Back down the inexpensive custom road?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lamborghini98, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Hey all,
    So I just asked DP for my refund check and am looking to reinvest in a new bass. Ive been looking at used stuff, but nothing strikes my fancy thats in my price range. I was really impressed with the Modulus Quantums with Bartolini soapbars, but theyre just too far out of my price range. Im sooort of in a rush to get my instrument... but it doesnt look like even if I didnt get a custom, nothing would come too soon anyways. So I found some builders, and Im going to try and observe the "get what you pay for" routine. I did some searches on TB and either didnt find anything or didnt find anything bad about the following builders. So... do we see anything wrong with my choice(s) THIS time?

    GW Basses. I hear this guy (Bass Kahuna) is pretty good.
    Fbb. Looks sort of out of my price range (with the options I want). But I know its really quality work
    LeCompte. I hear Bud's a nice guy. Kool looking basses, too.

    Im sort of torn as to who to go with. It might have to depend on who's the fastest. Id probably sacrifice some price for speed.
  2. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    What sort of basses have you been playing?

    What are you looking for in a bass?

    Do you have a particular tone in your head?

    Are you looking for "move-up" from your existing basses or do you feel that the only way to get what you hear is a custom?

    Do you want a custom purely for aesthetic reasons?

    All of these are things to think about. Looking at your profile it desnt look like you've played terribly many high end basses. One option may be to buy a solid mid level instrument now (used) that will retain its value until you find what you need. A used Stringray or MIA Fender perhaps. Having a georgeous bass is great, but at the end of the day its all about playability and tone and building a bass purely on aesthetics will not gaurantee you either of those things.
  3. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    If you like Moduli just get a used one. theres a bunch of sweet ones up on the bay and Akito's black Q5 (gorgeous) is still for sale last i checked (which was a while ago mind you...)

    if not, Stambaugh comes to mind.
  4. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    If I may ask, what's your price limit? This will help a great deal.
  5. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    You are pursuing a very rare animal. The ever-elusive short build-time budget custom ;) . A very dependable rule is that customs always take longer than estimated. Me? I'd rather not rush my luthier. Good luck in your pursuit, seriously.

  6. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Ive played a bunch of high end basses (Elricks, a Fodera, Moduli, Pedullas, Laklands, Sadowsky, Alembics) so Im pretty sure I know what I really want. My price is range is 1200-1600/1700, and right now the market is pretty dry, and what I want is pretty specific. Im not going to go with a Fender style bass almost (almost ) purely for aesthetic reasons. Otherwise, I want a sound like some Fenders (the Marcus Miller comes to mind), but not most of them. Plus they lack 24 frets. Other than that I really do want a wood top and nice woods. Im not going to go with a Warwick, which is the obvious choice, because the sounds are all too harsh. The preamp really kills the tonal qualities of the woods (maybe one of the older ones with the Wenge necks would sound better), so its not like swapping out pups is going to do a whole lot of good. I sort of liked the sound and feel of the Lakland Joe Osborn I played at Rudy's, but it wasnt really perfect and wasnt aesthetically there.
    Im also considering a custom because I bought this piece of wood for a DP I was going to order, and had in his build queue for a while until I recently removed it, which cost me over 200 dollars. I looked at all of my options for getting a used bass (I think I covered the major bases (no pun intended) pretty well. All that would be left would be to check esoteric music stores around the country...).

    The specs I have right now (sort of realistic, but mainly being used for reference in chosing a luthier just to objectively see who I should go with) are:
    Afzelia Burl top (my piece)
    Mahogany Body
    Mahogany/Padauk neck(for neck through)
    Macassar Ebony neck (for bolt on)
    Bart soaps
    Aguilar 2-band
    Black Hipshot hardware (string through body "B" style bridge, tuners)
    Perhaps a custom body shape.
  7. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    HAHA. Hembry guitars is the only luthier site Ive ever seen with a "girls" section.
    And some of his body's are reminiscent of wishbass (no offense).
  8. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    If you like the Marcus Miller sound, a Mahogany Body and Bart Soaps are going to get you about as far away from that sound as you can imagine!
  9. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Another TBer said he might be able to sell me his purple quilt top Modulus with Barts (My favorite set up).
    I would have creamed me pants had it been a blue quilt top..
    Does anyone have any feelings as to which way I should go? Im sort of leaning towards the Q4 because Im not really into the whole custom thing (at first I thought I would want a custom... but now that I play other basses, Im not sure I would know exactly how I would want mine built.)
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Ain't this the truth. But no, I'm not rushing any luthiers! :bag:
  11. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I asked him about that. They're all photoshopped. I don't know what that means about him. But I have corresponded with him a bit, and talked to a couple of Hembry owners, and his work seems to be solid. No direct experience myself, though.

    I have played a Hambone -- Superbassman2000's Fairlane. Is very nice.
  12. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    If you decide to go with a custom bass than you owe it to yourself to check out Chris Stambaugh. He's quite simply the best deal out there and you'll get an amazing instrument with complete attention to detail. My advice to you as far as wood and electronic choices would be to explain what you're looking for as far as a sound to which ever luthier you choose and than to listen to what they have to say. The best instruments I've seen from builders are one's where the buyer trusts the builder's advice. The wood ideas and your pickup choice you've put forth here don't really make sense as far as what you said you're looking for from an instrument.
  13. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Fuzz, havn't you had a bass on order for like 2 years or something???? Man, for that wait you'd think it was a Carl Thompson!
  14. RE:PEAT


    Jun 24, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Picky aren't we? $1,700 budget + fussy + impatient = could be formula for disappointment. Take either fussy or impatient out of the equation and you ought to do real well on the used market. Good luck. ;)
  15. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Blue burst quilt top huh? You mean something like this Stambaugh? :D

  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Someone said Blue-burst?


    My Dingwall Afterburner 1 with flame maple top, in whale pool blue burst.

    Its in the price range you state, and the Dingwall FD-3 pickups smoke the Barts. Available in 4,5, or 6 strings... It certainly doesn't look like a Fender, but it can do a good vintage tone. The output is so hot when switched into series mode that some mistake it for having an onboard pre. The switch is a mid-cut for great slap tone. Alder body, 5pc maple neck, wenge board...

    It out-classes pretty much every bass in that price range.
  17. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    ^Excellent advice all around.

    How many strings? 4?

    I've had an FBB fretless 5 for years that I've been happy with, so I think that could be another good route. If you're going used, there are some good deals on his inventory page...maybe he could swap out pickups if you'd prefer something different.

    There are lots of options if you're willing to go used; I think you could get something that you'd be very happy with. If you liked Modulus with barts, Zon might be another good option used. There are great deals on fretted Zons from time to time. Hanewinckel is another brand worth keeping an eye out for - the two I've played were very nice. Dingwalls are great too. I've never played a GW bass or a LeCompte, so I can't speak from personal experience, but like you, I've heard good stuff.

    I'll keep thinking about other luthiers to suggest. If you keep options plain jane, you've got some good possibilities.

    Good luck,
  18. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Sam, why not get your money's worth with Nino Valenti? he's right by you for god's sake.
    You know, it really gets me that a lot of you guys de-value warmoth products/bodies just because they are fender inspired.
    it's the sound and choices that count guys. the shape of the body ain't gonna make that much of a difference, if any at all, so drop the boutique names already.
    quality wood, quality hardware, quality electronics and quality strings, and a quality builder will make a great product.
    close your eyes and open your ears.
  19. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA