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Are higher priced Fenders really worth it?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alex Lineback, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    It's really a crapshoot, IMHO. I don't believe in blanket statements about any class/pedigree of Fender type basses. There are stellar, mediocre and dog examples of everything out there. All things being equal, you're probably more likely to get a good P or J if it is a Fender Custom Shop, Lakland USA, Mike Lull USA, etc boutique bass ... but there are no guarantees. Even if a particular 3K - 5K boutique bass is better than a run of the mill, off the shelf one, then the question is how much better and is the delta between them worth the extra coin to you. That comes down to a combination of your personal financial situation compared to how much it matters to you. Me personally ... while I have a lot of playing experience, I don't have a whole lotta inherent talent so _I_ am always going to be the limiting factor in the performance of any particular bass so there's a threshold where it's going to be plenty good'nuff. I have a coupla Warmoth parts Precisions that I have less than $400 into (from mostly used parts acquired from Craigslist, eBay and TalkBass) that are "to die for" (for what I like in a P, anyway). I also have a bone stock (rare for me) 2013 Fender American Standard Precision that was a floor model that I got offa eBay for $725 that is now strung with a set of Sadowsky flats that is also a killer bass for me. One advantage I have in all of this is that I have setup skills from being an avid FrankenFenderer ... enough where I can usually get a bass to play the way I like, anyway.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
    Harold Runyan likes this.
  2. johnstimley


    Aug 26, 2012
    Just got a Sire Marcus Miller V7 Fretless for £300. Better finished and better sounding than any Fender I've played over the years..............
    Buzz Bomber and Traps82 like this.
  3. One of my Fenders is a '65 L-Series Jazz bass with matching head-stock.
    I bought it in 1970 for $90.
    Recently, at a gig, a guy offered me $10,000 for it.
    So, yeah...I'd say it was worth it. ;)

    But seriously, Fender basses hold (and often increase) in value
    This is true of your Mexican made P-Basses, Japanese Fenders as well as vintage USA models.
    This will continue to be the case until it isn't anymore.
    So worth it? Sure...all Fender basses are worth it, it's just a question of how much you're willing/able to spend.

    Now, if you asked me if I would spend $5K on a boutique brand bass that few people were familiar with, my answer would be different.
  4. MadCow217


    Jan 10, 2019

    NOTHING beats an American Fender...

    Attached Files:

  5. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    FWIW, I ended up buying the Elite J5 and I couldn't be happier with it. I also own some of the well known high end options, and definitely play those a lot, but the Fender also definitely gets played very regularly. I've been into Fender J's since the late 70's, and IMHO, this Elite J5 is among the best they've ever produced in the venerable J line.

    My .02.
    LM Bass and murphy like this.
  6. BasEd


    Jun 27, 2017
    I think there is a certain “unconscious bias” towards American instruments IMHO. I for one grew up aspiring to American gear. And still do. In reality I doubt I could tell the difference in a blindfold test between MIA, MIJ and MIM. But if you believe it’s better then it is. And I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve owned quite a few high end basses but my current favourite is a 1994 MIJ P bass with EMG Geezer pickup and TI flats. The Geezer made a bit of difference but the big surprise to me was going from rounds to TI flats. Made a huge difference.
  7. Mike Vee

    Mike Vee

    Oct 8, 2012

    some are some aren't. a lot of it may have to do with the finish. I have a Player series P (MIM) and had an AVRI 63 precision, which costs $2200. Is it better? Yes. That much better? Maybe.
  8. Traps82


    Aug 31, 2013
    I have a Squire VM Jazz bass. I put Seymour Duncan 1/4 Pounders in it, new pots and a HipShot bridge. It sounds AMAZING! Only drawback is the weight of the damned thing! It is my go to for recording. I play my MIJ Geddy Lee live because of the weight difference. So, I say find a bass you are happy with tone wise and playability and spend a few bucks, soup it up and give it some growl and punch!
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  9. nonohmic

    nonohmic Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    I have yet to play a Fender P that makes me want to give up my Squier Matt Freeman Sig. But that's not to say it's not out there, as I'm sure it is. Although I should've bought the $999 AVRI 58 at GC that day!!
  10. I’d say it depends on the individual. To me, definitely not; but half the fun of a new instrument for me is setup and dinking with the electronics. Gives me opportunity to personalize it and improve playability.
    Functionally what you are paying for with domestic Fenders is better electronics, superior fit and finish and setup. So it you can’t or don’t want to do this stuff yourself, sure, they can be worth the extra cash.
  11. Joe Lonsdale

    Joe Lonsdale

    Jan 12, 2019
    A lot of it is about holding value and collectability. The important thing about a guitar is 'do you live playing it' and 'does it sound good' - the rest is about resale. If it's worth it TO YOU then it's worth it....
  12. TJ Foley

    TJ Foley

    May 30, 2019
    Absolutely worth it!!! It's a matter of pride. Better build in Corona than Ensenada. Trust me playing 45 years annd I know what I'm talking about. Spend the money. It may hurt at first but later you'll be glad you did. Love and protect that Fender and it will last forever.
  13. buddha Longbone

    buddha Longbone

    Jul 6, 2009
    Buzz Bomber and kodiakblair like this.
  14. I believe this is what is known as: "the Starbuck's" theory... "well, if everyone else is waiting on line to drink it... it MUST be good" said the person unsure of theirownself
    Traps82 likes this.
  15. I agree totally. The most I've spent on a bass is $350 for my Aerodyne Jazz. I can't see me ever feeling rich enough to spend more than $1000.
    Bass Man Dan likes this.
  16. I have owned several basses through the years, IMO american made (specially AVRI) are more consistent in quality and sound that the Mexicans. Yes, you can find a Mexican bass that you'' fall in love with ... but that will be probably one in a hundred.
  17. Buzz Bomber

    Buzz Bomber

    May 1, 2019
    Funny you mention that, when I plopped some SD pick-ups in my jazz, I noticed less difference in those than the stock pick-ups. The I installed a hipshot hi mass bridge, that made such a big difference... It may be the combination of the two, but that bridge changed the overall sound to a much richer, smoother, and cleaner tone, the bass was setup fine, but the strings just don't move on the new brass saddles like they do on a stock fender style bridge. Changing out hardware is worth more money to me than any sticker, because how I sound and play is all that matters to me.
    Traps82 likes this.
  18. sietedeunsolo


    Jan 17, 2012
    I own a Fender cowpoke MIM and an American Deluxe PJ. While the cowpoke sounds sweet and plays nice, the PJ blows it out of the water, no question. The PJ does not play as nice, and is heavy as hell, but man, the sound!!
  19. LoveJackBruce


    Apr 8, 2018
    I play an American Gibson SG Standard and it is far better than the Epiphone models. But I really have no horse in this race as you guys are talking Fender. However, I would love to have a Fender VI.
  20. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    Higher-priced Fenders are worth it for those to whom they’re worth it.
    BasEd and Vic like this.

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