Big money basses VS. Really big money basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thehurlatron, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. Is there really a justifiable difference between say a $2000 bass and a $6000 bass besides the looks?
    (wood choices/neckthrough/ect)

    Is the playability really THAT much different?

    My main bass is a warwick thumb5 B.O. I'm looking into a high end bass. (Jerzy Drozd,Ritter,Roscoe)
    Is there a big enough difference in the playabilty and sound to justify the difference in price?

    I know some of it is by opinion. And if you have the cash to blow. I need some input, I'm having pre-buyers remorse!
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    While there are diminishing returns (ie the sound, playability, and quality control between a bass that's $100 and a bass that's $1000 may be vastly different, the same characteristics will not likely be as different between a bass that's $2000 and one that's $3000), the majority of what you're paying for is the handmade labor and the expenses of running a small business without having massive amounts of customers to pay the bills.

    It's all going to be personal opinon. Some people won't notice much difference between playing a Fender Jazz and a Sadowsky. Some will. Neither of them are right or wrong.

    At least you'll know that the difference between your Warwick and a Drozd or a Ritter will be handmade care- Warwick uses machines to do nearly every process of building a bass, including the fretwork, which most companies don't do. That's not to say it's better or worse- I've seen Warwicks with better frets than basses where the frets were hand-installed.

    If you can try a bass by the builder beforehand, do it!
  3. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Ferndale MI.
    Artist: Xotic Basses/AccuGroove
    I've had this "discussion" with many folks here and other places.

    I put it like this:
    Does that $1000 exotic wood top on your $6000 Fodera make it a better than the $500 top on a $4000 Fodera.
    Outside of the fact that it's rare and may look crazy/cool, IMO HELL NO!!!

    I've had the pleasure of meeting Hans Ritter and playing his wonderful basses. Works of art. Stunning tone and play-ability.

    I feel when your reach a certin point, you pay for that particular builders style, and that in-of-itself can be costly.

    Foders are awesome basses (I owned a gorgous Emperor 5) and so are F Basses ( have a BNF5, owned a killer BN5).
    Both completely hand made, but significantly different in price.
    You can get the same options (woods ect..) on either bass. Is one any nicer than the other??
    To me, no. (I know-personal preference blah blah blah...)
    What do you think??
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    If you had a crappy mother, the $6,000 bass will make you feel much better about it.
  5. You really have to play the high end stuff and decide for yourself if it's worth it. Just a word of warning though, once you find something you truely love, you won't be able to settle for anything else. Sometimes it's better not to play them...or look at them!
  6. vacman


    Mar 8, 2004
    portland, or
    You can take that advice to the bank.
  7. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    In the case of a thumb vs something custom I'd say there is a definite difference. Some high end basses are just about looks (fodera=5000= ridiculous in my book) and others about feel and sound. It all depends on you. For instance, I'd much rather have an Fbass than a Fodera or Sadowsky because it suits me in sound, looks, and feel. NEVER should a high brand name come before feel and quality in the most imporatant goals you have. I prefer Fbass but you may enjoy something completely different.

    The diff in Fbass (etc) vs warwick is the heart and soul put into each one. There are many companies who claim to be "handmade" but on how many basses can one tell the difference in 2k or 1k?
  8. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    There is a notable difference in resale between an expensive (ie $2000) bass and a really expensive one (ie $5000+). The resale difference is arguably a lot greater than any quality differences! :D
  9. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    I think the only difference in most cases is what the builder believes his time is worth, and what type of name the builder has.

    Most $5-6000 builders started as $2000 builders, and the price grew as popularity and demand grew... standard business.
  10. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I believe that you should always buy the best you can possible afford at all times.
    This has been said before and it isn't at all meant to be a "talk down":

    "If you have to wonder whether you should buy a $2000+ bass or not then chances are you shouldn't".

    Some people just have alot of money to spend and they enjoy buying beautiful basses that they can play and enjoy. Who can blame them, it's functional and certainly cheaper than owning a stable of fine automobiles or something.
    There's another group of people who buy these basses because they feel need them to help sound the best they can sound. Wrong or right you've also got to respect the Artist who knows what tools he/she needs to have to get the work done.
    Then there are the others. These people are under the impression that the better the equipment, the better the player, period. There reasons for owning expensive basses are purely visual for them. While this doesn't seem very noble, as long as there are other musicians around who judge talent with their eyes and not their ears it's hard to argue here as well.
  11. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    What I would've said Mikebass, is that Fbass seems to be the best in its price range especially used. It is all proportional to your money and taste. For me $2500 is the limit, and in that range F takes the cake and then some. Fodera just seems to be overpriced compared to the other expert luthiers.
  12. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Ferndale MI.
    Artist: Xotic Basses/AccuGroove
    My God people, chill.....
    I'm not slamming Fodera. I owned one of the nicest ones I seen in a long time, just wasn't me.
    Maybe I should have qualified my statement better.
    A buckeye burl top with matching headstock F Bass is quite a bit cheaper than it's counterpart Fodera.
    Do I thinks it's a better bass than the Fodera??? No, but at the same time I don't feel the Fodera is better than the F Bass.
    Both are sweet.
    Pick one and be happy.
  13. I sure hope you mean Jens here, otherwise I've been buying basses off the wrong guy! :smug:
  14. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Ritter is actually Hans' middle name. His last is Moleman.

    "The building of a bass is a lot like a good marriage"
  15. Thanks for all the input so far. (and the heated discussion about fodera and Fbass :) )
    I know I just have to play them and see, but my fear is that I'll play a bass that plays a little better than I'm used to, but the look of it will distract me from all else that matters. Most high end customs are works of art. Don't get me wrong, I don't have cash falling out of my pockets, i'll have to work for this.
    I guess what it comes down to is this.
    Can a $2000 bass play just as good if not better than a custom $6000 bass. And if it does, can I then justify the difference in price just for looks.
    Alot of people on here say "it's all about tone and playability", but I'm sure it's at least a little bit about the look of it also.
  16. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Only you can decide this.

    If it helps, paying $4000 for a piece of wall art is relatively inexpensive, and people do it all the time. Before the 20th century, art was a big thing (many artists had status equivalent to a movie star) and average people would commonly save up to buy one of their pieces. There are some basses that have incredibly artistic craftsmenship to them, so it's not like you're just paying for a block of wood and some strings.

    And you can't even play "Brown Eyed Girl" on a Van Gogh.
  17. vision

    vision It's all about the groove!

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    the thing is, in my opinion, you aren't going to find a $6000 that without a doubt plays "better" than a $2000 bass. its all personal preferance at that point. (there are some exceptions, because i think some basses priced in the $2000 range are really overpriced and don't play or sound that great.) also, you have to consider what that $4000 difference is going to. part of it may go towards more rare/expensive wood. part may go towards being handbuilt, with more attention to detail. part may go towards the overhead of running a smaller business. part may go towards the exclusivity that noone else will have your exact bass. how much of that will affect the actual playability and tone of the bass? i guess thats up to the person with $6000 in their pocket to decide...

    in general, its all going to come down to whether you can afford to spend $6000 on a bass, and if when you play both that $6000 bass is worth it to you. you'll have to play a drozd, ritter, and roscoe and decide for yourself if its worth the extra $$$.

  18. HA! That just made my day!
  19. I am very happy with my mid 80s MIJ Strat with Fralins and my CIJ Tele with Rio Grandes. But I haven't played a bass that costs less than $1500 retail that I really like. I look for bargains everywhere and try to squeeze the most out of each dollar, but inexpensive basses don't feel right to me. OTOH, I have never played a $5,000 bass that I preferred to my Rick Turner Electroline. The 5 string that I am trying to save money for right now is sticker priced at $1799.

    The value of any item depends on what you value. I can appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship and status of the Dingwall Z2 on the Bass Central website, but I am sure that I would be more satisfied with an Afterburner and spend the additional money elsewhere. Other people make different decisions based on their values.
  20. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Just like all other expensive passions (cars, sport equipments, home theater, etc. etc.) you get to a point of diminishing returns. But if it is what makes you happy then it is worth it.