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What is actual dealer cost for a bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by waytoodeep03, May 2, 2005.

  1. In comparision to what they sell it to us for? Also what is the difference in high end, handmade, boutique basses in maker cost and what they charge you and I?

    I want to know where people make their profit on basses
  2. Stu L.

    Stu L.

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    Nunya :p
  3. BassikLee

    BassikLee Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2004
    Deltona, FL
    Owner: Brevard Sound Systems
    Back when I was working for MARS, their majic number was a 32% markup. Some of the lines I carry now, I like to get 20-25% markup on, and some of the pro audio lines, I am lucky to get 10%. Seems there are some folks willing to sell stuff WAY too cheaply, esp in the pro audio end of things.
  4. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I am not in the retail music business but it's probably less than you think it is.

    I'm willing to bet that they make more money on service work and parts and accessories sales than they do on guitar sales.

    I am guessing here but I would say that a GC and other retailers make a ton of money (profit) on pedals, cables, wires, strings, and other consumable items. Probably far more than they do on Fender, Ibanez, and Music Man guitars and Basses.
  5. Sutton


    Mar 3, 2005
    Plainwell, MI
    When I wanted to get my Kustom Groove Bass Amp (retails for 600 bucks at Musiciansfriend.com) I tried to get a local store to price match another deal I found on ebay. They said they couldnt sell it to me for 495, because they'd hardly make a profit. So...that means, atleast for that head, they have quite a nice price hike on the actual price.
  6. Stu L.

    Stu L.

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    $105 is a nice hike on a bass head? If you knew the percentages it wouldn't seem as much.

    And srxplayer, at least in my expierences, your right. My time to work on your bass or guitar will (usually) generate more profit than when it was actually bought.

    Since most instrument builders are now using a MAP policy, it's hard to make over 25-30% on alot of items. Cables, connectors, etc. you can get 100% most of the time.
  7. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    Don't forget to factor in shipping, employee wages, insurance, taxes, space rental/leasing and you'll see that profit shrink quickly.
  8. Wouldnt that drive companies to build less that perfect equipment? if they make more money on the maintenance...

    On another thought... there are huge diferences in selling price for big-name companies for similar products...

    Take fender for example. they put out a certain bass. lets say it costs 1500 USD. another company, less well known, can put out a bass with the exact same specifics for around 500 USD... so, this less known company managed to make the same bass for much less... what does that tell you of the mechanics of large name companies?
    Are Sadowskys REALLY worth 2500 +UP? are Benaventes or Conklins worth what they charge for them? they surely didnt get anywhere close to that kind of money while making it, thats for sure...

    Then again, bigger companies have bigger payroles that they have to provide for, but still, Im sure that they could still do that, cut a finer margin, if they lowered their prices a bit...

    a shameless example of this is their artist series... comeon... 3000USD to get one of their standard basses beaten to a pulp? (Relique'd.)

    But im just taking fender as an example. what do the luthiers here say on it? cost of wood+parts = sale Price?
  9. Sutton


    Mar 3, 2005
    Plainwell, MI
    I've noticed that you can get custom basses for alot cheaper, if its done by a luther. I contacted a luther, and he basically told me he could make a bass for 1300USD, I made basically the same bass at carvin, and it was 1500USD, with the 100 bucks off....and carvin always has good prices.

    I imagine that places like MusiciansFriend get even larger of a discount, since they probably buy basses like Fender Jazzes by the hundreds, if not thousands. I wouldnt be suprised if they can get MIM Fender Jazzes for under 200....
  10. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Hardly! What about the cost of overhead--tools, shop space, insurance, etc.? What about the actual value per hour of time spent working on instruments? I remember David King writing that, when you figured it all out, he was making like $6.50/hour building basses...

  11. That's real interesting
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    There are a lot of people who are grossly misinformed in this thread.:rolleyes:

    When a luthier builds a custom bass, sure, the materials cost a lot less than they charge for the bass. What about labor? What about overhead? Stuff like rent or mortgage on the shop, tools, equipment, insurance, etc?

    I am fortunate to own two high end, hand made basses. A Zon fretless and a Nordstrand fretted.

    The attention to detail on both of these basses is remarkable. The finish is almost perfect, which is very difficult to do on a bass with a burled top. The tolerances for the pickup routes and control cavity covers are so tight, that you have to use some force to remove them, once the screws are removed. The basses are both works of art, and a dream to play.

    I would love to know how many hours went into building them.

    Trust me, no luthier is getting rich on building custom basses.
    I would be willing to bet that most of them are making about what David King says, with maybe one or two exceptions.
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    A manufacturer makes no money on setup and repairs. Those dollars are made by your local retailer. Why would that encourage the manufacturers to build less than perfect equipment?

    What manufacturer makes basses in the USA, to the same quality level of a $1500 list price Fender, for $500?:rolleyes:

    Again, we get into labour. Many more hours are spent on a Sadowsky, a Benavente, a Conklin and any other custom bass than a factory built bass. You are also paying a premium for quality(fit & finish) and of course, the name.

    I am not the biggest fan of the relic instruments, but have you ever played one? All of the Fender Custom shop stuff is on par with most hand built instruments, or pretty darned close.

    Jeff Rader, a member of this forum, has a relic Jaco signature Jazz. Looks like hell, all beat up. And one of the ten best playing, and sounding fretless basses that I have ever had the pleasure to play.
  14. The cost is usually marked up 100%, unless you are getting something direct from the builder. The 100% mark up is then "discounted" off the MSRP by your dealer.

    There are exceptions to this general rule.

    Don't know how to answer re the high-end NYC stuff. Looks like pure Kansian economics, supply-demand stuff / what the market will bear kind of thing.

    Something can cost more than it is worth and something can be worth more than it costs, I guess.
  15. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    +1 (with the exception of owning a high end bass. I unfortunately do not)
  16. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I absolutely agree ........

    I look at my FBB and I can't imagine how many long hours Matt put into this bass, (plus the usual cost of doing business and the raw materials) and then when you compare that to the selling price the hourly rate for Matt's unbelievable skills must be below the french fry guy at McDonalds :scowl:

    OTOH, if they were going broke they wouldn't be building basses at all. I'm sure they make a reasonable living, but I seriously doubt that they're getting rich.
  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Very true, but you forgot one VERY important thing. Profit.

    There are very luthiers out there who will work for all of the things listed above and not factor in some amount of profit for their work. That has to be taken into consideration.
  18. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    The cost of employees, employers matching thier social security payroll taxes, workers comp insurance in a trade with wood cutting tools in the work place, rent, liability insurance, forget about it!
    As much as I would LOVE working with my hands building beautiful basses, I'd never touch that trade. Could not afford a decent lifestyle.

    I'll restrain from making political comments here, but I will say I'm not surprised Smith, Sadowsky, MTD have set up bases of manufacturing outside the U.S.A

    $2500 these days for a Sadowsky makes it possible for him to stay in business, and pay his help hopefully a decent wage.

    I blame other factors for the prices of high end basses. but not those who are still willing to build them despite the cost of doing business here.

    And I support other U.S based musical instrument manufacturers. But less and less am I willing to flow dollars over seas just because "it's cheaper" hell, thats part of the reason U.S built products are harder to produce. Know the enemy of your friends, once you decide who your friends really are. Sorry for the soap-box. Out.
  19. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sorry, but ALL Smith mfg. is in USA. We make all the wood components from scratch in our PA. Shop. Smith handmade Basses have always been 100% USA.

    OK?.. Thx.. Now back to the Movie !
  20. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    Can you provide specific examples of your $1500 bass and $500 bass? Are they truly an apples to apples comparision.

    Why would a business want to lower their margins? Can anyone name a music instrument manufacturer that is a non-profit organization? (Some might *feel* like it at times...) It's all market economics. Supply & demand.... (guns & butter!)

    If enough people decide a certain product or product line is prohibitively expensive, I wouldn't expect it to be around too long. On the other hand, if it sells quite well, why change what works??

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