Long Term Investment

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Edgar, May 21, 2001.

  1. Carl Thompson

    10 vote(s)
  2. Fodera

    13 vote(s)
  3. Sadowsky

    21 vote(s)
  4. Roscoe

    1 vote(s)
  1. Edgar


    Nov 4, 2000
    Montreal, QC, CA
    Which of the following makers seems to be the best long term investment? By long term, I mean at least 30 years from now. Judge by the high quality, low production, desirability...you get the ideal.

    * Think 61 Jazz or 57 Pbass!
  2. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    I'm afraid its a real crap shoot as to what any of these basses will be worth in 30 years. There are simply too many variables, i.e. how many will be produced, how many of the "current" players at that time find them desirable, what support structure for parts exist at the time, etc. etc.

    IMO invest in mutual funds, buy basses to play! :D
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I have no idea, but with social security going down the tubes, Buying a couple dozen high end basses and storing them for 30 years might just be the best retirement plan I've seen so far...

    Will C.:cool:
  4. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I wouldn't recommend it, and agree with MJB. Don't buy bass guitars as an investment. Buy 'em to play.

    People seem to forget that for a long time, even the coveted '61 jazz bass could only be had for aboug $200! True, that was back in the 1960's (perhaps into the '70's), but consider that it's gone up in value about 30 times. That's a pretty good return for something that's extremely rare in the world of musical instruments!

    Even other Fenders have not seen that kind of appreciation! You'd be lucky, and I mean VERY lucky to find an instrument that has much appreciation in value at all. Consider this: if you invest in a $1,000 instrument that appreciates at a rate of 8%/year, in 30 years, the bass guitar would be worth approximately $10,062.66. Sounds like a good deal? Remember 2 things about this:

    1. It's only truly worth the money if you actually receive the money for the investment. Otherwise, it's worth zero!
    2. That calculation is based on appreciation of 8%/year. Remember that the Stock Market has appreciated at a historical rate of 10-1/2% to 12-1/2% per year for the history of the stock market. So, if you're looking to make the best investment, bass guitars aren't going to land you a windfall. That same $1,000 invested at 10-1/2% for 30 years in the stock market will be worth an estimated $17,449, and, it's less risky!

    Bottom line: basses are fun to play, cool to find a rare gem such as a '61 Jazz, but not the best investment for making money. You could do better;)
  5. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    I've read that about the stock market as well, but my mutual funds are taking a bath! Right now I'd feel better with a more tangible form wealth like an old bass.
  6. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    You can't worry about "right now". Stocks are a long term investment, the market always has peaks and valleys. Your mutual funds will be great in 30 years, the bass maybe, maybe not.

    I'm not a broker, your results could be different. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Read your prospectus carefully. A partridge in a pear tree. Enjoy playing your basses.

  7. dbradford


    May 7, 2001
    Cary, NC
    I'd have to go with the Sadowsky. Roger Sadowsky modelled it on the classic Fender style and sound (a decision based on the demands of the wide range of NYC professionals who relied on him for his design and repair expertise). Sadowsky's final product is less likely to fall victim to stylistic whim that the others.

    And as for investment value, I keep expecting the bottom to fall out of the market, but I think that this morning I found the most outrageous example of all: Take a look at Gruhn's online catalog at http://www.gruhn.com/catalog/b.htm. There's refinished 1961 J Bass with one new pickup and new pots going for $3850. Refinished!
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    None of them are particularly great investments, IMO, and that of some experts like Gruhn. They'll certainly retain good value, but their value probably won't increase in multiples. Unlike coins and Tiffany lamps, rarity/quality alone doesn't drive the value of electric instruments.

    What mainly hikes an electric instrument's value are its significance in history and/or it has qualities that aren't available with subsequent issues of the same model instrument. If the model is no longer in production, so much the better.

    If I had to pick one of the high enders for its investment value, I'd put my money in an early Ken Smith or one of the first KS 6-strings, originally built at his shop by Fodera, like the first one he made for Anthony Jackson, (if available). The reason is, as Vinnie Fodera said, "He might have been the first guy to give basses a kind of connisseur attitude...It was the first designer bass....".

    But I'd still rather put my money in a mint pre-CBS Fender or something like Jamerson's "Funk Machine" (if it is ever found).
  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Hmmm...that's part of the gamble, isn't it? My Spector is now worth more used than I paid new 5 years ago. I'm not selling it. I guess that actually means it's worth zero;)

    Actually, the fact that Sadowsky basses haven't fallen victim to stylistic whim of others may be one of the things that holds it back from all the rest;)

    WOW!!! That's more than HALF of what you could find a beaten up, all-original '61 Jazz for;)
  10. Edgar


    Nov 4, 2000
    Montreal, QC, CA
    First of all, some of you took my thread to literally, I'm not planning on putting my saving in bass guitar collection!

    The way I see it is the following; Carl Thompson, Vinnie Fodera, Roger Sadowsky and Keith Roscoe will die eventually (Sorry, fact of life!). This equal to a limited amout of bass on the market.

    Carl Thompson does'nt make the same instrument twice (About 3500 instruments, all different). He also played a large role in the electric bass history.

    Roger Sadowsky has been making the reference studio bass for several years (Since 1981, about 3500 instruments, bass AND guitar). His bass are hightly respected. Used, they sell very very easily (high resale value).

    Vinnie Fodera (and Joey Lauricelli) make some of the best high end bass on the market. Also played a major role in bass history. Once again, they will be a very small amount of his instrument on the maket when he (they) retired.

    Keith Roscoe, well I dont know anything about him, I just know that lots of you like his product.
  11. I am too poor to buy mutual funds, or expensive basses. I did not vote in this poll because of this.
  12. dbradford


    May 7, 2001
    Cary, NC
    You've got a good point there. The fact that it's a conservative design could work as a limiting factor. Still, some of the more radical designs can fall in and out of favor fairly quickly.

    I know that the prevailing rule of thumb is that a tampered with bass goes for about half the original, but still, $3,800 for a heavily modified "vintage" bass, regardless of the year, strikes me as way out of line with other prices (as would $7,600 for an original 1961, actually, but I'm sure they're out there).
  13. IMO there is only one bass that could possibly hold up it's value as an investment for a 30+ year period of time. The funny thing is, that right now that model has not held up to be true, but I believe that will change...

    ALEMBIC ( most notably the series I design)

    These were the first of their type, most of the trends you see today were first pioneered by Alembic. They have set a rather high standard for custom basses for longer than any of the others can boast. And, if you want to look closely, you will find that many of the revered custom bass makers got their start with Alembic. Even if one of their instruments is duplicated, it is still unique within its class. I don't believe that to be true of the other makers. Additionally, Alembic has a truly unique tone. Again, I don't think that the others can boast that as a constant. Anyhow, as soon as I can square away the bread, I'll have one of those baby's to call my own. And I don't really care what I've got to pay to get one.
  14. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Me, I buy my basses to play.

    However, I'd go with Thompson. He's getting up there in years, and I don't know how much he's got left in him.

    Regardless, if I don't like it or I won't ever play it, I'm not going to buy it.
  15. On second thought, the best investment basses for tomorrow are those identified universally as the best investment basses today. No matter how inflated the price of a cherry pre-CBS P or J may now seem, it's nothing compared to what it'll be, because they're cultural icons; true classics; originals with historic significance.
  16. Edgar


    Nov 4, 2000
    Montreal, QC, CA
    Electric bass is only 50 years old. An icon like a 61 Jazz or 57 Precision will always remain a highly collectible for sure. Compare it to cars. A Ford model T is a piece of history, same as a Ford Thundebird (I dont know squat about cars, you figure out the year!) is an americain icon. Both classic but different era.

    Same thing here, what will be the next classic. Think about pre-Gibson Tobias (All ready collectable), same goes for Spector. We only realise it because those maker have cross a point of no return (limited amount before being bought by big corporation).

    In 2051, nobody will want to play a live gig with a 1957 Fender Precision (Hang in there, this is only a fantasy! Dont give me that crap about 200 years old violin ;). But, and a big but maybe a Vintage Fodera Emperor II will be the new holly grail for purist, who knows? (Perhaps nobody will be playing 4 strings, Heck, there might be no manufacturer offering a 4 strings model).

    One last thing I'll mention; just imagine, you are currently 15 years old an already a good bass player with no money. You dream to buy a certain model but cannot afford it. 30 years later (You just turn 45 years old with a good job and lots of cash!). you still play bass an decide for some reason to buy the bass you dream about in your childhood. Surprise you are not the only seeking one of those are to find Sadowsky. You get the idea.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    There is no telling what collectors will buy years from now. Here's what I think.

    Alembics only seem to have value to the original owner, after that the value drops like a stone. The same is true but to a lesser degree with Fodera. How many times have we seen $7000 Foderas for 1/2 price used. Thompsons current appeal is still tied to Claypool fans IMO. I have no idea how that will carry into the future. I think pre-Gibson Tobiases would be worth more if there had been no post-Gibson Tobiases;). There are quite a few pre-Gibsons around for well under $3k. Older PRS basses are collectible, even though they generally aren't considered very good basses. Go figure.

    The best investment would be something that didn't cost an arm and a leg now. I got my 68 Jazz 15 years ago for $125. I got my 78 Jazz about a year ago and as much as some people hate them, for me it was $500 well spent AND the 70's basses are appreciating. I bought my 97 MIA Jazz Deluxe 5's for less than they're selling for now. Who knows what they'll be worth 20 years from now.

    If you look objectively at today's high end basses they're actually not a very good investment in the short term. You take a beating on almost everything out here. It really torques some people when they see a Sadowsky or Lakland still selling for a high price but other basses like Elrick, Marleaux, Sukop, Surine, Zons, etc. go for giveaway prices. Then factor in the steady rise in quality and drop in price of some lower end basses and the motivation to spend a ton of money just isn't there anymore, for lots of people.
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Guess I killed this thread;)
  19. I can personally attest to that fact. Wherever I take my CT, all I ever hear is, "Hey, isn't that one of those basses that Les Claypool plays?"
    Then again, a couple of times people have given me a sideways look when I tell them what it is, and I've said, "You know Les Claypool?"
    I hate to be conservative on this topic, but I'd say Fenders would be the way to go for an investment piece, at this point. As Edgar pointed out, the bass guitar is still pretty young, and no other basses have been established as being able to hold their value over time.