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To Build or to Buy?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Wyzird05, Jul 19, 2007.


  1. Wyzird05

    Wyzird05

    Dec 1, 2003
    South Bend, IN
    I'm not in the immediate market for another bass, but I was wondering what everyone thought about building their next bass. I've been toying with the idea of building my next bass through a local luthier that teachers the art. What are some questions I should be asking myself while I decide whether to build or to buy? what sort of quality and sound should I expect from building my first bass?
     
  2. Check out recent posts in the repairs and set-up section by 1st Bass, Don Harris, and Matthew Tucker. They are all builders and players with either recently finished or in progress instruments.
     
  3. Koiman

    Koiman

    Aug 19, 2005
    If you're doing it just for the experience I'd say go for it. If your main objective is to build a really great bass I'd recommend buying one with great reviews plus, of course, your own approval after you testdrove it.
     
  4. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Have you thought about splitting the difference and buying a basket case and rebuilding it? A turn of the century flatback would be much more salable if it turned out you didn't like it for what ever reason. On the other hand building one from scratch is a very admirable task to take on and you'd learn a lot you wouldn't any other way.
     
  5. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    It will probably cost you more to build your own bass than to buy a really good sounding bass fully set up and ready to go.

    But if you build one carefully, I think you can end up with a GREAT sounding bass. But ... there are no guarantees, and you can't play your home-made one before you've made it. Your risk.

    Someone said to me, and its true ... it depends what sort of person you are. If you are tenacious, stubborn, careful and in it for the long haul (and you have time, space and money) you can make your own. If you lack any of the above you may find it difficult to complete.
     
  6. decipher_bass

    decipher_bass

    May 4, 2004
    I "built" the last bass i acquired. I didnt fashion the body or the neck, i just put it together from parts. I probably spent more than i would have just buying a Fender Jazz, and it probably would have sounded a little better(my pickup wiring leaves a little to be desired) but i had as much fun shopping for parts and putting it together as i do playing it. Anybody can go to the shop and buy a bass, but not everyone can build one.
     
  7. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    And you don't just buy double bass parts from Stewmac.
     
  8. Wyzird05

    Wyzird05

    Dec 1, 2003
    South Bend, IN
    Thanks for the advice, I'll be keeping my eye on the posts in the setup and repair forum.
     
  9. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Twenty-five years ago I worked as a guitar builder and repairman. (Believe it or not, the pressure got to me and I wound up much more satisfied working as an attorney.)

    My maestro, Ronnie Bolduc, said something about milling fretboards which has proven true about many other things: "The first two hundred are the toughest."

    Good luck building. Better luck than me!
     
  10. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Build because you must build. Make basses because you are compelled to. Play because you must play. Play because you are compelled to. If you are afflicted by both than do both.

    If your goal is more to play than to build than buy one to play and build when you can. I have found that those who are not totally driven to build rarely finish what they start, or if they do, have made enough shortcuts to completion that the instrument falls short and they still have to buy something to play.

    Tooling up to build and developing the skills needed to build a bass that is worth playing takes time and money. You WILL mess up quite a bit on the first several. It will cost you way more than you think.

    You can't build your dream bass the first time out. You may build a good one but rarely a great one.

    It took me years to get good enough to realize that it takes years to get good enough.

    The good stuff is deep in all the little details. Stuff you can't get from books, internet or conversations. Its found in the trench side by side with the guy who has made more mistakes than you have yet. It's always best to apprentice or work in a shop with other far more skilled builders. Do their bidding, gather some skills first by doing bits and pieces of the work under their supervision so you can learn all that little stuff. You will end up with a far better first instrument than if you go straight into it with no skills--even with supervision.
     
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    More gems from one of our better philosophers! :)
     
  12. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Thanks.

    Both are stolen.

    As is most good Phil-osophy.
     

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