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Custom Bass Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bad Brains, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. Bad Brains

    Bad Brains Banned

    Jan 7, 2004
    Detroit, michigan
    Hey whats up. I was just woundering at what stage do you think would be a good time to get a custom bass job done? In other words, i have been playing about 2 years now, i started off using somewhat "cheap" basses (the first one i got, and still use was around 400) at first because i didn't wan't to spend a lot of money on something i wasn't sure i was going to really get into.

    Fast foward 2 years later and i'm totally hooked, while still using the same bass. It's not a bad bass by any means, and i'm comfortable playing it. But i think it's time for me to move on to something better, and i'd pretty much rather spend a little extra and have something made for me that i will have forever. I have a pretty good idea of what i want in the way of feel/tone/ect. Although i know i will always play bass for ages, i still sometimes feel as if i'm rushing into spending an awful lot. What's you peoples stance on this?
  2. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    This is really a tough question to answer, as every individual's situation is different. If you're going to go for a true "custom", where you design the body shape, piece together the entire electronics package, and choose all of the body woods, etc., then I'd suggest waiting until you've really had a chance to develop your style and your voice (unless the price tag and risk are going to be very low). However, if you're looking at "customizable" basses and plan to take the advice of a dealer and/or the builder into consideration before settling on your final specs, then I'd say go for it if it is something that will bring you enjoyment, inspire you, and help you improve your playing abilities.

    There are more choices than ever before in the custom/customizable end of the market, and there are a good number of builders who are offering outstanding instruments at an incredible value. Not every high-end bass has to be tricked out to the max. You can gain the benefit of top-notch construction, materials, tone, and playability for a reasonable price. However, just keep in mind that if you ask for a 30" 9 string, that's what you're gonna' get, and you might not be into 30" 9 strings a couple years down the road! :D
  3. mybluespector


    Mar 22, 2004
    Joplin, Mo
    If you have the maney to do this i would get into a higher end bass like jpj said above! Alot of co. mae great basses! But i will tell you this it might take ayou a year or so to decide on one! LOL It took me 16 years to decide on my spector! But i actually called up and talked to spector and he told me every little thing about the bass and we descused alot about my style and playing! It was great and i got a awsome bass out of the deal! But i would also at the point of 2 years take the old bass you have and go trade it for a decent frettless! I like to tell people that have been playing at any point of time to have a frettless cause some times you just need one! LOOL
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Call me a jerk - playing for just 2 years means you barely know the bass.

    Get mass production basses and learn what you need/want. A custom bass seems cool. But good musicians will see that you're using it to make up for a lack of skills. I've been playing for decades and I can still get rejected in auditions just because I'm not "the right guy." Your gear doesn't speak for yourself.

    In other words - a custom bass may look good at an audition. But if you can't smoke it, you're not going to get the gig anyway, based on the looks of your bass/amp.
  5. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I'm with Rick. Only two years in, it's pretty hard to know what you want, what you need, what works now that won't work in a year, what won't at all (with or without you knowing it).

    If you want to lay down some customizations, an outfit like Carvin would be a good place to visit (www.carvin.com), or maybe Warmoth, and have a local tech put it together for you.

    A full bore custom bass is a tall order. A very tall order. I almost ordered one about 3 years into my bass playing, and I'm very, very glad I didn't, as, looking back, it would have been useless almost right off the bat. I spent the money on a cab and a head, and that did more for my sound than a custom bass ever would have.

    Think about it: Woods (weight, tone, ect. This is huge. Hundreds of woods, let alone combinations), pickups types (P/J/MM, ect), pickup placement, number of pickups, pickup brand, active, passive, preamps, numbe of strings, neck profile, body shape and contours, weight, balance, hardware...
    What is it about any and all production basses that do not meet your needs? Are there any that can be upgraded with electronics and hardware that will give you what you need? Just what are the needs not being met? Will this be remedied by a custom bass?

    It's a lot. I'd go with Carvin where you've got choices, but it's "impossible" to make bad ones as far as tone and playability goes. You can make it look butt ugly, but it'll sound and play like a bass, not a poorly planned monstrosity. Heck, they don't even build it til you order it (unless you've ordered a very common/stock version). So it is literally built for you.
  6. mybluespector


    Mar 22, 2004
    Joplin, Mo
    Well i started playing when i was about 7. My fathers fender. Well after i took to it about 2 years later he bought me my very own bass! It was a bently. You guys rememer those basses? LOL I had it a couple more years and when i was about 12 or so i bought me a fender mexican and had that for years. Then when i was 17 i bought a used fender frettless and traded in my mexican for it! Played that for 7 years and still have it! Then i bought a warwick corvette pro-line back in the day when they didnt sell it in the usa about 96 i think. Then about a year ago i paid 2700 for my spector usa 5 string! Now i am happy. Well almost i would still like to have a warwick dolphin pro. A older model with the adjust a nut. Ohh and the ZON frettless that i need! OHHHH and :meh: ;) :hyper:
  7. Bad Brains

    Bad Brains Banned

    Jan 7, 2004
    Detroit, michigan
    Thanks for the input guys.

    I understand that if you don't have the skills then it dosn't matter what kind of bass you have. I guess what i'm trying to get at is that i'm at that stage where i am finally starting to learn so much, although i still feel i'm years away from even being called a good bassist (at least in my own opinion). I really don't wan't to get a custom bass because i feel it's a cool thing to have or to hide my inexperience. I usually try and enjoy the fact that i'm inexperienced because learning is fun, i will never try and hide that fact. I would just like to get a bass that i can have throughout my entire learning process and be able to keep my whole life. I want to get something thats kind of the "me" now, of course down the road i will change, but i could alaways reflect back. I don't know i'm weird about this kind of stuff.

    Hopefully i'm making sense, sorry for the rambling.

    What do you guys think.
  8. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    See my post, see Rick's post.
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    There are phases in life, Brains. Like in bass playing.
    First you start to learn, and when you start, any bass is great, 'cause you don't know how to use it.
    Then you come to a point when you think you can use it. And you think the bass goes bad on you. 'Cause you reach a flat part of your development curve (all do!), and you blaim it on the bass.
    Then, if you stick to that old one, you find that you start developing again, and that "crappy item" actually works!
    As you keep improving, you will want to try other stuff out, to find and use their subtle, individual nuances. But, if you kept the first one, you will probably go back to it every now and then!

    Disclaimer: if the first one actually is crap, and you don't maintain it well, it won't do past phase two (the flat).
  10. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    If that's the case you're probably better off trying out loads of off the shelf basses in music shops, there's bound to be one that works for you. It might take a while to find the right one, but it's a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than getting a bass custom made. And from what I've read on here about other peoples custom basses, they order everything they know SHOULD give them the right tone/feel/etc but it still isn't right for them. And you can't take a custom bass back because you don't like it's feel or tone (unless that is caused by bad workmanship). So it really is, at this stage at least, better to go for a high end mass produced bass, it's just a matter of finding the right one...

    Good luck with your search. :)
  11. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Bad Brains, my experience has been that you can never really tell if you like a bass, until you've played it for a while. Even if you have one built to your exact specifications, it's still possible it might not be a keeper. Although, it's far more likely that it will be, but it's not a 100% guaranteed situation.

    My suggestion would be, take an intermediate step. Find a higher end production (or custom) bass that you really like, and play it for a while. At the very least, that'll get your fingers used to the variations in the instruments and the feel of the neck and so on, and you can set up the two basses differently (like, one with high action and one with low action) to get some additional variability in the tone and playability.

    Then, there's also the thought of getting something "completely different", like a fretless, or an upright. Nothing like finger exercises on an upright to get your hands in shape, an electric (even a 6-string) will feel like a toy after a few days on a double.

    All IMO of course, just my 2c worth. :)

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