Just about to put down cash on an expensive bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nic., Dec 11, 2014.

  1. Nic.


    Aug 28, 2009
    ...but I keep feeling guilty about it. I've been using various DIY projects for the past few years, partially because of the mojo of playing a bass I did myself, partially because it's so hard to find decent fretlesses around here in a mid-range price range and I pretty much play only fretless. But my band has been getting more and more serious over the past two years, and we've gotten enough material to start spending recording time in the studio and get better gigs.

    So far, my DIY bass has been usable (albeit having rather unsightly and rough construction). I'm not a very good craftsman, and electronic problems crop up every now and then - I can fix them given some time with screwdriver and solder and stuff, but thankfully my problems never cropped up just before a gig.

    For the past few months I've been thinking about getting something actually built by a professional luthier. I've been looking around local shops, and overseas while I'm on holiday, and after a few years of playing my various DIY projects and a lot of time spent tweaking my setup I'm pretty confident I know what I want in a bass - unfortunately none of the local shops have what I want. In the end I've decided what I'd really want to do is to get a Status streamline fretless, and I've nearly budgeted for it, but I've still been somewhat iffy about spending.

    Yesterday, while running some etudes I noticed a persistent intonation problem in the highest register of my primary bass - and after several hours of adjustments, I realized it seems to be because my fingerboard itself is uneven. At this point I'm not sure how far I can take this - at the moment my band's work doesn't need to go that high that often, but I want a bass where I can just play and not worry about technical difficulties. But I'm still having problems convincing myself it's okay to spend that much on an instrument - US$2700 is quite a large sum of money to me, so it's hard.

    How do you guys justify purchases like these?
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once...

    Feb 24, 2013
    It's my money and I worked hard for it.
    I don't spend it on anything else.
    It puts a smile on my face every time I pick it up.
    It makes even me sound good.
    It gets a fair amount of respect everywhere I take it, and that makes me work harder at being worthy of it.
    It will be with me a long time, and I have no need for others.
    It will always be a better instrument than I am a musician - I will never outgrow it.

    (fretless Roscoe SKB 6 - a bit more than $2700 - used... It was a lot of money for me too.)
  3. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    If it's the right tool for the job, it's the right tool for the job. Period. You can't use a hammer on a screw, and a screwdriver won't hammer in a nail. Simple as that.

    That said, $2700 is quite a bit, and at that price you have a near-limitless amount of options for a bass. Heck, your options are almost as plentiful at $1000.
    What kind of music do you play? What kind of tone are you going for?
    4 string? 5? 6?

    If it were me, i'd be looking at a Fender Tony Franklin. Fretless P/J with Hipshot Dtuner. Killer axe for ~$1400. (Less if used)

    I always suggest looking for a used bass first.
  4. Nic.


    Aug 28, 2009
    @TrevorOfDoom - thanks for the realistic feedback! Yeah, I was looking used first. I decided I wanted something light since I kept getting shoulder aches after rehearsals and gigs. So that would either be something compact or chambered. It's hard enough to find normal fretlesses here, let alone those. Anyway, somehow I've never liked any Fender basses I've played with. Something about them just feels off to me. Might be the neck shape, I'm not sure.

    Surprisingly for a pure fretless user, I mainly play metal or heavier rock with some synth influences. I use my bass for two purposes, one is a very percussive hit when I dig in, and the other is singing melody lines. The former is much easier to get, so I'm more concerned about the latter. 5 string, I definitely need the low B for what I do, but don't need the high C.

    At this point it's less about picking the right tool - I guess it's comparing a well made hammer to a hammer with a crooked handle. It works, but it could be better. I suppose I -could- get something not as expensive, but my rationale is that if I'm going to be putting down cash for upgrading, rather than taking this halfway, I want this to be a serious long term purchase.

    @ArtechnikA - Yeah that's more or less true - especially the last point. Part of my guilt is wondering whether I can live up to an expensive instrument - silly but yeah. I'd be worried about GAS-ing around after another year or two though, so if I'm investing in this I need to remind myself not to GAS. So far I can't find any other option that gives me all my current requirements in the same bass without going custom, but there'll always be irrational GAS. Case in point - I've also always been wanting a fretless 6 from a boutique brand with nice wood like a fretless Roscoe, but I know I wouldn't really need one or use it all that much, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to get one.
  5. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    Is your main bass a restless? If so, the intonation issues can be solved with knowing your bass better. Sax and trumpet players adjust to their horns all the time. As do upright players.

    Now what you want to hear... Buy the bass if you can afford it and it makes you happy.
  6. Ajapses

    Ajapses Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2013
    Cleveland, TN
    Can't figure out Madden football
    I understand where you're coming from. Spent 25 years playing a nice, but very pedestrian Fender always wondering if the things people said about high end basses were true. With the demands of family and life in general, it seemed that a new bass needed to stay on the 'wish list'.

    I finally bit the bullet last spring with a big feeling of buyers remorse. Truth is, I never did feel justified with the purchase so I can't help you there. This all changed once it arrived. The way people described the playability, quality, and sound of a high-dollar bass was right on the money.

    An added benefit was rekindling something that I had when young. It was the desire to practice, improve, and just play for the sheer fun of it. I'm no longer young, but can say that I'm a better player than ever.

    By the way, bought another one this past summer, with no guilt, and lovin' it too!!
    jim777 likes this.
  7. Pachap

    Pachap Guest

    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    "How do you guys justify purchases like these?"

    Sounds to me like you have justified the purchase yourself. If I had all the reasons to buy a quality instrument like you have laid out above, I'd buy it. Sounds to me like you NEED it for career purposes. I say pull the trigger.
    Doctor Hugocat likes this.
  8. Agosix

    Agosix Supporting Member

    May 7, 2013
    Woodhaven NY
    Should not feel guilty and the price range given there are plenty options for frettless
  9. Think of it like paying for study to get that better job.
    Ace Of Bass likes this.
  10. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009

    Or my favorite justification: I spend $16,000 for a car that is going to be worth exactly ZERO in a few years! (OK, maybe $100 from the junkyard. But you get the picture)

    I was going to say that $2,700 is more than I'd spend for a fretless bass until I realized my Alembic Fretless 6 er was nearly that much! But a word of caution. I bought the Alembic when I was a fretless noob because I was in love with it! But I soon found out that it was WAY too much bass for me at that time. It took about a year until I started to feel I was playing that bass rather than it was playing me! It takes some time to really appreciate what a high end bass can do for you.
    Dima B, Mystic Michael and Pachap like this.
  11. Bob-I


    Sep 12, 2014
    A good luthier will take care of your current fretboard issues, as will learning how to play your bass in tune. There is only one instrument that doesn't require tuning, the Hammond organ, every other instrument requires maintenance and tuning.

    The example above of horn players, my Yamaha tenor sax is a beauty, but D2 is 4-5 cents sharp, D3 is 3-4 cents flat. I don't even notice anymore because I've been playing that sax since 1977 and I adjust automatically.
  12. I don't, I buy used. Have you played any other basses besides your DIY projects?
  13. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again??

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    If I like it, want it, and can afford it.... I'm getting it. That's all the justification I need.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
  14. allenhumble

    allenhumble Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2004
    Acworth GA.
    Most of the bills have been paid and the kids ate last week. Christmas happens every year so its not that big of a deal to skip a year......justified. ;)
    SirMjac28 and bmc like this.
  15. Baird6869

    Baird6869 Supporting Member

    Will it make you play better? Will it make you play more?

    I was a Fender guy for over 20 years and even though I still love my Fenders, I prefer my expensive (vs. Fender) boutiques.

    The car analogy is a good one. A $2700 bass bought today will still be worth a good chunk of your initial investment when you sell it (crazy weird options aside).

    Play what makes you happy. I found that I had buyer's remorse with all of my expensive basses until I plugged them in.
    bassicg likes this.
  16. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I can't justify that much money for a bass. With my abilities and usage it is not warranted. There are plenty of players on here who can justify spending allot of money on a bass, so they should.
  17. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    I struggle with this all the time. I Have had a couple Roscoes made for me. I still have one. For a while I was going to "downgrade" but I realized - and my wife encouraged me - that I should keep my Roscoe as it's what I truly like. I have decided that this is true. I have ordered a new Roscoe fretless to go with my fretted. Yeah, it's expensive, but when I have a nice pair I can be done. I don't have other vices so this is it for me.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  18. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    Can you resell this bass without losing too much money?

    Would it sell fairly quickly or is it going to take 6 months?

    These would be my priorities venturing into that kind of money for a bass.

    I see this too often with some musicians.... buying something they cant afford to keep long term and then it really pains them to part with it in terms of losing the instrument and the financial hit........which is often huge.

    If you truly love the bass and would only lose a few $100 if you need to resell, by all means buy the bass.
    ScarfFace likes this.
  19. Red Four

    Red Four

    Apr 4, 2011
    Getting this most likely won't cure GAS. The compulsion is inside you, and having something external won't remove it from inside you. This bass addressing specific technical concerns should help some, but less expensive basses would likely also do so, so there's something else that makes this more expensive one "the one". The "mojo" - that's where the GAS is.

    What does the Status have for you that something like, say, one of the higher-end Ibanez Soundgears doesn't? Are your requirements really requirements? Have you actually played a fretless Status?

    None of this is to say it's a bad idea. Just curious.
    ScarfFace likes this.
  20. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Have you checked out prices for "high end" Double Basses?

    Bisounourse likes this.