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Cheapo brands that got good

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cronker, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. cronker


    Feb 13, 2007
    When I was starting out, brands like Yamaha, Cort and Samick were the "budget" end of instruments. In other words, crap.
    Now I see very good models made by these brands, and am a little disappointed that Fender (the revered brand, back then) are making instruments in China that sell for $~200.
    I owned a Cort knockoff of the headless Steinberger, and it wasn't great, but now the brand goes for a lot more $$
    Is it like the car makers? The longer you produce, the better you get?
  2. PBnJBassist


    Mar 8, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    I know Squier is a brand that just got it right after awhile. Better basses, more consistent quality, and basses you can't find in the Fender line - shows a bit more diversity. Yamaha is a good brand now. Guitar-wise, I'd take a Yamaha Pacifica over a Fender Strat any day. On basses, the BB is a fantastic P/J passive bass. Other lower costing companies nowadays like GFS (Guitar Fetish) and SX are mixed but still offer good basses, reviews before on them were more towards the negative, but their acts (from what I can tell) have gotten better - so it shows they are at least paying attention to customer feedback.

    Lower end instruments from bigger name companies such as (again) Squier from Fender, Epiphone from Gibson, the Kingston series from MTD, Soundgears from Ibanez, Tributes from G&L, Subs from Musicman, and LTD basses from ESP have been getting more consistent as well. These days, it's easy to pay (if buying new) $500 and getting something that can last long, requires very little modding, and can be played live, at home, or in studio. You get what you pay for, and sometimes, you can get quite a lot for under $1000!
  3. cronker


    Feb 13, 2007
    Great response, thanks!
    I'm luckily in a financial position now where I have everything I want.
    I do worry about the next generation having to play POS instruments, but as you say, even Squires are good nowadays.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I think Squier, Peavey, and Ibanez all got more respect over the years.

    I'm sad that Carlo Robelli did the opposite. Although I'm pretty sure they sold the company. Back in the 70s they put out some somkin guitars. A friend of mine had a Carlo Robelli sunburst Les Paul that I drooled over. I had a strat that sounded awesome. Wasn't playing bass back then, so I don't know about their basses.
  5. ChuckTrucks


    Jul 28, 2012
    Squire and Ibanez. In the sub $500 range I probably wouldnt look at anything else.
  6. hah..did not know Carlo Robelli was ever a 'respectable' brand. My first bass was a carlo robelli USB890 from sam ash on flatbush ave..at the time I had a choice between a fender MIM P bass and the robelli as they were both in the same price range($300ish)...needless to say I made the wrong choice..the electronics on it went completely shot within a few months of owning it and the active/passive toggle never worked too well either(passive mode sounded like absolute mud)..lets just say I bought a jazz bass a few years down the road and never looked back...but I still own the bass for the memories.
    ..As far as I understood CR got bought out and became a Sam Ash exclusive brand..maybe thats where it all went to $hit..
  7. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Yeah, many decades ago.

    It's merely a Sam Ash brand stuck on all sorts of generic contract product. That's all it is.
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Same place I bought my first real geeetar (Gibson Midnite Special). But it was on Kings Highway and coney island ave then. Where are you in sheepshead? I used to live on Ocean and Voorhies. Now I'm on Knapp St.
  9. Fender.
  10. Didnt know Sam ash was ever on CI avenue either..I bet Norm's music was relieved when they moved to flatbush..I'm on E7th and shore pkwy...hope you are doin alright after this disastrous week.
  11. Yes. The knockoff makers start by making something that looks about right, then if they have sales they get feedback and start making changes. The shortcut is to build cheapo models for a company that already has expertise and teaches it to the low cost maker. Either way not only do the company's products improve but some of those working for the company learn, decide they have a better idea and start a new company. I've seen it happen in many industries.
  12. I like the Cort Curbow. Especially compared to the Sears guitars they put out in the 80s
  13. sr506


    Jan 16, 2007
    Carbondale IL
    didnt read the thread but for the money you wont beat an SX IMO
  14. 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
    I wasn't aware that Yamaha ever made crappy instruments.
  15. rockinrayduke

    rockinrayduke Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    Henderson, NV
    When I started playing in the 60's there was was pure D crap out there, especially the Japanese stuff. Now, beginner players have a lot of great low priced choices, which I think is fantastic. Maybe it will keep a lot more of them playing!
  16. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    That's my top picks to best answer the question.
  17. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    That's the enduring Yamaha myth, "Zero mojo, but great quality," but it's just a myth. Yamaha has farmed out production all over the place and has as a result wound up selling some real junk with their name on it. Their reputation with guitars -- especially acoustics -- has taken a pretty bad hit in recent years.

    Like nearly everyone else, they're in the business of exhausting brand equity, except possibly in the Japanese domestic market -- about the only place left on earth with informed, discriminating buyers.
  18. MiJaKo


    Oct 27, 2010
    Rochester, NY
    Back in the mid 80s when I started buying instruments, Fender/Squier didn't have such a wide range of quality like today. When you bought a Fender, you were getting the best US-made instrument they had to offer. And a Squier was not much of a step down from Fender, made in Japan at that time, which is why their value has held over the years. IMO and IME, in the ten years or so that followed, the Squier brand got diluted and went downhill. It's only been in recent years that they've recovered.
    I should say the same for Fender too. It's nice that someone can buy a Fender at nearly any price point, but at the expense of their name.
    The uninitiated could say, "I tried a Squier and it completely sucked." Who knows if their experience would have been better with a different series?
  19. CNC machines play a huge part in this. Experienced luthiers and stringent QC are the other.
    Squiers are very good for the money, now, although they could use some refining on things like fret edges and putting screws in straight (sometimes).
  20. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    Ibanez, Yamaha, Schecter