Does the price tag, or nameplate on your equipment make you a better musician?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Big Hoss, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    After being here for several months, I am noticing a trend among several of our members...

    The phrase "You get what you pay for" is oft cited, and there seems to be an overall tone of "unless you are running a full stack of tube driven amplification and playing a minimum of $1,500.00 U.S.D. bass, well then your stuff and by association, your music is junk...

    I see similar arguments among forum members of all sorts of hobbies and professions. Woodworking, auto repair, other arts and crafts.

    Interestingly enough, this argument seems particularly commonplace here on TB. I used to be involved with a different bass site that has since gone bad (and if it weren't for that site going dead I never would have found Talkbass), Anyway, the boutique bass or nothing attitude was very rare at the other site... here it is seen pretty often.

    It amazes me, and honestly saddens me to see this attitude so prevalent coming from a site that should, I would think, encourage members, and even visitors, or all skill levels to pursue the art of playing bass... And let's face it, the guy or gal who wants to learn as a side interest most likely isn't going to be willing to drop $5K on a new bass, case, and shake the house apart amp just to learn how to play in his or her bedroom / den / garage or whatnot... And seeing the responses again and again that you need the best of the best of the best in order to play even acceptably well can be a real putoff to people...

    I don't know the real life identities of most folks here, but I am pretty sure there are at least some full time regional band type musicians, if not some well known big name guys hiding behind a screen name, and that's cool. I am somewhat curious if the folks spewing the best or nothing lines are making their living full time at making music, and if so, where did they start out?

    There is no shortage of musicians across this planet making fabulous music with nothing more than the voice and hands they were given at birth... It would seem that a skilled musician given a well adjusted and tuned instrument, run through even a mediocre amp and cheap, but clean signal cables should be able to make great music... I have seen and heard plenty of great live performances, and recordings make on gear that can be best described as scrap heap refugee material.

    I mean let's face it, you never hear about great painters complaining about other painters using cheap brushes, so why is it as music performance artists people seem to feel free to bash other musicians for the using budget gear?
    StayLow, mikeyjm2, MickyD and 4 others like this.
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    Go on, make it a poll. And the answer is, of course not. Don't forget to add carrots (the old software's default poll option, always good for a non-seiquiter...)
    squidtastic likes this.
  3. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    I think what we see here is that the ones with the opinions you speak of are simply just the loudest. I feel like the majority here feel that you can find something good at any price point.
    Robroy, awilkie84, Polfuste and 8 others like this.
  4. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I've been a denizen of Talkbass for several years and I don't see a whole lot of what you are complaining about. Sure, there are the Behringer Bashers, but for the most part I see a lot of tolerance (and occasionally a sort of reverse snobbishness) for lower end gear.
    GregC, Troph, Spectrum and 3 others like this.
  5. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    A nicer, higher quality instrument may be nicer to play, but doesn't necessarily make the player play nicer
    spanndrew, blindrabbit and Big Hoss like this.
  6. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    wmhill likes this.
  7. modulusman

    modulusman Inactive

    Jan 18, 2004
    While I'm not full time pro, I use to be years ago. I still make a good percentage of my income playing in bands. I started out with a Montgomery Wards bass and amp that I shared with my brother who played guitar. Bass was a POS with the strings a mile off the fretboard. I soon bought a Fender precision and got a Fender bassman 10 as a high school graduation present. I still have the precision but it sounds like a** compared to the other basses I own. I have been making money with my gear now for over 35 years so for me having the best tools I can afford is important.
  8. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I see pretty much the reverse on TB. People love budget instruments and hate expensive ones, and are vocal about it. People who own pricey instruments rarely bad mouth cheap ones.
  9. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    hey,.. i could say the same thing about crowd that have $300.00 "boutique-killers"! i have one that i love to brag about, but i play my nicer bass because it's way lighter.
    i will say that boutique sound systems are what i die for! my kid once asked me, "why can't my rig sound like yours"? (it didn't take very long to explain)
  10. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I agree. I don't see this snobbery on TB.
  11. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    An interesting observation. Mind you, I wouldn't pay big bucks for a high end instrument at this point, I have nothing against say if I were making my living playing bass, paying a couple of grand for an instrument that made my job easier... So no hate here for more expensive instruments..

    And I think the observation that certain folks are just LOUD about their particular disdain for lower cost equipment.

    I guess it just floors me when a guy comes on and says something like...

    "I've got $500.00 to spend, what would be the best amp I could buy for that money"? and people respond with $2K amp recommendations saying that other in budget options aren't worth sneezing at...

    While I have had my hands on, and played several "high end" instruments. Or at least by my budget high end... (Early 2000s Charvel Jackson comes to mind). Yeah it was beautiful to look at, and yeah it played nice. Not sure it made playing any easier than my $200.00 after upgrades Ibanez SR500... Maybe I got a freakishly good beater bass, maybe that Jackson was sub par, and I am not saying the Jackson itself wasn't a work of art, it was, beautiful beyond words, but then again, with few exceptions, there is a certain artistry to instrument manufacturing, but yeah, okay I admit, I would love to own and play that CJ... Dangit...

    I don't think at least at my skill level, then, or now, spending 5x as much on an instrument would make me one bit of a better musician...

    Does that change with improved skill and experience? Can long time / well talented players do things with a higher end bass than they can with a cheapie? I am not talking First Act stuff here, but say stuff from major instrument MFGs...

    So let's compare apples to apples here...

    What is it that makes say a Fender American Standard PJ bass worth the extra money versus the Squier Vintage Modified variant?

    I have to assume resale value is a consideration, but would the American Standard for example have better sustain, or better tone from higher quality woods or pickups?

    As far as not seeing equipment snobbery here I do see it, sorry if you haven't noticed. None of the respondents so far seen are among the gear snobs (high end or low end) that leap to mind, and I guess it is just that there are particular gear snobs that are LOUD about it...
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
    blindrabbit and Technotitclan like this.
  12. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    For every post bashing inexpensive gear or people for buying it, there is one saying people are foolish for spending more than $500 for a bass. They are both wrong, but it all evens out. This place is really pretty tolerant until someone provokes.
  13. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    Reading your last post made me realize I think we see this more in the Amps section than others. Maybe I should make another pool over there too? But again, I think it may be determination of a few vs the many. There are a couple specific members in the Amps section that come to mind for me. It seams like no matter what you post, mention or ask the only answer is the gear they use. I won't name names but I think we all know who I'm talking about.
    Kustom_Thunder and Big Hoss like this.
  14. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    I won't fault a guy for buying a $5K bass. I will admit I would love an Ibanez SR5000E but they are priced out of my range for now... This is definately postponed GAS...
  15. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2012
    Budget equipment is perfectly fine for most of the Bass playing population but "You get what you pay for", when you start to use the instruments/amps and pedals in a demanding environment the weakest links WILL fail first. When start to spend more time on the road playing several nights a week you WILL notice the shortcomings of your gear and generally the stuff that costs more is made with more care and better components and will better withstand the elements. When recording on quality equipment, when time is scarce you WILL notice your equipment's short comings, especially when you don't have the luxury of time for retakes and touch ups.
  16. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    This is true. Which brings up a separate (maybe the same issue) most of the time when a pro/semi-pro user voices an objection about cheaper gear they neglect that it failed them due to the 35+ hours weekly live usage. Honestly that's kind of a huge factor. If I were asking for advice on a $200 bass and got conflicting info from a pro vs an amateur, then I may lean towards the word of the amateur simply because that will be the same mileage I put on it. Although depending on the situation it could be different depending on what was said.
    Big Hoss and Winfred like this.
  17. modulusman

    modulusman Inactive

    Jan 18, 2004
    There are a lot of basses for under $500.00 that I have used in the past. All of them were good enough to gig with. Where I see problems is people wanting to get by on the cheap with amps and PA systems. There is where you get what you pay for.
  18. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    That's kind of my point. Not saying high end gear doesn't have it's place, and the environment you mentioned, hard touring, everything "cranked to 11" as it were, sure you would want top grade gear, and folks on hand to maintain that stuff. But I would think for the majority of us newer players, the usefulness isn't there... And even for plenty of small time giggers, well, they make do with what they can afford.

    Sure, I would LOVE to be good enough and making enough from playing to justify spending $10K on an amp rig, and $5K on an instrument, but by the same token, I need to walk those bass lines before I can run right? I need gear I can afford...

    And yes, certain posts in the amps section got me wondering...
  19. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    Maybe if you are touring, putting tons of hours of hard use on the equipment, I get it. But does a guy playing weekend gigs / jams with beer buddies really need a $10K amp rig? (I am pulling a number out of thin air, probably WAY high, but you get the point...). Many of us can't afford, or at least justify to whomever else is in our lives with a financial stake, spending the kind of money on learning an instrument that is not likely to make us rich...
  20. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again??

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Of course not. That's a ridiculous notion. Play whatever allows you to best express yourself both as a bassist and a musician. Whether your instrument costs $400 or $4,000 makes no dfiference. If it works for you, that's all that counts.

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