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Im Just No Gettin The Boutique Thing

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thirtyhz, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    Having bought played and sold many “boutique” basses over the years a realization struck me. In most cases you can easily buy any of the components off the shelf, that all the boutique builder names use. Also they often sub out much of the woodwork, so in essence become assemblers.

    Well I have a nice Fender American Deluxe Jazz. Nice quality, plays nice but the pups/preamp are lacking, So after researching the many boutique component options I decided to go with Fralin/Audere. So now I have a good quality bass the sounds and plays as good as any. Sure there are no swirls or stripes in the wood, or exclusive nameplate, but it does all I need and more, at a fraction of the cost with quality upgraded where its need. so why would I want to by something I can frame on the wall thats not going to be any improvement where it counts?

    Ultimately Ive learned that its methodical consistent practice and musical growth that wins above all else. All the rest (instrument, rig etc) are just tools to facilitate your musical expresion.
  2. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Cool. Sounds like you found the right bass for you.
  3. Some like to drive fancy cars and others only require basic transportation. My basses are in that second category too so I know what you mean.

    I wish now I'd done that with my Deluxe Jazz years ago only I would have just gone back to passive pickups. The preamp and noiseless pickups weren't good at all.
    juancaminos and troy mcclure like this.
  4. noveltea93


    Feb 5, 2018
    I think it just comes down to a case of different strokes for different folks. I agree that all gear is just a tool, and that qualities of the player/musician are the determining factor, but you need a tool that suits you. Some people have the budget and the desire for very elaborate, ornate, or perfectly refined tools. For some people its all looks, and hype (admittedly, having an instrument that looks nice can be a big part of enjoying it), but for others there's a certain feel, balance, highly specific tone or what have you that they only find on that one specific piece of gear.

    Personally, while I understand it intellectually, I haven't had an experience that's convinced me it's worth it. I'm a modified Squier kinda guy myself.
  5. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    People with an excess of money like to spend it.
  6. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    My thoughts on boutique basses:
    1. Make sure you know exactly what you want before having it built. If it doesn't quit turn out how you expected, you'll lose your shirt on resale.
    2. Be prepared to keep it forever.
    3. It will probably look fantastic to you but maybe not so much to everyone else. The same goes for mass produced bass.
    4. If you find the right builder, it can be less expensive than buying and modding a Fender type bass.
    5. above about $2500 +/-, you are simply paying for the name. Unless the woods are extremely exotic.
    6. These are just my opinions based on experience. I have owned $6,000 basses but traded much lower priced basses for them.
  7. flojob

    flojob Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    I think most boutique builders I've heard of still make their instruments themselves, unless it's their budget line that they outsource and then assemble.
    Some people elevate luthiery to an art, and I completely love that idea, and can appreciate them that way, in addition to what they are designed to do.
    You're exactly right that they are tools, but I can see how some can be appreciated as an art piece first.
    If I'm afraid to take it to a gig, it's not firstly a tool, but an art piece.
    I'd take a Wyn to a bar gig.
    I would not take a high end Carl Thompson.
    I'd buy a Wyn before a Thompson.
    Quantized Harmonic likes this.
  8. Mister Boh

    Mister Boh

    Oct 23, 2016
    Annapolis, MD
    The coffee table stuff sure is pretty though. Plays great, sounds great, and looks stunning? No brainer if you have the funds.

    My Ibanez does just fine for me but if my income suddenly doubled I'd be all over some exotic wood beauty.
  9. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Been there, done that, got over it.
  10. Rumbledore


    Jun 2, 2018
    noun: boutique; plural noun: boutiques
    1. 1.
      a small store selling fashionable clothes or accessories.
    2. 2.
      a business that serves a sophisticated or specialized clientele.
  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    If music is your goal, good results should matter above all else. If a player gets good or great results with a boutique bass, then buying it was a smart decision. If a player gets good or great results with a production bass, then buying that bass was a smart decision too.
    dmt, chadds, kodiakblair and 8 others like this.
  12. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    This! So much this.
    armybass, JRA, sigterm and 2 others like this.
  13. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Great thread. This has never been discussed here.

    This week.:)
    chadds, JRA, Mechanical and 23 others like this.
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    U are very practical.
  15. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    basses are not the same as cars lol I'm fine tooling around in a ratty old VW, it's easy, familiar, economic, parks well, and if someone scratches it I may not go to prison for their actions, but pushing an exotic on wide open roads is certainly fun for a while. whereas once I have a favorite comfortable cheapo tone monster bass dialed in to perfection I wouldn't think of grabbing anything else, where's all that $$$ gonna get me? and being an expensive extreme looker I'd be paranoid about even dust settling on it or taking it out. I have sniffer friends who sound little to no different on whatever bass they play, from a Squier to the moon, but they feel better using the high end stuff and I get to check them all out for free... so please go for it! my latest boutique came in the form of a minty foreign Peavey Zodiac BXP for $200 and it ain't getting backed down by anything. that said, I jones for a custom Torzal Twist lol viva la differance!
    3rdWatch likes this.
  16. Single Coil

    Single Coil Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2006
    I am waiting on my first custom build (fretless) from Scott Beckwith at Birdsong. I don't know if that qualifies as a boutique instrument, given that the cost is between $2,000 -$3,000 which is far more reasonable than the Alembics and Foderas I've seen. However, I bought a used fretted Birdsong about a year ago and I have never felt more comfortable playing a bass. These are my reasons:

    1. I have left shoulder and wrist issues and the light weight and short scale have relieved much of my pain and discomfort.
    2. The v-shaped neck profile makes the bass very easy to play and is the most comfortable shape I have ever played.
    3. The midrange of this bass cuts through like no other. Amazing.

    There are probably other basses that sound better. My custom is not going to be super fancy, but it will be more boutique looking than the standard P-bass.

    However, I have to play my bass. If it's not comfortable in my hands and strapped on my body, then sound and appearance are not that relevant. I must have a bass I enjoy playing from a physical perspective. That's why I have ordered a custom. Just one perspective that's worth only the paper it's printed on.
    aguacollas, Krizz, tradernick and 2 others like this.
  17. BIGEJ2

    BIGEJ2 Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Happy Valley, PA
    It’s good to have options.
    aguacollas and Brad Johnson like this.
  18. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Exactly why I love both of my boutique instruments. Both are tools I use which have made me a better player simply because I love playing them. Certain instruments aren’t for certain people. I hate RICs and would never in a million years own a Fender Jazz. If they work for other people, cool. If not, that’s cool too.
    aguacollas and Brad Johnson like this.
  19. If i had the disposable income I'd definitely have a boutique on order...... funny thing is that it wouldn't really look boutique other than being an 8 or 12 string (imagine the bass below in black with blk/red/blk guard and a bit of red highlights)

    My main fretless and fretted both have Warmoth necks that i had the boutique builder that built the one below roll the edges, refinish and on the fretless epoxy the board. They now feel almost as nice as his $8-10,000 basses. I just have them bolted to bodies that don't bother me if they get a ding or two. They've also stopped me buying many bases over the years as nothing feels as good to play in any price point.

    Here's some of his work below

    K12HorizontalSmall (1) copy.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
    saabfender likes this.
  20. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Thank god no one is twisting your arm to make you buy one, eh?
    GregC, Jeff in TX, Correlli and 9 others like this.

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