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How Good A Player Should The Owner of A High-End Bass Be?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, May 4, 2005.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I know there is no answer to this question but I will pose it anyway. Today, I'm goofing off from work, looking at Beautiful basses (Smiths, F Basses, Alembics, Sadowskys, Foderas, etc.) and I was listening to Gary Grainger spank his Ken Smith in the background. the obvious hit me, as it does from time to time, that no pretty new bass was gonna help my thumb get as fast as gary Grainger's and realistically, I spend more time looking at cool basses than playing my one cool bass, my SR5. Personally, I'm at piece owning what I can afford. The fact someone with a cheaper bass can bury ne as a player has nothing to do with my appreciation of an instrument. I just wish I'd always felt that way, I'd probably still have my Ken Smith six string now. :bawl: :bassist: :crying:
  2. as a rule I think a serious player should have the best axe he or she can afford. a quality instrument will inspire one to get better while making the mistakes easier to hear.

    just my thoughts. your mileage may vary.

  3. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    On a scale from 1 to the letter "L" I think a player should be around a "green"
  4. LOL
  5. I think if you play seriously enough for a good two years, and you play bass in a band, or you know you're not gonna put down the instrument any time soon....go out and get yourself something nice!
  6. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    this is a very interesting question as it also speaks to the fact that the price of very high end bass's sometimes put's them out of the range of working muscians(5000 +)now im just talking about bass guitars because a good pro urb is usually around 5-8 k and my friends who are primarly upright player laugh when we talk about insturment prices.i teach and have had students come in with 3-4-5 k bass's who barely know the notes on the fingerboard but have the means to get them.the only way i see that helping them is that they don't have to struggle with bad begginer bass's and they might stick with it and learn how to play,but in many cases it's too much bass for them,
  7. I played guitar for a long time on cheap instruments before upgrading to a well made quality instrument. I played in some bands and I was pretty good all in all. I switched over to bass and bought an ibanez just to make sure I was going to stick with it. It's been a year and I just shelled out a good amount of cash for a custom. Can I keep up with any bassist? Hell no! But I can jam and I do occasionaly impress the hell out of everyone including myself. For me it's as much about appreciating the feel and sound of the instrument as anything else. I know that I will spend a life time catching my skills up to the quality of this bass, and I'll love every minute of it!
  8. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Personally, I've always played "workingman's" priced gear that fits my budget. For the last fifteen years, music has provided me with a nice part-time income, and even a modest full-time income from time to time. But here's where I come down on the whole gear thing. First, a little anecdote:

    I worked for Guitar Center once upon a time. They conducted a survey at some point which concluded that only about 10% of their customers nationwide would ever use their gear professionally. That means that the vast majority of their customers are what we might term "hobbyists," which is fine and cool and all that.

    Based on that sampling, I would venture a guess that even most boutique bass builders probably have sales stats similar to GC's; i.e., most of their customers are not professional players, and, in fact, may never play anywhere outside of their homes at all.

    Given that presumption, and in regard to your main question--"How Good A Player Should The Owner of A High-End Bass Be?"--I would say that it doesn't really matter. While some professionals I know actually do justify their purchases with the rationale that, "Hey, this bass costs four thousand dollars, but it'll help me make three times that much in gig money over the course of the next year," most musicians are not using that standard, nor should they, in my opinion. Do I have to be a professional driver to buy and enjoy a nice car? Of course not. Same goes for a nice bass. If you like it and you can afford it, then by all means buy it and enjoy it.

    As you point out in your post, I think it's wise to make such purchases with the clear understanding that a great bass is not automatically going to make you a great bassist. Obviously, I don't think if I bought a really hot sports car that I'd suddenly be able to drive like Mario Andretti.

    On the other hand, if a great bass or amp or effects processor or whatever makes you want to sit down and play more, then you may well become a better player because you are actually playing more. Who knows? It could happen.

    On a final note, whenever I have the hots for any piece of gear, no matter what it costs, I always try to be honest with myself by acknowledging that the gear in question is a want and not a need. I already have a decent bass and amp that I can use--and have used--to have some fun and make a little dough. Anything else is just gravy.

  9. Good post, stringbass69. You said everything that I would've tried to say.
  10. barebones

    barebones Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I LOVE it! "Making the mistakes easier to hear." That's the best rationale for buying nice gear I've heard since I picked up my first instrument!

    Now, if I can just convince my wife...

  11. Good thread, great replies.

    jay_t - What bass is it?
  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    That's signature material right there!
  13. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    It's an interesting question, and yes, no correct answer, but the replies should be fun to read.

    I've been on a gear merry-go-round for a number of years. Constantly searching for the dream bass and rig. I've built some myself, had low end and high end (up to $2,600) which is high to me, and the same with amps, cabs, preamp, effects, etc.

    Yes, there are differences. Are they always REALLY worth the price? I don't think so. Will anyone notice except you and a few bass playing friends if its a Samick or an Alembic? Probably not. Does that mean that high end gear isn't worth it? No.

    If you can afford one, and want one, buy one. Should only "top" players have high end basses? Not necessarily, but some of the "finer" touches of that bass may be less utilized by a lesser player.

    I consider myself a good player, and I have sold most of my "high-end" gear. Why? Because my $350 Yamaha with Bartolini pups and pre ($275) sounds and plays great. It looks pretty nice, too. Is it a Modulus Q5? No, but I don't REALLY need that.

    I think a good player will sound good on most any (playable, within reason) bass.Yo uwill sound like yo because the sound comes from your hands as much as from your gear.

    Buy and listen with your ears, not your eyes.
  14. It's a Stambaugh DCNT 5. I should have it pretty soon. It's getting the finish applied this week and I would guess next week. Not sure how long that process is, but I have pics! I was going to get a PRS g**tar but my path lies with the bass. It just feels right. I still play the g**tar but more for home recording to set up a nice palette to practice the bass with! :bassist:
  15. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003
    I have a couple Zons and I've often thought my basses are better than I am haha! But I'm also extremely picky about my tone and I'm not sure I'd be as motivated to play if it didn't sound right to me... bottom line is do you think manufacturers care? If you got the money buy it!

  16. If a high-end bass makes you practice or play more, then it might be worth it. But if you have a good playing MIM J bass (for example) and you don't want to play it because you are Gassing over a Celinder, maybe you aren't into playing bass but are into being seen with flashy basses. maybe. I'm just sayin' is all....

    For every newbie with a Fodera there is a incredible working pro with a beat up Fender and maybe a Stingray in the bag.
  17. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I find certain basses inspire me and sometimes take me to a higher level, Does that mean I need them to get "my sound" probobly not. But, With the bass that works for me ( Metro) it's far easier. I do less knob tweaking, and more playing. Am I good enough for a Metro? Probobly not, allthough I have heard far worse players on far more expensive instruments and far better players on "lesser" instruments. What does a good bass give a mediocre player like me? Confidence, now my deffinition of "good bass" has changed over the years and I have owned various high and low end instruments, and I have finally found "the one". I do believe this much a better quality instrument will record better, cut thru the mix better and fit better. It will also tend to be more reliable, will it make me sound like Marcus Miller? Will Lee? I doubt it.
  18. +1!

    I've noticed that when I percieve my tone to be bad, it's hard to keep playing. Playing to a crowd is one thing as you have to keep going, but when I'm just messing around, bad tone kills all inspiration... or so it seems.
  19. RedVette


    Jan 1, 2005
    Medford, OR
    Years ago my clarinet and sax teacher told me that a beginner actually benefits greatly from a fine instrument. His theory being that learning to play is hard enough without trying to force a good sound from a crummy axe. His specific advice was to buy the best instrument you can afford.

    I bought my 10 year old son a primo Selmer Alto and he has used it to get a music degree and still plays it in studios in Greece. This is 32 years later, so I would say the Selmer was a good investment.

    I am a recent convert to bass, so using my teacher's logic I bought a new Rickenbacker. I think it is making my progress much faster than trying to wrestle with something that doesn't sound good to me.
  20. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    If your a working musician, you need dependable gear.
    This costs money. and it's good to have a backup bass.
    This said, do you sound better on a $3000.00 bass, than a $1500.00?
    My rule, get the best bass you can afford.

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