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High End and the Economy

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jambassist, Sep 15, 2008.


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  1. jambassist

    jambassist

    Sep 1, 2002
    Easton, PA
    This is a topic that hasn't really been discussed and one that I'm interested in. What this isn't about is whether one should or should not own high end bass gear so please don't let it degenerate into that.

    For those of you that purchase high end gear and/or patronize high end specialty shops and luthiers, has the poor state of the economy affected your buying decisions? Also, has the economy affected high end bass stores in general? I'm not looking at any specific maker or store, it's more of a general question as to whether business is suffering due to the economy. So many people I talk to are in a "make do" mode right now.

    So please share your insights and personal experiences. Again, no need to mention specific stores or makers.
     
  2. Well, up here, the economy's only starting its downturn now, so for the moment, the special account I'm collecting money in for my high-end dreambass purchase is still intact, but I honestly don't know what the future will bring, especially as I'm a freelance writer by day. I may end up spending my bass fund on rent or food over the next couple of years, especially as the news from south of the boeder's just getting worse, and that's giong to cause us more problems up here.
     
  3. Kinda depends on what field you're working in. As a hospital pharmacist, I haven't really noticed a big change in my lifestyle. I spend a little more on gas, but that's about it.
     
  4. Visirale

    Visirale

    Mar 23, 2003
    Orlando
    I think the people paying $2000+ for a bass are outside of the influence of most everything besides complete national economic failure.
     
  5. Most of the time in a 'recession type' downturn, the luxury good segment of most categories does just fine. These high end basses are typically bought by hobbyists who have decent day jobs.

    I feel sorry for the mid range manufacturers though. My guess is, they will take a wumpin' (if they haven't already).
     
  6. Just Thumpin'

    Just Thumpin' Commercial User

    Mar 7, 2008
    NE United States
    Manager and Partner, Fodera Guitars (as of 10/14/09)
    It has had a HUGE impact already IMHO. By way of example, the secondary market for high-end basses has all but dried up. Used Foderas, Fender Custom Shop basses, Sadowsky's that used to sell in the used market in a day for darn close to what they sold for new now either don't sell or sell for 30-40% discounts to what they sold for when new.

    This has got to affect the market for new high-end basses as it works its way through the market. Those of us that want to buy new high-end basses often fund these purchases by selling ones we already have. If we are getting 30-40% less money for these basses and/or not selling them at all, on average our appetite to pay high prices for new basses has got to diminish...
     
  7. I've heard that some of the US luthiers are doing alright internationally since the USD is down, which makes things feel really cheap for people outside the US.
     
  8. Shelly

    Shelly

    Jul 12, 2006
    Brighton, Michigan
    My personal economy affects my buying decisions more than the overall national economy. I have a decent job, but the luxury segment wouldn't see me if I thought a layoff was in my near future.
     

  9. I would agree that the used market might see a moderate hit. I was only talking about new instruments, which is how I interpreted the OP's question. The 'used' buyer is a different type of buyer than the 'new' buyer, and more represents the middle of the market (albeit the high end of the middle) than the true high end category.

    Of course, if the financial markets are really rocked (for example, the DOW dropping an additional 2000 points or so), then it's a little different story. The hobbyists will then feel a touch of 'wealth contraction', and might slow down their 'fancy pants' purchases.

    That hasn't happened yet!
     
  10. Shelly

    Shelly

    Jul 12, 2006
    Brighton, Michigan
    ...not to mention the high-end basses in the classifieds being sold because someone needs funds, and only after owning the bass for a short period. The original purchase wasn't effected by the economy, but the ability to keep the instrument unfortunately was.
     
  11. I always wonder about those ads.... 'I really love it but need to sell it'. I'm sure some are legit. I have a feeling that's an easy, generic reason to post a sale, and sounds 'better' than saying 'I bought this thing and hate it'.

    I've seen too many of those type of for sale posts that start out 'I love it but need money', and end up as trades for other gear:D
     
  12. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    not true. when i got my first custom bass, the price of the instrument repesented nearly 1/10th of my yearly income. considering i was single and had a mortgage, it was tight, but not so tight that i couldnt handle it, obviously. it was just a priority for me, and it was worth it.

    it's a question of priorities. i had a crappy car that was paid for. i could have just as easily blown a boatload of dough on a new car like everyone else does without a second thought. instead i put my money into unique, custom made instruments. the economy then wasn't doing so well either.

    as for now, it's not really a priority for me to be buying new basses - i really dig the ones i have - but if i was wanting something else now, i would not be stopping myself from getting it because of the economy.
     
  13. Shelly

    Shelly

    Jul 12, 2006
    Brighton, Michigan
    I'm also sure some are legit, but I've seen what you're describing , too. :D. They always make me think "But...but...you just said...".
     
  14. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i got the only two custom conklin basses i have that were not made for me during times of what one would consider "economic prosperity". one had been owned only briefly and sold for half the price it cost new, and the other had been owned for a while, and still sold for about 1/2 the price of a new one.

    customs don't hold their value even in the best of times. only rarely have i ever, over the past 15+ years that i've had customs, seen a custom/boutique instrument hold above 75% of its value, regardless of economy.

    another thing that happens a lot regardless of economy is that folks get an expensive bass, give it a spin, decide it's not for them, and sell it at a loss. there's generally no "return policy" for boutique instruments, so folks better expect to take a hit if they are just "trying it out" and they discover they don't like it.
     
  15. ausf

    ausf

    Jun 24, 2008
    New York
    I believe this winter will be the real test. The skyrocketing of oil over the early part of this year will determine this year's heating costs. Even in stable personal economies, justifying big expenditures will get harder just on guilt alone. Personally, I won't plop $3000 on a bass if my friends are having a rough time, regardless of what I had at my disposal (which isn't much anyway).

    The other side: bargains will be coming forth as the market dries up, so buyers may be more patient. Oil dropped today due to the Lehman/Merril debacle based on speculation.
     
  16. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI

    I'm not sure I totally agree. I don't ever recall Sadowskys or Fender Custom shop basses selling for "darn close to what they sold for new". They hold value pretty good, but the going used price for an NYC Sadowsky has always been about 25-3200$ depending on age and features. And every one I see on TB or the Bay seems to still sell very quickly. I see the same thing with basses like the 64 J from the custom shop. The used market has been around 1500 to 1900 for as long as I can remember. Metros have lost a bit of value in the used market, but I attribute that to availability. Foderas aren't really my thing but from what I've seen their used value seems to be about the same as normal. Remember it takes three to four years to get a new one. I have a feeling they are taking a bit longer to sell because they are higher rice points and more a niche bass anyway.

    Where I do anticipate a slowdown is what I call more "niche basses" like Pedulla, Alembic, Jerry Drzod in the used market. I have a feeling the guy lusting for one is going to be willing to look a little longer. Also I have a feeling basses at around the 1000$ price point and lower will suffer. Gigging also seems to be drying up a bit. But most players don't buy as much gear as the hobbyist do.

    I also think this varies by region. In MI we're losing our only Bass store (LDS) by the end of the month. But MI's economy never really recovered from the Tech cycle and is now far worse then the general economy of the nation.
     
  17. fenderx55

    fenderx55

    Jan 15, 2005
    NYC/Queens
    This is pretty much what we're seeing now, however with caveats. While they largely do fine, they also skimp on other things. Tiffany's and Co, for instance, didn't buy one page of print advertising in 2007 and the same can be said for a few other luxury brands (though that's the only one that instantly jumps to mind). This causes a trickle down effect to other industries, like the publishing world and advertising and creative services. I know this because while I was pretty much guaranteed one or two jobs on graduation, come May, I was basically screwed. No one in those sectors were hiring full time, let alone entry level.

    So yeah, like anything else, trickle down, leaving less money in my pocket, which leaves less money in someone else's pocket. But I mean, chances are I didn't need what I wanted anyway, which I suppose is the definition of luxury...
     
  18. i feel more comfortable putting my cash into bass gear than stocks or real estate at this point :)
     
  19. jambassist

    jambassist

    Sep 1, 2002
    Easton, PA
    This is a great discussion and it's exactly what I hoped for. This person brings up a very valid point as far as winter heating is concerned and one that people were already worrying about this spring. Yes, oil is dropping, but it's still going to be very expensive this year for people to heat their homes.
     
  20. fenderx55

    fenderx55

    Jan 15, 2005
    NYC/Queens
    This was in today's times, emailed it to my father:
    As Oil and Gas Prices Rise, Wood Stoves Gain Converts
     

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