At what price point is an instrument's quality no longer an issue?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Blackbird, Jul 26, 2001.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    All this talk about Laklands & Sadowskies got me wondering: The care and attention needed to make a truly great instrument definitely demands a high cost, what with the time and sweat a luthier puts into the work (s)he does, not to mention the quality of the materials used.

    My question is this, While a $500 bass is definitely a better instrument than a $250 bass, How much better is, say, a $6000 bass as an instrument when compared to one that cost $3000? There must be a pont in the price/quality ratio in which quality remains constant regardless of price.

    What, in your opinion, is the least amount of money a person can spend to have an instrument of this quality and at what price point does it all become the same?

    No, the answer is not at the back of the book...;)
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    He's right...I looked at the back of the book and it's not there.

    I don't this can really be quantified. The "price/quality ratio" has too many variable...what is considered quality, what's the skill level of the luthier or in some cases the suppliers for the luthier, what's the desired outcome, etc.

    Take a look at what's offered in the $3k range. What isn't available in the $1k range? Hmmm...

    More money can equal more expensive materials, more labor intensive construction or just more money in someone's pocket...there really aren't any guidelines. I've seen $800 for a flamed Maple top, $1000 upcharge for Brazilian Rosewood fretboard, $300 to go from chrome to Gold HW... I think what the market will bear plays into it somewhere.
  3. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    hmm, i better check the thread achive. :D :D :D

    I think it is around $37.50.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
  5. quality is always an issue, no matter what the bass costs.

    just because it costs a fortune, doesn't mean it's good..
  6. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    if it's cost a forune it HAS TO BE GOOD, so quality is no more an option. i set the cost at circa 1000$, at this price the instrument has to be professional. i consider that the max reasonable price to spend for a bass.
    i paid my

    thunderbird 1050 $
    my rick 800$
  7. David-Adler


    Feb 28, 2001
    Bonn, Germany
    I believe that not price is the issue of a good bass. Just look at MTD:

    Kingston : Great Bass
    Grendel: Great Bass
    Beast: Great Bass
    535: Super Great Bass

    All this basses are developed by Michael T. and all of them are good... I believe that the idea / the concept of the bass is more important than the componennts... take Ibanez:

    SR: Not so great... only if you get the Prestige
    ED: If you like it..
    BTB: 400 is great, 515 better, 705 better, and the 1005 i played is supperb...

    But if you take the boutique manufacturers, like Sadowsky, you have to expect more than a good bass...

    I have 1 Sadowsky.. and its awesome - I know that (and you to), but always when I had a problem or question, Roger replied on the same day. Customer Service is another thing that keeps the price up I believe. You wouldn´t get a same-day replie from Ibanez or Fender if you had a problem...

  8. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I think consistency is key when you are talking about basses in the $3K and up category. I would hazard a guess that in most cases these basses are being built to spec for a customer, so the confidence that you are getting what you want before work is done. I know I can't ever see myself spending that much money on a bass that I didn't have a hand in picking out the features. And, service, as David points out, is also a big factor.

    Also, there are certain niche features that some designers have. For example, if you want the melted top like JT's Conklins, you have to go to Conklin. Sadowsky makes the Jazz Bass (and, now possibly the PBass) of the Gods. I, personally, think the Rockwood necks that Curbow uses are the be-all, end-all of bass necks--better than graphite, and better than wood (IMHO). And, with the exception of Diamondwood that Roscoe uses, you aren't going to find it anywhere else. Of course, having him in the area helps. :D

    Don't get me wrong, I think you can still find plenty of "magical" basses for around a grand, or less. I personally have a MIA 75 Reissue Jazz that I bought new that has a great neck and feel, and a Peavey Palaedium ($250) that has a neck I love so much, I'm having Curbow make me a 6-string version for my new singlecutaway. But, you have to look for them. The percentage of "crap" basses is higher at $1000 than it is at $3000.

    When you get $3000, and up, you sure as hell better not be looking for a bass "because [insert flash-in-pan] plays it." In most cases, you get what you pay for. If you don't, the luthier isn't going to be around long. While I would say that the Law of Diminishing Returns sets in above $3000, I think if you pay $6000 for a bass, it'll be worth $6000 to the person who bought it. If someone else plays it, they'll think "I wouldn't pay $6000 for this," well, that bass wasn't built for you. Who are we to say what these artisans are allowed to charge? Some people say, "Well, we should be building basses for the guys who can't afford custom basses." But, if I see an empty milk jug fixed in concrete filled with jelly beans selling for $500 as art, then, if someone feels their skill in building instruments merits a $2000 labor fee, fine by me. edit: This reads more 'rant-y' than intended.....Maybe one way of putting it is that above $3000 it is more "peception and realization of vision" value?
  9. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Go buy all of your own wood, electronics, and accessories and bring it to the Fodera factory and ask them to make you a Monarch. Do you think they will give you a discount???
    No more than if you brought a bunch of steel to a Mercedes factory.
    You shouldn't pay custom prices for a cookie-cutter bass.
    My expectation is that anything over $2,000 should have a 5-year head to toe warrantee with a replacement coverage (if your bass is in the shop to correct any faults, they arrange to get you a bass to use).
    At that point, you should expect quality and a manufacturer that stands behind its product. Maybe my expactations are high, but there is more to quality in a bass than just how it sounds in the store. I wouldn't lay down that type of dough based on a 30 minute test run.
  10. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    The concept of "diminshing returns" is definitely a factor regarding bass prices (and most anything else).

    A $5000 bass IS NOT ten times better than a $500. The same is true for most other consumer goods. An Onkyo 989 IS NOT 6 times better than a 575, but it is a better receiver.

    What you do get in the higher priced instruments is more attention to detail, more consistent tone and playbility, a far superior set-up (though not every luthier excels at this - even the sought after ones), custom features that may otherwise be unavailable (Brazilian Rosewoods, rare-figured tops, etc.), service that can't be matched by the big production operations (ibanez, fender, etc.), and the value (remember this is created in YOUR mind only) that comes from owning a bass built by XYZ company.
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    My 78 Tobias is still under warranty;)
  12. jvtwin

    jvtwin What it needs is a little more cowbell

    Jan 26, 2001
    LA Calif.
    Isn't the "greatness" of any bass, in the hands of the beholder and not in the overall cost?
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Eaxctly. Unless your talking about something built mainly for appearance...not to be played.
  14. jvtwin

    jvtwin What it needs is a little more cowbell

    Jan 26, 2001
    LA Calif.

    With all due respect, I've played 3 and $4000.00 plus basses and as sweet as they are, I would be just as happy with say, a pre-CBS jazz and not spend that kinda money. Again, IMHO,I think it is all relevant.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    If you had to buy a pre-CBS Jazz...guess what?;)
  16. jvtwin

    jvtwin What it needs is a little more cowbell

    Jan 26, 2001
    LA Calif.

    Yeah, yeah I know, but I think my chances would be better that I would get lucky and find hidden treasures with widows cleaning out closets!

    I don't think that would happen as often with a lakland or Sadowsky bass (haven't been around long enough) ;)
  17. Three dollas and fitty cents. ;)
  18. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Quality will always be an important issue, until you get so much money with the bass that you can be sure to find another with high enough quality. Which leads to a price of approximately -500 dolares.

    (that means, that the salesp. will give you 5 grand to take the crap off his hands)
  19. Cat


    Apr 5, 2000
    Penn State
    I bought my $500 Ibanez SR because I personally liked the sound and feel a lot. Much more then the BTB's, and more then even the significantly more expensive $3000 range basses. If I was going to spend several thousand dollars on a custom bass I'd probably have it made very similar to the SR, just with better materials and such.
  20. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think that a 6,000 instrument is not going to be better than a 3,000 instrument in terms of quality. You can see this in offerings that vary in price from the same builder. It will be different by using rare and exotic woods, inlays, hardware and electronics. You can use the car analogy here, Mercedes E class versus S class, the S class is more expensive though both are of very high quality compared to say a Suzuki Swift.