Do you really trust buying a bass WITHOUT testing it?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pantografo64, Dec 15, 2000.

  1. I wonder how many people trust buying by mail.

    I mean about sound and feel.

    Two bodies cut from the same piece of wood sure will sound different. And even if the famous luthier tells you about his basses high standard, why loosing the pleasure of finding just YOUR bass?

    Are we bassists GAMBLERS?
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    It depends. I bought a Roscoe LG-3005 through eBay that was exactly as described. When I got it I wasn't crazy about the sound so I traded it for another bass I hadn't played first, a Lakland. The Roscoe was a very fair deal, the Lakland was a pretty big bargain.

    There may be variations from bass to bass with some manufacturers but generally, with higher end builders, overall quality may be more consistent. Then again, I haven't noticed a lot of differences in the Danolectro repros I've played.

    Buy new or used from a company with an approval period. Buy from an individual with the knowledge that you may end up with something you don't like and consider your recourses before you buy.

    So far, for me, no problems.
  3. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I guess I'm somewhat of a gambler by necessity. I live 250 miles from the nearest music store, and have bought 3 basses by mail and/or auction. Been very lucky so far, not only in quality, but feel and fit for me. My most recent purchase was a Stingray fretless but I had to be in Phoenix 2 weekends in a row and got to fall in love with it in person.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I am very reluctant to buy something like a bass mail order. I have noticed huge variations in the same make/model of bass - especially Fenders, but in others as well.

    The main thing for me is neck shape, which you can't really see in pictures, but for me is the most important thing about how the bass feels under my hands. Some necks are very wide and flat and some are very thick and narrow. I feel that is is only by trying them yourself for a while, that you can actually tell if it suits you.

    I have tried some basses with very thick necks that I liked the sound of - like Warwicks, Stingray 5, but which have necks which are just too thick from front to back so they become unplayable for me or at least too uncomfortable to use for any extended period. But without trying these in shops, there is no way to tell this.

    The other thing for me is that sometimes a bass will really feel like you must buy it becuase it suits what you want to do so much - this has happened to me a couple of times in shops and I can't tell you exactly why this bass was pefect for me, but I just know from playing it - so how could I decide what to buy mail order? And also I might miss finding basses like this!!

    I think I will always carry on trying basses in shops becuase it is fun! I enjoy doing it and trying loads of different makes/models - mail order to me would just be no fun at all - just worry about whether the bass is going to be damaged or a disappointment in some way. I'd much rather "browse" and find exactly the right bass for me! ;)
  5. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    I did this once and had good luck (my current Stingray 5).
    But now that I know a bit more about instruments I would definitely not do it again.

    I would be afraid that they send the worst instruments to those who seem to know little about what makes a good guitar - those who are 'dumb' enough to mail order...

  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    On the other hand, I buy strings, videos, CDs and any small accessories like tuners etc via mail order from the internet and even an amp! But a bass is just too personal in terms of whether it suits you or not.
  7. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Well, I live in Ecuador, and we dont have good music stores. (Im trying to change that, but people are reluctant to buy high end instruments)
    So my main problem is that there is no place here where I could try a good bass.
    I have bought my Cort Curbows without seeing, feeling,playing,hearing them. I was lucky enough when I got the 6 Stringer. It was JUST PERFECT.

    About the Toby Pro 4.. It sucked to hell so I was lucky enough too.. Because I sold it.(At $840 w/case)

    When I go to the States, Its shopping time for me. Last time I bought my ATK300 and was very happy with it for about 4 years, when I decided not to have a 4 string anymore. Maybe I will go to the US next year and I think Im gonna visit Greg Curbow, to get one of those 7String Xt33.

    I think everything depends on how much money you spend on a Bass.
    Modulus is a High end Bass that I would buy Mail order No questions asked. It is just plain great.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ifabara - I have no doubt that Modulus are high end basses and very good instruments, but my point is that without trying a bass I don't know whether it would suit me or my playing style.

    I think you were very lucky to sell the Toby - you wouldn't manage this in England! ;)

    My view is that I would rather fly to the US from England and try basses than get one "blind" by mail order. This would be a better "risk" - OK it might cost me a few hundred dollars; but if I am stuck with a bass that I can't use and can't sell for anything like the price I paid, then I might be several thousand dollars down on the deal.

    Having said all that, there are very good shops in London, an hour train ride from where I live, so I gues I am lucky and intend to keep on browsing anyway!
  9. Copycat

    Copycat Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2000
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    The two best basses I've owned--a Pedulla Rapture and a Mike Lull Vintage 4--were bought not only without playing the particular bass, but without even playing that brand of bass before. I would certainly investigate return policies if you're not happy (I did get a Carvin once that didn't work for me and I sent it back no questions asked, even though it was customized for me). If the stores in your area carry the brand or brands you want, great. But too often, even in fairly large citites, many of the instruments that are deserving of greater distribution don't have it. So buyer beware. But in my case, I've been delighted by basses I've ordered without seeing, touching, holding or hearing them first.
  10. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    My feelings exactly. Thanks to Bruce, in May I found a Wal bass at very reputable store in London for $1500.00 --about half what it would have been in the US. About the same time, I started trying Ken Smith basses here. Now, I'd wanted a Wal since I first noticed them in the late 1980's, but in the end I bought the Smith for the very reason Bruce cites.

    I will say, however, I am less concerned about buying by mail when the price tag is lower and when purchasing a brand I've previously played like Fender, Ibanez, etc.
  11. It's striking when you find something exceptional just for YOU in a shop, as Bruce wrote.
    Pity these are few and very far between.

    Hei, I dare buy strings by mail ;).
  12. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    The only instument I've ever bought without playing before hand was one that was built for me. My feelings are that the right instruments come to you and that you have to just stay cool and let that happen. If you don't have instuments around you to choose from go to where they are.
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I think my question is more directed toward Bruce, but anybody who has an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

    I can definitely understand finding the perfect instrument, the one that has the right feel and timbre for your preferences. I also understand that when choosing an instrument, one would want to find what's right for them, since you're spending so much money. Here's my question though: Wouldn't a good bassist be able to accomodate to the bass they're playing? I'm not saying that anyone should compromise their instrument of choice, and everyone should own what they feel comfortable with, but isn't there something to be said for someone who is able to make excellent music from any instrument. "A good craftsman never blames his tools." Right?

    The famous "Quintet" concert, the Miles Davis, Charlie Bird, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach concert of 1954 I believe, produced some excellent music. Charlie Parker had pawned his horn, so he played on a borrowed plastic horn from a local retailer. I mean this horn was a piece of ****. Can you tell the difference?

  14. Hary

    Hary Guest

    Sep 19, 2000
    Hungary, Veszprém
    I think that before buying a bass you should try it. But buying via mail is good for CDs videos, T-shirts and so on.
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    all of my conklins save one were made specifically for me, so it would sorta be hard to play them before i bought them :D i had never played a conklin before i got my first one, in '93. guess i just got lucky.
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    jazzbo, regarding your comments about 'A good craftsman never blaming his tools', that is true, but, if I find a bass that makes it easier to accomplish what I hear in my head and more comfortable to my hands, I will buy it, if I can afford it, no matter how much more it may cost than a pedestrian instrument.

    I remember a story about Will Lee getting called about a session at the last minute by a friend, telling him that he didn't have a bass, and the friend telling him 'Hey, it's cool, you can play mine.'

    Uncle Will shows up, the bass that he is to play badly needs new strings, has a warped neck and the intonation is off, but he played the session perfect by bending the strings to get the notes in tune, etc, and proved that he was a consummate artist, well worth the triple scale or whatever he charges, but given the choice, do you think he would rather play the old P bass with the warped neck and screwed setup, or one of his Sadowskys?
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The problem people seem to be overlooking is geography. How many Sadowsky owners actually go to NY first before buying one? I'm in a fairly good spot on the East Coast but if you're one of the unlucky (gear-wise) who aren't within spitting distance of a decent retailer, what do you do?

    If you're unwilling to deal with mail-order or the net, fine. That limits you to what's locally available and sometimes that's not much. I still read about people who haven't actually seen a Modulus or Spector bass. If you don't have the money to travel, you'll probably have to settle.
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Brad, I am one of the unfortunates who finally saw my first Spectors(for sale that is, I used to know a guy with a Kramer era 4 string) just yesterday.

    2 USA bolt on 5's, and one used Czech neck through 5.

    Fantastic basses, string spacing is too tight though.

    Sadowskys do not exist in these parts.
  19. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    There are two mail-order sources which I would not hesitate to purchase a bass from: BassNW and Bass Central.

    They have extremely reasonable return policies, and the people that work there are highly knowledgeable and helpful. They will spend the time on the phone or in e-mails to do their best to find THE bass for you, and if it's not, they'll graciously take it back, no questions asked.

    I can't speak from personal experience for purchasing via mail-order from either, but am basing it upon word of mouth in the case of BassNW, they have an impeccible reputation with many I know.

    In the case of Bass Central, I personally know Beaver Felton and have spent many hours in his shop. He is a very up and up businessman, and does everything to make sure his customers are getting the best value possible. The two guys that work for him are just as reliable and honest as he is.

    He spends time with me and I've never bought anything more expensive than a strap from him. He won't even sell me strings, because I generally get them from the guys who made my basses (they're local, and do his repair work), because he doesn't want to take business away from people that he respects. I do intend to finally (after putting fingerprints on stuff for over 4 years) buy a bass from him sometime this year, so you can say his patience with me has paid a dividend. Now all I gotta do is save up enough scratch for that NS Upright 5 string :D.

    ...did that just sound like an ad for Bass Central? :eek: ;)
  20. One of the biggest factors I look at when ordering online or from a mail order catalog is resale value. The last three basses I bought were done this way and the only one I have any regrets about is a Carvin bass I bought a few years back. I ended up losing some cash in trying to resell it.

    Since then I've been a little more careful. I bought a G&L 2500 about a year ago, sold it a couple months ago and only lost $50. The nice thing was I was able to use it in a variety of situations and venues so I could get a good idea how well it worked. This is something you can't do by trying a bass out in a music store.

    I now have a Lakland as my main bass and I not only bought it without trying it out, I had never played a Lakland before that. I was able to do a lot of research on the internet and determined that buying this bass was probably a safe bet- it was. In doing the research, I was also able to find out how much I could resell it for and because of that I knew I couldn't lose.