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Unpopular opinion? Boutique basses are great and worth the money

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by moon-bass, Dec 24, 2020.

  1. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    You know the deal. It's become fashionable to bash high end basses. Sadowskys are glorified Fenders. Foderas are one trick ponies. Wal basses are no better than an SUB. Anyone who plays one must be looking for an ego boost and/or just wasted a ton of money. My Squire kills your MTD Etc.

    I don't agree with any of that. There is nothing like an extremely well made bass.
  2. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    If you can get the bass you want, with no compromises, it is totally worth it.
  3. ClusterFlux

    ClusterFlux Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Y'know, I am often impressed with high-end basses. I have no doubt that the skill and time required to make a Fodera justifies the cost. But...

    Is there any note you can play on a $15,000 long-scale bass that you can't play on a $1,500 long-scale bass? Or a $500 long-scale bass? No?

    Will a $15,000 bass make you a better musician? No?

    I have no qualms with anyone who buys a high-end bass guitar. The perception and importance of price is also relative; e.g. $15,000 is a huge sum for an electric bass, but not much for a contrabass. Or, it's an insane sum if you make $45,000 a year, but meaningless if you make $450,000 a year. And obviously, I'm not your financial advisor.

    Nonetheless, IMO once you get past the $700 mark, you're well into diminishing returns territory. Meaning with the super high end stuff, it's not about functionality or musicality. It's about craftsmanship and/or aesthetics and/or status.
    Ikkir, Mikey58, michele and 71 others like this.
  4. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Double basses are *much* more expensive and i bet they don’t start as many threads about it. Merry Christmas!
  5. Johnny21

    Johnny21 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2018
    Northern NJ
    I think it comes down to quality parts. Some does it better than others.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  7. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I’ve had the fortune of owning a few $5,000+ instruments. To describe them as being exceptional is an understatement. However, it’s insane just how good “value instruments” have become in the past decade.

    As someone who is more the professional hobbyist or weekend warrior type, it’s hard to justify the more expensive stuff but I won’t snuff anyone who likes it.
  8. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007

    Quality components, expertise, and time. . . . especially time.
    Geo Monty, socialleper, dcr and 2 others like this.
  9. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    booteak is awesome, the thought and planning behind them is mindwobbling, the designs are stunning, and if woods are used you can bet they'll look spectacular, what's not to love?
    that some are willing and able to pony up incredible amounts for a slew of them just means there will be more for me to ogle while enjoying all that same lecherous juiciness on a bass anyone can afford, and I'll bet my tone selection at least equals virtually all of them for classic beefy versatility, fine construction, and superb playability. the only down side I see in paying over $500 for a bass is that it typically takes you further away from good basic tone, but it's a great time for bass players.
  10. SLPimp

    SLPimp Punk's not dead Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2020
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Two of the best basses I've ever played were north of $1500, which i know is nothing compared to brands like Fodera and Sadowsky, but for a guy who doesn't gig too much, that was exorbitant, but worth it.

    So I think whats boutique is probably a sliding scale. I'd top out around $2500 (I'd love a Serek) but anything beyond that and I'd fear taking it to a gig.
    Rezdog, rollie 55, smogg and 7 others like this.
  11. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    This is my view as well. Worth is always a subjective evaluation, you do you and don't worry about what other people think is worth your money/time.
    RubyTuba, SJan3, Relayer71 and 3 others like this.
  12. I definitely see the value in getting something handmade to one's exact specifications and wishes.
  13. Lots of boutique basses are worth it, totally great. Some are bunk. Lots of production basses are worth it... and some are bunk!

    I don't think it's fair to use a blanket statement when the bass market shows a ton of variety in its offerings. There's probably an upgraded Squier out there that kicks a fancy boutique build to the curb. The opposite is also true. IMO it's best to take it on a case by case basis.
  14. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    well, a 28-fret Fodera Presentation does have a few extra notes... :D

    I mostly agree with the idea, but I think this is perhaps exactly where boutique basses come into play - they allow you to further develop and fine tune your musicianship. I’ve only played a couple boutique basses and never owned one, so my experience is limited, but I had a sense that they’d limit me less if I was a better player.

    but yeah, even Anthony Jackson said that ultimately he’d be fine playing a 4 string Fender. And that’s all that Jamerson and Jaco needed, right? :)
  15. bdgotoh

    bdgotoh Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    Pacific NW
    In general I agree with everything you said, but this dollar figure is only true for imports. If you're looking for a well built bass that's made in the USA by people who are making a living wage, I'd say $2000 minimum.
  16. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    If you want it 'just so' boutique is just about the only way.
    If you can compromise or make do with something else, well...

    then there's the mod-crowd, buy it for $100 USD & drop $900 USD on upgrades
  17. Drifter8230


    Sep 4, 2020
    I recently bought an electric bass in the $2,600 territory. I've been playing basses well below $800 the whole time I've been playing. Everytime I pick up that "expensive" instrument I'm reminded of the quality that went into it. There is definitely a difference. But there is nothing I can't do on a less expensive instrument.
    BrooklynBen, Socobass, naetog and 3 others like this.
  18. So I have a Squire fretless that sounds great...but it definitely feels like a low end model.

    I have a couple of Fender P-basses - one made in Mexico, on in Japan. They have more of a quality feel to them..but they don’t match my MIA Jazz bass.

    Look, you can have a cheap product that does a job, and does it well, but it’s hard to engineer a quality feel in an inexpensive product.

    Hyundai and Kia can make you a really high quality vehicle...but you’re going to pay a lot more for it. Meanwhile at an autoshow, my wife is not a car person, and she immediately noticed the mediocre quality of the Ford Taurus as soon as she sat in one.

    Will a Ford Taurus provide reliable transportation? Sure. But it’s never going to have the same feel as a more expensive vehicle.
  19. J_Bass


    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    This again.

    A 30 euros watch gives the same time as a 300 or 3000 euros. So what?

    A 15000 euros car gets you to the same destination as a 150000 euros car. So what?

    A 20 euros pair of shoes do the same as a 200 euros pair. So what?

    A 200 euros bass has the same notes as a 2000 and a 20000 euros bass. So what?

    Etc., etc..

    The difference? Quality. Attention to detail. The wood. The finish. Etc..

    As in everything.
  20. Yup. Now I have no idea if I’ll notice a difference with a USA Spector, aside from the fact that they get the best tops.
    Mickey666, nuage420b and Drifter8230 like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jan 25, 2021

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