Custom Shops?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by count_funkula, May 12, 2002.

  1. What are the pros and cons of the various custom bass builders out there?

    I've been looking at Kinal, DP, Sadowsky, MTD, etc..

    The prices vary big time and I'm curious if the quality of the instruments vary as well.

    Dave Pushic seems the make the incredibly cheap custom basses. Do they compare to Kinal or Sadowsky?
  2. DP Custom

    DP Custom DP Custom Basses

    Feb 7, 2001
    NC, USA
    the word is affordable , not "cheap" ;)

    DAve P.
  3. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    cheap? oh grief...
  4. It really depends on how you define quality. Based solely on my limited hands-on experience and my opinion, there are only a few luthiers who are truly obsessed with consistently the highest quality and pay close attention to every little detail. The result is an outstanding instrument in every way - tone, playability, workmanship, finish, service, etc. They don't just get a few things right - they nail them all. Of course, you pay for that level of performance. But to me, it's a value.

    A few that immediately come to mind are Sadowsky, Fodera, MTD, Conklin and Dingwall with Lakland, Zon and F-Bass very close. I'm sure there are others.

  5. There is no 'con' to a Sadowsky. I didn't try the other luthiers but I am nothing less than thrilled with my Sadowsky jazz bass. It's all I ever need to get the job --rock, funk, slap, fingerstyle, metal, jazz, surf--done. I've ordered a Sadowsky PJ4 just for the fun and thrill; I don't need it.
  6. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Some that come to my mind are Elrick, Ken Bebensee, Ken Smith, Ken Lawrence, Linc Luthier, Jerzy Drozd, Carl Thompson, Hannewinckle, Warrior, Alembic, Acacia, R Bass, and Roscoe.

    I'm not sure I'd lump Lakland and Zon into this category, though.
  7. I would certainly put Lakland and Zon in that category but remove Roscoe. I've heard a lot of people weren't satisfied with the build quality of Roscoe basses. Most people put Laklands right there next to Sadowsky, and as a Zon owner I think they're amazing basses. Heck, my Zon would have been worth it at twice the price!
  8. Prague77


    Aug 20, 2001
    Waco, TX
    benevente, david king
  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I wasn't talking so much about quality as I was merely listing shops that tend to lean more towards custom than production runs. I've never seen a custom Zon, in all the Zon's I've seen. I've also never seen a custom Lakland. To me, Zon's and Laklands are in the same category as Spectors in this way: production models that don't vary too much from one another, but are all well made.

    Quite frankly, what you've said about how some people may have had problems with their Roscoes is something I've heard from Alembic (which was left off the list), Fodera (which I've heard as described as either being on-the-money or off-the-money), Elrick (because I've actually experienced one I was less than fond of), MTD (because, despite my love affair, I actually found one that was a little dead sounding), and so on.

    The poster was asking, if I understood his question correctly, what the different custom shops are and how good or bad are they. If I'm not understanding the question correctly, please let me know.
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
  11. bass2020


    Aug 27, 2000
    Memphis, TN
    Most custom shop prices are thousands, how can DP prices be so low?
  12. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    mr. pushic doesn't upcharge his instruments as much. i'm sure he'll add more.
  13. You know, trying to be objective about this is difficult. :)

    I've been fortunate to have owned 3 custom made Zons and a couple of Sadowskys. As much as I love Zons, they were not up to the same level of quality as the Sadowskys. That's why in my mind I separated them and why I can accept the difference in price. Both are very fine instruments.

    I've had mixed experiences with new basses from Roscoe, Jerzy Drozd and Lakland - some great, some not so great.

  14. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    We are working with a local luthier to have an electirc guitar built for our guitarist. The luthier has also built basses in the past. The best part of the process is being able to specify exactly what you want--up to a point. Every guy has his basic style and specs. Any variation is in--given the same components--the time, care and skill put into making the instrument. Smaller builders obstensibly have more time to carefully and skillfully proceed. The bigger you get, the more time is of the essence, and the more time is money. The more artist in the luthier, as compared to a business person, the more apt you are to a get a quality, well made, great sounding bass for less--if you are willing to WAIT for it. We are at about six months into the process with about 2 or 3 weeks left.
  15. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I wouldn't really put Sadowsky & Lakland in the "Custom Shop" catagory. They offer a few different tops, a few different pick-ups & that's about it. I beleive that's how Pedulla is, but I'm not 100% sure. I've yet to play a bass that is as good as my Sadowsky's.

    I remember when I worked @ Sam Ash, a few people were interested in getting Femder Custom Shop instruments & Fender wouldn't do what a few of the customers asked. I don't remember exactly what these customers but I do remember that is wasn't anything insane. What's the use of having a custom shop if you don't do Customize the instrument the way a customer wants it? LOL
  16. pc


    Apr 4, 2000
    Montreal QC
  17. DP Custom

    DP Custom DP Custom Basses

    Feb 7, 2001
    NC, USA
    Why don't you ask the other guys why their prices are so high ?? :p

    Dave p.
  18. dabassr

    dabassr Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2002
    I would recommend that anyone thinking of spending a couple of grand for a bass try to find a Sadowsky to play.
    The fit and finish on the one's I've seen has been flawless in nearly all regards, from the finish, the fit of the neck, the fret work, quality of parts, to the wood itself. And the sound, with the Sadowsky pre-amp, is full bodied, clear and resonant. I know this sounds like an ad, but I couldn't be happier with mine. I'm waiting on my second one to work its way through the waiting list (a fretless V5). There may well be other basses of this quality out there that I'm not familiar with. In any regard, insturments of this quality are a joy to play.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I don't consider most of the builders mentioned truly "custom" builders. Most have come up with their designs after years of tweaking and offer them with an assortment of options. Dave Pushic is an example of a builder doing custom work.

    Prices do vary. Sometimes you get what you pay for but you always pay for what you get. As far as the disparity in prices, I think I understand it. I don't expect anyone to give away their time, especially with years of expertise under their belt. By the same token, if someone can show me they can build on the same level as a Mike Tobias or George Furlanetto for around $1500 I'll be the first in line to support them too. I haven't seen or heard of that yet. It's very easy to say: "Wood cost X, electronics cost Y, hardware cost Z, why does this bass cost A?" I'm guessing there's no need to start another value debate, suffice it to say that you, the buyer, ultimately has to decide value.

    One of the hardest things to do is to come to terms with what you really want. Sometimes it's hard to know what you want or don't want until you have it in your hands. Being able to communicate this with a luthier is one of the key to a happy relationship.

    I only own one custom bass, one of Rob Elrick's that strays from the norm. Otherwise the rest are just excellent examples of the work some luthiers are capable of. I'd put my Zon Legacy Standard fretless 5 up against anything for what it is, a world class killer fretless. Fit, finish, playability, sound... all 10's. I ran down the list of my basses in the "reference bass" thread... I have basses that do what they do very, very well. Comparisons by me would ultimately be valuable only to me but I'll say this: if you haven't played a US MTD, Elrick, Brubaker, Linc Luthier, Zon fretless Sonus Custom or Special (no more Legacy Standards:(), Fender FMT or F Bass...

    you have no idea what you're missing;)
  20. One thing, I think, is that it's really difficult to get them to install non-Fender pickups.