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What guides your purchase decision?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AshInAmsterdam, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. When you set out to buy a new bass, what guides your purchase decision over all else?

    I have two basses. My 2009 Ibanez Jet King was chosen because it was the cheapest bass in the shop, besides poor quality ones by the likes of Stagg. It was marked down by ⅔ as end of line so I snapped it up.

    Then late last year I purchased a Fender Standard Precision. That purchase was not so much financially motivated as I'd become ready (financially and spiritually) to buy a great instrument rather than a cheap one. My motivation here was perhaps a little purer - I loved the look of the Precison, its simplicity in hardware and as I've discussed in other threads after trying various Ps from various ranges, countries and manufacturers the one I bought was the first that felt perfect when played.

    So which one thing would you consider your main motivator?

    Country of manufacture?
  2. twinjet

    twinjet AJ, you're the MAN! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Every one of those.
  3. My order
    I usually stumble upon something that I like the look of, research it, play it (if i have the option) and then save.
  4. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Feel (weight is included)
    Workmanship (one would be surprised how bad frets are once they check with a Stew Mac fret rocker)
    Everything else (sound, color) can be changed.

    However, it would need the unanimous approval of 100 Internet strangers who do not have any financial backing before even looking past the name on the headstock.
  5. Grooveline


    Jan 24, 2012
    First is tone. What sounds does it offer me and how do they compare to sounds I hear in recordings. Whats the basses character (thumpy, growly, where the mid hump if any)?
    Second is feel. Size of neck, frets, weight, neck dive etc.
    Third is aesthetics. Color, design, condition (if used)

    Hardware can always be changed and country of manufacture means nothing to me. Its hard to know where to put brand/model. In some cases it's important (makes it easier if you want to nail some classic tones for example) and other times it means absolutely nothing (some great lesser known name basses out there). For sure a bass I buy and keep has to have the first two on my list though.
  6. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    With me, it's sound plus at least one additional thing.

    Sound will always be my primary criteria. I can put up with just about anything else if I really like the sound. But if the sound is not there, that's an immediate deal-breaker for me.

    However, in order for me to buy it, I also need at least one additional thing (which could he anything) such as playability, price/value ratio, looks, or novelty.

    After all these years I'll also have to admit that novelty is becoming a bigger and bigger factor in my purchase decisions. Now that I own (or have owned) my share of excellent mainstream and iconic basses, I've started to look for the more unusual instruments to round out my collection. And I also enjoy finding really good bargains.

    Which probably best explains my interest in things as varied Willcox Sabers with their Lightwave optical pickup system; or my more recently acquired respect for Squier's inexpensive but remarkably capable Classic Vibe series.

    But that's me. I tend to go more for things found on the far end of the curve rather than the middle. :laugh:
  7. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    I try to strike a balance between LOOKS, FEEL and SOUND.
    1. If it doesn't LOOK good to me (very subjective, I know), then it won't keep my interest. It may seem shallow, but I'm a visually-oriented guy, which is kind of important when you're going to art school with ambitions to be a professional illustrator. ;)
    2. FEEL is incredibly important to me and is the only thing that can trump my visual/esthetic hurdle. I don't care how pretty an instrument is, if it doesn't feel right in my hands, I'm not interested. (more on this below)
    3. SOUND is important, but of the three criteria I've listed, it's the most malleable…whether by strings, pickups, electronics or amplifiers. Alterations to LOOKS and FEEL are way, waaaaaaaay more expensive and can possibly risk permanent damage.
    A recent example of FEEL overcoming LOOKS occurred just a few days ago. While on a short road-trip, I was at a store that I normally don't get close enough to check out. Among their basses was a Fender American Standard Jazz (2015) that had been marked down a couple hundred dollars because of some considerable scrapes in the paint. (For the record, it was a sunburst model. The scuffs were on the black portion of the upper horn and were deep enough to expose the wood, so yeah…quite visible!) It was within easy reach, so I decided to give it an unplugged, acoustic trial run.

    Suffice it to say, this puppy had problems! :facepalm:

    There was so much fret-sprout on both sides up and down the entire neck that it felt like a cheese grater. Also, despite my preference for a slightly higher-than-normal action, I was surprised the strings were so far from the fretboard. To be fair, some basic setup work would serve that bass well. That, and I think the reason for the sprouting might've been caused by the rosewood being super-dry. When I noticed the wood's condition, I looked up and sure enough…the heating vent was right overhead.

    I know this might rankle those who believe MIA's will forever trump anything before it, but of all the various Jazzes I tried that day, the one that had the best FEEL was a Squier Vintage Modified. Ironic, n'es pas? :eyebrow:
    tkonbass, Fat Freddy and nerkoids like this.
  8. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    1. The neck. (I prefer thin and narrow like a jazz bass and it must be super strong)
    2. Overall balance and ergonomics.
    end of list.

    I've never seen a manufacturer that made a quality neck skimp on any other components.
    But some shapes are definitely better than others.

    I don't give a damn what the headstock says or where it was made. A good bass is a good bass.
  9. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    For me the main decision making process starts with; "Does this bass sound better than what I'm currently playing?"

    If I don't get a yes out of that question I will probably go no further.

    The decision path looks pretty much like: sound~playability~quality~looks~weight~price.
  10. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    1. Price
    2. Looks
    3. Playability
    4. Sound (amps and pedals can take care of that)
    5. Availability
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Looks - if I don't like the way it looks, I'm unlikely to pick it up.
    Playability - I usually play it for a minute or so before I plug it in. If it doesn't feel good, I don't bother to plug it in.
    Sound - if I like the way it plays, I'll plug it in and see how it sounds.
    Hardware - not a factor; I've never picked up a bass that sounded good and played good but had crappy hardware
    Brand/model - not a factor other than there are certain brands I know I don't like, having played a lot of them
    Country of manufacture - couldn't care less
  12. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    Preferably natural finished walnut or mahogany body with neck thru.
    Everyone SEES a particular bass before you pick it up and play it.
    I walk into a store.
    I SEE a natural wood finished bass.

    I'm not that particular about tone.
    I don't have ONE TONE in my head that a bass has to be.
    Every thing else I can adapt to.
    Can't you?

    If they are different,and they are,then good!
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  13. Relsom

    Relsom Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    The Old Dominion
    GreatScott91 likes this.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    lol... not a whole lot :).
  15. LowEndOperative

    LowEndOperative ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2013
    Looks, sound, straight string pull @ headstock, string spacing, brand reputation, permission from the wife, budgetary concerns, permission from the wife, etc.
  16. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Feel of the neck
    Unplugged tone
    And not being some crazy color or design
  17. Playability. Or can it be set up to play the way I want.
    Construction. Is it decent enough that it won't fall apart quickly.
    How easy is it to modify? Yes, to me that is important. Unless I were to buy another top of the line instrument, it's going to get modified in some way.
    Also prefer it to be short scale. But that's just personal preference.
    Fat Freddy likes this.
  18. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    I guess it starts a bit with looks, but the feel of the neck is the biggest for me. They all seem a bit different. The last new MM I bought, I played everyone they had, about 20, and picked the one that felt best. That day irrespective of color or configuration. I was very happy with that one. I am lucky I live in a big city with big stores. My wife it not thrilled about that.
  19. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Feel. Been playing over 40 years--- bass has to feel right before I even plug it in. After that-- they all usually sound good (but different).

    It's a big negative when instruments are hung on the wall w/o proper setup.
  20. Want.

    Pure and simple want
    superdick2112, DOMIT, mophead and 2 others like this.

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