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Parts bass vs Factory bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SantiagoGT15, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. SantiagoGT15


    Jun 22, 2010
    Praise & Worship Group Leader/Director
    Well the title speaks by itself, I was wondering, since I'm in the market looking for a new bass...specifically a p-bass , which one would give a better result?
    My budget is tops 1200 USD , I was thinking something between a fender roadworn 50's P (which I've heard is an amazing bass) and the "parts bass" that would be a Mighty Mite body+neck and probably Dimarzio pickups.

    But I guess this is where it gets weird, will I get the sound I want at the expense of finish and overall feel? In your experience what would you rather have? a parts or a factory made, quality inspected etc bass? :confused:

  2. In my experience, you'll never get your money back from a parts bass. If you decide to "upgrade" or change your tone in the future, the parts bass won't be worth the cost of its parts. OTOH, if you buy the Fender, you'll get at least some of the original price back. Yeah, you'll take a hit, but at least you'll be able to sell it.

    The best of both worlds is to buy a used Fender at a good price, and upgrade it (if needed at all).

    Just my $.02
  3. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Agreed. I would only go parts if there's something really specific I want that isn't offered by the factory. Like graphite necks, or completely different pickup layout (HH on a P-bass, for example). Like most "custom" basses, you'll get burned on resale. Also, unless you're pretty good at doing setups, assembling a new bass can require a fair bit of effort - especially shielding and electronics.

    Stuff like paint jobs or preamp or hardware packages can be modded. Get a used bass as close as you can to your dream bass and mod from there. You may like it so much you won't even need modding.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    With a parts bass you get the bass you want.
  5. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    One thing about a parts bass, Not only do you get it your way, but if your tastes change in the future, all you need to do is update the relevant part(s)

    If I had $1200 to spend, I'd drop a minimum of $400 to 600 on the neck itself and know exactly what you want in a neck before you ordered. Not that Mighty Mite is bad, but there are way better.
  6. SantiagoGT15


    Jun 22, 2010
    Praise & Worship Group Leader/Director
    Well you all have some great points that's why I'm torn between the two...

    With a parts bass I get exactly what I want (ty Ric5)

    I have the extra effort from shielding, and actually putting it together, intonation neck saddle height etc etc

    While with the stock one

    I get a complete bass, with a quality inspection, and "almost there" to what I actually want

    I'ts a shot in the dark for me, I've never owned a Fender, and the ones I've played I've only liked about 5-6 (including the 50's)
  7. If you know what you want, and how to build it. I may be wrong, but it sounds like the OP is just looking for a plain ol' P Bass.
  8. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    I've got a modern p-bass, a 2011 MIA. It's fantastic and cost me ... Guess what $1200 brand new with a really nice case. Worth every penny.

    To the contrary I've got almost half a bass in parts sitting in my garage and I've got about $500 in it so far. I still need a neck, tuners, shielding, some routing, a custom pick guard and paint. It's going cost me $1200 to $1500 when it's done depding on the neck.

    Buy one that's done if a basic p is your desire.

    Just my opinion.
  9. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    Depends...do you want a bass made how YOU want,or do you want a bass like everybody elses? $1200 can get you quite a bit of what you want either way...

    Personally,I'd put my own together from USACG or Warmoth parts..true,they don't have a big F stamped anywhere for resale purposes,but they've always been good enough for the likes of Sadowsky,Valenti,etc..
  10. In my case, a parts bass was too expensive. I got a factory bass because it was much cheaper.

    I'm happy with the result, but I had to make sacrifices (different neck profile than I like, frets are bigger than I like, body isn't the color I want).
  11. X8X


    Aug 30, 2011
    If you are unsure on which basses you like or not, I would too recommend getting an used MIM Fender that is as close to your reference as possible, and then modding it.
    Parts basses can easily come out better than factory produced basses, but if you are unsure on the parts there is a chance that you will not like the result, and if you have a Fender you can still sell it for a good part of the money while with the parts bass you're basically screwed.
  12. Not to mention there's some satisfaction to having assembled it yourself.........but a $1200 "project" might be risky.

    I inherited a Squier P-Bass from my brother-in-law after he passed away the had a severely bowed neck and striped truss rod with no electronics installed.

    I scored a neck on Craigslist, pickups on eBay and pots and jack from Stew-Mac and a pro setup. Turned out to be a great player and lots of fun too!

    I don't think it even totaled $125 for everything and I sure had lots of fun putting it together and I learned something along the way as well. Worth every penny I invested.
  13. Emmaporkchop

    Emmaporkchop Guest

    Jun 23, 2009
    I just went through this same thing last month. I was looking at Fender Jazz basses & Ernie Ball Sterlings (had a budget of $1400 to spend) and after going to every store within 70 miles around here I couldn't find one I liked enough to justify getting it. I've put together Telecasters myself in the past so I finally decided to put together a bass. I ordered a MM Jazz neck & finished MM body. I already had tuners & got a great deal on some Fender Custom Shop pickups. Picked up a Babicz bridge and after a couple hours I finally had a jazz bass that I really love and sounds great. If your not worried about resale value then just put one together. If you decide you want something else you can always sell off the parts individually. I only have about $300 into mine and it's something I know I'm going to keep probably longer than any other bass I've had.
  14. Get a roadworn used. They are a bargain on the used market and if it doesn't work out then you will get all or close to all of your intial investment back by selling it.

    With a parts bass, it's a crapshoot how it will end up sounding or playing even though you selected the parts and you will take a bath if you try and unload it.
  15. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    ...for less.

    Provided you put it together well.:)
  16. SlingBass4


    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    One word: Warmoth :smug:
  17. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I bought a Fender, and changed out the parts that I thought could use some improvement (The neck). Works well for me.
  18. I have been down this path. Parts basses tend to be money pits. Again, you have no idea how that will sound even though you hand select the parts. It's easy to typify woods and tones but in the real world it doesn't always sound the way you assume it would with the parts you chose. Then you can chase down a fix with more money and different parts but at the end you can potentially throw alot of money at something that doesn't even impress you. And even selling the parts won't get that money back.

    Don't get me wrong it can turn out great...it's just the "what if it doesn't" that can get you.
  19. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    Good points made pro and con. I have numerous Warmoths that I would put against any factory made bass, including boutiques. They were made exactly how I wanted with different pickups, finishes, wood combinations and hardware than standard basses. All were professionally assembled and none of them were inexpensive, however, and I fully understand the implications of the selling hit which I do not anticipate happening (selling).

    Having said that, since you know you want a standard P bass with no exotic woods, I would totally recommend a Fender. A new one gets you a warranty (minimal hassles just in case there's a problem, and they do happen).

    Or, a good used one leaving $$ left over for anything you might want to change (pickup, hardware) if it comes to that. The resale value is something to consider - you will get more than a parts bass would bring, even a tricked up one.

    Parts basses, even nice ones, are one-offs and are typically great bargains used. They are great fun to put together and usually turn out very well. Buying flexibility is much broader getting something off the rack. It's already done, you can try numerous pieces, and you know exactly what you're getting. Unless you're willing to take some risk (and there is some) I'd say stick with the Fender. This is from a guy who has 4 Warmoths.
  20. GtenderG


    Feb 29, 2008
    It's fun to find basses that feel awesome playing wise and tweek them into something that sounds exactly like what you want. I also have a sweet looking MIM jazz that has Fralins, a Gotoh bridge and custom Warmoth neck w/Ebony fretboard - feels and sounds great.

    I have built a parts bass with items I had accumulated here and there. I had a guy who painted my goalie masks (Ice Hockey) do a vintage tinted clear coat on the body ($220) all totalled I have about $400 invested into this bass. The neck is something I picked up for about $30.. That will be th only thing I'll be changing out when I get a Warmoth V neck - another $400ish.

    A fun project that I'll probably never do again....:)
    Attached is a pic of the project bass...

    Attached Files:

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