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Professional musicians with not too professional gear

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Davidoc, May 10, 2002.

  1. I've noticed that a whole lot of pros, both in the music spotlight and bass virtuosos don't use high end custom basses. Fenders, Warwicks and other medium-high end instruments seem to be more popular.

    People go on about how hand made basses are so much better than not so handmade ones. I don't understand why so many pros choose the 'inferior' basses.
    Does anyone have an explanation?
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    In my opinion, it's not the bass, but the player. I saw a guy on BET Jazz at the St. Lucia Jazz Festival playing a Vantage bass, and he sounded incredible!
  3. CaracasBass


    Jun 16, 2001
    Madrid, Spain
    There´s something called SPONSORSHIP. (This Is my opinion:)Those pro players have the money to buy any TOP bass on the market they want, so why to play a mass produced bass?, because the companies are paying them to do it. Of course they have one, two, three......... luthier-made basses, it´s all about business!!!!!!(sad but true)
  4. supergreg


    Jan 20, 2002
    Thats very true. The player makes the bass. Ive seen many amazing bassists that play some borderline decent equipment and make it sound good. On the other hand I have seen some terrible bassists with spectacular gear.
  5. This, more than any of the warm fuzzy stuff about "player, not the instrument," is the important thing.

    I'll give you an example: Marcus Miller endorses Fender. Marcus Miller has a signature Fender Jazz. Does Marcus Miller use this instrument? Hell no! He plays either a Sadowsky, a Fodera, or his own '77 Jazz on which the MM Signature J is somewhat based.

    Stanley Clarke was Alembic's biggest endorser in the '70s but made extensive use of Carl Thompson basses both live and in the studio. Of course, Alembic was hardly the giant multinational that Fender or Gibson is.

    On the guitar side, the most infamous example is Eddie Van Halen. EVH endorsed Kramer, Music Man, and now Peavey, but he uses Steinbergers very heavily in the studio.
  6. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I think Stanley used Carl Thompson piccolo basses but still used Alembic basses for his standard and ADGC tunings. Most of his recordings are Alembic. Also, for what it's worth,an Alembic official once told me that Stanley buys his Alembic basses (although I'm sure at one helluva discount). It was a passing statement in a conversation about something completely unrelated. A similar statement was made when Stanley was in the process of selling off his gear a couple years ago. He had new basses being built at about the time my custom was being built. The "implication" was that he was buying them.


  7. Ah, makes sense. I thought a couple of his Thompsons were standard EADG, but I could be wrong. I know that he definitely used a Thompson piccolo.
  8. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    There are several kinds of endorsement (or "sponsoring").

    1/ Full endorsement : the manufacturer and musician get agreed on how many basses will be given to the musician.

    2/ Partial endorsement : the musician gets big discount while buying his instruments from the manufacturer.

    3/ Lending : the manufacturer lends basses to the musician, but can have them sent back to the factory when he wants.

    All the best,
  9. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    The initial post used the phrase 'not too professional' and 'inferior' and yes I noticed that the word had the ' in the intial context.

    Anyway without further rambling (not much)...

    Fender Warwick Musicman and any other lower middle class basses are actually of very high quality (yes Fender and Warwick have/are tarnishing their reputation-this is opinion of course and all I have to say is CBS and Warwick Standard).

    I bought my Musicman Stingray 5 in prefence to a Fodera that was actually cheaper. I tried a Lakland expecting the earth to move, it didnt. I tried a Sadowski same thing. I wouldn't do a straight swap with either of those makes for my MM. And yes both makes are superior.

    Both MM and Warwick have sounds and personalities that you either love or hate-I love them. Fender's have a simplicity that just works, I am fallng in love with a JV Jazz and that is/was an inferior bass.
  10. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    when my band opened up for average white band, the bassist used a squier 5string. sounded nice too.

    i think nowadays there aren't very many real stinker basses (nothing that a pro setup can't make into a good bass).

    but lots of these "medium high-end" basses are the ones with the name recognition and the big money and the large advertising budgets.
  11. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I agree, If you are paying at least 600 bucks, you are probaly getting a good bass, not a great bass, but a good one. Personally, I would never pay more than 2K for a bass. I want my bass to look good, but I still want something that's going to be lugged into bar rooms and studio halls. If I want a bass, I'll go to Guitar Center, if I want a piece of furniture, I'll go to Pier 1 Imports.

    Are the handmade ones any better than production line models? I really don't know, for I haven't played a lot of custom basses. Though I do know I played an Alembic, and I didn't see why it was any better than say, a high end Fender. Actually, I didn't like it at all, and I put it back on the stand and grabbed my Soundgear. (Yes you heard me right :p )

    If someone wants a 4K dollar bass though, I say go for it. You put up with enough BS playing music, you might as well have the instrument you want if you can afford it.

    p.s. Jason, cool Aqua Teen Hunger Force quote in your sig. :)
  12. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    A couple of thoughts:

    First, I think some of this is based on the assumption that every pro is super-wealthy. They're not. So I can imagine that for an up-and-coming new band that Fender/Warwick/Ibanez top- of-the-line models may be all that they can afford. The margins are slim for a lot of pros.

    Second, most pros are touring and travelling. That can be very hard on an instrument, temp changes, humidity changes, drunks, roadies. Do you really want to trust a high end boutique item to those conditions? Even if you have the $$$ for a boutique item, it would probably be better spent on two quality mid-priced basses so that there is a backup.

    This is not to negate what has been said about endorsements and the like, but I think that these are legimate factors in how pros decide what to play.
  13. my guitarist told me that the guy from Stabbing Westward plays squier strats.
  14. This is true, with the caveat that when Jason Newsted was looking for someone to build him his basses for the Load tour, he went with Sadowsky; Lull and Lakland were two of the other major contestants. We're not talking low-dollar-value basses here, although Laklands used to be a lot more reasonable.

    It's not like Warwicks are all that rugged, either. I wouldn't feel safe throwing a Thumb down a staircase and expecting it to stay in tune. I sure as hell wouldn't do it with a Soundgear or an Ergodyne.
  15. John Bufo

    John Bufo

    Jan 14, 2002
    Salem, NH
    I agree with what most have already said here. These high-end, hand made instruments simply aren't all that necessary, and are a little impractical for touring with I would think. I certainly wouldn't feel good about bringing a $4000+ hand made Alembic, Fodera, etc. on the road. Also, think of what you can buy these days for under $2000. The Peavey Cirrus, Czech Spectors, Music Man, American Fenders, Lakland Skyline, those are all under $1500, and all are certainly capable of being played on any professional gig. With that type of quality availabe so affordably, why spend more then you have to? I think once you start to get above 2 grand, the increase in quality is so marginal compared to the increase in price, that it just isn't worth it. Theres an economic principle behind this, the name of it escapes me at the moment, but its true, and it definitely applies to this.
  16. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    diminishing returns?
  17. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Very true, my post was referring to the vast majority of pros who will never see the kind of money that Metallica has.

    I don't think that I would want to see any bass I own get thrown down a staircase. My point was that the cost of those basses make it less of a loss in the event that something awful DOES happen.
  18. That'd be it. Although I'd say that when you pay $4000 for an instrument and none of that is going to marketing or endorsements, you may well be getting 4 times as much bass as somebody with a $1000 axe.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Reggie Wooten uses a Fender Squier out of a little tiny Peavey amp.and his sound is kicka--
  20. Some artists like their cheapo instruments. One of Billie Joe Armstrong's main guitars is a $100 fernandez strat copy.

    Alot of it is the player, but not all of it. There is only so much a crappy instrument can do.

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