The Real Thing -or- Not So Real

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by girlonbass, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. girlonbass


    Apr 3, 2009
    I wonder if this thread has been done before.

    It's getting harder and harder to figure out what brands are "the real thing". If you are collector or purist when is a brand name not really a brand name.

    For example:
    Fender 1965 or earlier = The Real Thing!
    Fender 2013 MIM -- The Real Thing???

    Kramer 1980's = The Real Thing
    Kramer 2013 = I don't think so

    Dingwall Afterburner = The Real Thing
    Dingwall Combustion ???

    Countless brands have gone from being made in a shop by their creator's to being mass produced in an offshore factory next to many other brands. When does a brand become not really itself anymore?

    Others: Burns, Spector, Sadowsky, Schector, Gretsch...

    What do you think?
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Clearly, it's a factor of age and price. The older it is, and the more you paid, the more it is the "real thing".
  3. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    Wow. That is a fully loaded question. This should be an interesting thread to follow. As a General rule For Me Most Japan Basses are great. 80's more than 90's. Sadowsky Metro's are amazing. Metro's and Tokyo Sadowsky's are the Real Deal. The earlier FugiJen and Matsomoku basses are all the Real Deal with maybe a very few exceptions. Most Fender USA stuff IMO is still the real deal but should be hand picked wherever possible. German Warwicks are the Real Deal I have had 5 and all were Killer. G&L USA are usually top notch and very nicely put together. There's always going to be some loss of love for imported Basses even if they play and sound great. I have owned some great Ibanez Korean Basses. I just don't think of them as the Real deal. I guess this is all very open to subjection. As Far as Boutique Basses from $2000 on up, I just cant see the value other than the Status and maybe collectible aspect. But 99% of Boutique basses will be considered the real deal by most Players.
  4. jwr

    jwr Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    Dingwall Combustion is amazing regardless. :)
  5. Warwick - BIG time.

    When I bought mine it was an elite model, not even available in the US.
    I think Warwick went into non-german mass production around '98.
  6. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    I'll play...

    For me, that distinction is when the imported bass has no notable physical connection to the original shop, like Squiers manufactured oversaes that just get manufactured, warehoused and shipped to retailers. They don't "stop by" Corona for an inspection or setup. They're just sales figures on a ledger sheet.

    Some brands are different, like Lakland, who I believe at least receive their imported basses for setups. And G&L Tributes reportedly use the same manufactured pickups as their USA counterparts.

    It doesn't always automatically make an "inferior" instrument when they're just overseas-manufactured "clones" branded by the originators, but it does open the door for less-than-spectacular quality control and low potential collectability/retaining value by comparison.
  7. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I don't look at gear that much. It causes too many arguments and brings in so many subjective opinions. I look at the player instead. Not so much the recorded player but the live player. When you see someone live you can tell right away if they are the real deal or not. The gear does not matter and the genre does not matter. Gear is more of an economic situation to me. If we had enough disposable income ,we all could have what others would say is the real deal. True talent, blood, sweat, tears, time put in, and hard work are the real deal indicators for the player. Having said that, I'm, presently playing on two import basses, a Brubaker Brute MJX5, a Brubaker Brute MJX5SC. Are they the real deal? Who knows. Kevin Brubaker and Tom Richards still QC and set up each import bass before they go to dealers. The Brutes do the job for me. I am also however having a USA handmade Brubaker KXB5 made for me. Is it the real deal, for sure. However the Brutes are constructed just like the USA basses. Man what a loaded question :)
  8. Bassmunnky


    Jul 3, 2004
    New York and Philadelphia
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball MusicMan Guitars
    I think this could be the LONGEST Thread in TB history since 'reality' is created in our own minds...

    What a great question.

    I was made fun of in College in 79 by older students in the Jazz Band when I pulled out my 76 Jazz. It wasn't a "real Fender"

    Back in those days I don't know what the hell that meant.

    It's even worse now. It's real until I hold someone's opinion above my own I guess.
  9. girlonbass


    Apr 3, 2009
    @NYCbassist. Sadowsky is an interesting one. IMO I usually think of Japanese builders as having more consistent quality than the US ones. But I was playing a Metro in a store one day thinking it was very nice, until I was told it was the cheaper offshore model. Totally in your head, I'm thinking "not the real deal". Foolishness, these are great basses.

    But with G&L, I've played USA model next the Tribute and USA was noticeably better.

    @phillybass101 Couldn't agree more. In it's day McCartney's Hofner was considered a "cheap" bass.

    But its interesting how brands like Epiphone, in the '40s were Gibson's competition. In the '60s they were Gibson's budget brand, but were built in the same shop with mostly the same parts and still American made. Now, a lot models, like the EB-0, are the ultra-budget models made in an OEM factory in China.

    Or, how many examples are there of companies like Kramer, that were the innovators in their day, now build offshore budget knock off basses.

    It's hard to know just from the brand name weather we're talk quality or just buying a name.

    What other examples are there of "great"/"not so great" brands?

  10. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    I regretfully sold MY Sadowsky MS5 during some financial struggles. I am working on replacing it. When I purchased it, I was comparing it to a USA Lakland at the exact same price point. The Metro won out for me because I could play it faster. It was only later that I realized how beautiful it sounded. I received many compliments about the Tone. :cool: I consider Metro's the real deal and Roger Sadowsky as well.
  11. my musicman is a figment of my imagination
  12. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Last time I checked, Fender' has always been a mass-produced, sort of assembly line guitar. It was all about making a lot of them at an affordable price, and pretty much using what parts were available. This is evident when you start seeing the little inconsistencies with older Fenders as far as different parts being used. My understanding is Leo was a cheap guy, and used what was available. The older Fenders are a lot more about mojo and history more than anything else. Sure, there are amazing gems, but there are also many dogs out there! The way they do it now is probably similar to the way it was done years ago, just on a larger scale, and in other countries. I mean, they really were the first company to mass-produce the solid body electric and bass.
  13. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    I was sad when Warwick moved some models to China. I complained about it on the Warwick site and They kicked me off. I still respect some Warwick Models but they are officially off my GAS list.
  14. girlonbass


    Apr 3, 2009
    What!? Can't believe they kicked you off.:scowl:
    My Corvette's machine heads say West Germany. That would be the real thing! :)

  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Simple answer: if you don't have extra money laying around that you don't have anything better to do with, don't get involved in collecting instruments as investments.

    Problem solved.
  16. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Are you collecting or investing? If you're collecting, everything and anything is fair game as long as you personally enjoy it. If you're investing, it's supply and demand. EVERYONE wants old Fenders and they're not making those anymore. As far as anything else, you start getting into niche markets where you might find a buyer who'll pay top dollar for something he HAS to have. But chances are slim.

    What I forecast is that 50s and 60s Fenders will continue to cost an arm and a leg and 70s and 80s Fenders will keep creeping up into the $1k-$4k range. Aside from that, I don't foresee any other bass appreciating in value unless you run into some of the earlier production year models of Wals, Rickenbackers, Spectors, Sadowskys, Laklands, and Lulls. And even then you probably won't pay much more over what it would cost to purchase the same bass new.

    And if Justin Chancellor uses a new effect on the next Tool album, buy it immediately and then sell within the next 1-3 years. Seriously.
  17. 1SHOT1HIT


    Feb 17, 2012
    Wait.....Leo Fender just found all those parts lying around somewhere on the market, and just slapped a bunch instruments together out of them?
    They found all those body's/necks/pick guards/pup's just laying around?

    He, and the Fender employee's didn't make any of that stuff by hand?
    Man......That guy sure gets a lot of apparently undeserved credit then.

    Like what?
    We've got a few threads here specifically targeted at old Fender basses, and it seems (to me, & apparently I'm wrong) that all the different ones have the exact same parts as the others from the same vintage.
    Am I missing something here? I never noticed them having random, inconsistent parts!

    Seriously!!!......I honestly was under a much different impression.
    So the guy offered nothing creative to the industry? No ingenuity? No inventions from nothing? No hand carving/shaping? No hand winding? No actual firsts?
    The cheapskate just used commonly available parts of that time to make all of those "assembly line", "mass produced" instruments? That's crazy!!!!
    Where do people get off trying to make that guy seem like he was some kind of ground breaking, innovating, pioneer to the industry?

    They are?
    You mean people are dropping tens of thousands of dollars in some cases, for nothing more than history, & mojo?

    Ha....Jokes on them if they were hoping to get anything else outta them at all.
    Silly people, must think there was something special about old Fender's.......Well I'm glad I came here, and learned that all that nonsense about
    Playability, dependability, sound quality, and the fact that a huge portion of the most influential music of all time was made on them was all just marketing fluff.

    From Fender's early days? There are?
    I gotta say, I've seen countless hours of testimony from players all over the world, that swear by their vintage Fenders. From pro musicians to collectors, to just basic bedroom beginners, and so far I've yet to see any videos of anyone going over how crappy their vintage Fender is, or how much they feel they wasted their money on their instrument because it was just some old mass produced, inconsistently put together, assembly line run of the mill instrument.

    I'm really glad I stopped by for the education today.......Here I was..... firmly believing that 60 years of reputation, countless musician's work, & testimonials world wide, collectors, enthusiasts, and my own first hand experience with my 1962 Jazz were onto something about these old Fenders.
    I need to quit believing everything I hear, and stop buying into the hype!
    No more Kool-Aid for me!

    I'm gonna march right down to my local Guitar Center and swap my Pre CBS 1962 Fender Jazz Bass for a much better state of the art, more consistently built bass.
    Man....I'm worried now!
    With this lesson I've learned here today, these old Fender's are so incredibly overrated, I may have to try to work out a trade plus cash (on my end) type deal.
    If they even waste their time with me at all!
    They may laugh me out the door with my mass produced, assembly line bass.

    Good thing I only paid $100 bucks for it.
    I wonder why people were in such awe when I first announced this purchase?
    Crazy TB members, I mean obviously $100 bucks was really kinda over paying now that I know all of this stuff.
    Wonder if its too late to get my money back???

    Thanks! I really thought I had something special. When really, all I had was some history, a bunch of inconsistent common parts, and some mojo! :-(
  18. They all smash well on stage. But how many people are cheering when you do it? That would be the real deal.

    - Arvind Jayaram
  19. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    I can't think of a Porche SUV as a real Porche. My Kramer Disciple is, in my mind, a generic brand bass from a factory in China. So I don't think of them as the "real deal" but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with either the car or the bass. To me, they are just mislabeled. In the end, I think we all worry too much about brands. Face it, big time advertising has brain washed us all beyond repair. I can't drink generic cola, it has to be Coke :)
  20. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011

    However, if you do look at it from a different angle, anyone who has a 60´s Cadillac, or Mustang, will all tell you how it is the best car ever made! There are also thousands (or more) of people who dream of owning one, but are they really better that the mass produced cars of today? Are they more comfortable, faster, easier to maintain?

    Please note, I am not saying that the vintage Fenders are bad, but I do think that most of the collectors items are collectables due to fame and not always quality, and for the price of a "vintage" we would certainly want far better specs in something new! (However, I would love a vintage Fender and a 60's Cadillac or Mustang!!)

    I wonder if in Korea, there are people who want the real deal (Korean) and not some improted (American/German) thing??