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What do more costly basses provide?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vindibona1, Feb 14, 2020 at 11:25 AM.

  1. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    It's a given that you can buy a bass guitar for $100... or $10,000+. But lets say we find some middle ground; $600-$2000 and $2000-$4000. I'm curious as to what you get as as benefit as you move up in price class? And I will stipulate that with a player who earns a living playing bass, price almost doesn't matter because you want the best for your needs, even if the gains for significantly more money brings incremental benefits. But for the rest of us, I'm wondering what would justify spending even $2000 as opposed to $1000 or for some well made budget basses, even $600.

    But first, I'd like to take "artistry" off the table. We know that many wooden instruments are genuine works of art and the art should be acknowledged. But I'm just wondering about value and benefit from a MUSICAL INSTRUMENT standpoint. As a brass player I often see top players playing beat-up, Frankenstein mash-ups, playing and sounding terrific.

    So if we boil bass guitars down to playability, sound, electronics and finish quality (excluding "works of art"), what drives and average player to pay over $1500 for a quality bass? Let's start there for conversation's sake.
  2. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Threads on this topic come up on Talkbass seemingly daily. Seriously, the search function is your friend on this one.
  3. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    Perhaps you'd like to provide links as opposed to a snarky comment?


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Not snarky, just information. Settle down now.
  5. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    Seriously, this is a well beaten horse and @Warpeg was very nice about it.
  6. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    It’s unfortunate that you feel my comment was snarky; it certainly was not meant to be. The intention was to help you by providing you with an outlet of information related to your post (ie. The search function).

    To address your question about providing links: No, I would not like to provide links. I’m happy to help fellow forum members with certain bits of research, but using the search function for them is outside of my preference.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020 at 1:01 PM
  7. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Really, you're been here since 2015. This kind of thread usually comes from a newbie, which is somewhat excusable.

  8. sausage.jpg
  9. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    What does a custom sausage maker give you that you don't get from the grocery store?
  10. As with any manufactured product, as the price goes up, you're paying a price to net a profit for the builder who has spec'd better materials and components, and spent more time to get more of the little things 'right-er' and used more skilled / expensive personnel to accomplish this.

    And you factor in who and where it was built: Labor rates (and labor laws, environmental regs, etc.) are higher in the 'developed' countries than the rest of the world, and you can almost geographically tag where a given bass was built: Using Fender as an example, their highest selling prices top out in the Custom Shop, then less for regular US production, less for Mexico, and the cheapest for Squiers built in China, Indonesia, or Viet Nam, and you can see that curve in many manufacturers lineups ( . . . and this is why very few 'Japanese' guitar companies sell very few basses . . . . made in Japan, funny innit?).

    And economies of scale come into play. The majors like the Fenders, Yamahas, etc., make thousands of instruments, and discounts on that much wood, finish, components, etc. This is a big reason why they offer a lot for less vs. the handbuilt, artisan instruments where a 100 a year (or less . . . ) are always going to be a LOT more expensive: Each handbuilt has to pay for a lot of overhead as there's so relatively few built.

    How important this is to you is a personal judgement: Some are happy with a Squier, others would not dream of a non-US-built Fender. But without this global production, the droves of terrific $500 and less budget basses would not be possible.

    I will say that I've never seen a time when you really had to work hard to get a truly bad instrument like we are in today. I can easily remember when 'beginner' instruments were rank plywood junk that weren't worth using as kindling wood.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020 at 1:12 PM
  11. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Koog likes this.

  12. Less hog anus?
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    :laugh: i'll play!

    sure, you see that all of the time --- it's common among players who know what they want! and i would add: among players who know what they have!

    some "average" players don't really know what they want or what they have. lots of TB folks have time on their hands, money to burn, and no clue that the object of their GAS is not the answer to their bass playing 'issues':
    - my life or my playing will be better if i spend a little more
    - the cool cats play Xs so i'll get an X, too
    - i can only get the sound of an X if i have an X --- i want that sound!
    - bragging rights: "this ax was made by X, cost a bazillion dollars, and it's one of a kind!"
    - yada yada

    IME: "playability" (i'd call it feel) is all that matters on most axes because on most axes everything else you mentioned can be changed or modified.

    if you're looking to justify saving some money and still getting a quality instrument the current era is a fine time to play that game: tons of quality instruments in the 'affordable' ranges you mentioned + tons of used stuff where maybe even better deals are available if you can find the right ax. and if you can assemble the best parts yourself (your 'dream parts') you can pay even less for the highest quality parts-basses...sometimes cheaply enough to make a poser blush.:D

    so even though this topic has been covered before: an update of responses from an update of responders might very well be in order/appropriate. i don't know how many times i've posted similar/same thoughts, but it's a pleasure to share them again, now!

    that's my .02 on both accounts! good luck with your thread! :thumbsup:
  14. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    That’s what makes it good and you know it.
  15. diegom

    diegom Supporting Member

    The OP probably mistook you for Oliver Hazard Perry, and his snarky memes...
    Warpeg likes this.
  16. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Sometimes customization

    And I'm not buying into the "all basses are art." Value oriented based are general cookie cutter, assembly line widgets that are at best mediocre in appearance.
    smogg likes this.
  17. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Ahh yes, “we have met the enemy and their memes are ours”.
    WaSusie, DrMole and diegom like this.
  18. diegom

    diegom Supporting Member

    What does a higher price-tag give you:
    Better wood. Properly dried, free of knots or inconsistencies. Ethically sourced. Better figure/look.
    Better electronics. You know it will work.
    Better hardware. Better quality, lighter, shinier, durable.
    Vintage repro, ultra modern design...

    As many people already know, you can grab an off-the-shelf Squier that completely blows a Custom Shop bass out of the water. That Squier is the outlier, not the norm. A crappy Custom Shop bass would be the outlier, not the norm.
    In essence, you are paying for expected, consistent, good results. If you had unlimited time and travel resources, you could find an $80 Affinity that sounds and plays better than your average Custom Shop...

    I hope this does not sound snarky.
  19. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I have owned a few basses in the $600-$2000 range and one in the $2000-$4000 range. My No. 1 bass, and by far my favorite, cost less than $1,000.00, so I don't think I'm particularly biased towards uber-expensive instruments.

    However, the sole bass I've purchased in the $2000-$4000 range (a Zon) is far and away the best constructed instrument I have ever owned. The level of playability far exceeds any other instrument I've put my hands on, counting both basses and guitars. From the perspective of craftsmanship and finish, everything about it is flawless.

    In addition to that, getting into the higher price range opens up custom options that generally aren't available otherwise. My expensive bass is literally unique, as I requested a combination of changes from the builder that ultimately required them to redesign the body for this particular model and build mine as a one-off. The reason this matters to me is that my specific purposes on buying this bass was to get a high quality gigging instrument that was as light, ergonomic, and easy to play as possible to help me address some injury issues, and this simply would not have been possible with an "off the rack" instrument.
    nbsipics, DrMole, smogg and 2 others like this.
  20. The Deep

    The Deep

    Jul 21, 2017
    I just want to say, I really can’t understand why people feel the need to post “use the search function”. Allow me to explain some of the reasons:

    1. Some of the thread topics may be old (as in nothing particularly recent) information. Opinions do change and the passing of time has a way of providing fresh perspective and shaping new thoughts on old subjects.

    2. This is a bass forum. How many genuinely new topics do you think can be brought to the table within a given amount of time? There’s only so many bass related topics one can discuss. Topics will invariably repeat after a given time cycle.

    3. What’s wrong with bringing the topic back up in the hopes it will generate new responses from users that didn’t have opportunity to chime in (or who weren’t even members) the last time it was asked?

    4. Perhaps all the previous posts provided a wealth of information, but not the one specific nugget the poster was after. Starting a new thread allows for the opportunity to actively shape and direct the discussion to meet the posters specific query.

    Yes, the search function is useful. I’ll give you that. Sometimes it is indeed all you need, but sometimes it simply isn’t.

    If you don’t want to add your thoughts to the discussion, simply move on about your day. I’m quite certain 99% of the people using computers these days knows how to perform a search. Taking on the role of Captain Obvious does nothing to further the discussion.

    Just some food for thought.

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