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Quality of Low-End Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    In the December issue of Bass Player, in a manufacturers round table,I was struck by the fact that the discussion started off with an acknowledgement of the quality of low cost basses. Ned Steinberger, Rick Turner and Mike Powers (Peavey) all said how great CNC mass produced basses can be. Powers mentioned that CNC had to watched so that tolerances are kept tight, but he definitely acknowledged the advantages of CNC technology.

    The other thing that is interesting is what Bruce Kaminsky noted. He said that bass players are into the image or mystique associated with an instrument as much as the actual quality of the instrument.

    I guess the bottom line is that young and less affluent basses have it better than ever, provided they are not too deep into image or the idea of owning the same bass that so and so has on the cover Bass Player or his/her latest album. That said, there's nothing like owning a really cool bass! :bassist:
  2. trog


    Nov 8, 2003
    I feel that you can get plenty of bass for your money in what I'd call the low/middle end market. For around £300/$500 you can get some great stuff.

    I've had a lot of experience with what I'd like to call "cheapie" basses; the ones that cost about £100/$150. Most* are fairly playable and well built, but the tone always seems to be pretty dire.

    And it's nice to have a slab of flamed maple underneath your fingers, instead of plywood or something :smug:

    * There are some complete stinkers out there :crying:
  3. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    What, like you needed some "expert" to tell you this? :rollno:

    Most gear choices are uninformed and subrational, based on impulse, emotional response, perceived status and peer pressure. Most players don't know what differentiates a good axe from a bad one and don't want to. They just want to bask in the mojoful experience. I think guitarists are worse about this than bassists.

    There are a lot of great inexpensive instruments out there today, guitars as well as basses. There's a whole lot of overpriced, name-brand junk, too.
  4. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    When I was young, we had few good choices for low-end basses. Hondo 2? that was about it!

    Now, you can get the OLP stingrays, and really good ibanez basses, mexi fenders and if you are spending a little more for a mid-priced, the G&L tribute and lakland skylines are absolutely insane!!
  5. The cheap guitar or bass available today is leagues better than the cheap instruments available even 20 years ago. I think of the horrible Kingston, Univox or Kalamazoo instruments I started playing with!

    I also had to walk to school 12 miles, barefoot, uphill...both ways...
  6. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España

    uphill both ways? (isnt this inposible?)
  7. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Normally, yes, and it was expecially difficult for him because he had no feet and lived in the bottom of a swamp as well.
  8. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
    I wrote two seperate posts on how I modified a couple of OLP MM copies and how I thought they are now on par with the Ernie Ball basses.
    I was raked over the coals over those posts, however I'm now seeing that I have some professional opinions that seem to suggest that what I said has some merit.

    Guys (and gals), as I've said before, by conducting some objective research, I feel there are so many nice knock-offs and inexpensive basses out today (and many more coming) that there is no real need to spend any more that a few hundred dollars to get virtualy any feel and tone being produced by the big name guys. To paraphrase Bruce Kaminsky of Kydd basses in the Bass player artical "...the Yamaha Harley Davidson knock off is $5000 less than the Harley Davidson but you get a better bike... like some basses, people want that psychological aspect..."

    Exactly! I love the way my $6400 Ken Smith makes me feel, however I love the way my $300 OLP sounds.

    Thanks all,


  9. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Sorry, I know your Low-End is high end! ;)

    I am a sucker for the mojo of expensive factory or boutique basses just like everybody else. I'm just glad to read that noted designers and builders freely admit that less expensive instruments are great deals and worth playing.
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i'm in agreement that there are a lot of great "cheap" basses ou there today. You just have to pick them out. but quality has really improved by leaps and bounds. I would disagree about guitar players not knowing or caring what to look for, but then again i've worked with some guitar players who really take their time checking out axes to find the best ones. I don't care what the headstock or the pice tag says, a player is a player. ;)
  11. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    No problem, The thread title made me un-sure of what I was about to read.

    On the CNC note. CNC doesn't mean a cheap bass at all. Very much like they pointed out, CNC can actually mean even higher quality to detail. Where CNC cheapens basses is when they are massed produce and Quality control is low as well as tone checking of the woods. Foreign company’s have cheapen the idea of CNC.

    Actually, a CNC is very expensive.
  12. Funky Doctor

    Funky Doctor

    Aug 28, 2003
    What does CNC stand for?
  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    CNC stands for Computrer Numeric Controls. These machine allow a manufacuturer to precisely program a jig, lathe , or some other machine to mass produce parts like neck in very high volumes at extremely close tolerances. Thus mass producing items of quality similar to that performed by skilled craftspeople.
  14. I can kind of agree that cheaper basses might sound better... at the Tom Lee where I live, I was looking at a MM SUB 4, and comparing it to a real 'Ray, it was right up there in terms of quality.
  15. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I have little doubt that quality control on today's "junk" basses is at least on a plain or better than what Leo cranked out in Fullerton, the product of which now sale for thousands. Not on the level of a boutique bass and far from artwork but with a good setup, pup swap, and fretdress, you may need to have your eyes open at that.

    I could afford any bass I want and low end Ibanez work for me. I have 5 of them with less than $700 invested with no desire to acquire anything else. Nothing against Starbucks, I just prefer plain old Folgers no matter what Bill Gaits is drinking.
  16. Glenn D.

    Glenn D.

    Aug 20, 2002
    Fort Collins, CO
    We used to dream of living in the bottom of a swamp...

    Glenn D.
  17. LUXURY!!

    When I was a toddler I had to hand build my trees before I could chop them down with my teeth for firewood!

    lol. Monty Python gags will work forever.
  18. gojirin


    Oct 11, 2004
    My first bass was a Vox - the Kalamazoo was an upgrade.

    I started playing again after (muffled) years and I can't believe how many playable inexpensive basses there are. I have 2 MIM mid 90's P-bass that needed better pickups, but that wasn't much either. As mentioned earlier for a bit more the G&L Tributes are a steal.
    As for silly cheap, I haven't played an Essex, but have reading here that they are useable if not plain good.

    I just got my first Lakland Skyline and was bowled over at how well it plays. That reminds me, I've got a date with a bass.....
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md

    And he had to eat hot garbage for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh, and at snacktime at school, too.
  20. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001

    Right. When I was a luthier's apprentice I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a wad of sawdust soaked in tung oil, pay the luthier for permission to come to work, work twenty-nine hours a day in the shop, cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring, chisel out a whole bass using only my teeth, make a bone nut out of my own rib, come home, and Dad would beat me around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if I was LUCKY!