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Intentional irony: A good bassist on an inexpensive bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tb-player, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. My Squier’s and Parts basses do alright. I want to do one more [Warmoth] build with a roasted flame maple neck - it’ll cost around $1200 total.

    My Giant bicycle goes alright - I don’t think I’ll be any faster with a Pinarello F12...it’s my fat ass that slows me down...
    Zonked, DonaldR and DrMole like this.
  2. Wind resistance is a bear!
    DrMole and eastcoasteddie like this.
  3. Jack Deth

    Jack Deth

    May 7, 2020
    Basses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, firearms, TV’s, boats, too many other things to list, all have the same quality that the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence, and give you that little extra you think you are looking for. I’ve gotten to the point in life where I look at things through the filter of ‘capabilities’. I got a Reverend Triad because it has a capability that not one of my other basses possess or can posses (without extensive modifications). If I did modify one of my existing basses to meet a new capability, it would no longer have the capabilities that caused me to acquire it in the first place. Thus, I am chasing new capabilities rather than attempting to gain .05% closer sound to something that I can’t even measure in the first place. On the other hand, if a $10k bass feels like butter and was literally form fitted to me compared to a cheaper bass, and it makes me get into the zone deeper because of it, I could see spending the money if I had the extra dough because of that capability. If an $80 bass did the same thing I would prize it just as much as the $10k bass and care for it like it was priceless. It’s all about how something adds a capability which I don’t have otherwise.
    DrMole likes this.
  4. DonaldR


    Mar 26, 2012
    But you don't buy a $10K bass because it will sound and play better, it's because of the detail of the craftsman ship, the unicity of the chosen wood, like a piece of art. My Gibson Les Paul LPJ is playing/sounding as good or as even better than any Les Paul I tried. But looking meh compared to those fantastic flamed maple burst.
  5. DonaldR


    Mar 26, 2012
    Yep, you have to work your aerodynamics ;)
    eastcoasteddie likes this.
  6. Jack Deth

    Jack Deth

    May 7, 2020
    Perhaps others, but not I. I would choose a complete mind-numbing eye sore over a work of visual art any day if it gave me something I don’t already have which gives me a new/missing capability. I don’t even care about woods, grains, chrome this, brass that, flamed top, oiled finish, etc. If it can do something new, or especially something I need to accomplish a goal, that to me is everything. In essence, it has to pass my “eye test”. If I close my eyes while using it and it does something I need, or adds a new capability to my current arsenal that otherwise does not exist, then it passes the test. If a $10k bass does that while nothing else can, then so be it. However, if an $80 bass does it equally well, I choose the $80 bass. Here’s an example: there is a Löwenherz bass with 3 pickups that are wired split so it acts like 6 pickups. That bass costs as much as a Harley if bought brand new. I would buy it (if I had that kind of $$$) because of the capability, not because of the awesome gold embellishments or fine woods.
  7. OregonJim


    Apr 3, 2021
    I don't buy a $10k bass, period. Not because I can't, but because I won't. A musical instrument is meant to be played, not admired and looked at. Good, even great craftsmanship can be had at 1/10 that price. I understand the idea that a good looking instrument can be an inspiration, but those who view the instrument as art (as opposed to the music) are a different breed altogether.
    shoot-r, David McIntire and Jack Deth like this.
  8. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Ron Johnson. He ignited his bass with a cigarette lighter (nitrocellulose finish). He played on Gregg's album "Southern Blood." The interview was in the May 2018 Bass Player.
    DrMole and JimmyM like this.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Well hey, he got the gig. He has a lot of other basses now, too :D
    dougjwray and DrMole like this.
  10. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I have to confess that I do harbor a prejudice about this stuff.
    You have a handful of very successful professional musicians who can afford very expensive instruments; you have many working musicians who can't because they have utterly devoted their lives to music but aren't lucky or talented enough to make enough money to afford them; and then you have the rich dillettantes who collect them they way they collect Babe Ruth's baseball bats, and take them out of their glass cases once a year to diddle around.
    When I hear about $10,000 basses, I immediately think of the third group, and that's my prejudice. I'm a member of the second group, so it's probably sour grapes. But then again, I starting playing 50 years ago and all of my early heroes did miraculous things with "normal" instruments. So a $10,000 bass just seems a little ridiculous to me.
    hanokiyo, OregonJim and Eli_Kyiv like this.
  11. Manuel Bass

    Manuel Bass Commercial User

    Jun 23, 2017
    No disclosures
    I’m with you both
  12. hanokiyo


    Apr 29, 2021
    Maybe the ridiculousness of the price of instruments can actually be calculated. Any economists in the room? :) Say your local, excellent luthier can build you the perfect bass (plays well, sounds good, looks good, has the right pickups and other features you want in a bass) for $4000. Would that make a $5000 instrument a bass with a 25% ridiculousness rate?
  13. Not an economist, here, but I know a little bit about finances. I think, more important though, is logic and ego.

    Logically, if you can get an instrument, built to your exact specifications for $4,000, anything spent over and above that is ego/bragging rights ("I have the Fodera/Fender/Carvin/'80s Jackson [whatever]").
    hanokiyo likes this.
  14. OregonJim


    Apr 3, 2021
    Agreed, but who is the person bragging to?

    The general public sees a guitar-shaped object in his hands (that is, if he even plays in public). Many have a hard time identifying a bass vs. guitar.

    Guitar players will recognize a bass, but many I've met are hard-pressed to tell the difference between a P and a J (unless they're session players). They may also recognize a Stingray or a Rick, but beyond that - little interest.

    Other bass players are obviously more discerning, but I'll bet that most will see an expensive instrument on stage as "some kind of boutique bass" and be more interested in the lines being played than the hardware. Curiosity may find them looking at the headstock to determine what exactly is being played - they may even look it up later, but by that time, the owner is long gone. In the studio, boutique is not looked upon favorably - producers want to get "that sound" - usually it means they want a standard P or sometimes a Ray. They don't have time to waste dialing in some "unique" bass.

    That leaves us with the gearheads, and bass-specific gearheads at that. They tend to gather together around Internet forums, not so much in real life.

    So, the person with the $10k bass spent an awful lot of money to impress a few nameless, faceless gearheads on some Internet forum. Of course, he has every right to do so.

    (Disclaimer: Yes, these are broad generalizations. I have no doubt that exceptions exist in every category.)
    Eli_Kyiv and hanokiyo like this.
  15. Chalotrejo


    Feb 28, 2013
    In my context, with an original prog-metal band, and a couple of commercial cover bands, having options is a must. My main axes are two (now 20 years old) Zon Sonus that I love (fretted and fretless), with a complex pedalboard that I use when the prog band gigs, and carry in the car with care. But for the commercial projects, we tour in a minivan and the gear travels on a different truck with the techs. For those gigs I go with a cheaper 5 string Squire Jazz fitted with a high mass bridge, Audere preamp, Nordstrand pickups that sounds really good. The band arrive much later than the techs to those gigs, and they handle all the equipment, so the risk of theft, damage or accidents are greater. I rather have a more "expendable" rig in those cases.
    Last edited: May 4, 2021 at 10:03 AM
  16. I think we're actually in agreement. I don't see "bragging rights" to be worth much of anything. Certainly, they're not worth an extra $6,000 of my hard-earned coin.

    Honestly, I don't know that I'd ever even drop the 4K on a custom-made instrument unless going that route really offered some advantages over buying a good instrument and modifying it.

    I recently acquired a P-Bass which I knew was going to need some work.

    I paid the low end of "normal" for a P-Bass of its type in "Good" condition. This bass was not in "Good" condition, but I got it from a friend and didn't want him feeling like he'd been screwed over (I paid 33% over his asking price).

    I spent half again as much on parts for the repairs. I am still well under $1,500 for a '79 P-Bass and I feel like I got a pretty good deal.

    I didn't do any of that for bragging rights. I did it because (in my mind) NOTHING sounds like a P-Bass and I wanted to "save" a "neglected" instrument that I knew I would enjoy and use.
    dougjwray and OregonJim like this.
  17. 4 string thing

    4 string thing

    Apr 14, 2021
    I got one for ya. I've buying basses for just about 50 years now. Started building them for myself in the 80's with mostly Fender parts. Recently I got a bug to build a particular Jazz that I've wanted since seeing a guy play one when I was 17. Looks like the one in my avatar. (that's Geddy, of course). A Geddy signature wouldn't do because of the Baddass bridge, lack of a finger rest under the G string, and the price. I had a Sunburst MIM Jazz for about 20 years that I paid $250 for sitting around. I manage a body shop, so I brought the body in and had them spray it black. Cost: $0. I then took a chance and bought a neck from China for $86, complete with a Fender logo. I would NEVER try to sell this as a real Fender. It has no serial number, so it would be stupid, if not immoral, to try. Well, the risk paid off. I can't tell you how nice this neck is. It had a few cosmetic issues, but I'd certainly buy another for how well it plays. Who knows, it may end up like a pretzel in a year or two but what did I lose in the end? So, total investment was $108 for the transformation of a bass I haven't played for years and didn't have much invested in initially, and it's my most fun to play. Bottom line-you find a cheap bass that plays and sounds great, then you win!
  18. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    I once had a pair of 5 string Jazz basses, a USA Fender and a Squier. The Squier had a nicer neck even through they were identical in measurement (I actually checked this) so I sold the Fender and tricked up the Squier with USA pick ups, bridge, pots etc and a new paint job. Still have it.
    Basic Lee likes this.
  19. tb-player

    tb-player Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Case in point... I've been having a blast modding this Squier CV Jaguar. It's becoming one my favs to play.
  20. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to buy a new bass which I absolutely KNOW would have flawless fretwork, a body handpicked for weight and resonance, ironclad hardware, etc. (Like maybe a Sadowsky.) But I refuse to go into debt. There's also a mysterious satisfaction in gradually accumulating mongrel parts and wondering what the result will be when they're eventually assembled. And, when you have many cheap basses, you can indulge in endless experimention. ("Hmmm... I wonder what an ash P-Bass with a Jazz neck, a rosewood fingerboard, pickups from an '80s Japanese Squier and flatwound strings would sound like? That's a combination I haven't tried yet!")
    Eli_Kyiv likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 9, 2021

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