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"Quality" standards... how do you judge them?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lamborghini98, Jan 21, 2006.


  1. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    I've always wondered why some people consider some instruments to be made "better" than others (I'm not looking to go down the whole "its not better, just different" road.). I've never had a bass fall apart on me or anything, and I can't see playing a bass for 20 years and not expecting any problems to happen. When people talk about build quality, I can't think of any standard besides unsightly glue lines or imperfect neck pockets. So what are the things you look for when you have a bass in your hands and judge it's build quality. Also, it interests me as to whether you consider these merely cosmetic or structural issues.

    Personally, I look at the neck pocket, the quality of the finish and the contact surfaces between the hardware and the wood.
     
  2. Juniorkimbrough

    Juniorkimbrough

    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    personally i judge by the feel of the bass, the electronics, the frets, and the hardware.
     
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
  4. g00eY

    g00eY

    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i've had a problem with the neck pockets cracking at the edges. does this happen with all bolt ons? if not, i think that's bad quality. if so, then oh well. there needs to be a straight neck and a good fretjob. and a good finish. i play on a Squier sometimes and it has orange peel (when the paint looks like an orange peel). good thing it's not my bass. electronics need to be at least passable, and everything needs to be properly grounded and whatnot. that's the minimum for me, unless it's an old beater that i can get used for cheap.
     
  5. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Good idea, I gotta try that some day.
     
  6. basstruck

    basstruck Guest

    Nov 25, 2005
    Sudbury
    So how much are you willing to pay to get all that?
    The price of a Squier or Boutique bass.
     
  7. frets and hardware for me, and taste. soemtimes electronics but not really
     
  8. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    While I won't be putting my chompers on a bass anytime soon, this is how I tell quality:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. amper

    amper

    Dec 4, 2002
    US
    The first thing I look at on a bass, or guitar, for that matter, is the quality of the wood, especially the grain structure. I tend to look for insturments that have quartersawn, tight grain. Good wood is so hard to come by these days that it's not uncommon to see basses in the 1000-2000 range made with what I would consider low quality wood.
     
  10. This has been the exact opposite of my experience. What basses have this low quality wood and how can you tell?

    Anyway, I like to pick up the bass, play it. Play around with the knobs and see what's what as far as sound and playability go. Then I'll give it a good looking over. I check the relief in the neck, neck pocket, nut, frets and the finish with the most scrutiny.
     
  11. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Balance is a build issue that I'm paricularly picky about. I then usually check the playability of the neck. Poor build quality would include less-than-perfect fretwork, which can always bite you in the butt down the road, neck shaping, checking that the neck is not twisted. I look out for bits that are unsanded or badly sanded and the pickup routes.

    Basically, if the builder is careless about some of these issues, even if some are cosmetic, then there's a chance they were careless about more important issues that you might not see, like if they put the truss rod in correctly, or if the bridge is seated properly.
     
  12. What exactly is meant by "bad fretwork"? Buzzing?
     
  13. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    High frets, partially high frets, sharp fret ends, frets not seated properly or all the way. All of these things can lead to buzzing, completely dead notes, and may make the bass unable to be properly intonated.
     
  14. 6-3-2

    6-3-2

    Sep 20, 2003
    I think it's like any other product, it things are flush, well fitted, the parts seem of a high quality, you know it's a nice instrument. Feel is really important, at least to me, you can feel quality, especially in the neck department. A nicer neck just feels so much better to play, sooo much better.
     
  15. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    One of the most important things to me is the fretwork. Frets need to be good. That and tone are most important to me.
     
  16. amper

    amper

    Dec 4, 2002
    US
    Fender is one of the primary culprits, in my book. I'm referring to their top of the line instruments, the American Deluxe series. An American Deluxe Stratocaster goes in the $1000 range, an American Deluxe Jazz Bass V considerably more. Wood quality is far lower on every example I've seen than I would personally expect from instruments in this price range, especially considering FMI's economies of scale.

    I don't think its unreasonable to expect an instrument in this price range to be made from top quality wood, especially from such a large manufacturer.

    But I've seen similar problems with Gibson, PRS, and many other manufacturers. Admittedly, my standards are high, but then, so are the prices being charged for these goods.
     
  17. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    I can't believe some of the uneavenly figured, blotchy, just plain ugly figured tops I've seen on PRS guitars in the past few years.
     
  18. BassFelt

    BassFelt

    Mar 26, 2002
    For me build quality means good materials well put together. Most importantly the neck and fretwork.

    Design is another thing; ugly and/or unbalanced instruments can still be built well.

    One thing that gets overlooked, is how well the trussrod works. Most people don't truy out the truss rod on an instrument but I think one should. Store personnel will freak out though :)
     
  19. trumpeter

    trumpeter

    Jan 23, 2006
    Amherst, MA
    I really think about upper fret access, string spacing and the feel of the neck...I can't stand painted necks...Also, versatility of the electronics is big for me.
     
  20. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Heh yea trying out truss rods is a bad idea. One of the major plusses for me of EBMM stuff is teh truss rod wheel. It makes adjustments so much easier.