mail order basses safe?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by basss, Aug 30, 2001.

  1. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Is it safe to order basses off the internet, assuming that you have checked out the same model somewhere else? I'm not worried about getting a damaged bass as most of these companies have good customer support and I don't mind doing a little set up work myself. I guess my question is how much variance is there between two different basses of the same model? If I like one, lets say, p-bass for example, am I going to like the one of the same make that I get off the internet?
  2. Gman

    Gman Guest

    Jan 4, 2000
    Indianapolis, IN
    I ordered my Stingray 5, sight unseen from Bass Central. It arrived when I was told it would, exactly as ordered.

    The setup was good, and the whole bass is better than I could have hoped for. I have looked at every Stingray in the city, and none of them are even close to mine, as far as the beauty of the wood. The neck is a HIGHLY flamed and figured one. All I have seen in stores are as plain as can be. You would think the especially nice ones may be saved for the top dollar buyers, but I got a great deal to boot.

    Don't be Beaver.

  3. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I bought my MIA P-bass from musician's friend, and i had no problems with it. I love it. :)

    oh boy it is my 1000th post.
  4. TonyS


    Dec 13, 1999
    Welcome Basss ...

    The thing to keep in mind is that Fender, Ibenez, etc. etc. are production basses. Which means that you might get something sent to you that's nearly perfect or something not so hot. It is a bit of a crap shoot. Buying from a "reputable source" is your best defense. I would always buy locally if possible, but we both know that it's not always feasible.

    FWIW I bought a MM Sterling from Bass Central in Florida (Mail Order) and it's one of the best instruments I've seen. Could be I got lucky ... however I trust these guys to deliver and they have on several occasions.

    I'm sure there are others with similar experiences with Bass NW and some of the better shops.

    Good Luck
  5. Komakino

    Komakino Guest

    Feb 23, 2001
    Somerset, England
    It's always better to try out the exact bass you're buying as it might have a warped neck or something. So long as the store has a good returns policy, I wouldn't be too concerned. I bought my bass online and I'm happy with it.
  6. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania

    That's good, I ordered my Sterling from yesterday. I can't wait for it to come, you're only making it sound even better... AHH I'm so impatient!

    But yeah... Beaver or Grasshoper are definatly guys to talk to... They're really cool, and they'll work with you on stuff.
  7. Well it is always better to try out the instrument you are going to buy before you actually purchase it...but not always practical.

    I got my `98 MIA Fender P from and it is wonderful! If you buy from a reputable dealer you are usually ok.Never bought a bass from a private party online though....that would scare me a wee bit! :eek:

    Good Luck!

  8. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    I have bought and sold basses and bass gear privately through the internet (Ebay) to and from people from different countries, and so far, touch wood, it's been smooth sailing.
  9. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I've bought lots of gear online and from mail-order, without problem. I have to...the only things available to me locally are lower-end gear at obscene prices.

    Some brands are more consistent with others, so you know you can buy sight-unseen with confidence once you've verified that's what you want. I'd personally never buy anything online if it wasn't accompanied by a few day's trial/approval period. Most reputable retailers offer this. It's your safety net.
  10. jcadmus

    jcadmus Guest

    Apr 2, 2000
    I think the key is to make sure whomever you're buying from has a good rep for delivering what they promise and has a reasonable return policy.

    I've always been skittish about the mailorder thing. I found that the major catalogs don't know their butt from a hole in the ground, are routinely out of stock on items I want -- a fact they reveal only AFTER I place the order -- and regularly send me damaged items or the wrong stuff. So I'm kind of off of them.

    On the other hand, my Carvin bass shipped on time and arrived as ordered, and it came with a 10-day money-back guarantee. Mine was fine, but a buddy got one he didn't like -- he shipped it back and they accepted it no questions asked. He has since bought another and loves it.

    I would be real reluctant to buy anything of significant value from a private party that way (ala Ebay), but that's my bias.
  11. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    When I got my MIA 75 Reissue, I had to have it ordered from Fender for me. So, it was factory fresh when I got it. When I took it to Curbow to have it set up, he told me it was one of the nicest fret jobs he has ever seen on a Fender. It has a tight neck pocket, and nice grain on both the body, and the neck. Maybe I got lucky. I also ordered my Doublebass online from I had it set up, and it has been a real charmer ever since, as well.

    Bottom line: If you use a reputable source, you should be fine. Stick with bass central, and bass NW, and I don't think you'll have anything to worry about.
  12. (My input MAY be biased :D)

    As long as you deal with a reputable dealership, mail-order is fine. Also, with buying from private individuals, make sure to use an escrow service to protect yourself and your investment (these services will hold your money for both parties until you give approval of the item), and have a reasonable return agreement with the individual you're dealing with.

    As for consistency, it depends on the brand. As someone pointed out, when you're dealing with the larger manufacturers there will be some inconsistency in their line (not including Fender custom shop stuff, which is more akin to a small custom shop). But, if you're talking about ordering from the high-end (or at least higher-end) shops, the consistency is almost always there.

    I (like Neal/DirtyRoadCola) work at Bass Central, so I'm on the "inside" of this business. We, as do all the reputable dealers (BassNW, The Bass Place, BassAlone, a few others I'm sure to be omitting) have a return policy on all items, except strings. Our policy is 48 hrs from your recieving the bass, amp, or accessory, this does not cover shipping (we're not in business to lose money, hopefully you can understand that). We also make it a point to spend enough time on the phone or via e-mail with a customer to make as sure as possible that they're getting exactly what they want. One reason we don't have much trouble is that we don't sell low-end basses too often, and the QC of the makers we sell is very high. No one can be 100% perfect, and we do get returns, but not too often.

    CE, you gettin' a white Sterling with a maple neck and matching headstock, black pickguard? I did the pickguard swap and packed your bass yesterday morning, and helped the UPS driver with the paperwork as it went out the door yesterday afternoon. Nice bass man, you will dig it! Good call on the black pickguard, looks nicer than the white pearloid I took off it. :D
  13. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Just use your own experiences at retail music stores as an example... Play a half dozen or so Ibanez, Fenders, Yamahas, or most other production basses and you'll probably find differences in workmanship, fit & finish, etc.. Most of the issues I've had with higher end basses have usually been the result of poor setup or just my taste as opposed to questionable workmanship. The dealer can make all the difference in the world as well. Reputable dealers such as Bass Central, BassNW, Bass Alone (and the like) are more likely to take the time to do a "QC" inspection of the bass before it's shipped than a place like Musician's Friend, Mars, Sam Ash or Zzounds (IMHO). I would also think that these places are more descriminating about the quality of the basses they stock in the first place.

    - Frank
  14. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Lot's of great advice here. Before I ordered my bass from I did a search of the forums here to see what people had to say about them. It seemed like most people that had done business with them were pretty happy so I went ahead and ordered. I was very happy with the bass that I got, IMO it was even better then described. But always check to see how long you have to return the bass if you're not happy with it. You should get at least a 10 days.
  15. count_funkula

    count_funkula Guest

    Dec 13, 1999
    Greenville, Tx
    Carvin only deals through the mail and mine was in excellent condition. They also have a 10 day return policy if you don't like anything about it.
  16. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    Cool. I can't wait to get it... They said I should expect it here by Tuesday... hmm... 4 more days.

  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think there can be big differences and I would never buy a bass without trying it out extensively first. I have tried literally hundreds of Fender Jazz basses and never found one that suited me, but I did notice large variations, especially in terms of thickness of the neck - from front to back - which meant that some of them are quite comfortable and some unplayable for me!

    I think you are going to get biased respones to your question - most people who buy mailorder will do so because they have no other option. It's fun trying basses and nobody would deny themsleves this pleasure unless they had no other choice! ;)

    So I think if they buy a bass then they will have made a commitment and can't really send it back unless there is a major problem, so they will get used to minor inconveniences, over time. Whereas, if they had tried a load of different basses in a shop the comparison would have highlighted this.

    Plus I think, nobody is going to say that they made a huge mistake and I'm living with a less than perfect bass - it would be too embarassing to admit. As you can see from the CE saga people get "all excited" when receiving a new bass and there is no way they can make an objective judgement when they first get it and several weeks or months down the line, they will have got used to the bass and how it plays and it is "theirs"!

    I suppose it comes down to how "fussy" you are - I work in London, fairly near to several very good bass stores with extensive stocks, so I'm always trying basses and notice differences - as I say I've lawya been on the lookout for the perfect Jazz bass but never got it - although the RB5 came close! But somebody else might not notice these differences at all - but you'll never know until you try.....:cool:
  18. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    So in other words Bruce, anyone who buys a bass mail order is settling for 2nd best? Sure it would be nice to live in a large city where you can try out a large variety of basses and not buy until you get one that sounds perfect, looks perfect, feels perfect, smells perfect etc...but at some point aren't we going a little too far? Kind of like the bad craftsman blaming his tools? My dad who was a trombone player told me that the great ones could get a mouthpiece and some garden hose and make it sound good. The G&L ASAT I just got mail order is actually better than the one I bought in a store 10 years ago. Not saying that this will always happen but the flaw in your thinking is that there has to be something major wrong with it before you send it back. WRONG! Most places allow 10 days (some 30) for ANY reason. As far as less than perfect goes, what is perfect? I'm sure all of my basses would be considered less than perfect by you but I'm very happy with them. I've played alot of music with them and never have had an embarrasing or negative moment thinking I was playing a less than perfect bass. Anyway we all are entitled to our opinions. BTW who are CE saga people? I hope this doesn't seem like a rant 'cause it's not meant to be. hmmm......maybe I'll add some smiley faces just to make sure.:) :cool: :p :D
  19. bassmangreg


    Jun 20, 2001
    Warrenton, NC
    I hate to rain on your parade, but I ordered a musicman
    stingray from The BassPlace in Arizona. It arrived on time
    and everything. My only complaint is that it must have
    been a blem. It is a natural bass with this brown stain
    in the wood grain . So it is my fault that I did not see
    it first. The next time I want to at least see the bass
    before I fork over $900.00. :(
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I wasn't saying that you couldn't send it back, just that most people wouldn't unless there was a major fault as they will be caught up in the excitement of getting a new bass and will want to play it. My main point was that they won't be entirely objective about it.

    I wasn't making any value judgements in my post - just answering the original question which I quoted - and my view is that I have noticed quite large differences on Fender Jazz basses, having tried quite a few over many years and being as objective as I could. I don't think that people who have tried very few basses and bought only via mail order are as likely to be so objective.

    Of course the differences I notice may not be noticed by others, but of course it's all subjective in the end. ;)