Is It Just Us?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by old_skool, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    Are we, the people of the United States, the only nation of people that have so much pride for US made basses along with other products (this is a basses forum, lets stick to that) made in the US? What I mean is, When you first think about getting the nicest bass from, lets say Fender. You think, OK, American made. You put them in a higher category in terms of construction and quality than MIM and MIJ basses. I know that this is obviously not true in all cases but do you see what I’m trying to get at? We tend to look down on foreign made basses. It seems that US made basses have a bit of snob appeal to them. Tons of basses are made in Korean factories. Do the Korean people feel that these models produced in their country are nicer than the US made models or do they too feel that the models produce here in the states are better for whatever reason? Do other countries have this kind of pride for the basses that are produced in their country?
  2. Good call!!! I really do not agree with that, but so far it seems like it is true. Probably because it is more expensive to make in the states, so the quality expected is higher... There are also the most highly regarded of all, yet elusive canadian made products... Very rare indeed.

  3. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    no.. your point is misleading. The best fender basses ARE the american ones... that's a fact. Fender, an american company, chooses to manufacture it's top of the line instruments in the US. Warwick's top of the line is constructed in Germany, and both of their el-cheapo basses are made in korea or japan. Not to say that any bass made in korea or japan is of poor quality, but those ones are.

    So by saying that I like the "american" fender more than the mexican one doesn't mean I think my country is any better than someone else's. I just want a better bass. And in fender's case, the better one is made in the US.
  4. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I no more think of where a bass is made, than I do anything else I purchase. (vehicle, televison, etc.)
    I choose the one I like best and regardless of where it was made, it is the one I buy.
    I always find it somewhat amusing, when I hear someone say, "I only buy American made instuments"....because if they applied that principle to everything else thry purchase, they wouldn't have much. ;)
  5. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Bull. I went to a music store and tried out 2 Jazz basses, a MIA and a MIM and the MIM played better and sounded better. I bought it. I have spent a lot of time in shops trying both and can tell you that SOME MIAs are better, and SOME MIMs are better, but you can't make a blanket statement that it is a fact that MIAs are better. And some of the Japanese made ones are as good as the MIA, too. Ever try the Geddy Lee? MIJ. And a fine bass.
  6. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Fender does make what they consider to be their best stuff here. But that doesn't mean that you like it the best. Anyways, you are missing the main point. The main point is just that not all manufacturers make their best stuff here.
  7. I don't give a rat's butt where my bass is made, as long as it sounds, plays and feels good to me.

    ( But ofcourse, basses made in Holland are the best :p :rolleyes: )
  8. Um, Falsehoodbass, I think you'll find that Japanese basses are not cheap basses. They used to be, but labour costs there are comparable to the US now. Very few Fenders are made in Japan now, and just try talking Larry Graham into parting with his Moon.
    BTW, the bar has just been raised as far as Korean instruments go, with the new Lakland Skyline series. By all accounts these are superior to many US products.
    I live in New Zealand, and there is certainly a large element of "if it's made in US, it must be better" here, not just in basses, but in music too. The radio stations here must all have American-born programmers, 'cos you'll never hear anything from latin america, the east, Europe (except England), or Africa.
  9. red-hot-bassist


    Sep 18, 2001
    i personaly think fenders are okay, but i gte pissed off living in a country that has an excellent history and culture of it's own when we are constantly being flooded with imagery and god knows else what, so i'm more inclined to go and find a high quality bass that aint parading th stars and stripes.

    and I am proud to say I have.;)
  10. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Come on guys, two separate and quite distinct issues here:

    1. whether or not someone is nationalistically biased towards purchasing items made in their country

    2. whether or not "non-US"* made items are of lower quality, as a general rule

    and one simple truth:

    A. Many bass manufacturers have chosen, for whatever reasons, to manufacture their "discount" lines in various non-US* locations

    Don't confuse the three. Buying an MIA Jazz v. a MIM does not imply that you believe 1) or 2).

    *also applies to other countries, like Germany (Warwick)
  11. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    I'm pretty sure that a high end bass is possible to manufacture everywhere in the world where someone is willing to go that road (put money into r&d, a production line, study luthiership etc.).

    by fate or not, the US is the place where most modern music styles originate so its only natural that most modern instrument makers will be American.

    for comparison, look at Keyboards and Synths, there is no taboo on where to buy them.
    you got Kurzweill, Roland, Yamaha, Access, Waldorf and so on and none is made in the US.
    so its all a matter of cosequences of where the industry is more evolved.
  12. The bass guitar is an American instrument, designed to play American music. The bass making sector is more highly developed in USA than it is anywhere else in the world. So, you get better basses in US. No surprise here.

    Now, if you look at classical, and particularly flamenco, guitars, you'll find the same thing holds true for Spain. While there are exceptionally good US makers, the Spanish made stuff is generally considered better. Which might account for the absurdly high prices Americans have to pay for spanish made guitars!

    I said the sector as a whole is more developed... you might consider the fact that the best US classical guitar makers get their wood from Spanish suppliers, even when that wood is South American in origin.

    Woods used for basses are traditionally those which are either mainly available in US, or have been made popular by US suppliers. The bass making sector is ESSENTIALLY American in inspiration. But with acoustic seems to me that you find the Sitka spruces on steel string instruments and the Englemann spruces on more prevalent in US, and the other in Europe.

    I say seems, because I am only working on impressions here...I have no hard facts.
  13. [​IMG]

    Look at these 3 basses. All of us probably know what basses are those on the left and on the right, both are a very good examples of an American made basses. The one in the middle is made by a local luthier here in Indonesia:eek: :confused:

    I feel a tremendous pride in my Indonesian made fretless bass. After all, some of the best wood carving artists came from Indonesia. The finish however I have to admit, is not as good as my Alembic. Other than that, the craftmanship on this bass can certainly rival any high-end US(Canadian/Germany, etc) made basses.

    If you want to check out how the fretless sounds like, visit my site:p

    AKG Production
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would say that for quality, I would be looking for a hand-made instrument, by a well-respected luthier - so there are many more of these in the US and they have been around longer - have links to a longer tradition.

    So US-made instruments are very highly-respected in the UK and are the most expensive - a top of the range Ken Smith or Alembic 6-string are just about the most expensive instruments stocked by shops in the UK - and people do buy them for their quality.

    Of course there are some good luthiers in the UK, but generally they are small and make custom instruments to order.

    I think a lot of people are like me and know what they like when they see it and play it, but woudn't necessarily know how to specify this. So if we want to try before we buy - imported US-made instruments are going to be the best we can get.
  15. I have to agree with Bruce in that I knwo what I like when I see it play it, but wouldn't necessarily be able to translate that into a spec to giove to a luthier.

    There is a high percentage of American made equipment available forming a lot of the high price basses. There are a lot of basses from Europe ,and the Far East that fill up the mid and lower price basses. I suppose there are some American ones in the mid priced range too.

    I personally have 2 American basses, 2 Korean and 1 made in the Czech republic. I love each of these basses for different reasons. I actually play my Czech one the most just now, it was the most expensive and by my own set of standards consider it to be my best bass! One of the Korean made basses is in the second best bass category (second equal probably with the 2 American made basses), the final Korean bass is my budget bass, but for years (while I owned the American basses) this bass was my workhorse, and I played it the most.

    I must admit that I don't really bother about country of origin when looking for basses. I try the bass itself and judge it on it's playability merits, feel, finsih and price. I tend to buy them and keep them so re-sale value isn't really a huge consideration!!!

    Ironically, all of my basses bear the names of American companies!! (However, one of my 3 guitars doesn't - and none of them were made in America!!)
  16. I would also certainly agree with many of us here that US made basses are mostly better than the Korean or Japanese or whatever. They also have set a standard for the world to follow. It went way back when Leo made his first P-bass. But not necessarily better all the time of course.
  17. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I would agree, but still my favorite of my 8 basses is a Korean made Tobias. And that includes my American made Gibson Thunderbird, which is a great bass, but not as good as the Tobias.
  18. I auditioned numerous Warwick, Yamaha, Ibanez, G&L, MusicMan and others. The craftsmanship was fine between those made in the US compared to made elsewhere. But... on the P had the sound I wanted.

    I bought my 2001 MIM P-bass strictly by price. I needed a P-bass and it was buy a MIM or nothing.

    As it turned out, I got a helluva price ($250) on a new sunburst model with attractive wood and nice parts. The fit and finish is very nice, but I can see cross sanding marks in the neck that would not be found in the more expensive MIA bass. The other noticeable point was the lack of rolled neck edges. Not a big deal.
  19. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    There's a big reason that the "lower-end" models are usually not made in the US, and that's labor costs. When you factor in the cost of Stuart Spector making a bass by hand, or a Czech shop making a bass to his specs and then shipping it to him, what do you notice?

    Quite simple...without regard to workmanship or "exotic-ness", Stuart's time is worth a lot more money, relative to his Czech help. Following in this line of thinking, it makes sense that Stuart will then use the more expensive materials to add to the exotic-ness of the instrument.

    But, when you talk about overall quality, which one's truly better? The word is that Czech quality is just as good as Stuarts. But again, it gets back to the fact that Czech workers' time is not as expensive. That's why it's farmed out.
  20. rhythmrod


    Oct 27, 2001
    Austin, Texas
    RAM, you're on target!
    When we get into mass production of instruments then there really is no huge difference (all things being equal). The "made in the US" basses generally cost more because of the price of US labor, not neccessarily because they are substantially better. Just look at the auto industry. If you want a truly superior bass then get it custom built. I don't get caught up in the "because it's made in the US, that it's better" hype.