Higher End "Copy" Basses, Are They Any Better??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bookasan, Feb 5, 2023.

  1. Bookasan


    Apr 8, 2017
    I currently own several "mid" level basses including a couple Schecter Diamond series, G&L tribute series, etc. I have owned several US made basses in the past including a Fender American Jazz that I now regret selling.
    Now that I am playing out again, I am looking at buying a higher quality bass but looking at what is available out there, my head is just spinning with all these options.
    My requirements are a P/J pup configuration and a Jazz (1.50ish nut) neck.
    As for style, I tend to like basses with a flatter top and binding like the Aerodyne, but I am open to other options.
    So here is my question..... Are all of these higher end "copies" of jazz basses built or sound any better than a current model Fender Jazz? I have been looking at Maruszczyk. Lakland, Sire, Sadowsky etc.
    Some are a little less than than a Fender American and some more, but some also build in Asia at the same price point. Thoughts?
    DJ Bebop and Dr. Cheese like this.
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    A huge percentage of threads on this board are either exactly what you are talking about or discuss parts of what you are talking about. To make a long story short, a lot of the FSO’s (Fender Shaped Objects,) are better than many Fenders or offer a nice take on a familiar design.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2023
    fuzzychaos, Ric Vice, GregC and 31 others like this.
  3. Clark Westfield

    Clark Westfield Floyd Pepper is my mentor!

    Jan 30, 2012
    Central New Jersey
    My Sadowsky is a Fender J bass copy and worth every penny.

    just my 2 cents.
  4. Bookasan


    Apr 8, 2017
    Better because of better materials, electronics, and produced in lower quantities?
    I assume this is the case, but is a Lakland Skyline made in Indonesia still going to be a better quality than a US Fender at the same price point?
    crobasster likes this.
  5. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    There are a lot of high quality basses. Don’t get hung on a brand.
    wncBass, Crispus, GregC and 21 others like this.
  6. Micha84


    Jul 11, 2021
    How important is that Fender headstock to you? To me, the Fender instruments in general are bread and butter stuff, extremely well done but nothing fancy except for the price tag. For the same money, though, you can get a lot of cool features from other manufacturers that are also very well built. Some of them absolutely nail the classic Fender sound as well, some intentionally go into very different directions.

    When I was looking for a J, I went with Maruszczyk. I got some specs that Fender didn't offer and somehow I can't stomach to pay two grands for the same old alder/maple/sunburst stuff with passive electronics. But that's just me and I bet the majority on TB will wildly disagree with me :D
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    My Lull P4 has a wonderful neck, beautiful finish, sounds and plays great, and in about 24 years of ownership, has needed exactly 2 minor neck adjustments.
    Ric Vice, Dino78, Steve88 and 7 others like this.
  8. What specifically do you like about the Sadowsky that makes spending that kind of coin on a bass when other less expensive basses that look nearly identical are exponentially less expensive?
  9. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Factories in Asia will build according the spec requested and they can do it more cheaply than labor in the USA or Mexico.
  10. Snert

    Snert Suspended

    Oct 3, 2021
    I've owned a bunch of 'high end', or at least played them, versions of FSOs and GSOs including their in house CS editions. Apart from the highly detailed relicing, if you're into that, and I'm not at all, I see no value in them over the standard lines. Even then if you want a LP style guitar there's at least as good as factory Gibsons out there for less money and the brand names only get you boast factor and some bling. In my opinion this also applies to many Asian brands where some will tell you an MIJ Ibanez is the duck's guts, and they're excellent, but I don't see than value over some of the more modest lines. That's not to say I wouldn't like to own some, because I would, but the MII with the same electronics would be my perfect bass, but it would kill the MIJ market.

    I watched a guitar comparo recently on YT with all of the versions of a given PRS line. I have an SE and I really love it, and the only fault I can find is I wish the paint were thicker so I didn't see the 3 piece body joins. However, I wouldn't pay 2x as much to get that and not 10x as much to get a Core. The video showed how similar they sounded, overall, and I realise there were different PUs used, but solo the differences were not huge and in a mix live, I'd be my car no one would pick them blind. Similarly I have an ash/maple Tele style guitar with 2 HBs that is phenomenal and it cost $175 new delivered, so apart from name recognition, what would an MIA Fender get me over this?

    TL;DR, I don't see the value in most of the 'super' versions of guitars and basses that I've tried, overall. The exceptions might be if one of these had a neck profile that you loved most, but I'd adapt and save the money; I have basses with necks from super thin Ibanez to tree trunks.
    I don't know how one defines 'quality', but most likely better value, and I realise that term is just as amorphous.
    cashmoneywill and Flamingo21 like this.
  11. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    I found Sandberg (not the Electra line) to be different enough to warrant the expense. In particular, they play like a dream out of the box. Their superlight SL line is worth looking at; nothing weighs that little but sounds that massive. I have two of them. Their black label pickups are awesome. The specs across the board are different from pretty much everyone's, but it adds up to a spectacular instrument. For what one gets, I think they are priced very reasonably. They're around the price of a USA Jazz, but the workmanship and detail is SO much better.
    Ric Vice, dune, Groove Doctor and 5 others like this.
  12. FullumMusic

    FullumMusic Commercial User

    Oct 13, 2022
    Queens, NYC
    Audio/Music software developer, contracted with a company you've heard of and deving my own stuff.
    You’re the only one who can really answer that. What makes one bass better than any other to you? When you play a “copy” does it tick those boxes? Then the answer is yes, a copy can be a better bass. Otherwise no.

    And if “yes,” then you have to ask, “am I willing to spend X for how much better it is?” Again, that’s something only you can answer, because X dollars means something different to everyone.
    Les Fret, deff, bass12 and 1 other person like this.
  13. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The point of higher end basses that use the general Fender formula is they DON"T copy all the details - they get the neck pockets and neck geometries right, they use better hardware, some of them do interesting things with active circuitry - it's details that separate the "better than Fenders" from Fender. I've built a lot of Warmoth builds - if you know what you're doing, Warmoth parts can give you an instrument the equal of the other Fenderish boutique builders (with more choices in woods, etc). In a couple dozen builds for myself an others, the number of shims I've used is...still zero. Fender's basic designs are just fine. If Fender could execute them consistently, the boutique guys wouldn't have as much of a rationale, but....they do.
    Ric Vice, JRA, Durham52 and 5 others like this.
  14. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Some people are serious about their music. If you price classical musical instruments, or any decent piano, a Sadowsky is an absolute bargain as far as good musical instruments go. Yes, there are a lot of ridiculously cheap basses that are pretty good out there, but their presence doesn't make a Sadowsky "expensive".

    Oh, and by the way, a Sadowsky will be lighter than most Fenders. For a lot of folks, that's important.
  15. dave hope

    dave hope

    Dec 16, 2016
    Can’t speak highly enough of Mr. Sadowsky.
    But, I have ONLY experienced (currently own) his Jazz and Verdine White, NYC models?
    But I can say this. For a guy like me, who tried a different bass every year or 2, just experimenting around. I have quit looking. This is as close as I’m personally going to get to the ideal bass.

    You can spend another 5-6k trying to gain that illusive 2% better built/sounding bass.
    But that can become very futile, even moronic. For who has the perfect bass to compare yours to?
    It’s to bad you weren’t looking a few years earlier. Because I couldn’t afford a Sadowsky NYC now.
    So maybe find a used NYC?
    Or, there’s someone else familiar with Sadowsky’s other models for better advise. For all I know his other models may play better, got me? I’m in a small tourist trap in Fl.
    So it’s listen to different demo equipment clips on YouTube. Then order on Amazon. Lolol
  16. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Everybody is mentioning Sadowsky, but the OP specifically mentioned Schecter and other brands as well. I will just that the OP needs to make an effort check out as many basses as he can.
    JRA and Snert like this.
  17. incubus2432


    Mar 21, 2002
    Grafton, Ohio
    I like Rickenbacker basses. A stock Ric gets me 95% to what is perfect for me. Some customization gets me to where I am 100% satisfied and my joy in playing it is 10 fold. That last 5% is vital to my enjoyment/comfort and that also has a cost. Is that cost worth it for you for whatever brand you prefer? That is what you are getting with a boutique version of your chosen bass. Maybe a stocker suits you well and what the boutique brands offer is of zero value to you.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2023
    BigJohnAZ, Roger W and mikewalker like this.
  18. Well I would say that if you want a more custom spec FSO get a Sadowsky or Lakland. The thing that makes them special is the preamps and some unique subtle tweaks to the original jazz bass. I'd probably go for one of those before a jazz any day if I wanted that kinda vibe.
  19. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Seems like the guys making high quality FSO's are on to something. If they weren't Fender wouldn't be making copies of their basses.

    Since 2000 my #1 basses have been a US Lakland, a Mike Lull and a Sadowsky. Playing basses at this end of the scale is habit forming. I've made several attempts to down level and it doesn't work.

    Do your homework and you'll find one which will make you happy for years.
  20. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    My Lull MV4 is a copy of a fender Jazz and outclasses any Fender Jazz I have ever encountered.
    chris_b, Bass Boy, Geri O and 2 others like this.