How important is appearance?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Eilif, Mar 1, 2004.

  1. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    How important is the visual "vibe" of a bass"

    I just wanted to start a discussion about the importance of a basses appearance for those who play out. The type of appearance is immateriel. But how important is it for you to have your bass be shiny clean or worn in, vintage(fender)style or the latest in bass technology, how important is color, etc? Should these things be as important as function? I am sure we have all seen basses that play great, but just don't look as cool.

    I ask this, because I am in a alterna-pop rock band (somewhere beweeen Third eye Blind and Jars of Clay), and I always take appearance "vibe" in to consideration when I choose my basses. I am wondering if anybody else feels the same way, or I am just Shallow ;)
    I know there are basses that would sound as good , and would be easier to play then my upgraded Fender precision(one of my main basses) such as many Ibanez, Washburn, ESP, MTD etc, but most of those basses , while they would sound as good, would not (for the most part, there are exceptions) fit the bill as far as appearance and vibe is concerned.

    As a subpoint, does a "vibey" bass bring out music in you? it does for me.
  2. WildBill


    Jul 7, 2002
    I usually go for sound first, but when a bass is ugly ass hell and sounds great Ill usually try to find something else that looks better that compares to it. I mean I dont wanna be sick of looking at my bass 2 weeks after buying it.
  3. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I think it depends on the player. For myself, I like it if it looks as good as it sounds (to me).

  4. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    I'm not afraid to admit that bass looks are important to me. I'm a very visual person to begin with, and with all the great-sounding and playing basses out there, there's no reason why you can't have one that's beautiful as well.
  5. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    I have to admit, I think my basses look friggin' cool, and that's what mainly led me to want to try them and play them.

    I just got back into bass in 2003, and before I "settled down" with the Warwicks I have, I bought or tried quite a few basses, which ended up getting returned or re-sold because they didn't do for me sonically what I needed them to. I was most sad to resell my Thunderbird because it looked and felt awesome, but the sound quality just wasn't there in the end.

    Without the initial look making me *want* to pick up and play a particular bass, I probably wouldn't have tried some of them. On the other hand I don't reject much outright, so I'm usually open to trying even an ugly bass =0)

    In the long run though, I think most of us would take an ugly one that sounds/plays great over a gorgeous but crappy playing or sounding bass.

    EDIT: and some people would call mine ugly as sin, I'm sure.
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    So then the question is "what makes a good looking bass"

    (I know I'm contradicting my first post, but I just have to open this can of worms) :D I love hearing people's opinions on stuff like this

    I like the pickgaurds, and classic lines of a fender with chromes, or an old fashioned semi-hollow bass. Which is why I dislike most ibanez, and why just about the only peavey I will play is my '79 t-40.
    But at the same time my frettless that I play for church is a super sleek, greenburst Carvin lb75f.
  7. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Appearance is important to me. But then, what I consider to be a good-looking instrument usually coincides with good build quality. That means nice wood, proper pickup routs, a mirror finish, polished frets, clean hardware etc.

    I won't play an ugly beat-to-hell or poorly set-up instrument just because it's alleged to have some mystical "vintage vibe." There's a lot of that attitude infecting the indie music scene though. "If your instrument has four strings or less and looks like crap, welcome."
  8. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Christopher said...
    "There's a lot of that attitude infecting the indie music scene though. "If your instrument has four strings or less and looks like crap, welcome."

    Agreed, it is interseting to see companies like Ibanez putting out guitars that look like old school pawn shop guitars (jetking series) but have modern features and workmanship, and the reavailabity of Vintage Burns bass models, which are pretty much exacty like the origionals. I would like to see if these rereleases/improvements on what were origionaly fairly crap guitars will be accepted. (the Ibanez got enough acceptance to release a Jet King II model however)
  9. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    To me this varies in degrees. I like Fenders, BUT on my black Jazz I have a black pickguard because I think it looks better than the white one. I am not too crazy about great big chunks of white plastic :p . I also like flame tops and bursts. Who knows what I will like tomorrow. ;)

  10. BoiNtC


    Nov 25, 2002
    NYC, USA
    Quality/sound is what comes first to me, but if I can't find it in a color I like, then I wouldn't get it because I'm sure I can find one with good quality/sound that looks good too. I'm surprised MTD is on your list of bad looking basses, I absolutely love the finishes/designs of MTDs (Well, American ones and some of the imports).

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    Looks like in most relationships start the thing so i would say it does matter for me.
  12. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    yes appearances do matter, but realize everybody has different tastes. Back when i first started playing I was at store and a guy came in with what i now know is a Modulus Q5, i thought cool except it was stained purple over flamed maple.

    needless to say it was his dream bass but i thought is was fugly. But when he plugged into a little tiny Behringer amp it sounded righteous so my perception of the bass changed.

    sounded great but there is no chance i would by one in that color.
  13. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Appearence = doesnt matter for me.. MOSTLY, I have a thing against strickly red or baby blue basses. I generally dont like them unless they are semi transparent.
  14. Electricmayhem


    Dec 18, 2003
    I don't think I care too much about appearance.

    The only bass I can think of that I probably wouldn't want to be seen playing is the Parker Fly...
  15. Very important, to me a bass has to look as good as it sounds...i want the most for my money. :)
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    My main criterion is what works for my audience works for me. Typically, there are no "bass wannabe's" in my audience, so I could care less about "vibe"/appearance as far as pleasing them. They don't know a Fender Jazz from a fender on a Chevy.

    Just give me my check for sounding decent and that's fine.

    But, personally, I want something that is a satisfying extension of what I'm trying to play, in terms of looks and feel.

    But, if I were to play regularly in front of an audience composed largely of headbangers, appearance would be very important. For instance, there's a market for all those crazy-ass Schecters and ESP's where the paint jobs cost as much/more than the pickups.
  17. I am going to blasted for this, but I have never liked the "natural" look. Sunburst is fine, but I want my bass to have color to it, and not look like wood. Oher than that, playability over looks is my rule of thumb.
  18. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Girls and instruments are the same:

    Looks don't matter, but definately a plus :)

    It just so happens I like the way P-basses and Stingrays look, feel, and sound, so I'm content.
  19. Crimson


    Feb 29, 2004
    Being a girl and very particular about looks, I'd say looks should definetly be important to you. Imagine walking into an audition and having a beat up bass with scratches all over the finish. I'm a drummer, and I'd rather have my fingers cut off that have my drums get scratched, but unfortunately there isn't that option. ;)

    My rule of thumb is, look for the best you can get soundwise, and then make sure the finish is what you want.
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The quickest way to get over the looks of a bass is to get a killer deal on a good playing bass in some weird color.

    The second way is to pick up some bass you've lusted after because of it's looks and find out the sound and feel just doesn't work for you.