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Justification of cost of certain basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by i like tictacs, Oct 4, 2004.

  1. I've been having a question lately that is bugging me. What REALLY makes basses so expensive? How much more work goes into a Fodera then a Modulus to justify the $3-4000 difference in price? A Musicman vs. Modulus? Warwick vs. Fender? I'm not trying to incite any flames here. I'm trying to justifiy spending a few thousand on a certain bass and I want to see what I'm really paying for. Just some general info would be good. Is it woods? Construction? Components? Method of construction? I'm not really using the Fodera as my choice, just as an example because I know it's cheaper to cnc a fender then to handbuild a fodera.
  2. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products

  3. I'm asking a slightly different question. I saw that, and yes, I searched. A polite answer to my question would have been fine.
  4. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    One thing I can say is that attention to detail is probably a considerable factor. Having a neck fit perfectly in a neck joint, versus simply being a close fit can be a large time difference.

    Additionally, reputation has something to do with it. The more your name is associated with being the best, the more you can afford to add to the price at the cost of losing perspective buyers. Supply and demand rules. Foderas seem to be in high demand. They are all hand built by a limited number of workers in a closely controlled environment, so output is limited. Therefore, the buyer will pay more for this than for a Fender, where the overall quality is likely not as good and there might be hundreds of them sitting in music stores in one city. That same city might have 0 Foderas.

  5. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
    Would the phrase "supply and demand" be polite enough?
  6. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    They have big wait times and thats one way to combat the huge waiting lists.
  7. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Another factor is at some point, work becomes ART.
    Is a $6000.00 bass twice a good as a $3000.00. bass.
    Most people don't think so, unless you got the $6000.00.
    to spend.
  8. niomosy


    Nov 9, 2002
    A lot of times a fair chunk of that money is going into purely aesthetic options. Birdseye maple fingerboard? $$$ Custom Duncan or Aero pickups? $$$ Wooden covers for them? $$$ A nice top? $$$

    You can rack up quite the bill on purely aesthetic options with a Fodera if you're so inclined.

    The rest of the money is just paying for a higher quality instrument.
  9. Here is an analogy:

    Why do some chefs get $250.00 ahead and others $30.00
    Some Like Jean-George who have great reputations and are artisans in the cullinary field get the big bucks. Joe down at the steak house is a fine cook. They both can start with the same basic ingredients, one is a masterpiece the other is a good meal.

    What your paying mega thousands for in a bass, is 1)master craftsmanship,2) artistry, 3)In most cases exotic (pricey) woods and electronics, 4)the reputation of the builder, 5) prestige, 6) mostly TONE.

    If you are paying 2K +++ for a bass it had damn better be spectacular in its own right. Do you need this ???? I played a Fender Geddy Lee at GC the other day @ $700.00 that was a mighty fine bass.

    It all depends on the needs of the bassist. Some Really need a 5K fodera, Some Just want one, others are fine with a MIM Jazz.

    Do I need a Lamborgini Diablo, no, but it would sure be nice!!!
  10. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    As hippiesandwich said, "supply and demand." People want Fodera and are willing to pay the price to get them. Fodera charges a price that they feel will generate the greatest amount of profit without killing sales.

    I will tell you this. Custom instrument makers don't become rich. Their volumes are low and each instrument takes a long time to build. Hand built basses are very labor intensive. If you calculated a luthier's hourly rate based on the instrument price and the amount of time that they actually put in to its creation, you would be shocked at how little they make.

    Companies like Fender make huge profits by keeping production costs low and shipping large numbers of instruments.

    Bottom line, buy the instrument that suits your needs and your budget.
  11. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Because when you find yourself holding the right one you'll pay whatever it costs.

    Basic market capitalism. Yes, they use better materials. Yes, they spend more time on the details. But ultimately they cost more because someone will pay it.
  12. dont


    Jul 25, 2004
    I got my new bass about a month ago. What I got for my money was incredible guidance and advice choosing woods based on tone contribution, weight, appearance, and balance. I got incredibly gorgeous zebrawood over a layer of wenge on a mahogany body with a through nine piece neck of maple with pau amarello and wenge stringers; even the headstock has zebrawood front and back, and the control knobs are zebrawood. I got placement of my Bartolini soapbars based on the tone I like. My fretwork is perfect, the fit and finish are flawless. I have a three band EQ with 18 volt electronics, a series/parallel neck pickup switch, and a three position midrange switch. I got wide string spacing on my five string, with a 35" scale. I have tone and appearance to die for, sustain for days, and incredible power and low end.
    I paid about $3500 for my Hanewinckel, and it was the best money I ever spent on an instrument. Could I have gotten all this in a mass-produced bass? No way---and very likely nothng to match it anywhere else at 2-3 times the price.
    This is what I got for my $3500---bass nirvana.
  13. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    I think that what you are paying a great deal for in a custom bass, a Fodera for example, is labor, material and overhead.

    I got mine in 1988 for $1800. The same bass now would cost about $4500. Inflation was only about 2% per year on average since, so that rise in price is mostly due to the increasing cost of overhead (i.e. NYC rents) Joey and Vinnie's time, and the price of wood. I know that NYC rents have tripled and in some areas qudroupled since then. Wage increases would not be sufficient enough to live in NY if they were pegged to inflation (i.e. luthiers need to increase their earnings by much more than 2% per year to live in the cities where their businesses can thrive) and the fact that woods are increasingly rare and expensive adds to the hurt on the wallet. Makes perfect sense to me.

    No if someone could explain just how on earth Fender can justify an MIA P or J costing $1000... Sorry-- I couldn't resist!
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Word! If you can't afford it, it isn't worth it.

    I have some boo-teek basses, and I wouldn't have bought 'em if I didn't think they were worth the money. But if I didn't have the money, I'd be content with an inexpensive import (MTD Kingston, most likely).
  15. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    I think you make a great point here, but in doing so you raise an equally interesting question.

    You've identified what people are paying for. The new question is why do they (okay, okay...we) Why are we willing to pay so much for it?

    I think for some, it's the ability to get exactly what you want and know that it will be a top quality execution. Top quality both in terms of content of material (mahogany, ebony, zebrawood instead of basswood) and in terms of excellence and durability of workmanship and the quality of tone.

    Can we live without those things? Probably. There are tons of pros out there making a living with gear that is valued at a fraction of what my stuff is valued at. On the other hand I'm fine if a gig pays for my gas and strings. Two of my five basses are custom ordered and I am just thrilled to know that they were built to my specifications and in both cases turned out excellent.


  16. Senor SQUID

    Senor SQUID Guest

    Jan 11, 2004
    Totally agree bro!
  17. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think everybody has given the basic reasons for high prices: limited production; expensive materials; attention to detail; reputation, supply & demand. My favorite example is to compare Lakland to Music Man. No one would accuse Music Man of being poor quality, yet Lakland 55-94's cost way more than similar Stingrays and Bongos. The Lakland is made on a much smaller scale, can be bought with fancier tops, and somewhat better finish at roughly twice the price of a MM.

    The Peavey Cirrus which seems to run between $1,200-2,500 is very comparable to neck through basses like Ken Smith or Fodera but is one third to to half the price of more limited production instruments because it made by one of America's largest music companies.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Smash, you made some really good points. I think many of us who love basses, tend to confuse admiration for a beautiful instrument for superior performance. Many boutique basses are great instruments, but so are more plain instruments like Music Man, G&L, high-end Peavey, Fender, Lakland, and others.
  19. Rumzini


    Feb 14, 2004
    Jackson, MI

    Must...show...pic....please. That just sounds beautiful.
  20. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    from what I can tell, most bassist on the tube are playing Fenders that were around $150 new and how many pro's don't own at least one such instrument - which were the same instruments that laid down the tracks most of us are still playing today. Probably as good a representative sample as can be had.

    With the increase precision of today's machinery, seems to me the craftsmanship in most import basses is up to snuff with what Leo used to turn out.

    But isn't it nice to live in a culture where really anybody can buy a boutique bass if they want to. So why not. You can't take it with you.