Understanding the opinion of the quality of parts

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by PBASSTONE, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. I am throwing this out there for all my fellow bass players and Luthier's...

    My question is this.. IS there REALLY all that much difference in the quality of parts available to build a parts bass? I have only been building bass guitars from parts for about a year, so I am not an expert... having said that I feel I am a very picky person down to the most minute detail of anything I build.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't see all that much difference in parts whether, they are bodies made by Squire, or Mighty Mite, or Fender, Or Warmoth... etc... there are so many more I could list.

    I have not used every supplier out there to build basses but from the ones I have used I just don't see all that much difference... (especially in the way the body is made)... not as much on the neck it's self, I can tell a better made neck from a cheaper one. But all the "cheap" necks I've used seem to perform just as well as their higher priced brethren.

    Maybe I'm not as picky as I once thought I was, but I keep on reading peoples opinions about how much better this is over that, and I keep thinking to myself what in the hell am I missing. I wouldn't be afraid to buy a Squire body off of eBay to make a frankenbass project. Why pay the extra dollars for Warmoth or USA Custom, when I can get a Mighty Mite for a lot less and be just as happy.

    What am I missing out on here? Someone edumacate me please.:help:
  2. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    I'm not a luthier, just a long time player, assembler and tinkerer. I did a short stint with a major guitar / bass manufacturer back in the 70's.

    I'm with you on the majority of things. In my view, there is little difference in quality of materials of most instruments, much more so an issue of quality control when building. Once you get into high end instruments and their components, there can be quite a difference in the quality of components, but the real question comes in at the level of, does it really make an extreme difference in the functonality / sound of the instrument ?

    I believe this is where preference and viewpoint kick in, and are really the root of a lot of the arguments. There is obviously a vast difference between a Stagg and a Sadowsky, but with the price vs. quality differential shrinking ever faster, the real world difference in quality among a large price variation of most instruments is smaller.

    I say this as an old timer who remembers when low end low priced instrument were unquestionably junk. Things have changed a lot. The old saw "you get what you pay for" just doesn't mean as much as it once did. Are there differences in quality? Of course. They just aren't as clear cut and extreme as they once were.

    You can compare some Squiers to USA Fenders now and find very little difference in quality, sound, and playability. This doesn't offend nuts and bolts form follows function types, ( like me and I think you...) but it really ticks off some "more is better" glitz and glitter types who have paid much more money but have not necessarily gotten much more instrument.

    The comparison is, of course on a component by component, instrument by instrument basis. Broad brush comparisons tend to fall flat. To me, the beauty of the whole thing is, we are living in a time when virtually everyone can get good parts and instruments, whatever their budget. Of course, other's viewpoints may vary.
  3. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Here are some things I have noticed about cheaper guitars since I have started building my own:

    Bridges: Most bridges are more than adequate for most jobs. I've never seen a bridge saddle slip and knock a guitar out of tune. Some are easier to adjust, but as for outright failures to function, I've never seen one. Hipshots are pretty and easy to use, and they feel solid. They are, in my opinion, the best commercially available hardtail bridges out there. That said, they don't necessarily work better as a bridge than GFS's modern bridges (Oversized Top Mount Bass Bridge- SUSTAIN! Black). The hipshots are easier to adjust and (in my opinion) look nicer, but the cheap GFS job works great too.

    Tuners: Tuners are a different story. Cheap tuners slip. Cheap tuners mean your guitar or bass will fall out of tune more frequently. Cheap tuners are the devil. Hipshot, Gotoh, Schaller, and Sperzel tuners are loads better than the cheap chinese knockoffs. It is worth spending money for better tuners.

    Truss Rods: I see no good reason not to use a high-quality dual-action truss rod over a single-action rod. The only reasons I can find at all are that single-action rods are more traditional, and single-action rods are cheaper. Those are not good reasons.

    Potentiometers: Cheap pots fail, and they crackle and pop. They will often require more frequent cleaning. Good pots cost several times more than cheap pots, though.

    Knobs: Guitar knobs should have set screws. Press-fit knobs are a pain in the...buttocks...to service. I have destroyed a potentiometer trying to get a press-fit knob off the dumb thing.

    Wood Parts: Wooden parts vary significantly, obviously. Good wood is cheap. Crap wood is cheap. Exotic wood is generally not cheap, and generally not necessary. I've never assembled a guitar from parts, so I don't really know much about the relative quality of commonly available pieces.