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Expensive basses - any point?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stoob, Sep 5, 2008.

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  1. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    Ok, I don't want to cause any arguments although I can see myself getting into trouble here...

    But personally, I can hear the Warwick woody tone and the cleanness of a Fender Jazz being slapped, but is there really any difference in quality of tone/sound that you get from expensive basses like Musicman, Ken Smith etc? Don't most mid-range priced basses sound very much the same?

    I'm talking mainly about tone on a recorded track as I have seen many people play expensive basses but the tone seems much the same as a standard mid-ranged priced bass.

    Does anyone have any opinions on this?
  2. lowtide

    lowtide Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2006
    Bradenton, Florida
    Owner: Buzzard's Bass Shop
    uh oh . . .
  3. Simon Langley

    Simon Langley

    Jun 19, 2007
    Chico, CA
    I don't think this is an invalid quetion. Sound may be subjective to the player but feel, build quality and playability are IMO much better in a more expensive bass. My Alembic plays and feels much better than my Squier but I own both because they give me different tone options.
  4. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    I think feel and quality is very important to the player, it looks like your bass is a beauty, but is it easy to hear the different tones from the more expensive basses? And is it really easy to tell the difference from mid-range basses?
  5. Well, anytime I buy a bass I've been on a budget. Do you need more than a Squier P or J bass to play bass in a band - not necessarily!! However, playability, feel, tone, looks and value for money all come into play when I buy a bass.

    The 5 basses I have in my collection right now are 5 of the 17 basses I have ever owned - I've owned Fender (MIM, MIJ, MIA), Musicman, Guild, Washburn, Yamaha, Spector (both Czech and Korean). All these basses have had their differences, and through time my requirements have changed....maybe even now, I have a better idea of what I've been looking for all along!

    So, from the above list of basses that I've been throug ,I still own Fender (MIJ and MIA), Musicman and Spector (Czech and Korean) basses. I have bolt on necks and neck through basses....all made form various woods and wth Rosewood or Maple fretboards, there are active and passive pickups in my collection, there are solid colours ,snazzy colours and semi transparent to see figured woods.

    Now, all these things except the colours help with the tone, as do strings, amps, effects pick/fingers/slap......as do in my opinion the feel of the bass, as it has an effect on the way you play them...you're attack etc!! The closest to two basses that sound the same in my collection come are my two five string Spectors.....but due to different pickups and the different feel I have for them both...they do sound different when played!!

    Horses for courses I guess......that's my two cents worth anyway:bassist:
  6. I personally find that everything gets nebulous and über subjective above $1500--$2000. I do think there's a point above that, but I think that the point becomes much more personal. I've never come across a $4000 axe that was $2000 better than a $2000 bass, but I've definitely seen ones that I personally found much more exciting.
  7. musicelectronix


    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    I personally have too much money and have no better way to spend the extra, except paying 2-3Gs for a bass (custom made to my specific needs by a hard working US luthier) that evidently sounds, feels, plays and looks the same as a MIM Fender.
  8. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    Having owned up to 60 high-end to boutique basses concurrently, it is very nice to realize that a "cheaper" bass has many of the tonal nuances of a more expensive instrument (eg my R-Bass and my Fodera Emperor) but many times it's the small things that count and ultimately give the "higher" priced bass the position it has
  9. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    It's all about feeding the ego........................

  10. this is my limited experience,...
    started playing almost 2 years ago now, went looking for the best 5 stringer I could buy with my budget,... the sales people kept pointing me to the higher end wooden finish boutiques etc with beautiful tones coming out of them,... probably because im an ex hobby guitarist i didnt see any different in tone... went to the yamaha and that was enuff said,...

    after finally learning to play finger style and slap a bit I decided I didn't like the tone and the large string spacing,... saved up and got the ibanez K5 which I didn't totally understand how to play properly at first but loved the tones I could get out of it,... now im starting to hear the difference, feel the difference as its setup very nicely,... the rbx375 is ok,... but thats all, its only ok,... the K5 just makes me want to pick it up and play and I can dial in all sorts of tones and know that its reliable,...
    as to the price mark upwards, apart from small runs of basses or any REALLY special features, I too don't see the difference between a 2K bass and a 4K bass that much :(
    and when u have other bills to pay thats a heck of a lot of monies!
  11. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    To me, the point is finding an instrument that lets me get my point across while allowing me to be completely relaxed and free. Price point isn't a factor since tone and feel (comfort) are both subjective. However, the nuances between high end basses and mid-priced basses of similiar ilk will differ. It's up to the player to decide which one sounds and feels better, but, for example, you can only get the Ken Smith tone out of a Ken Smith. Likewise, you can only get the Kay sound out of a Kay. For better or worse. Again, this isn't something that can be quantified.

    The short answer is that there is no point in spending the dough just because there is a 'percieved' feeling of better tone. There is not. If one plays an expensive bass that they don't connect with, then they can't get a good tone no matter how they try.

    I find it best to take price out off the table when shopping for a new bass. Just pick them up and try them out. After you find one that you like, look at the tag. If you can afford it, pick it up. If not, repeat the process.
  12. De Gier Guitars

    De Gier Guitars

    Sep 5, 2008
    Schiedam, The Netherlands
    Repairs, setups, pr & marketing for DeGier Guitars.
    haha.. +1!

    But I feel there's some quality difference between basses, but it doesn't have to be as simple as price-wise..
    I know people who absolutely don't like a high quality bass because the tone is to direct, and to articulated. I think it really depends on your playing style, technique and bank account if you're in to expensive basses.
    It's pretty subjective also, but sustain-wise and tight-low-b-string-wise I know there is a big difference..!
  13. T-MOST

    T-MOST Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    NJ via NYC
    It's all up to the buyer. Personally I prefer the higher end gear. It feels better and when it's the right maker and model it sounds better "to me". I'm blessed to be able to afford higher end gear (to a limit) so it works out well. For those who don't see the point, well it's cool because you don't have too. There is something out there for everyone. BTW I'm expecting delivery of a brand new Ken Smith BSR5GN... TODAY :hyper:

    IT's Heeeeeeere!!
  14. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com

    Due to the OP question....Stoob,Have you played all the instruments (listed), or own any of them to make a positive assumption yet? (You did not fill out your profile with any of your own instruments)
  15. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Nice! :hyper:

  16. Can I be your friend? I am good at spending money! :D
  17. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I've played many great sounding sub $500 basses.... I wouldn't trade my current $2000+ basses for anything.
  18. Flintc


    Aug 15, 2006
    Someday within the foreseeable future, I'll be in the market for another bass. I want 7 strings and low action. I would strongly prefer a graphite neck, an eye-catching top, some flexibility in the electronics (coil splitting, phase shifting, active EQ, etc.), 16mm string spacing at the bridge, good balance, a zero fret. Also something durable. Maybe I can't get all of these at once, but I'd go for as many as possible.

    Now, I don't wish to spend more than I have to, but how much would that be?
  19. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    I've always thought of MM as more of a lower mid-range bass and they are certainly not in the same price class as Ken Smith's. That'd be like categorizing expensive cars as Ford Mustangs, Mercedes SL65 AMG, etc.
    But, hey, thanks....it makes me feel good to know that at least in someone's world I have entered into the expensive (MM) bass class.:)
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Hmmmm ... well, I guess this thread's OK. It's probably been a month or so since we did it last.

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