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Fender Style Boutiques Overpriced?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by john nam, Jan 7, 2012.


  1. With Fender’s newly improved B string, better playability, and active/passive options of their 2010 Deluxe models, I think one can make a pretty good argument that the other Fender-style boutiques are now overpriced. However, if there was a Fender-style boutique out there that offered a truly custom bass where you can choose your string spacing, scale length, chambered/non-chambered, 4-6 strings, pickup placement, etc., then they can freely charge whatever they want because no one currently offers that, I don’t think.

    But how can the new Fenders be on par with the boutiques when it's so much cheaper? I think it's because of volume and experience. When a company sells a large volume of something, they have the resources to purchase the necessary machinery and production power to cut out any middle men. And if the product is engineered and put together well through years of trial-and-error, they can make a boutique quality product at a fraction of the cost. However, most consumers will think that boutique products are always better than mass produced, no matter what. Sure there are lemons, I think even the top builders produce lemons 1% of the time, but 1% of Fender lemons can mean thousands of guitars!
     
  2. Seagull

    Seagull

    Dec 7, 2009
    I've had quite a few boutiques in my time, many of them Fender style. And some lemons. Not so much from the real craftsmen, I've never had a bad Pedulla, Tobias or Smith. But I have had a few strange USA Laklands and Lulls believe it or not. Fender is stepping up it's game because it has been forced into a corner. That's good for the consumer, not so good for the boutique builders because it gives the perception they are overpriced.

    Perception is reality in music retail, so...
     
  3. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    I've never played a Fender 5 string I've liked - at least enough to actually buy. I've played/owned plenty of boutique 5-strings I've liked. So to me Fender isn't "on par" with Sadowsky, Nordstrand, AC, Lull when it comes to 5-strings.

    They are cheaper though...
     
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    If they were overpriced, they wouldn't be selling every single one they build. Fender's quality seems to have gone up over the last few years, and the difference between them and the boutiques has narrowed.

    Whether boutique prices are justified by the differences between the instruments is debatable, and this exact topic has been debated here countless times.

    I own a bunch of boutique basses in the $3K to $5K+ range. I also own four Fenders. I can tell you unequivocally that a $5,000 F Bass does not sound five times better than a $1,000 Fender.

    So you have a good point about the comparative quality of boutique versus mass-produced basses, but the market decides what is "overpriced." If you want a boutique bass and have the means to get one, the price isn't going to stop you. But there's really no musical reason to spend a lot of cash on a bass. Pretty much any music you want to play can be done with a Fender or Ibanez and the like.
     
  5. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    If someone wanted a Fender clone with absolutely nothing different from Fender's standard MIA options, then I can't really think of a logical reason why said person would be purchasing a bass from anyone but Fender. It would simply cost too much for no improvement. However, if that same person wanted options that only Fender CS would offer, but at 1/3 of the price, then it can be argued that Fender is overpriced.
     
  6. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    no no no! They are overpriced!!! Make them STOP!!! Write your congressman and insist that laws be passed to lower boutique bass prices! Do it for the children. Won't someone think of the children?!?!?

    :bag:
     
  7. Yes, they're totally overpriced. Your gear is perfect. Feel better now?
     
  8. I don't feel better because I currently have a Fodera and in the past have had Sadowsky NYCs & Metros, F-Basses, Smiths, Warriors, etc. There's nothing wrong with having boutique basses, it's just that I think that boutiques, especially Fender-style boutiques are overpriced when compared to what Fender is currently offering. My 2008 American P5 really opened my eyes; fantastic bass. I would still rather play an overpriced boutique version of it though :)
     
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    .. and there you are.

    BTW, here are a couple shots of a couple overpriced jazz basses. I couldn't resist.

    Magpie-and-Komen. Magpie-and-Komen-body.
     
  10. Beautiful, especially the pink Lakland with bem board and blocks. See, do you really need an insane looking board like that? No. Is it overpriced compared to a current Fender, probably. Do want it? Hells yes.
     
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Actually, that neck option cost more than my Roscoe Beck 5.
     
  12. I think the issue of "inspiration" is important. Some players aren't inspired to practice more or play any better on a fancy boutique and others legitimately get inspired to practice more and play more soulfully when they have a beautiful boutique in their hands. I'm definitely the latter; I need all of the inspiration I can get to compensate for my lack of skills :)
     
  13. holy moly, munji! it is a bad ass piece of wood though. i've always thought bem or spalted boards were a classy way to spruce up a boutique.
     
  14. mark roberts

    mark roberts Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    Risking all sorts of flames here...It's Fender necks. I'm sure there are many folks (considering how many HAVE Fenders and maybe only have had Fenders) that will take issue with this....and here it comes...Fender necks seem to:
    1. Always have the dead-spot on the G string
    2. Need to be adjusted frequently....ie: NOT STABLE

    I have had all sorts of boutiques and copies in 42 years on the bass. They have not required the attention I had to give to my Fender Jazz (USA) and other Fender-related (Musicman SR and Bongo). I am also a shop rat at my local store for decades and they are a Fender and Musicman dealer. It's the same for rack items. They do a set-up that is to-die-for, feels great early (still the #$%# dead G in the same old spot), hangs for a time....then, time to adjust the neck again. And yes, these folks have environmental control to benefit their guitars, etc. They sell some of the very top-shelf acoustic guitars made on this rock.

    If you got a good Fender without the two aforementioned issues, excellent! I wish I had been a winner in that lottery, too.

    Be kind....
     
  15. You're right Mark, but have you had these issues with 2008 and later Fenders too? My 2008 P5 had a very straight and stable neck with no dead spot on the G string. Any others want to chime in on this?
     
  16. Poop. Was hoping for another anti-boutique thread an excuse to whip out the coffee ring Stambaugh.
     
  17. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    There is no such thing as a neck with no dead spots - it is just that some are more subtle than others.

    I had a 2011 AmDlxP. Great bass. I didn't feel like I was missing much compared to the Sadowskys, Lulls, etc that I owned. Though there were small details - I had to shim the neck to get the action I wanted (not a big deal, but I've never had to shim a boutique). The preamp was a bit noisy and the wiring and shielding wasn't as good as a boutique. There was a bit of a weak spot around D# on the G (very typical) but it was subtle. Also the E string up the neck wasn't as clear as I'd like.

    Compared to my Fodera though? Well, I sold the Fender once I got the Fodera. But that was less about quality and more about features I wanted. That said, there as no way I could ever get the playability or tone on the Fender as good as the Fodera. But depends on what you're looking for in an instrument.
     
  18. mark roberts

    mark roberts Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    I keep on hoping...that's why I posted the bit about being a shop-rat and continously eyeing cool Fender and EB Musicman releases. I've found Bongos to be a little more stable than the venerable maple Fender neck (whether topped with Rosewood or Maple fret/fingerboard). The Status Graphite neck on the fretless in my sig (thanks you, PC!) is killer. I've been thinking about getting a Status fretted for my Bongo.
     
  19. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've been half heartedly looking for an American Standard P5. I already have a Nordy P5. Looking for a Rosewood board. I have to admit that I've found some Fenders that feel as good as my Nordy, but none of them even comes close to the sound. Even though its just a few months old , the Nordy P5 sounds more open and articulate acoustically which translates to the amplified sound. Its just a superior instrument. Some guys don't need or care about owning a "superior" bass. I have friends with money who have no interest in owning a BMW even though they can easily afford it. They're just as happy with a Camry.
     
  20. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    Fender has come a long way. First of all IMO opinion Fender has made some great instruments for awhile. I have a few Fenders and I have other boutique style instruments. Each has it's own character. Not good or bad... just different. I used to own a Marcus V and owned the Sadowsky at the same time. Same body and neck woods but sonically worlds apart.

    The assumption that boutique brands are overpriced is based on the assumption you are getting the exact same thing. Which is not true. You are paying for a different set of features, which may be more valuable to YOU than what the Fender is offering....
     

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