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Cost of building my own bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Gbass75, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. So... I've been GASsing on building my own bass...

    All natural wood finish (satin... not "vintage tinted" in any way)...

    Early-to-mid 50s p-bass body...

    Tele-type-headstock p-bass neck...

    Bone nut...

    All vintage hardware & reverse tuners (including pickup and bridge covers)...

    Either a Lollar or Fralin single-coil...

    White or Tort guard...

    What do y'all figure something like this would cost? I could do the math, of course (and eventually will)...

    That being said... what's YOUR "guesstimate?"
  2. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    Wow, kind of an open question. The answer really depends on how much of the bass you will actually be building, if you need to buy any special tools and what materials and woods you want to use.
    You can "build" a bass from Warmoth parts for between $800 and $2000 or you could buy raw wood and build from scratch for somewhat less money to significantly more money.
    Proper tools and equipment will easily exceed the cost of the bass parts if you don't already have them. So for many first timers its more cost efficient to "build" (actually a more accurate term would be to Assemble) a bass from Warmoth or Mightymight, or GFS or Allparts inventory of parts.
    If you already have a fair collection of power and hand tools you're a step ahead of most and building from scratch may be a great option.
    It would be fantastic for a luthier to jump in here and provide a list of recommended power and hand tools and equipment needed for a typical bass build.
    Building or even just assembling a bass can be a very rewarding experience. Go for it!
  3. devo_stevo


    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    Exactly. Go to the Luthier's Corner and read through the stickies for information on the tools that you would need to build from scratch. There are plenty of them. Not all are required, but they make the job easier and more enjoyable.

    As for cost, nobody knows that but you since you are the only one that knows for sure what you want. I know that my first one cost more than it would have to buy one, but they get cheaper from there. ;)
  4. Awesome! So... some clarification...

    I'm no woodworker... I'll be purchasing parts and having them assembled by my local luthier.

    Body and neck will likely come from Warmoth.
  5. ebick


    Sep 3, 2013
    Have you been to Warmoth's site? That ought to give you a decent guesstimate.

    Edit Note: We must have been typing at the same time.
  6. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Six to eight times its market value when it's finished.

    Building is an incredibly bad and uneconomic idea. Seriously, think about finding a less-wasteful hobby. :(
  7. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Spent about $1200 total on my Warmoth jazz, but I did all the finish work myself, which is expensive so you'll probably have to add that on. Also I really didn't get a ton of crazy custom options, though it sounds like you won't be, either.

    Watch out though. It can add up quickly. I went slightly over budget, but it's a great bass so, you know.
  8. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    FBass - that's actually very helpful. If you go the Warmoth route and buy one of their finished bodies and one of their finished necks you'll be in the neighborhood of about $600. Then you can add the electronics for about another $200 and the hardware for about another $200 then strings and pic guard and misc screws will run another $100. Assuming you have Warmoth route the pickup cavities for your bass you should be able to just assemble and then take to local luthier or guitar tech for a full setup (nut filing, fret dress/level/crown, set neck relief, adjust bridge and intonation...) for about another $100.
    So that's about $1200 for a rough budget.
    Things to do that can save you money:
    Allparts or Mightymight necks are less expensive than the Warmoth necks.
    Hipshot bridges are a good value but there are even less expensive bridges to be found that work equally well.
    Lots of bargain buys in the pickup market but you might be getting what you pay for there.
    Passive is typically cheaper than active preamps so you can save money there depending on what sound you're after.
    Doing your own setup will save money if you know what you're doing but will cost you money to correct if you don't know what you're doing.

    All things considered you might be able to get by with as little as an $800 spend if going the Warmoth route and even less if you go the GFS or USAGC route. But if you want to set an initial budget aside for this build I'd recommend $1200 as a realistic one.
  9. devo_stevo


    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    I know it's hard to believe, but sometimes people do things for reasons other than simple economics. Most hobbies are that way as a matter of fact. If that's all I worried about, I would never have started building, and it's something that I enjoy very much.

    OP, if you want to do this, don't worry about the resell value so much as the experience of doing it and know that you are the only one that has a bass just like yours.
  10. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    BTW this was my last Warmoth build...
    It ran nearly $2000 but I wasn't focused on the budget I was focused on the look and sound I was after.
    Deluxe 5 Jazz body - black limba - custom routed pickups, battery box front control and rear control panel. Custom painted to vintage aged Olympic white.
    Deluxe 5 Jazz neck - solid Indian rosewood - custom shaped headstock, gold fret wire.
    Bartolini 5 string Precision neck and Bartolini 5 string Stingray classic wound pickups.
    John East custom designed preamp - vol/vol stack, b/t/b neck, b/t/b bridge, 3 way selector neck/both/bridge and stereo jack. Bridge PU is voiced for pre EB stingray tone.
    Custom cut tort pick guard.
    All hardware is gold color - hip shot bridge, ultra light tuners and string trees, gold screws, neck plate and strap locks.
    Optima - custom set of gold plated round wound strings.

    Sounds and plays fantastic, cost nearly $2000 to build and would probably resell for about $600 max or maybe as much as $800 parted out. But it's a keeper so I'm not worried about resale on this one. :D
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    +1 - and frankly, if you are willing to take your time and be flexible about specific parts you can build a bass that is part-by-part chosen by you for not that much more than an off the shelf instrument of similar worth functionally. The object is to set cost limits and fish around until you find what you want. It might be new or used and you might find something other than what's on your list for a great price. The journey is part of what will be the result.
  12. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    exactly what I wanted - made/assembled from new, used and custom (support your local luthier) made parts - sounds and plays fantastic

    cost: about 1/3 of a FCS

  13. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    :hyper: sexy
  14. eno50


    Jan 31, 2009
    North of Memphis
    There is nothing wrong building your dream bass, there are a few things to consider...
    You will never get back what you put in the bass,if you sell it you will take a big lost,but if you never sell it ,then it does not matter..
    Another option is to buy a bass as close to what you want and then customize to your spec's ,you could save money and may recover most of your investment if you do sell or want something different..
    Brand names do make a difference on resale value,custom builds by an unknown builder drop in value ,you almost can not give them away...
    So having said all that, It's your money and you can do what you want,what I'am saying if your going to keep the bass spend what you want,but if your going to maybe sell it later to build something else your going to loose big time...
    I myself have built two for myself from aftermarket parts and they turned out nice but they were expensive and ended up parting them out to get the most out of them .
  15. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Nothing in the OP's original post made inquiry into market value now or in the future. The man wants to assemble a bass for himself as far as I can understand.
  16. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Building bass from parts: $1000-$1500
    Bass building experience: Priceless
  17. I'd guess you were in for 1200 - 1400.

    I built my own guitar a year or so ago, dropped about $600, but I did all the assembly myself and oil finished it. I like the guitar a lot and I am happy I did it. I got a guitar that was what I wanted - a wide necked jassmaster. No one makes one of those!
  18. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
  19. PCR


    Apr 11, 2008
    Here is my build that finished last year.

    I did the assembly and set up. The total cost (w/ case) was $1K. I wasn't trying to skimp, I just enjoy the hunt for good values.

    The neck and most of the components were used. The body was ordered from Musikraft and sent to The Guitar Mill to be finished.

    My suggestion to you is to try to do the assembly yourself (that's the fun part). You can always bring it in for the final setup.

    This bass was my second build (the first was a tele). I don't really care about the re-sale value, or whether I'll be able to get my money back from it. The way I see it:
    1. I'm not planning to sell it.
    2. I enjoy the process of building guitars

    I'm in the middle of another Jazz Bass build.


  20. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    It doesn't have to go into four figures or even into high three figures, unless you want it NOW. That's when you can ring up a real tab. Buy used. Be patient. Learn how to tweak. You can end up with amazing looking and ridiculously playable stuff.