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Fully Custom vs High End Production

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KingRazor, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. So I'm curious about something.

    For around $3000 (sometimes a little less, even), you can get a fully custom bass, made to your specs, from some luthiers and smaller guitar companies. But there are also companies like Lakland, Spector, Pedulla, and several others, who have "standard" models that are $4000+

    I'm curious why you would choose to spend that much more on a "standard" model when for about the same price or even less you could have something custom made?

    Obviously US made Laklands, Spectors, Pedullas, etc are incredibly nice basses, but are they really that much better than something custom made?
  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Price should not (necessarily) be a major factor in deciding something like this. A less expensive custom build may get you want you really want vs. settling for a "standard" higher dollar model by a major/boutique maker.
  3. For some people price is absolutely a major factor...
  4. If price is a factor, you wouldn't choose the "standard" models...
    If you on the other hand, get your hands on an instrument which feels like an extension of your arm? Wouldn't you pay, no matter the cost? I certainly would.... No matter if it said Pedulla, Fodera or some custom brand on the headstock :)
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Sometimes my cheap frankensteined basses outplay expensive brand name basses.
  6. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    :confused: I don't get it; I just said that a less expensive instrument may suit you better than a more expensive instrument. :confused:

    Or did you mean that a more expensive instrument is always better, so having a higher cost is a major factor in wanting said instrument??
  7. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    If you're going to spend that much money on an instrument and not play it you'll surely be able to flip it if it's not 'the right one' and continue on your search.
  8. You said that price should not be a major factor in deciding something like this. But this thread is basically all about price. Price obviously matters quite a bit to some people (it certainly does to me).
  9. bass nitro

    bass nitro

    Feb 21, 2011
    I think that one should take into considerations about pros and cons on stock basses versus custom ones even though i do not see any cons on second ones - you going to have neck that you want,electronics,pickups and etc.done exactly to your taste.I decided to have custom one and i have put little bit less money for MIA jazz bass (for example) but have delano pickups,
    noll electronics,hipshot bridge and etc.My point is - freedom to choose different hardware and woods from and all in shape and measurement that you wanted.
  10. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    I've had several custom basses made for me and the thing about customs is you never quite know what you are getting. Yeah, you specify the woods, electronics, etc. but how it pans out based on the Luthier's craftsmanship can sometimes be a crap shoot. Sometimes you are going to need to fiddle and alter your custom a bit over the years to get it where you really want it.

    I think buying from named, high-end brands is a little less of a risk factor. You pretty much know that what you are getting is something they've made many times before as opposed to just for the first time for your very specific custom. At least, that's been my experience.
  11. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    Like or not , you paid for the brand, that little sticker in the headstock add cost. My custom bass is made of same woods like yours, same electronics, same hardware and both built by very skill people, damn they sound the same... But yours is a "XYZ"... Thats is very important specially when you are trying to sell it.
  12. Also, if you don't live in a major US town (and sometimes even if you do) you may not have access to these exotic basses. So a custom build is not that different to an internet ordered big name high end bass.

    I have to say that I would go custom every time because you talk to your builder, have exactly what you want and you have a life-long relationship with the builder if you keep up the communication.

    The same goes for drums. The high end big players drums are the same cost as a potentially superior shell material custom build. I find it hard to believe that the big players can ever give you the level of service you get from the custom builders.

  13. cnltb


    May 28, 2005

    I am only using custom basses-I know the builder and the possibility of having a few details absolutely right is something I value.-(neck profile and thickness..nut material and width, the right frets, etc.)
    None of my basses cost more than a decent off the peg instrument.
    My builder is not a prestige guy but his work is of no lesser quality than those that may come to mind.
  14. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    I have had a couple of high end "standard" production basses made for me with some special features done to my desires. And, I have a had a bass custom built just for me by a not as well known luthier with virtually everything spec'd by me; I was very happy with both experiences and the cost was extremely reasonable to what I got. :cool: i would not want to spend more on a bass just because of the name of the headstock; cost is very important to me, too, and in the end I find the custom route to be cost effective (unless we are talking something like a Fodera or Alembic, for example).
  15. as well as the dealer's cut. That $4k bass might be $3k dealer price.
  16. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Buy from Lakland, Sadowsky and some others and you can make certain customizations, and you do have a close, personal relationship with the builder for life, as well. Sadowsky and Lakland customer service is simply outstanding.

    The difference, I would say, is just how customized you want your bass.
  17. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Buy $3K custom from unknown builder. Go to sell said bass (because of GAS, or you don't like it, etc), likely end up getting around $1K if that.

    Buy $4K Sadowsky, go to sell it, get $2500 pretty easily.

    Which bass cost more when all was said and done?

    If you have a guy who makes basses you dig for a low price - life is good. But once you get into the broader market there are other factors to consider.
  18. I can't imagine ordering a custom built bass and then selling it, unless you're in an economic situation that basically forces you to do so.
  19. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    It's not really all that difficult to imagine...

    Maybe it didn't turn out like you thought it would. Maybe it turned out just the way you thought it would, but your musical needs or desires or tastes change. Maybe you see something you think you'd like better, but can't afford it without selling something you already have.
  20. RLK


    Apr 15, 2006
    Clinton Township, MI
    Good timing on this subject.

    During the past few years I’ve been on a quest of sorts to tailor instruments that would allow me to express myself as a player and to a lesser extent, as a designer.

    It would be next to impossible to have had these projects realized from a name brand.

    There surely are risks, especially when it’s a long distance “brand unplayed” situation.
    Some vetting is required.
    The builder may not have a properly settled inventory of wood.
    Builders that I’ve dealt with have gone under. One folded mid-build and I ate some $$.
    Also generally I end up having the nut and fretwork refined.

    Still overall the process can be exciting, and I feel I’ve been getting an excellent value, especially given my many unique requests of the builders.

    When it comes to my custom fretlesses, I have been unable coax playability and responsiveness that compares to my old Pedulla Buzz.
    They play fine, but my Pedullas (’79 Buzz 4, 96’MVP6) practically play themselves.

    I’ve gone full circle on my quest for my perfect fretless and recently ordered a new Hexabuzz.
    Way more $$ than I’ve ever spent on a bass, but I know I’ll be getting a bass with which I’ll truly feel at home, and I can be confident of a very high level of perform ability.

    Maybe sometimes paying more $$ for a “sure thing” is a better long term value than going “Independent”.
    It is awesome to have so many options nowadays.