1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Pulling the trigger on a custom bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lunchbox4u_6, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Lunchbox4u_6


    Dec 1, 2008
    Dallas, TX
    So I was just about to pull the trigger on a bass from Tom Clement when my wife brought up a good point. I have never played a Clement bass before. I've read about them, I've heard them on YouTube, and I've certainly read about them on the forums, but I've never held one in my hands. Now, I don't know about you guys, but for me I have found that sometimes the way a bass feels makes all the difference in the world. Every bass I own I have kept because I like the way it feels to me.

    What are your thoughts on buying a bass without playing something from the same line first?
  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I dropped $1700 on a used Tobias Basic without trying it.
    I got it because it was the nicest design I had seen and
    reviews from Bass Player.
    I had a custom bass built (Stambaugh) but...would not have done so
    without trying one. I'm lucky to live 40 miles from Chris's house.
    It was really neat to have one made to my specs though.
    Good luck, hope you get one made.
  3. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I had a custom built by a friend who had not built a bass before (he had built plenty of guitars). It was a big leap of faith. The only reason I was willing to take the risk was because he was local and encouraged my involvement in every step of the design and build.

    The end result is wonderful, but it took several changes of course during the build to get there. If it wasn't so easy for me to make changes on the fly, I doubt I would have taken the chance. To go with an established builder - even one with as great a reputation as Clement's - without meeting with him or playing his instruments would probably scare me off.
  4. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    If you have a custom bass made, it might be very difficult to sell down the line because of individualistic specifications. Therefore, I would never have any instrument custom made before trying a few other ones from the builder.

    On the other hand, buying used instruments over the internet without playing them in person is pretty easy for me. If I don't like it, I just re-sell.
  5. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Yup. My Carvin cost me about a quarter of whatever the original owner paid for it, and it's my favorite bass.
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Depends on the bass and how "individual" your customizations are. I had a Roscoe 6 made for me. After a couple months (too much neck for me) I had no problem selling it.
  7. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Find someone in your local area that has one and ask them if you can check it out. You should play before you buy.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Tom makes excellent basses at a great price point. I bought one used and it was great. Talk to him about your expectations and most important, listen to what he tells you. Way too often folks have what they think is a great idea for a wood combo or feature, it really helps if the builder has confidence in what you're asking for.

    Ask around, see if anyone nearby has one, check it out and provide the builder with feedback on what you saw. Clear communication is key. Be able to verbalise what you want AND don't want. Then listen.

    I like basses that have excellent fretwork, set up low without issue, sound good and just do what I want them to do. In that light I'd have no qualms ordering a new Clement.
  9. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    good luck with that!;)
  10. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Since 1976 I had played or owned a significant number of basses. I always kept tabs on what I did or did not like about a particular bass, as nothing is perfect, and nothing fits everybody. So when my old injuries came back to haunt me, I got out my notes and subcontracted out the parts, especially the fanned fret neck, to my personal ergonomics, kind of like getting a Saville Row bespoke suit tailored to fit.


    Here's the key: nothing too exotic. I stayed with proven materials and construction techniques to get the traditional tones I was after. It turned out great. It's my #1. It is actually showing enough wear it has had to have a fret crown and other maintenance. And it's earned its keep many times over.

    Even if you haven't played a particular maker's basses, dialogue is everything. If you feel like you each understand each other as to what kind of bass you're looking for, it will probably turn out great.

    And as anything, the more modifications from a traditional or stock layout, the more $$.

    Second advice: sky is the limit. But just because something is possible doesn't mean it is practical from a performance or recording perspective. I prefer simple passive controls that are clean and quiet.
  11. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    If I really want a bass, I buy it.
  12. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    If you know what you like about the basses you like, and can also narrow down the elements you want in a custom, you increase your chances of getting something you'll treasure.
    Do you know what scale you want?
    How wide should the spacing be?
    How thick do you want the neck?
    Flat fingerboard?
    Active or passive electronics?
    What sound are you trying to achieve that your current basses are not giving you?
    If you answer those questions (and many more), there is a better likelihood that you will really enjoy your custom build.
    That said, Tom Clement builds some very nice basses and has an excellent reputation.
  13. Lunchbox4u_6


    Dec 1, 2008
    Dallas, TX
    I appreciate everyone's responses so far. Let me say that I've been playing for a good while and I do know what I like. I also know what I want in a bass, but I guess the intangibles are what are stopping me now. Sometimes you pick up a bass, similar to basses you've loved for years and they just don't "feel" right. It's not any one thing, but something just doesn't "feel" right...that's my fear.
  14. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    That's very possible. The bass may just not speak to you.
    On the other hand, it could also turn out to be the bass of your dreams.
  15. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I bought my $2000 Carvin on reputation alone, it lived up to it for me, although they do have a no questions asked 10 day return policy which makes it a lot easier to change my mind, I am just out a few months waiting time. I also imagine the Carvin was less than your Clement will be.

    I don't think anybody will blame you if you don't, but you only live once so why not take a couple of chances, could be the best (or worst) decision of your life.
  16. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Me too! I had never played a Carvin but they were the only (reasonably priced) place I could get all the specs I wanted. I did have some friends that played them tell me how nice they were.
  17. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I have two used Carvins. I paid a fraction of the price they were new. Sure, I didn't customize them, but they're amazing basses. I've never really heard anyone say something negative about Carvin basses, or guitars for that matter.
  18. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Just resale value. But if you're buying/selling used someone else had already taken the hit.

    I bought a Carvin when I was first looking for a fretless 6 string that ws 34" scale and I hadn't been exposed to other builders...yet.

    It was a nice bass. I was even able to sell it for very little loss - basically the cost of the Bartolini upgrade I did.

    Unfortunately, my tastes have changed and my custom build now will be a Roscoe 5 string. It's a $1,000 more than a Carvin, but well worth it - to me.
  19. kbuschmann

    kbuschmann Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I commissioned a Clement without having played one or seen one in the flesh. Ended up getting 2 more. Worked for me. But things could have easily not turned out so well, either with Tom or any other builder. I am not very (not adequately, according to my wife) risk averse. Are you?
  20. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    My general rule is to always play a bass first.

    I broke that rule on a used Clement.

    It turned out to be the best decision I've ever made on an instrument. I've had the bass for about five years or so and am completely blown away by it every time I play it.

    Whether or not it turns out to be the best bass for you personally remains to be seen, but it absolutely will be a very high-quality and extremely well-made instrument.

    Tom uses the best quality materials and his craftsmanship is really over the top.