What are the bass "price points"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TapeDeck, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. TapeDeck


    Jan 31, 2013
    Chicago Suburbs
    So, I know this stuff as it pertains to studio gear, guitars, guitar amps etc... I know it with wine. There are points where that extra few bucks goes a LONG way, and points where it's buying you that last 2%.

    I'm in need of a good bass for rock music primarily... Mostly for when we bring bassists in to record or write... A little for me. I think I've narrowed it down to that F bass and all of the others that are like it... But in narrowing things down, just like looking for a great strat type of guitar, I've still got 14 trillion options.

    So on bass, after $300 getting you out of the most basic beginner instruments, and before $4000 buying you the most custom perfected P or J style bass... Where are my value points? This make sense at all? Hope I'm explaining myself well. I'm trying to figure out if the difference between $5-700 and $1000-1200 are as big as the difference between 300 and 500 or whatever...

    I am feverish and rambling. Yay first post. Thanks for reading. Appreciate anyone having taken the time to get this far.
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'd look in that $1,000 to $1,200 range. As you move up from there, the bang for the buck starts to decrease. Maybe up to $1,800 if you want some foo-foo on it.

    Oh, and welcome to TalkBass. Anything anyone says about me is a lie.
  3. AcridSaint

    AcridSaint ベーシスト Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2012
    I don't play well.
    Honestly, on the used market, you can get very nice basses in the 500-800 range. By very nice, I mean basses that any number of people would professionally gig and/or record with.

    I think if you're looking to spend 1k+ on a bass then it needs to already be something that you want, or you need to be in a different income class than me.

    I can see people regretting buying an SX (I don't) or a Squier, or some no-name $100 bass. But, I don't think there's a guy out there going:

    "Why did I waste my money on a nice MIJ Fender, when I could have spent twice as much for one MIA?"

    Some guy might want the MIA Fender, but I don't think he's hurting from the MIJ purchase.
  4. I think what you want is in the 800-1000 range, but you might find it in the 600's. Going over 1000 gets you better craftmanship and fancy looks.
  5. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    I think it depends on how knowledgeable you are on what needs doing to a cheaper bass and/or how confident you are at making the required mods to bring it up to spec.

    IMHO the advent of CNC production techniques means that the woodworking and basic construction of cheaper instruments is now very close (in some cases almost indistinguishable) from their more expensive bretheren. I think that manufacturers of cheaper instruments meet their price points partly through using cheaper components such as pickups, electronics and tuners etc, but mainly through very sparing use of the most expensive resource used in mass manufacturing, namely, human labour.

    So, with the variability of manufacturing processes, some instruments come straight off the automated machines and by happy accident all the tolerances of various components match up and you get a great playing instrument straight off the bat, others will need more handwork and attention to get them where they need to be. At the other extreme, you may get one that is just a dog...but they're the ones you can just send back and fortunately it's been a long time since I had one of those.

    So, buying a cheaper instrument and spending some time (or money - depending on whether you have the skills or have to pay someone else to do it) getting it set up perfectly and making some relatively minor pickup upgrades if required can often get you a better instrument than one with a considerably higher price tag.

    I recently had great luck buying a new, unseen and untried 6 string very cheaply (about $500). I figured that if it was a POS I would return it. As it happened, all of the basic construction was sweet, the neck was nice and the frets were nicely levelled and finished. I had reckoned that even if I had to change all the electronics and hardware I would still get a bargain. As it happened, the pickups, bridge and tuners were all fine but the active electronics were a little basic, noisy and had a weird control layout. I replaced them with an ACG EQ-02 filter preamp which I already had and I've been rewarded with a fine playing, extremely good sounding bass.

    The bass already looks like a boutique instrument and, with those few small tweaks, other bass playes who have tried it are convinced that it must've cost me £2500-3000 instead of the £600 total that I put into it.

    Smug? Much? Yep...but doing the same thing with Squiers and such is within the reach of anybody with only a modest amount of skill required.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    For recording, grab an American Standard P or J and call it a day. Or both :)
  7. Let me guess, HK?
  8. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Plenty of great basses in the $1,000 and under range.

    I honestly have never seen a huge difference between basses in the $1,200 to $1,500 range and those costing thousands more. I have several MIA Fenders, Alembics and higher end Spectors. They all play and sound great. I have always wondered why boutique basses cost so much more because I do not see the value in them. For that reason if I see one I like, I will only buy used.
  9. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    He He....or should that be He Ke...right first time!

    I guess the cat is out of the bag now. I asked the dealers about the availabilty of this bass before I bought it and they're not dealing with the factory anymore, once their stock is all sold that's it - no more!

    I'd hoped to save up enough, quickly enough, to get another one before they're all sold out so that I can pull the frets out for a matching fretless - but this has to take second place to a Barefaced Super Fifteen in my savings plan. If they're still available by the time I've done all that then great, otherwise I'm glad to have got in with this one.

  10. I have an HK 7 stringer, but i haven't been so lucky with it. I bought it third hand and they had swapped the electronics with a cheapo Artec one. Since the blend control didn't work i tried messing with it, but it was the first time i held a soldering iron in my hand and... Long story short i busted the preamp. Plus it doesn't look nearly as nice as yours, and the fretboard is very worn.
    Anyway, since i have two spare 500K pots i'm going to try and run it passive. It's a pity they won't be selling them anymore, i noticed their stock was greatly reduced last time i saw their site, so i guess that's why. I'd get one like yours if i had the cash right now.
  11. That's pretty much how I see it. Beyond that price point it starts taking a lot of coin for a marginal increase in ... whatever...
  12. TapeDeck


    Jan 31, 2013
    Chicago Suburbs
    This is precisely the sort of feedback I was hoping for. So it sounds like the bass market is a lot like the guitar market. I had to get some insight to be sure. I very much appreciate your input. Thanks folks!
  13. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Munji is a nice guy.:D
  14. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    $1000 to $1500 will get you off on the right foot
    $1500 to $2500 gets a Ken Smith or a few other nice basses
    over $3000 your dreams come alive
  15. sj_bass


    May 23, 2010
    Long Beach, CA
    An interesting conversation indeed...

    As long as you're not looking for a name (e.g. F bass, Ritter,etc.), there are perfectly giggable basses in the $500-$900 range... A used Lakland Skyline, MIJ or MIA Fenders, Spector Euros, even a EBMM bass.

    In the $300-$500 range, you can find some real deals - if you look hard... I've found a Musicman SUB, a Spector Legend, and a couple of vintage projects in this arena.

    Once you get in to the rarified air (which to me is over $1,500), you are getting more name and not necessarily more bass. Nothing wrong with that - I'd love to own a Nordy, Ric, or F bass! :bassist:

    Oh, and Munji can play like James Jamerson...
  16. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    When I was a kid, anything under about $300.00 was crappy import stuff. I think that still tends to be true, except now, most import stuff isn't that crappy.

    Personally, if I'm looking for a new bass, right around a grand is good. If I'm looking used $500.00 to $750.00 should get me something even nicer.

    I would have no problems playing an SX, but I'd probably swap PUPs and maybe the neck, so that adds to the cost.
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  18. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    I do own a Ric, it's a very nice '73 4001 that I've owned since 1976. It's been heavily gigged but also well maintained by some of the UK's best Luthiers (Peter Cook - who used to look after Entwhistle's basses, and latterly Martin Petersen who makes the fabulous Sei basses). I've been told that it is one of the nicest sounding Rics that some people have encountered. I've also owned a variety of similar grade instruments over the years, so I'm very familiar with the level of quality you can expect from top end (but still factory made) instruments.

    While it's nice to own an instrument like a Ric (and would be equally nice to own a boutique bass of some sort), I still contend that with modern CNC production the budget instruments of today are at least 90% of the way there. I suspect that for many of us that 90+ level is still more than we'll actually need, since the instrument will not be holding us back in any way.

    Whilst we may not NEED more, the siren call of the megabuck instrument still beckons. Maybe it's because 25-30 years ago, budget instruments were really very poor and there is a stigma attached to cheaper instruments that has now passed into folklore. Maybe it's because there is a natural tendency to desire the very best and bask in a completely justifiable pride of ownership, but there is also an element of gear snobbery and I guess we've all met a few "All the gear - No idea" bassists before.

    For me, I'm very impressed with the quality of the budget instruments I've purchased over the years and I'm just as happy to gig my Epi T-Bird Pro IV as I am to gig the Ric. Happier even, because my latest 'cheapo' 6 string aquisition further up this thread gives anything I've ever played (including megabuck basses) some really close competition and it is becoming my main player pretty fast.
  19. Yeah, some cheapo basses are really good. Give them a fretjob, new pups and a new finish and they'll sound like boutique.
  20. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Agree. And if you buy used, outstanding values are available at all price points. IMHO a used 2008 or more recent USA Fender is your best bet, and will hold its' used value very well.