What do you get for a more expensive bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by colmanian, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. So, I know this a n00b question and there is no clear answer, but I was wondering what your opinions are on the sorts of qualities that a more expensive bass (£1000+ UK) has over a much cheaper one (around £250 UK)?

    I'm currently playing an Ibanez GSR200 which I know is a fairly common and not very expensive bass, but I love it. Having never played anything significantly more expensive, I don't know what I'm missing out on if that makes sense? I'm guessing things like the tone is a given, but are more expensive basses generally easier to play for example?:confused:

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

  2. pdusen


    Aug 18, 2004
    There are standout basses at all price points, but in general, the difference is in quality of materials used.

    I'm glad you like yours. I found mine horribly uncomfortable to play and didn't care much for the sound. Plus, th electronics in mine were sketchy at best; sometimes it would randomly decide not to produce any sound one day, and then decide to work again the next. I'm playing a Geddy Lee bass now (~$900 USD).
  3. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    and better quality materials and craftsmanship generally mean better tone and playability.
    better tone will come from better pickups, but also better craftsmanship like a tighter neck socket which will give you better sustain...stuff like that.
    playability is maybe harder to explain, but often a better (more expensive) bass just FEELS better.
  4. I think maybe a couple of things.
    One - you normally get to make the bass you want it to your specs, woods (exotic), pickup config etc.
    Two - The build quality is USUALLY better and of a high standard.
    Three - (I know I only said a couple of things :smug:) You may get a better sound or more versatility.

    But that is not always the cases with all of them. Some people may just get them because of the name, maybe a specific sound etc.

    The main thing really is, if you find a bass you love, feels comfortable and you love the sound, then that is the bass for you. Whether it is $500 or $10000.

    If you really like your current bass, price is of no importance. ;)
  5. I would make it a priority to get out and play some other basses. I had access to a Ibby SR200 (my son's) when I decided to buy my own. I could feel and hear a huge difference between the price points. I went in to the store to try Squiers and Ibbys and ended up with a Geddy Lee. A little later, MusicMan released the Classic Series Stingray and I played one of those. I still liked the Geddy (now long gone) but I wished I'd played the MM first.

    That thinking lead me to ordering a custom build, and no regret there at all.
  6. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I'm no expert, but I do own basses in both categories you listed.

    Fit and Finish

    Just like a car, or anything where you have such a variety of options, the fit and finish can be noticeably different. A cheap car does the basics, it drives and it stops. It may have a rattle here or a paint chip there, but it drives and stops. An expensive car does that, plus it has a great seat, big motor, a silent passenger compartment, etc, etc.

    Translate that into basses. On the more expensive models, the neck/body joint might be perfect. The tuning machines will not be misaligned or flaking the chrome/paint. The action/intonation is completely customizable (not all basses are). The woods used are also in play. Top of the line basses may use a single piece of AAAAA grade wood and not be painted. Whereas a cheaper bass model may use 3-5 pieces of lower quality wood for a body and then be painted.

    That's all fine and well. But how do they play? That is the real question. I would not own my Cirrus (pretty expensive new) if it did not play well. I would not own my G&L if it didn't play well. I do still own my cheap PJ copy that doesn't play well, but that is for nostalgia. The point is that regardless of price, it needs to play well to you.
  7. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    You should get to a friendly store and play a few more expensive basses and see.
    I had a 'starter' bass that played ok and I was happy enough with it. Then I played a few better basses -- some not that much more expensive and I found one that just felt right. It just plays smoother and easier and with a lot less effort and what really gets to me lately is how consistent it feels on any string anywhere on the neck.
    And I don't know if this matters, but I really can't feel the frets on this new bass; I just feel the strings -- kind of disorienting really -- when I played piano I would shift around a little to feel the expected black key to confirm I was where I thought I was. That's gone.
    And it has a bigger deep round tone -- even my wife has said my first bass sounds like a 'jr' model now.
  8. tdub0199


    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, Ga.
    If you like the Ibby you have, try to get your hand's on a 500 or 700 series.....
  9. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    cheaper instruments tend to have a muffled sound ime
  10. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    Better components, usually, and better craftsmanship.

    Basically, you might get a better sound (though that's highly subjective), more reliability, and a better feel.
  11. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    You definitely get the ability to convince other musicians that music is important enough to you that you are willing to spend good money on gear. You possibly some other things too, but I'm less sure about those.
  12. chef wong

    chef wong Banned

    Sep 15, 2012
    A Fender Jazz bass of some variation could be your next bass.
  13. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    In most cases an ego boost and braggin' rights and thats about it. Well at least after you pass the $500-$750 mark.

    Now in truth a more expensive instrument will benefit from better attention to detail, better quality woods and hardware, better playing fretwork, tighter fitting neck buckets or more advanced electronics. That being said, don't worry about how expensive it is other than in regards to your wallet and whether or not you can afford it. Get the one you like. Try out every bass you can regardless of brand or notoriety. I have been fortunate enough to own custom made basses, but even still I have a $300 Squier P-Bass Special that I dearly love, and it gets the same amount of play time as my $1000+ customs.

    Do NOT buy a bass for the decal on the headstock. Just don't. Buy it instead for how it makes you feel when you play it. If you love it and it makes you happy to play it, does the price even matter at that point? Don't worry if it's consideed a "cheap" bass or not. I'm pretty sure Victor Wooten can still make peoples jaws drop even if he was playing a $150 SX from Rondo Music.
  14. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    since you don't see too many bands with two bassists i'll give you a guitar example, my one friend was playing his 100 dollar back up ltd import sg vs the other guitarist's vintage les paul, now was the tone 30 times better, maybe not, but it was less defined, less clear, and thinner sounding compared to the gibson
  15. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    There was a thread a while back about what people thought the "tipping point" in bass prices was - at what point does any increase in quality stop being worth the increase in price? There were wildly differing answers, and for most people the "tipping point" (surprise surprise) turned out to be the cost of their own most expensive bass. But for a lot that meant something right around the price you're talking about, $1000-1500 USD.

    Like others have said, I'd say go down to a guitar store and try out some of the higher-end basses with amps. If you can feel and hear a difference that makes them worth the money to you, then start saving your money. If you can't feel it, then it's not worth it for you to spend on it.
  16. I play a Squier SS Jag. I understand that there were loads of shortcuts taken to bring this bass in at its price point. I am grateful to have a bass that is this comfortable and that sounds good. My previous bass, and Epiphone Viola sounded good and looked great. Just don't let go of the neck or the headstock took a voyage to the bottom of the room. The round back was also a pain because the bass would tend to roll forward. The Epiphone costs nearly twice what the Jag does. I am limited by my preference for short scale. I would like my bass to balance better, and understand that I could mod or have it modded to do so.

    The only substantially more expensive short scale basses I know of are the Fender Mustang and, beyond that, some handmade (Birdsong, Landing, Rob Allen Mouse, etc.) basses that I can not justify buying given my ability and the fact that I am an amateur hobbyist. Since I can't sample the aforementioned handmade basses at my local GC, I can only assume that any of them would at very least balance better on a strap than my Jag. Whether or not they sound better is up to the listener. While I'm sure it would play better, I don't know if I'd know the difference or, if I did, it I'd think it was worth paying approximately 10 times what I paid for my Jag.

    If I hit the lotto or something, I could be in for quite an education.
  17. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
    Be careful about going out and playing much more expensive basses until you can afford one. It is a bit like having a one night stand with a supermodel and then having to go back to your tubby wife. What feels ok to you now with your current bass may end up feeling crap after a few hours playing with toys you can't afford.
  18. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    Didn't see that thread. For me, my 'tipping point' would really depend on how high a price I could reasonably afford. To some, $2000 represents a really large amount of their total disposable income, whereas this is not as much the case for others. If I had a lot more money, I'd likely go out and get additional Ric basses, for instance. I don't have much money, though, so I have just the one.
  19. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    A lot of people buy more expensive basses because they fall for some hype or they believe what other people tell them about how good an instrument is.

    By all means go try some more expensive basses, but don't buy one until you pick one up that you can tell is an improvement over the bass you've got, and you think that improvement is worth the money.
  20. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    We got here even quicker than usual. Next post will be from someone that will put his Squier up against any Fodera. :rollno: