Should I put $500 worth of electronics into a $400 bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by xI Jonathan Ix, Feb 5, 2023.

  1. Yes

    216 vote(s)
  2. No

    118 vote(s)
  1. xI Jonathan Ix

    xI Jonathan Ix

    Jan 8, 2020
    No brand specifics, just should I and/or would you buy $500 dollars worth of pickups and an onboard preamp to put in a $400 bass that plays well/smooth?
    ThudThudThud, BOOG, jamro217 and 7 others like this.
  2. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Why not, at least bass play well and feel comfortable to you.
  3. DrBnz


    Apr 4, 2021
    Well you can always remove/salvage the electronics if/when you upgrade the bass. So its never a real loss for doing this. Just keep the old parts.
  4. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    I will probably be in minority here and some may feel offended, but I feel big brand bass guitar pickups and electronics are brutaly overpriced. Pickups are made from extremly inexpencive materials, made by simple machines and inexpancive labor. Almost the same with preamps, it just takes a little more trained employees to assemble them.
    So to answer you, no you should not put $500 of electronics in $400 bass guitar, unless that is some unique equipment (like midi pickup).
    If you are not happy with stock, just get inexpencive replacements that cost 1/10 of that. Trust your ears.
    Snert, Guitalia, Aleks_z and 21 others like this.
  5. crguti


    Feb 14, 2011
    All my instruments (5 basses and 2 guitars) are kinda cheap and I have updated all the electronics and most of the hardware.
    So, if you like your instrument, go for the update.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2023
  6. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Guilty as charged…..:D

    I bought an ESP LTD fretless bass for $100. It needed a nut, no problem. But as good as it plays, the electronics were kinda crap.

    So I did some digging and came up with using Nordstrand Big Rig pups and a Nordstrand 3-band preamp. Eeek! $350 worth.

    I went ahead with the project and this bass has turned out much nicer than expected, I gotta say. The bass still sells for $649 new at the usual places, so I feel like that, for a change, I got a crazy nice deal on a fretless bass. With some effort on my part, which was fine. I was able to do the electronic work and had the nut replaced for $45.

    I’ll probably never get nearly $500 for it if I had to sell it, but that’s okay. I’m just not one of those folks that looks at a bass and my first thought is “what could I potentially sell this bass for?”.
    BlueTalon, DJ Bebop, gebass6 and 6 others like this.
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Absolutely. Money is immaterial. Tools for artistic expression are priceless.
    Snert, Bob Lo, crobasster and 26 others like this.
  8. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    If it were as simple as paying for inexpensive materials and the elusive next-to-none-existent “inexpensive labor”, everything in life would be much cheaper. There’s so much more that a manufacturer has to account for than those things. Not to mention, if a manufacturer can’t make a….a…(dirty word alert!)….profit on the products they are making and selling, then what’s the point?

    Of course, I respect your views on the cost of pickups and preamps, totally fine. There are cheaper alternatives out there, but then, you could opening the quagmire of foreign products and start a whole ‘Nother debate.(not by me, mind you)

    We need to be careful about accusing manufacturers of price-gouging. Especially manufacturers making products for the music industry.
  9. xI Jonathan Ix

    xI Jonathan Ix

    Jan 8, 2020
    I think this is the thought process that’s gonna make me go ahead with it.
  10. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Sure, why not? But I'd keep the original pickups / electronics to return the bass to original condition if I decided to sell.
  11. Relsom

    Relsom Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    The Old Dominion
    Fralins and TI Flats outpriced my $175 pawn shop bass by a little.
  12. mike57


    Feb 12, 2009
    Our Fair City, MA
    I was going to post this almost word for word!
  13. Barticus

    Barticus Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2017
    I mean let’s be real, the electronics “are” the sound of the instrument, so if you have an instrument that you like and it plays well for you why wouldn’t you upgrade the sound so that’s equally as enjoyable to you?

    Keep the boxes so you can salvage the electronics if you ever sell the instrument.
  14. rodv66

    rodv66 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2016
    Only if you plan on keeping the bass. I had a guy want to trade with me and he wanted a ridiculous amount for a MIM fender deluxe. His argument was that he put new pickups and a bridge on it. I said your bass is worth what the market will bear and it's like when you make your house the most expensive on the block with renovations. You place is still worth what the neighborhood is worth.
  15. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    Seems perfectly reasonable to me, especially if you’re really digging the feel of a bass in the price range
    xI Jonathan Ix and TN WOODMAN like this.
  16. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    No problem as long as you understand mod-math. $400 bass + $500 mods does not equal $900 bass.
    Hectobar, icefly, JKB1957 and 22 others like this.
  17. FullumMusic

    FullumMusic Commercial User

    Oct 13, 2022
    Queens, NYC
    Audio/Music software developer, contracted with a company you've heard of and deving my own stuff.
    The value of a bass isn't the dollar amount. It's the music you make with it. If you like how it feels and plays, but want certain electronics in it, why not?

    The alternative would be trying to find a separate $500 bass that has $500 worth of electronics in it, which leaves little room for any of the other parts.
  18. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    If the bass was bought cheaply, and you like it, upgrade! 400 + 500 will get you an instrument you like as much as a 900 go for it! You can revert the changes before selling if that's the case. I think the opposite: It's not the upgrade that's expensive, it's the bass that was cheap! Luck!
    ifrisbee, Growling Woods, JRA and 2 others like this.
  19. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Not sure if it would always be "electronics" but definitely "alternative accoutrements", for sure. Mea culpa! I was about to select "no" but remembered my "guinea pig" on the bench: worth maybe $400 but now sporting Hipshots, new nut, really expensive strings, Audere preamp, Gotoh bridge shipped from France, Dunlop strap-locks. The only thing not replaced = pickups. If it's a solid platform, really feels comfortable, and has a real or perceived deficit, go for it! Beats the hell out of selling & replacing instruments in search of your holy grail...I feel like I'm chasing my own tail!

  20. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Only if you are keeping it as a working tool. Odds are you are going to love the upgrades.

    Further, it's going to be worth a lot more to you than somebody else, so don't expect to get much out of the investment other than it's utility. Have fun!