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Are Fender Custom Shop basses collectable per se?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rob S, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. I am negotiating to buy a mint+ all-original 1968 Fender Telecaster bass with paisley finish. It's immaculate.

    In poking around to see what is out there, I came across a one-off (according to the seller) Custom Shop Masterbuilt "NOS" version of this bass. The funny thing is, is that the original is only $1K more than the C.S. bass.

    But this anecdote leads me to a bigger question: are Custom Shop basses collectable just because they are Custom Shop basses? And, more specifically, are Masterbuilt Custom Shop basses collectable per se?

    I wish there was a Collector's Forum on TB where we could discuss vintage and collectable basses and questions about the marketplace for them. Maybe someday!

    In this instance, it seems like a no-brainer to just buy the '68 but I still would like to read your thoughts about the collectability of Custom Shop and/or Masterbuilt basses. Thanks!
  2. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    I'm not an expert at all, but I don't know that I've seen a CS go for more money used than it did new. To me, then, I wouldn't really see them as "collectable."
  3. But they are usually cheaper than the originals they are designed after and you don't feel as reluctant to play or potentially damage a historic artifact as you would the original , yet achieve the same or nearly same sensation.
  4. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I doubt my CS early '60s Jazz relic is collectable, but I'd bet you that the CS Tele bass very well might sound better than the vintage bass. The wood in my instrument is amazingly resonant and light compared to any other Jazzes I have or have had.

    Ask for the exact weights and some close-ups of the fingerboards, head stocks, neck pockets. Look for consistent grain, knots, quarter sawn neck woods, flame, etc. Play the vintage instrument if at all possible. It had better be REALLY good.
  5. rust_preacher


    Dec 17, 2009
    Well, the Paisley 1968 is the "holy grail" as far as Tele basses go. If at all possible I would get it appraised at Gruhn or another similar knowledgeable source of information.
  6. Jim C

    Jim C Spector#496:More curves than Sophia + better sound Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Define collectable.

    If they a limited number of a custom shop bass of a particular style, then there is limited quantity and somewhat rare to the market place.

    If define collectable as an time that is also in limited supply and will surely retain or increase in value, then 90% of the CS basses are poor candidates. They just made too many of them and reintroduce the same copy of a 60's bass over and over.
    There real deal (assuming original parts) is a blue chip stock if bought within reason.

    IMO/IME a copy rarely appreciates much less than the original.
    OTOH, if the CS bass speaks to you more than the original, it might be the better choice as a player.
  7. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    Not sure if this will help...Does anyone no foresure what the Fullerton RI models were selling for new in 83/84 ?(my guess is $800). If that is true they have doubled in value in 30 years.I used this example just because as i understand that department of builders went on to create the Custom Shop.... i think LOL.
  8. First of all, thanks to everyone for their replies. I appreciate them all. I am 10% musician and 90% collector.

    I have bought 60+ basses over the past 15 months and close to 20 amps/cabs. Some Ricks, a couple of Stingrays and 2 Jazz basses, with the rest being Precisions. Handful of MIJ stuff, but otherwise USA basses. Some modern, some '80's, some Fullertons, some Fullerton Reissues, lots of '70s basses and some '60's P basses. No '50's yet, but I'll get there.

    I pretend sometimes that these are "investments" but they surely haven't acted that way. Granted, it's only been 15 months since I started, but the market for the '70's basses has fallen around 25% in this short interval.

    If I hold onto the small core group (I keep selling off the ones I don't want to keep "permanently") I am keeping and slowly adding to, maybe they will do okay value wise. With "maybe" being the key word LOL.
  9. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester Supporting Member

    60 in 15 months? Wow!

    No, they aren't investments. If you like 'em and enjoy them, that's great. But, if you are looking for return on investment, then it's probably not so great. As far as a Fender CS bass, I suppose if you buy one and wait long enough, the price might go up, but I would expect any appreciation to get wiped out by inflation. Actually, if you think about what a new P-Bass cost in 1957 and what a decent 1957 P-Bass goes for now in real, inflation adjusted terms, it isn't nearly as impressive a gain as it is in nominal terms. You could get by on $1500/year back then. 20 times that much is probably about the same purchasing power now, give or take. So, if an instrument cost $250 in 1957, it would have to be worth $5000 now to have held steady, give or take. ($250 is hypothetical, since I don't know what a P-Bass cost new in 1957.)

    When you consider the percentage of our incomes new musical instruments cost now and the variety we have to choose from now, we really live in a golden age. I don't know if they will be collectible, but life is good.
  10. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    I look at it like this. ...if u want a true collectors piece and maybe a future investment depending on the market, purchase the true vintage model. If you want a real player, get the custom shop one because you know(especially master built) every detail will be sweated and every piece will be the best that piece have ever sounded. Neck pocket tightness, perfect fretwork, too notch soldering, all dimensions and angles that the original drawing called out for will be too notch. It is like digging thru 100 mass produced vintage ones and finding that really good one that was clicking with you...thats what you would expect to get. I have an early 60s real vintage jazz and it sounds fabulous and a 73 black jazz with the black blocks and it has extremely overwound(even for that year) pickups and sounds honky and boomy w/o the mid grind that we all love with the jazz. I bought the 73 online w/o playing it and I will say that the vintage 74 repros they are currently making sound alot better than my original. We kinda put these things on a pedestal when in fact there are alot more clunkers than players out there givin the state of manufacturing and quality control cbs employed back then.
  11. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Yikes! And I thought I had it bad.

    "Collectability" usually applies to vintage or discontinued factory instruments. A Fender CS will always be more valuable than a standard US Fender, but they're not instantly colletable. CS instruments cost a ton when buying new, and by themselves will take many decades to gain back a value in excess of their purchas price.
  12. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Maybe a few one offs will be but for the most part, no. Lousy investments, too.

    But some of them are killer, and great value on the used market all considered.
  13. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    There are short-term collectibles and long-term collectibles. Short-term "fad" collectibles usually go up in value quickly and then plummet when the initial furor over them dies (think Beanie Babies), although years later they may come back as nostalgia items. Long-term collectibles become collectible because they are recognized as historically significant or particularly exceptional, but it takes a long time for that to happen.

    Fender Custom Shop instruments don't fall into either category right now. They're not a hot fad, but they're not old enough to have established themselves as long-term significant. If I was a betting man, I'd wager against them becoming significantly collectible within the next couple decades---they're fine instruments and will probably always be somewhat valuable on that basis, but it's tough to see how they would be more valuable than any other good instrument. It is possible that at some point in the future the work of some specific master builder could become highly sought after, but they seem consistent and Fender continues to make more equally excellent instruments every year, so I don't see them gaining the cachet of being the "good ones" the way pre-CBS Fenders did.

    By most accounts, Fender is making some of the best instruments it's ever made right now. This may be viewed in the future as a new Golden Age of Fenders, but I would only see guitars made now becoming collectible on that basis if Fender stops making great guitars, so that the current production becomes the no-longer-available good ones. It seems unlikely that that will happen.

    Also possible and perhaps more likely is a backlash against the current fad for relicing, resulting in current instruments being relatively under-valued in the future.
  14. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    We know the prices of CS Jazz basses today $5000-$6000.What would that make a 2010 Custom Shop 64 Relic Jazz worth today.
  15. WarriorJoe7

    WarriorJoe7 Banned

    Mar 12, 2004
    Syracuse, NY
    If you count inflation then they lost money

    What cost $800 in 1983 would cost $1815.41 in 2012. source: http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi
  16. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    I dont get what your saying Warriorjoe7.It sounds like your saying if i would have bought a Fullerton 1983 RI 62 P Bass for $800 as many people did.Then today i sold it to a willing buyer for $1600 as many people have... Your saying i will have lost money?
  17. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    I think what you are asking is will collectors value them beyond their initial value in the future.

    My <2c: I doubt it. Collectors will want the real thing. No doubt the CS axes are good instruments; but, collectors want the iconic and rare ones. That means the originals for Fender. As to whether any current basses will become collectors items; I doubt that as well, for the simple reason that the music industry has made the musicians and the instruments they play non-iconic by design. Everything is about the "artists" now. Musicians are now kind of commodities. Not my view; but, my perception of the current state of affairs.

    If you really want to collect, stay with the vintage Fenders. That won't change.
  18. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    I believe he's saying that doubling your money over 30 years is a poor investment, since it doesn't keep pace with inflation. That is, you could have put $800 in a low-risk CD and done much better financially over 30 years than buying that bass.
  19. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    If my memory is working right, the initial MSRP of the AVRI basses was $500. Stores in my area at the time (Chicago), were getting full retail for them when they first came out. A couple years later they were blowing out the '57 P basses for $300. Wish I'd bought a dozen and put them in storage!
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Only doubling your money in 30 years? That's a HUGE loser. If you had bought two ounces of gold in 1983, you would've spent about $860. If you had sold it today, it would have yielded about $2,400. And that's not even that great of an investment. In 1986, 40 shares of Microsoft would have cost you $840. Those 40 shares today (split adjusted) would be worth about $310,000.

    Seriously, basses are not a good investment vehicle.