! Gimme a Bart NTMB-9V any day!


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