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What constitutes a High End / Boutique Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MAJOR METAL, Apr 20, 2006.


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    In your own words what would you say makes a bass High End / Boutique ? and can a production instrument qualify as High End or Boutique ?. Thanks
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I definitely think a production bass can qualify as high end. I consider Musicman basses and USA laklands high end, pedulla, zon, modulus, as well as several others. Boutique, on the other hand, to me means an instrument made primarily by one luthier, no mass production allowed.
  3. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    High End : High Quality + High Price = Sadowsky, F Bass, Zon, Modulus, Lull, etc.

    Boutique : Small shop, typically custom orders only (high quality for a reasonable price) = Stambaugh, Marchlewski, etc.

    High End Boutique : Small shop, custom orders, high quality, high price = Nordstrand, Jerry Drozd, JP

    Just my opinion of course.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Copyright that Andy ! ;) :D
  5. gwx014


    Dec 22, 2005
    High End: A high quality production bass.

    Boutique: A small(ish) shop with very high quality. Mostly customs.
  6. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    I guess I draw the line with one question...can you pick up the phone and call the guy who built your bass?
  7. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    +1! Also I like Lonnybass' response as well.
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    You can do that if you own a Wishbass or a Krappy bass.....I don't think that necessitates the title "botique."
  9. I like your thinking.

    I would add the Ibanez prestege series basses under high end.

  10. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I like the "pick up the phone" aspect mentioned above. Here's my own thinking, though....

    High End: Top notch materials and attention to details construction. Doesn't matter if it's production or custom.

    Boutique: I can discuss in detail with the builder or rep what I want and what I don't want. Down to details like fingerboard bindings, inlays, contour carvings, exact board I want used. In my world a production only bass would not be boutique. It could be high end. It could even cost more than some boutique basses.

    I guess that puts me pretty close to AJ Brown's definition.


  11. Funky Doctor

    Funky Doctor

    Aug 28, 2003
    What AJ Brown said.
  12. scuba steve

    scuba steve

    Dec 28, 2005
    Hillsboro, Tx
    this may be just me, but i consider the very pricey spectors, pricey warwicks, and ken smith bsr-j(still hand made but more mass produced) and some others as boutique basess even though they are more mass produced.
  13. JKwo


    Jan 12, 2006
    Those companies all have custom shops, whose products I think anyone would consider boutique.
  14. KayCee


    Oct 4, 2004
    Shawnee, KS

    First, I think that all Boutique basses are High End, but not all High End basses are Boutique.

    "Boutique" basses are usually made to order by a luthier (maybe with an assistant or two) in a small shop. Often the shop is a part of the luthier's house. They often feature body shapes, exotic woods, custom electronics, inlays, or other unusual features requested by the customer that aren't available in production models. The builder often works closely with the customer throughout the building process as questions/changes related to materials, design, or construction that would to improve the original concept, arise. They are expensive, due to time-consuming nature this process. The quality control on this instruments is expected to be of the very highest standard.

    "High End" basses are first-quality instruments using a standardized set of models but offering limited choices on various features including electronics and finishes. The High End shop would typically employ more workers, making many basses for stock using their most popular models. Like Boutique bass makers, they offer direct access to the customer for service issues. Once the demand for these popular models exceeds the ability of the shop to produce them at a competitve price, the High End maker will employ another shop (often outside of the U.S.) to mass produce a version their basic product. The U.S. shop can now focus on the "High End" basses and service that made them popular in the first place.
  15. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    You wait a long time and you pay a lot of money. That's how you know you have a high-end boutique bass.

  16. scuba steve

    scuba steve

    Dec 28, 2005
    Hillsboro, Tx
    i know they all have custom shops, but im saying that some more mass produced basses can/would/should be considered boutique.
  17. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I think KayCee has just about nailed it down ..... ^^^

    My only minor change would be that not all boutique basses are High End. We can all think of a couple luthiers, at least, that meet all the other descriptions of boutique but are decidedly not offering a high end instrument.

    In reality, I don't know that it actually matters all that much. I think each and every bass (and builder/manufacturer) has its place and purpose. I am equally enthusiastic about my beautiful FBB's and my '86 Fender MIJ Jazz Special, and I'm still kicking myself in the butt for getting rid of my old Brice Z6NT. Obviously, the FBB's are many, many levels above the MIJ and Brice, but they all hold a dear spot for me .... each has its purpose and own special feel ...... :cool:
  18. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    I think high-end basses could still have an off-the-shelf quality and yet use top quality components, pickups, woods and more. Look at the Pedulla Rapture series at Guitar Bender. High end, made by Mike P. and a couple of helping hands at his shop, yet still fixed within the realm of design commonality, signature preamp, etc. Sure, a Rapture's stock electronics take away an element of boutique-uniqueness, but that's what makes a Pedulla sound like a Pedulla.

    But whether it's definited as "boutique" or "high-end," we are fortunate enough to live in a world where, with a good long-distance phone connection and something intelligent to say, it's entirely possible to have a solid conversation with Rick Turner, Roger Sadowsky, Mike Pedulla, the Wickershams, Mike Tobias and who knows how many other living legends in the course of a single day!

  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis

    Malthumb hit the nail on the head as far as i am concerned. Being able to discuss the details of how it is to be made with the maker makes an instrument truly boutique in my mind.
  20. rontalsaurus


    Aug 19, 2002
    Hmm...where do builders like Kinal, Bossa, Carl Thompson, etc fit in?
    They have defined series of models that they work from, that are customizeable for a price upon customer request. All of these are hand-made by a single luthier or a very small shop in which the head luthier has a very hands-on approach to crafting the instrument. Yet, they're usually built based on a specific, previously designed model. For instance, my Kinal is an MK5, but I had contact with Mike Kinal when ordering the instrument to talk about wood choices, electronics, and other things and how I might want ot modify the model.
    Is that boutique, even though it's not 100% custom designed?

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