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Bass buying: Cost vs Skill-driven?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by twinjet, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. twinjet

    twinjet What does God need with a starship? Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008

    In this Bobby Vega demo, a bassist in the background discusses how he feels when playing his Fodera vs a Fender bass. He feels a responsibility to be better than he was [as a bassist].

    This makes me wonder. Do players base budgets around their own skill? Or do they buy higher-priced instruments as a way of "growing a pair" and perfecting their craft?

    Personally, I bought (and sold) a brand new American Standard Precision bass because I felt like ten years was an appropriate time to upgrade to an instrument of significant quality. A milestone gift of sorts.

    What are your thoughts and experiences on the matter?
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
    Jay2U and Jazzcaster89 like this.
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    No but Bobby Vega is the greatest bass player that ever was.
  3. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I feel like i have the skills to appreciate my Thumb 6

    But like, when I started every bass felt bad in my hands, after a while a better quality bass felt better as it responds better to nuances in playing etc.

    I think this is why we have a lot of people saying their SX or low end Fender is just as good if not better than a Fodera, they just don't have the skill to appreciate a better bass.
    Bassist4Eris, mdogs, Shpigel and 2 others like this.
  4. McFarlin

    McFarlin Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I feel a responsibility to be better than I was [as a bassist] just because I want to be a better bassist, a more learned musician, and a more functional and thoughtful contributor to whatever project I am working with.
    Dropping a few grand (or more) on an instrument in no way qualifies as an upgrade or improvement in any of the above mentioned areas, nor will it motivate me to practice more to suit an idea of my skills matching the price tag.

    I try to only gift myself a new tool as a reward for working hard and making significant progress as a player.
    But I'm still an irrational consumer, so it doesn't always work out that way.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
    Gnal, matante, spliffnriff and 9 others like this.
  5. For me it's more about getting a certain sound that can't be had otherwise. My Ken Smith has a distinct sound, my Warwick Thumb has a distinct sound, etc. In general though, an expensive instrument will expose sloppy technique so it does force you to be a better player.
  6. Regarding the first question, I'd have to say yes from a personal point of view. As a beginner I didn't go off and purchase a real nice bass right away, despite my 3-4 years guitar experience.
    Now I'd feel comfortable playing essentially any bass - I wouldn't purchase a luxury bass because my finances don't allow it as a student.
    This may have more to do with the fact that I didn't know how long I'd stick to bass, but looking back I still would have bought something cheap to start on.

    Of course, if somebody hands me a Ritter I'm gonna start jamming Wooten tunes and any other impressive stuff I know! :D
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Some of the top bass players I know play a P-Bass.
    Of course what the pros play does influence sales.
    My boutique bass does not make me play better although I wish it could.lol
    hrodbert696 and bobyoung53 like this.
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I'm always impressed at the circumvolutions, rules and justifications some need to make up.
    I choose an instrument because I can afford it and like the way it plays. I don't think there is more to it.
    Immigrant, quickfix, JLY and 40 others like this.
  9. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I say if you have enough skill you can make any bass sound good.
    Hence price shouldn't matter.
  10. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I'm pretty sure a great artist can make a so-so instrument sound better than it's worth, rather than the opposite. If buying a 'better' instrument makes you practice more, I'm all for it...

    ... I choose cheaper excuses to practice, such as, it's Tuesday...
  11. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Never heard of Wooten before signing into forum... I know, I know... anyways, saw a YouTube video of him the other day... awesomeness, in a most substantial way. Is it Tuesday practice day?
  12. I think most of us have known that guy, who likes to buy cool gear but doesn't know how to play it very well.

    Most of us don't want to be that guy. When I take my Rickenbacker out in public, I pressure myself to live up to the image of this instrument. People associate Rics with some great rock bass players, and if I suck then it means I am just that guy, so it motivates me to try just a little harder to play better.

    I have a couple of nice electric guitars, but I am not a very good guitarist so they mainly stay in my house. Likewise, while I enjoy going to a jazz jam every now and then, I don't go around telling people I am a jazz musician, as my skill level in that genre is not up to standards for gigging.

  13. I prefer to think that every day is a practice day! :cool:
    Flabass and JIO like this.
  14. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Oh, thank heavens... I thought we were going to go for a whole WEEK without a thread about "how much somebody else's bass COST!"
  15. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    I don't budget around my abilities. They don't make basses that expensive.
  16. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    My skill is irrelevant. I buy what I can afford and play it without any regrets whatsoever...;)

    Good Luck!
  17. davy4575


    Nov 4, 2009
    Denver, CO
    In short order, this thread will self destruct. by that I mean its going to digress into the bowels of the expensive bass vs cheap bass whole good vs bad. Before it does, Define "better" player - its subjective, Define "better" bass - its subjective too. I think in the spirit of the op's question, if the bass has a more sensitive action and pick ups, is more responsive, and has a wider range of available tones, particularly on the higher end of the spectrum, it may showcase unintended noises, harmonics and results. Granted, most players may not be wanting those items highlighted so they may put more effort to play more accurately in order to avoid that, but I dont think better is an accurate descriptor there. There are those of us out there that like those noises and favor an unconventional bass tone or sound. We might choose a bass that shows that just for that reason. Im sure that based on what Ive heard, I can get the desired tone and sounds without the extraneous sounds I dont want out of a Wal much easier than my spector, so I dont necessarily know if it would make me play more accurately. I have to pay quite a bit of attention to what Im doing on lower end basses so as to avoid sounds I dont want.
    4stringmachinepete likes this.
  18. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Then why do all his product demos make me want to not buy anything he's demoing?
    matante and petrus61 like this.
  19. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    Once I knew for certain that I wanted to play the bass for the rest of my life I tried to never compromise on the tools I used toward that end. For my needs, most of my basses have been in the $1K range, but I do have a bass that was about $2.5K and has been worth every penny to me. But if I could have gotten the sound and playability I wanted for 300 bucks, then so be it - and conversely if it took $3K then so be that as well. For me I'd have to do a lot more saving and planning and waiting to buy a $3K bass vs a $300 bass, but ultimately I wouldn't let price stand in the way. ymmv
    Shpigel likes this.
  20. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    He must be terrible. My mistake.

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