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Are used costs hurting our community?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by S.O.T.G. Rich, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. S.O.T.G. Rich

    S.O.T.G. Rich Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2014
    Corpus Christi Texas
    I would like people's opinion on the subject.
    Today scrolling through the classifieds.... I think about how much builders are charging for instruments based on resale. I believe we enable builders to charge ridiculous prices for their work by over pricing the used market.
  2. The trend on TB lately has been higher end instruments in the classifieds anyway so the depreciation should be less than say a MIM Fender for example. Prices on everything have increased over the last few years also and a bass is a luxury purchase (even a Squier).
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    The tail doesn’t wag the dog and new prices don’t drive used prices. ;)
    bozric, BatBasstard, Afc70 and 41 others like this.
  4. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    So what’s the answer?
    BatBasstard likes this.
  5. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA

    ^^^ This.

    The value of anything is the price another person is willing to pay for it. If someone is willing to pay a builder a certain premium for his/her wares, then that there is the free market in action.

    And not for nuthin' but shouldn't a builder be compensated appropriately for his/her time and specialized skills?
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Absolutely. These are nonessential items and people should price them however they wish. If the prices were actually ridiculous no one would buy them. The markup on them is far less than countless things we take for granted, and why shouldn’t a master craftsman who has spent decades honing their craft make a fair amount of profit for their hard work?

    These sorts of threads are always funny to me- makes me wonder how person A who complains about instrument prices would feel if person B started a thread saying A doesn’t deserve the money they make and the should be paid less.
  7. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    The used market is about as close to an unregulated free market as you'll probably find anywhere. Are you actually saying used sellers should charge less than the market dictates so that new prices are lower? This boggles my mind.
  8. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey

    Jan 8, 2020
  9. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Inflation drives prices up.
    But, we are cannot discuss that issue here.
  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I'm not a builder. WARNING!!! DO NOT TRUST ME WITH POWER TOOLS!!!
    Quick question - - - don't you deserve to be paid fairly for your job?

    Suppose it takes 100 hours to build a truly handmade bass. Or suppose it takes 40 in an organized, professional shop with scale, like Roscoe, for example. Or suppose it takes 20 hours for a semi-custom assembler type builder who sources the parts, outsources the woodwork and/or painting or maybe only does the "fit and finish" work. (Just guessing hours so roll with it)

    Bear in mind that I am also not floating in money so I get that really nice basses are expensive. I stared at a really lovely Alembic last week that was about $16K and had a hard time processing that.


    The going rate for a handyman, general household services is $60-75 per hour.
    Going rate for an electrician is $120-160.

    Does an artisan making a musical instrument by hand deserve to earn as much per hour as the guy you might hire to clean your gutters or wire your ceiling fan? I think so.

    Now suppose that artisan has very in-demand skills that I recognize I don't have, and that you recognize (by virtue that you're not making your own) you don't have either. Does that artisan with rare and demanded skills deserve to earn $100K before taxes? $150K? $200K? More? I think so.

    I think if you owned a car repair shop you'd laugh at anybody who suggested your new employee shouldn't bill in $100+ hourly. And I can find 100 car repair shops within 5 miles of my house.

    Skills are worth paying for and more importantly, the people with these skills deserve to be paid for them.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  11. ClusterFlux

    ClusterFlux Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Yeah, that's... not how pricing actually works.

    The price of a new instrument is based on the cost to manufacture, inventory, distribute, market, advertise, and support a new instrument, along with salaries and a profit margin (which is essentially split with the retailer).

    I'd be shocked if most builders ultimately have more than a 5% margin. In other words, it's not likely they can arbitrarily pad their costs by 50% and rake in the bucks. Any manufacturer who tries that would be destroyed by competitors who are willing to take home a 5% margin.

    No, the way it works is that the price of a used good is largely anchored off the price of the new item.

    I'd also add that you can get a decent instrument for $200 - $300 these days, and a lot of really good instruments for $800 or less. These are hardly "ridiculous prices."
  12. marchone

    marchone Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    My 1968 Fender Telecaster was $325 new. Today the historical currency equivalent with cost of living and inflation increases make that money worth about $2000 today.

    With so many good used axes going for less than a grand today I’d call that a win.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  13. Jefenator


    Aug 22, 2008
    Could have to do with shipping. Kind of hard for a buyer or seller to justify $100 shipping on a $400 bass.
  14. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    The market is the market. What people are willing to pay is what people are willing to pay.
    Bruno1950, Matt R, bdgotoh and 10 others like this.
  15. ToneMonkey

    ToneMonkey Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2003
    Newberg, OR
    I not sure builders consider resale value at all. Seriously. Why would that ever factor into the original price point? Builders only care about the first sale.
  16. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    The only thing that allows builders to charge ridiculous prices for their work is their name and reputation, which they have earned through hard work, great customer service and fine craftsmanship.
    And trust me, none of those guys or gals are getting rich.
  17. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    There’s an active thread right now where a guy is (sincerely; no fault on him) asking if we think $1200 was too much for a Fernandes.

    No judgment. Just an observation that five years ago you could buy four of them at that price if you could find them.
  18. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    If I had made better decisions when I was younger I would have much nicer stuff now.:woot:
  19. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    I'm not sure how supply is in the US, but here in Oz the supply of new instruments has dried up due to the impact of the pandemic on production and shipping. This, coupled with a COVID bump in demand, is sure to push used prices up.
  20. Rev. Cornelius

    Rev. Cornelius Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
    My belief is craftspersons should be able to charge whatever the going rate (or what the market will bear) for their product. The cost of supplies, business overhead, and an hourly rate are all functions of the cost of their products. Whether the value of their work compared to the value of other professions is unfortunately not always based on the benefits the community derives as a whole. Here is an example not related to the bass community. Plumbers charge any where 70 and 130 dollar per hour in the area where I live. Cancer researchers make about 40 per hour. So I pay the 70 to 130 when I have too. But wouldn't I pay more than 40 (or a lot more) if my wife was diagnosed with cancer?
    Sorry, just my rant.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  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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