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Build or buy?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LotusCarsLtd52, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Buy the bass (MIA P)

    22 vote(s)
  2. Build the bass (parts P)

    44 vote(s)
  1. LotusCarsLtd52


    Dec 6, 2009
    For my second bass I am debating whether I should save-up and buy an MIA P bass or assemble one from parts and parts kits. The point of doing the parts bass would be so that I could make the instrument more personal to me but also so I can install the exact parts I want in the instrument myself.


    I should also note that while I like the P bass itself I might want to swap the P neck with a Jazz neck. Still unsure if this is route I'll take but it's still an option.

    As for parts I was thinking of just changing all the hardware to black hardware along with swapping the standard pups for some DiMarzios.
  2. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Buy the bass and then mod the parts you feel like changing.
  3. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    buy a used parts bass :bag:
  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    I like this, although it`ll ultimately cost you the most... That said, you`ll definitely get quality parts from the get-go and can either save them for later or sell them as needed.

    But yeah, there`s pros and cons to each.

    If you buy a MIA you can find one that fits you the best with feel, tone, etc... If you get one built you can end up being stuck with a neck that isn`t 100% perfect. That said, you can make sure you get the exact color paint job you want on your bass if you build. You might be limited by selection or quantity if you buy a Fender.

    Again, there`s pros and cons to each but I think Phalex`s suggestion will give you the most options in the long haul.
  5. sneha1965


    Nov 7, 2007
    Buy a used MIA. I did the math on purchasing parts from Warmoth for a P bass and couldn't get the parts for as cheaply as I could buy used.
  6. LotusCarsLtd52


    Dec 6, 2009
    I considered used also. One question though: I thought I heard that American Standards from earlier years might not have been as good as now. Any truth to this?
  7. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I've heard they got a lot "better" in 08, but that's just what I've heard.
  8. LotusCarsLtd52


    Dec 6, 2009
  9. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Whats your budget? What specific body wood do you want? Do you want the pickup in standard fender P position or is there a diff position for it that you prefer? Do you want pickgaurd or not? What neck profile do you want? If you want other then stock fender Id say build your own or buy someone elses P bass. For me it was a no brainer. BC Rich with mahogany body, better neck profile, 24 frets, better pup placement for the basses purpose. Better neck pocket by long shot. Better hardware stock. Though I will prob later swap it out for black hardware just for asthetics. Pefect voiced P pup stock for the basses purpose. Added Basslines blackout 2-band active eq onboard.

    Point is, another mfg might make a stock P pup bass thats much closer to what youd build. Which would then just require minor mods for making it perfect. Alt useing warmouth or other parts place to get body wood and shape of choice, pup placement, electronics routeing, etc is great way to get a better P bass for you.
  10. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Do you want a Fender or a bass that looks like a Fender?
  11. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    +1 or a nice Squier P. I have a Squier P with a Warmoth J neck on it and it's a great mod platform.
  12. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    some truth / some snake oil...

    Check out some late '90s MIA basses. I have a '97 Jazz and it absolutely kills.
  13. JaySwear


    Apr 15, 2010
    Gaithersburg, MD
    i say build, but it really depends on a few big factors. first, your price range. secondly, how often you replace your equipment. parts-guitars and basses don't exactly sell for a whole lot normally. if it's a warmoth or USACG you might be able to part it out and get close to your original cost. third, how customized do you want it? warmoth will route pretty much anything into their guitars, and you could have a P-bass with a MM pickup in the bridge if you liked. depends on the weird custom features you wanted i guess

    lastly, building an instrument (even just assembling) can be really rewarding! the best guitar i've ever owned and played i put together from parts from warmoth. couldn't be happier with it.
  14. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    A good parts bass is going to cost as much as an American Fender by the time you are done, with no garuntee of being any good, and assembled by an amateur.

    Pick yourself out a nice Fender.
  15. toniwonkanobi

    toniwonkanobi Supporting Member

    May 23, 2008
    Northern California
    Endorsing: 1964 Ears, LLC.
    Nothing wrong with an 'amateur' putting a bass together, unless he's an 'amateur' about it. I built a USACG bass similar to Nino Valenti and at a cost of more than $1500 per bass, it is not likely that anyone would be an 'amateur' about building it.

    Anyways, to the OP: it really depends on how "personal" you're planning on making the bass and whether resale is important to you. If you're doing a build that's far from the 'Fender formula' -- ash/maple or alder/rosewood, then you might screw yourself on resale if/when GAS strikes.

    For instance, I see a lot of Warmoth mahogony body/wenge neck and board, pearloid pickguard, gold hardware, crazy preamp, EMG active PUPs, etc. on here for less than $600, which is sad, since the cost of all the parts was probably $1300.

    I personally built a Fender formula bass and sold it for what i put into it (not counting the money i spent on a setup). Nino Valenti had quite a following building parts basses, and he stayed pretty close to the Fender formula.

    I've looked at putting another bass together off and on, and for about $1000, i can put together a fender bass with nitro finish and good hardware and passive electronics. So $1000. Realize the average MIA reissue jazz or precision goes for about that, which would sort of invalidate building it yourself because at least the true Fenders would have resale value.

    The only time i see building it yourself can be financially rewarding is when you're out to copy a particular boutique bass company like Sadowsky or Nordstrand or Alleva-Coppolo. For less than half the cost of those big name boutique jazz bass companies, you can have the same type of wood, exact same electronics/PUPs, and practically the same hardware. A lot of TBers believe those makers match the woods better on a per bass basis, which could be true or not, and whether it makes a difference, i am not sure on...So i suppose you'd lose that on your self-build.

    YMMV of course, and i don't mean to knock some TBers ideas of great basses (i can think of so many terrible wood combos that are less than aestetically pleasing, but i'm more of a vintage-y guy, so i shouldn't be judging)

    Edit: sorry, i suppose i should give you my advice: for a simple MIA p, just buy it. it would be slightly more expensive to build a parts bass and if you don't finish it yourself, probably a 4-6 lead time from your supplier/finisher.

    Edit, part II: oh, and i omitted an important facet of this whole thing: building a bass in and of itself is a special and rewarding process (if it turns out right), and maybe that is enough to make it 'worth it' to do a parts bass over the MIA p. IF you build, and if this is your first build, remember to:
    1) read A LOT about anything and everything you're going to do yourself.
    2) make sure you have the correct tools for the job, but...
    3) make sure you don't go crazy on stewmac.com. they have everything Carey Nordstrand, Jimmy Coppolo and Roger Sadowsky combined could ever need to build an instrument. I think they'll probably sell a CNC machine someday too!
  16. I know the whole "it's a Fender" but I'm lazy in that I hate reselling crap, so buying a bass at full price, ripping parts off and replacing them w/ what I want and having to go through the hassle of selling the old parts sucks - I really want to try Warmoth and get it right the first time . . . plus resale really isn't a top priority when I buy a piece of gear. just my 2cents
  17. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    careful with warmoth, some of their cooler stuff is hella heavy
  18. LotusCarsLtd52


    Dec 6, 2009
    To answer everybody's questions: I like the concept of the Duff McKagan bass but don't like the fact it's MIM and not even MIJ. I'd be thinking of getting a custom-made standard P body with the P/J combo and buying an actual MIA Fender Jazz neck (body from Warmoth or maybe Atkinson). It's because while the standard MIA P and Jazz are both nice basses both seem, in my mind, to leave something to be desired. The P/J combo custom made seems to have more appeal to me.
  19. wideyes


    May 9, 2007
    Eugene, OR
    I think a parts bass is fun IF you can get a good deal on parts. Going the Warmoth route always seemed to have questionable returns on your investment, and I agree with other folks saying it's better to put that money into a bona-fide Fender. You never know what the future holds, and value is value. BUT, if you found a neat neck on the classifieds, plus some cool body on the 'bay, and rounded it out with your favorite hardware and a nice pup you've never tried before but read crazy reviews about, it could be really sweet! And if you shop around responsibly and buy good used gear, it could be really financially viable.

    That's what I'D do if I were making a parts bass...
  20. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    My view is that I never build a parts bass IF I can get it (or nearly it) as a whole instrument. Parts basses always seem to cost an arm and leg compared to what you can pick up a dream bass for.

    But once you start pushing the edges, build ( or custom = $$$) is the only option. I'm seriously considering a P/MM build myself! I'm sort of taken with the idea of building a "Leo" bass that could be dialed from P-bass all the way to Stingray.

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