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One Similarity Between Cheap and Boutique Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Vintage P, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. Vintage P

    Vintage P

    Jun 30, 2014
    The debate as to what warrants the additional cost of a super expensive instrument will never end.


    I often hear arguments one way or the other that are just not accurate. Here's one thing to keep in mind when making a comparison.

    ALL basses are made partly by hand and partly by machines. The argument that something is "hand crafted" is simply a romantic notion. Unless you're talking about something cosmetic, all basses are essentially made the same way, but it a Fodera or a Squier. So what's the difference? Parts. Attention to detail. Quality control. Electronics. And mainly...the wood. In that regard, there is most definitely a difference. And it's the reason that an inexpensive bass and sometimes be a winner. Ya got lucky!

    My basic philosophy is, get the best instrument that YOU like at the best price. Getting something you don't like to save a hundred bucks on something that you'll have for years makes no sense. And spending thousands thinking that you're going to get something that is "the best" is unrealistic.

    There are plenty of choices these days to get something that will work in any situation. But you can't take crap on a pro gig and having a $6000 bass isn't going to make you more employable.

    Bottom line. it's how you play and how you work with others. Just get a good tool to do the job and show up on time.
    bryce schmitendorf likes this.
  2. jessicabass


    Dec 22, 2009
    I have played instruments that cost 2k and couldnt stand playing them.
    I have played instruments that cost 2k and was in awe of how well it played.
    I have played instruments that cost $200 and couldnt stand playing them.
    I have played instruments that cost $200 and was in awe of how well it played.
    Always choose your instrument on how it feels and plays to you. not the price tag.
    So i very much agree.
  3. Vintage P

    Vintage P

    Jun 30, 2014

    Hey, I had a $6000 bass that was a dog. Meanwhile, my Squier Deluxe is a fav go-to. But I do realize that's the exception more than the rule.
  4. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    If your conclusion is that there are some fantastic basses at the bottom end of the pricing spectrum, then I agree with you. I think most TB'ers agree with you. However, your argument is flawed because your key premise is flawed. "All basses are essentially made the same way" is not a true statement. The end product can be described as "essentially the same," but the processes can vary wildly.

    The most important thing here is to find a bass (or basses) that work for you. Your price point will be influenced by your income.

    BTW- welcome to TalkBass!
  5. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    While the tools and steps might be similar, the results may not be.

    Building a hundred necks in a row and throwing them into a bin is different from building a single neck and then carefully setting it into the body it was intended for. Time, materials selection, attention to fit and finish detail, building the instrument as a whole thing instead of assembling parts from bins are much more significant to the outcome than whether or not machines or hand tools were used on any given step.
  6. Vintage P

    Vintage P

    Jun 30, 2014
    Thanks for the welcome. As for basses being made the same way, I think there may be a difference of what constitutes the actual building process. My point is that an electric bass luthier is not quite the same as a violin maker. (And some may argue that these days a violin can be made as well as a Stradivarius for a quarter of the price). Boutique basses are not all hand made -- they have parts that are cut with machines and cheap basses are not all assembly line manufactured with no human element. They too have parts put together and finished by hand. I'm not sure how many people realize that.
  7. Vintage P

    Vintage P

    Jun 30, 2014

    I agree. But taking that extra time does not necessarily make for a better instrument. Not all the time at least. And even if a neck was built along with a hundred others doesn't mean it's not a good neck. (As so many guys will attest). As for fit -- it's not a rocket ship. Fitting a neck is pretty simple.

    Oddly enough, I think the finish on a Fender or Rick is often superior to many custom made models. But that's simple a matter of taste I guess.
  8. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    One Similarity Between Cheap and Boutique Basses
    more often than not both will do the job
  9. bnolsen


    Jan 30, 2014
    denver area
    Umm...they both make bass-like noises? Maybe one of them makes noises that are more basslike than the other?

    You would hope the more expensive mode is put together with more care and has a more stable neck that doesn't require shimming, holds tuning better, has been properly shielded and may have "better" pickups, better strings out of the box. Well possibly pickups and strings already installed that are to your taste (meaning you actually have to know what you want).

    Just commenting because this is a silly thread and pretty much any response here is pretty much opinion anyways.

    Oh yeah a silly comparison: some of us drive kias, others corvettes. Both will get you where you are going, one will get you there "in style" although people will snob you in one and question your manhood in the other.
  10. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I would be one to make the argument that a relatively inexpensive violin can be a fine instrument, too. The lower the cost, the less hand work, though, and the bigger the crap shoot. Also, some boutique builders use CNC machines to do initial cuts, to make parts for bridges, pickups and other hardware. Some boutique builders contract a lot of this work. But some boutique builders don't use computers at all - the only "machines" are band saws, routers, and similar hand tools. That is where I think your premise is flawed.

    Absolutely. When you mass produce a hundred necks, you can end up with a hundred great necks, a hundred dogs, or something in between. And Fender has proved that fitting a neck doesn't have to be an exact science!

    And, boy, the can of worms you are opening talking about the great quality of Rick and Fender finishes... :jawdrop:
    GBassNorth likes this.
  11. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    One thing that is not opinion based is the measure of time afforded each bass. I think that's a very important part of something we all agree is skilled work. I can stick four legs on a sheet of plywood and call it a coffee table. I wouldn't argue that the result is the same as that of a fine woodworker building a quality piece of furniture, even though the functional result might be identical.
  12. Both will sound just as good or just as bad, depending on the player's skill.
  13. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    A great instrument in a great player's hands = awesome
    A great instrument in a bad player's hands = bad
    A bad instrument in a great players hands = might be good (depends on just how bad the instrument is!)
    A bad instrument in a bad player's hands = bad-tastic

    I used to tell students to get the best bass they can afford for *playability* - not appearance or sound. Learning is hard enough without a bad instrument getting into the way.
    wvbass, GBassNorth and BassHappy like this.
  14. BIGEJ2

    BIGEJ2 Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Happy Valley, PA
    Question for you guys who actually care about prices: Are you even bass players? The actual musicians that I know (myself included) could care less about how much an instrument costs.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014

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