On Friday, I had some tires put on my car and decided to wait across the street in a music store. I go into the store pretty often but I usually have something in mind and I seldom have the time or inclination to look around too much at things I won't be buying. It is a small store that handles Fender/Squier, Peavey, Ibanez, Washburn and B.C.Rich. Normally I pretty much stay in the Fender area but I had some time to kill so I started looking around at the Peavey and Ibanez stuff and I was amazed at what I saw. They had a 5-string Peavey with a (substantial and well made) Bad Ass knockoff bridge, a quilted maple top in a subdued navy blue for less than $250 - brand new! The Ibanez line was also impressive including a neck-through 4-string with 2 MM pickups for about $500. I am waiting to see what the Artcore semi-hollow basses with 1 MM pickup look like in person; they will sell for about $300, I am told. The Artcore guitars are shockingly well made for the price so I imagine the basses will be, too. Young people taking up the bass these days have a lot to be thankful for. It looks to me like quality in the low end has increased dramatically in the last 5 years or so. It used to be hard to find a decent inexpensive bass but now it looks like it is hard to find a bad one! There is a lot of quality out there and it doesn't necessarily cost an arm and a leg.