The importance of design...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bebo2020, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. I wonder how important for all of you is the design of a bass. There are many well built instruments that sell poorly due to an ugly or poorly conceived design. One particular issue is the headstock: must of them are horrendous. Is it me, or some of the bass builders have a poor understanding of the value of design?
    Atshen, maplebar, murphy and 10 others like this.
  2. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I'm a proud design / headstock obsessionist cos to me that indicates the builder has style and class, and likely the goods to produce a decent product if not in fact great. this doesn't mean an ugly spud can't become my new favorite as witnessed by my recent Charvel Charvette outta the early '90s, not very sexy in looks but everything else is, including the $100 price tag. conversely, my Epi Toby Std. IV is stunning in it's design, overall looks, and a winning headstock, I'm dying to find a set of flats to make it even better. Tobias is said to have had 0 input on this bass but I like it more than the mega bux Tobias I tried. most recently my latest #1 is a Thunderbird, virtually perfect in every way and we know they always place high in regards to design and looks, even with a bolt block instead of neck thru this 'bird is hard to top. I doubt anyone has ever bought a Thunderbird so they could play up high, but I'd like to see a 24 fret T-Bird without compromising the classic features.
    Lorenzo V, neptoon and JC Nelson like this.
  3. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    Vail, CO
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Because there are no “rules” for headstock design, I would be unable to labEl any design as poor. That being said, I give your post a thumb up:
    TREYontheBASS, Gyver, JRA and 27 others like this.
  4. SidNitzerglobin


    Feb 12, 2019
    I've mostly run into the (to me) terrible headstock ruining an otherwise great design on the guitar side, but yeah. The two biggest repeat offenders on this for me have been Schecter & PRS, a few of them have seemed like really nicely designed & built instruments that I just can't bring myself to grab due to their headstocks.
    inthevelvet and murphy like this.
  5. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    A bass can be well designed and still be ugly to someone. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the inexplicable TB love for tort demonstrates. :)
  6. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    So, you're saying I get to decide for everyone? :p :woot::roflmao::smug:
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  7. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    Nah. You only get to decide for you. :)
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  8. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Spoilsport! :( (hehe)
  9. Peltor


    Sep 15, 2019
    OK, listen to this... true story. I find the pickups of the G&L (the holes in the poles) so butt ugly I will never consider getting a G&L unless those pickups were removed at once.
    gorneyg, AudioTaper, backin82 and 3 others like this.
  10. I wouldn't own an instrument if I disliked its looks for any reason. It's easy enough to find perfectly good instruments that also look nice.
  11. fermata

    fermata Guest

    Nov 10, 2015
    Disclaimer: De gustibus non disputandum est.

    Yes, the design of a bass--from an aesthetic as well as a functional perspective--matters very much to me.

    I actually find relatively few bass designs to be really attractive, which really cuts down on GAS!

    I think at least part of the reason so many basses don't appeal to me is that my musical foundation is in the acoustic music realm (ranging from classical to traditional styles), so the car culture/rock and roll aesthetic generally doesn't appeal to me. (There are a few exceptions, of course.)
  12. Relayer71

    Relayer71 Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2009
    It is you. And it's everybody else. You see, it's all probably very subjective (to some degree).

    Pointy guitars? Headless guitars? Lots of people like these, I don't care for them. Classic Fender-type basses? I don't mind them, but prefer other profiles. I don't get the love for the Bongo body, but some people think the Spector NS is blob-shaped and too small.

    So, yes, design is important for me, but I have certain tastes. And I said it's subjective to some degree, because there are some designs that are pretty much unanimously hideous or impractical (though they may still have a fan or two, so maybe not unanimous after all!).
    2tonic likes this.
  13. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Design is always at the 2nd place, after the sound.
    Rabidhamster likes this.
  14. Peltor


    Sep 15, 2019
    You obviously do not have enough basses.... :)
    mikewalker, 2tonic, KaraQ and 4 others like this.
  15. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    So by "design", you actually mean "appearance", correct?

    Not to split hairs but, "design" implies engineering, ergonomics, general playability...things like that (at least to me), not just the "look" of the instrument. Since the term appears in the thread title, "appearance" might've been a better one to use, if that's what you meant.

    Dang: I sound like somebody's mom: must've gotten up on the wrong side of the bed this morning...

    But to answer your question: sound is, obviously, the paramount consideration. But yes, appearance also matters to me. If I'm going to have to look at the thing every time I pick it up to play it, I want to like what I see. Something I've noticed about several of the big, boutique bass makers is that, though they may be masterful wood workers, their sense of visual aesthetics leaves a lot to be desired (at least, IMHO). Just because a person knows their way around lumber doesn't mean that he has a good eye for beauty (or a good business sense, for that matter). Appearance-wise, "different" can be better, but isn't, necessarily, in and of itself. Sometimes I think they're trying too hard to make their instruments look "distinctive".

    Another pet peeve of mine is finish color. Since this is totally subjective, I'm not going to name names, but there is one bass maker in particular who seems to have a really ghastly sense of color. Love the way his basses sound and his build quality is impeccable, but the colors? Almost all bilious.

    And while we're on the subject of color: most basses are made of wood. I like wood and want to see the grain. As a result, I'd much rather that any color applied is translucent. If an individual bass sounds great and feels great, I'll grudgingly settle for opaque finish on the body, but if they've also hosed down the back of the neck and the entire headstock with it, I'm out. To me, it looks cheesy and suggests that they used second-rate wood. My bet is that, years ago, when they started using solid colors in the first place, it was in order to hide imperfections in the wood grain.
  16. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    I have 3.
  17. That's not enough.
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  18. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yes, as MustangSurly pointed out.. Design is not the same as appearance.

    I don't LIKE it much when the strings fan out from the nut to the tuners, I don't think that's good design. But just unattractive headstocks, well... it's probably MY problem, surely some other people DO like the look.
  19. AFalseDichotomy


    Jun 11, 2020
    That's really interesting about the fanning out of strings, I feel almost exactly the opposite way. Having the strings fan out I think matches the visual "weight" of the body of the bass with the string spacing, as opposed to the "weight" near the headstock. Also can make it a little bit more comfortable to play IMHO.
    DTRN likes this.
  20. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Yeah, they are different.