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How do you buy a boutique bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stringsmith, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. stringsmith


    Apr 7, 2005
    Guys I want to get a boutique bass (Nordstrand, Hanewinkel, Fbass or similar) but I hear about the ridiculous wait times for these instruments. What I want to know is how do you pay for them? I don't have $3000 cash laying around so do you pay these guys all at once or in installments through the production process or what? Warrior is the only co. that advertises a "buy to build" program but Im sure other luthiers offer it. I dont mind waiting for a bass, but I would have a real problem waiting a year or even more for a bass thats paid for. Id rather leave some of that cash in the bank so it can get a little interest. What are your thoughts
  2. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao EspaƱa
    Depends on the company, most ask a 30% when ordered and then 70%when delivered.
  3. Shawnost

    Shawnost It's all about the Hamiltons baby! Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2004
    Huntersville, NC
    Depends on the builder, but most will want a deposit up front and the balance on delivery. Percentages vary by builder/dealer. If you have an idea of what builder and options you want you can probably call around to some dealers and see if what you are after is out there, that would certainly get you around the dreaded "custom wait time"

    Custom builds always make me think of relativity...specifically time dilation...:smug:

  4. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    It can also depend on the dealer that you go through- I had to put $500 down on a custom being made and the rest is due when the bass is completed. Going through a different dealer for the same bass would have had a different deposit amount.
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    The ones I've talked with are 50% down, 50% upon completion
  6. That's seems like a pretty standard system for a lot of luthiers. I think Ken Lawrence asks for $1,500 down to get any project started with the rest due on completion.
  7. Many luthiers wants a % down, then the remainder at delivery. Consider anywhere from 10-50% down at the inception.

    i'll also mention a few things about ordering a boutique bass.
    1) have a solid idea of the tone, and sound you want from the bass-be able to relate this tone, sound in a concrete manner that makes sense to the builder.

    2) consider a bass style you like, becuase my experience is that each builder has a limited # of bass shapes they'll build and variations they'll do for each bass. So don't expect one builder to borrow anothe rbuilders shape, or style.
    3) make sure everything is in writing. if its not black-n-white it doesn't exist
  8. I've just done this whole thing - the discernment process has taken me the better part of a year.

    Look at as much as you can out there, then narrow your choices down. Keep your tone in mind - talk to the luthiers here about what kind of woods will bring out your tone, then put them together with what is comfortable for you (string spacing at the bridge, 34 or 35 or 36 inch scale) and aesthetic qualities too.

    Then, go play some - if there's nothing around your residence, find a way to go to a place where you can play, or find other bassists in your surrounding area that will let you try theirs. This is a must. I played a Tobias in Nashville at the Gibson store, then heard I must try an MTD. While it played wonderfully, it really wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

    The year long research also gave me the time to save up/scrimp/shave/squirrel away most of the $$$ needed for the project...and the parallel project.

    If you're married, the parallel project is a must. Be sure to save a little more for a complementary purchase. When I get the bass delivered, I'm going to be sure the new major appliances are in the kitchen already!!:D
  9. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    What bass did you end up going with T.B.?
  10. T B Player has it nailed. I totally agree with all he says. Bottom line is to take your time and never be impulsive. Do your homework fully.

    and good luck.
  11. steve4765630


    Feb 27, 2006
    I buy 'em used. It's cheaper:)
  12. Flipper

    Flipper sale: Sadowsky NYC PJ5

    Jan 11, 2005
    Dallas, Texas
    Talk to Pete Skjold.
  13. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    How do you buy a boutique bass?

    Lay your credit card at the feet of the luthier of your choice and grab your ankles!



  14. VERY carefully!! I'd never go direct through the luthier. It's way more $$$ than buying used or even new through an authorized dealer.

    I used to want every cool boutique on the market, but when budget is an issue it seems rather pointless to buy an Fbass to play in a cover band, or any other band for that matter when you live paycheck to paycheck. I sold my F, got my eyes fixed, bought a slammin bass, and still had hundreds left over.

    I just don't get it anymore. I used to GAS on here all the time for the most expensive stuff. Now I go with what producers around here want,,, simple, solid, great B strings, good feel, and reasonable price. Like: Fender, Yamaha, Lakland, Musicman, and maybe when I am rich, a used Sadowsky would be excellent for the studio. I just think that the wait time and price for something one hasn't seen or played yet is risky and sometimes rediculous.
  15. stringsmith


    Apr 7, 2005
    Sethlow3, that is wonderful advice. probably the best ive heard yet. I think the whole luthier thing is overplayed on this site. I'm going to rethink this whole custom thing and get focused on making music that people want to hear.
  16. stringsmith


    Apr 7, 2005
    I want to also say that I appreciate ALL of the great advice posted on this thread. You guys are full of knowledge and wisdom. But I have seen so many beautiful instruments I feel like a horny man that gawks at every woman but the one that loves him and has been there for him. I am still in the market for a bass but I need to get what I can afford and what gives me my sound not what will get oohs and aahs from the bass community.
  17. vacman


    Mar 8, 2004
    portland, or
    Wonderful post....words of wisdom IMHO.
  18. Hmm seems that Luthiers charge a heap more in the US than here in Oz. My West and my Cargill basses both cost a lot less than buying any major name brand bass. In fact I would say about half price. IMHO they are as good if not better than anything I have ever tried off the rack.
    Mind you the price paid here for a non Australian made instrument is about 2-3 times that paid in the US. In fact most gear is the same.

    My last purchase for instance was an Ampeg SVP Pro which retails in the US for about US$500. (Aus$625).
    The retail here in most shops is Aus$1600.
    Completely absurd but this is a fact. I mean are they trying to convince us that it costs nearly Aus$1000 in shipping costs? Really pisses me....

    Anyway I just bought it from the States and got it shipped for an extra US$120. yay for the global economy. Those theiving B@$!@&)$ (Australian import co's) didnt get any of my cash.

    Anyway its the same when buying a Fender bass etc, stupidly expensive. So in Australia getting a luthier to build you exactly what you want is a sensible thing to do and simply a case of finding a reputable one with instruments you can try and making sure all along the way that he understands what it is that you are after.

    To any fellow Australian players I can recommend Cargill (In Melbourne) and West Guitars (in Adelaide). I know a few other guitarists and Bassists who have these instruments and so far have not seen one that in any way was less than a pro instrument.

    Also I guess I should add that I am in no way affiliated with either company, I just paid them to build me a bass and have used them for years and never had a reason to replace them. I'm sure there are also very good luthiers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. As stated previously just do your homework.
  19. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    While I can appreciate Sethlow3's insightful post, I can't say I really agree with all of it. IMO, TB Players post a little further up is really the best way to approach the custom market.

    If you have (or develop) a good relationship with a luthier and have a strong familiarity with his build style, you usually will end up with an amazing bass. The thing that happens way too often here at TB is more in line with Sethlow3's thoughts ... guys who can't afford an expensive axe putting everything on the line and waiting for a bass from a builder that they don't know and haven't developed any realtionship with.

    To the original question, prior to placing my order with FBB for a custom 7, I did the following:

    1st, I bought two used FBB's and played a bunch more ... loved them all :D

    2nd, I talked a LOT with Matt at FBB before placing the order. I read everything I could about his basses, did all of the homework TB Player was talking about.

    3rd, I made sure my financial "ship" was in order and that the "ship's captain" was okay with me spending the money. In my case, through the good graces of God money isn't an issue, but even so we considered what impact the cost would have vs. the benefits of owning the bass.

    I gave Matt a healthy deposit, which showed him I was serious about ordering. I have a "bass fund" where I tuck away spare cash .... this way, when it's time to pay for the bass there will be no gaping hole in the checkbook.

    Custom basses aren't for everyone .... IMO too many guys here get wrapped up in the GAS-of-the-moment mentality and order stuff without doing the research.
  20. Good points, Ed! Also about the custom basses. There are TONS of threads here about us ERB guys being shunned by Nashville producers - and Seth's words also speak truth. One of these days, I'd LOVE the opportunity to do a Nashville session, and when I do, I have a guy there that can get me a SUPER deal on a 5 string Lakland - but until that time...

    The "hefty deposit" was sent to Mike Adler...incredible recommendations from incredible players - and samples that knocked my socks off. And the waiting is part of the fun!

    Until that time, I get to work with our Celtic/Rock project band and try to work out the latest batch of tunes I wrote - one's in 7/4 with the solo section in 7/8 (never thought I'd see a drummer go insane before...but this was close!!)

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