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handmade unknown basses vs. well known machine made basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FungusHumungous, Jun 15, 2003.

Would you rather purchase...?

Poll closed Aug 14, 2003.
  1. a handmade bass from an unkown maker

    34 vote(s)
  2. one bass of thousands made by a company thats been around for 30 years

    11 vote(s)
  3. a porsche

    9 vote(s)
  1. Here's the deal
    I've been playing bass for about 2 and 1/2 years so far and am seriously looking for a high quality bass. I have recently met a young bass guitar maker nearby who is creating beautiful works of art out of his garage, not to mention they play like a dream.

    WHen I get the cash I'll most likely put up the cash and bya nice neckthru 4string maple/walnut/mahogony w/ bartolini etc. etc.

    So check out the poll
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I chose to go with the luthier in a very similar situation recently. Build a rapor with the guy, and you'll probably be happier with the handmade.
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
  4. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA

    If you trust him and like his work then I'd say go with the custom!!
  5. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Umm...not at all actually.
  6. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    You had better spend a lot of time with the design and specing, because if you don't like it, you will have a devil of a time unloading it.
  7. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    Go for the unknown luthier if you are sure that you will want to keep the bass. If you think you might want to resell it at some point, you will really loose a lot more money if it is not a well known brand.
  8. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I think that if you can see some examples of an unknown luthier's works, you might end up stumbling on the next Rob Elrick, Mike Tobias, Jerzy Drozd, or whomever!

    I've seen some very small luthier's works at Luthiers Access Group that are absolutely phenomenal works! I'd buy any one of 'em!
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I don't get it......what decision has to be made as long as they sound like monsters???
  10. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    My favorite exaple right now:

    A MIA Jazz 4-string costs 1300+ in Germany, add 300 and you can get a Le Fay Herr Schwarz 5-string, with exceptional playability, construction, design and hardware, built by one of Germany's best and most legendary luthiers (who has a one-man operation).

    Guess which one gives me GAS...
  11. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    I didn't vote, because the answer is "It depends...".

    Specifically, it depends on:

    1) How long you expect to keep the bass, and much of an issue resale value is going to be. Obviously, you take a lot more of a beating trying to sell a bass by an unknown maker (unless he turns out to be the next Fodera, of course) than you do a well-known brand, and trying to sell something you bought new versus sonething you bought used.

    2) How well you know what you're going to want and need over the next few years, and what "works" for you. This is sort of related to #1, but if you haven't been playing all that long, you'll find that what you want will probably still end up changing quite a bit.

    3) Whether you have a clear idea what you'll be getting. With a manufactured bass, that's pretty straightforward, because there are already lots of examples. With a custom bass, there's a certain amount of faith involved, both with the quality of work and with how the different options are going to come together in the end. You have an advantage, because you can see the builder's work firsthand, so that at least eliminates a bit of the guesswork.

    There's another aspect, though. With a "manufactured" bass, you'll end up with the same thing as thousands of other people, which can be good in the sense that it's already been established as a formula that "works". With a custom bass, if the builder doesn't already have a clear vision of what "works", you might be inclined to have him build something wild that seems cool on paper, but when it's finished, you discover why more basses aren't made to those specs! :meh:

    This is not meant to discourage you from thinking about going with a new or unknown custom builder--I've ordered from a few myself! :D But be sure you understand what you need and what you'll be getting before committing funds to a project, and be sure you know in advance what the builder's policies are if you're not happy with the bass after it's built.

  12. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden

    Then you can't blame anybody else.
    And probably, you'll keep the result for life - or for firewood.:bassist:

    Rock on!
  13. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I have two customs on order at the moment, both from relatively unknown luthiers. I would say tha neither has built 100 instruments yet.

    Like prog says, know the builder ,talk to some people that play his or her stuff and trust your intuition.
  14. Check it out
    Maghini Basses Home Page

    I have read all your points but I don't really think i'll decide until I have the cash but I'm definately leading towards a custom/handmade job.

    Warmoth? good quality?
    Maybe my next, next bass will be my own via Warmoth and others. I'll have to read up.


    PS- this guy, John Maghini is making Anthony Wellington(world renowned bassist and toured with Victor Wooten as a bass tech,sound engineer and stage manager) a 7string bass.

    Anthony Wellington
    check it out.

    Anthony's Bass
  15. stuie86


    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    but dont have the money for a hand made bass... :bawl:
  16. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I just built a Warmoth. It will blow the socks off of a stock MIA Fender- depending on how you outfit it.
  17. Hmmmm. A Hondo, or a Wish?

    I'm sorry, that was mean... :bawl:
  18. 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
  19. mixed feelings about this having both..
    my experience is if you have a mass produced bass and 'improve' it it may be easier to resell than an exotic boutique bass
    this doesnt take into consideration the actual pleasure of owning a work of superior craftsmanship or playing tone..
    i would stick with leo's mass produced efforts..:)
  20. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    If you can try some of the things the guy has built before and are impressed, then I'd be in favour of the local guy. I almost had a custom bass built by Kevin (who runs Synergy Basses in his spare time) but made the mistake of popping into The Gallery and finding a secondhand Sei (built by Martin Petersen, who still qualifies as a relatively small producer himself).

    Getting to try the instrument and falling in love with it won out over waiting to get one built but, had I not found my dream bass, I'm sure that Kevin's work would have come up to the mark.

    Of course, I was looking for a 'keeper' - unless you've got very specific needs or lots of spare cash, a production model might be a better investment until you've got a few more years of playing experience under your belt. Maybe you can get a production model and get the local guy to help you modify it (there's nothing like having a friendly luthier as your bass tech ;) ).


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