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What makes a bass a "keeper"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rojo412, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I know for a fact there are a lot of people on here who flip basses a lot... and often! I'm one of them, I admit it. Though I've been playing for 20 years, I've had almost 100 basses in that time. Some, I had for a day... some for years! But most fell at some point to GAS for another bass.

    Not too long ago, I picked up a 93 Stingray 4 on a whim because the price was right. It was added to my SR5 and Status 5 string in the stable to see if I could deal with a 4 string again.


    Over the years, I grew accustomed to 5s and many 4s had fallen out of favor with me, but I was coming to grips with the fact that most of my current playing didn't require 5, so this was me turning a new leaf. And honestly, I didn't know what to expect.

    The meat of why I'm posting this is the fact that this bass really made me realize a few aspects of what makes a bass "a keeper". Players who flip may be searching for the next new thing or something that other basses don't give them.

    For me, the experience has been like this:
    Every time I play this bass, at practice or a gig, it makes me even happier than the last time I played it. And that's really a fantastic feeling.
    That really made me think about what makes a bass stick to someone like me who doesn't tend to stick to things. I've definitely had basses "jump out" at me and I bought them. And I played them for a while, but eventually cooled on them for some reason or another.
    This is different. In fact, the other 2 I have are also like that. For some reason, it never truly dawned on me as such, but it's the truth.

    A bass that just continues to make you happy is a keeper. Whether it's a Squier or a Fodera, that doesn't matter. What matters is, it makes you feel good to play it. You can't imagine playing bass without it. Sure, you may have 10 like that... or 100!
    But if they are basses that attach themselves to you... if you can afford to keep them and just want to keep playing them, you have keepers.

    I'm not saying that sentimental attachment doesn't make for a keeper in some respects. Or maybe an old, super-valuable bass that sounds bad, but keeps increasing in value is worth hanging onto.
    But as a player, if there is a bass that just inspires you to keep playing it, a bass that defines the way you want to sound as a bassist... hang onto it!
  2. snyderz

    snyderz Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I've had about 50 basses over 13 years of playing, and some have been beautiful and amazing. I scored a US SB-2 about 6 or 7 years ago that has truly become a part of me. I rehearse and even gig with my other basses, but I know deep down in my heart that the SB-2 is my favorite, and truly a keeper. I could let go of my other 5 or 6 without a whimper. My wife and I are thinking of selling the house, and downsizing our lifestyle. That will mean getting rid of 90% of our 'stuff'. The SB-2 will be part of that 10% that stays.

    Attached Files:

  3. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    Added pic below....not sure how my phone moved my post, it is smarter then me:confused:
  4. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    We do not even want to discuss how many basses I have had...I have been through more basses this year (as of March 9) than some have in 30 years of playing. With that said some might say I am not qualified to answer this question, but it just so happens that I have a recently discovered what I think is the answer.....
    tone and playbility. I just got my self a few Roscoe basses and last night I enjoyed my self so much playing that bass because the tone was amazing and I could play things effortlessly on it that aren't so easy on some of my other basses. The bass inspired me to play better and even my drummer and guitar player both came up to me after the first set and asked why that bass sounded so good. I am a dedicated gear whore, and I am answering this question after only one gig with my Roscoe Century 5. But I believe I have a keeper in this bass. Time will tell.
  5. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    I've been playing bass since 1979/80. I have had 5 basses. I held my Guild Pilot because it was a keeper. I think prior to the Guild I had a Hondo, s badass Kramer I liked it but the neck was too rounded for me. I then used that and tried out sevrral different brands while saving up for something new. I tried the Guild and it just kind of felt part of me. The sound, weight, EMG pups and the neck just made an incredible sound coming out of the SUNN Colisium 300. Found the D'Addario lite strings and that was it until a few years ago when I thought I was done. Sold it then was asked to do a few shows with a band and got the urge back.
    I then trird to recreate the Guild a few yrs ago and came close but the body of my creation didn't sit rite. I started emailing people re: getting a custom bass. I searched from California to New Jersey. I spoke with Joe of Gamma and told him what I was after. He explained to me that he had something totally different but swore I would love it. He actually got me to try pups other then EMG:rolleyes: and when my Gamma Alpha arrived snd I picked it up, I went damn this is a solid bass. I hoped it sounded as good as it felt. :D incredible power, balance and a thicker neck but easy to play. I found ny second keeper. The Gamma will be with me for the duration. It fits my body, has killer sound and I would pay a very high price for an exact copy of my Gamma Alpha. I Can not think of one change I'd make to it. I hope that gives you an Idea from my prespective...

    Attached Files:

  6. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    These are all good reasons. I'm glad to hear others have similar experiences.

    You'll never really know what will latch to you until it does. I've played dozens of basses that sounded like they'd be keepers, according to the spec sheet or the featured items.
    But once I played them in person, things fell apart.

    And in the case of the MM, I've had a LOT of SR4s over the years. I liked them a lot, maybe even foolishly gave up a keeper in the past. But this one is different!
    I know others have also probably had that. Played the same model, maybe for years, but another one comes along and just changes your world.
  7. friedlbug


    May 15, 2009
    So what happens if you've played beautiful, expensive basses but your keeper is an old Korean Squier P Bass with a plywood body? Seriously, I haven't been able to justify buying another bass to myself since I bought this thing.:bassist:

    Is this a good problem to have? :)
  8. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I'd say so! Bad for the primo bass makers, but good for your bottom line (no pun intended).
  9. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    For me, it's not that hard:

    - Good look
    - Good sound
    - Good feel (balance, weight and neck)
    - Doesn't duplicate something else I have

    I tend to keep 10+ basses, but I'm thinning it down right now. I don't have any problem with having a number of basses, but when I find I haven't touched one for months, that's a clue.
  10. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    " What makes a bass a "keeper" "

    Feels good(good neck and balance)
    Is not too heavy
    Easy to set up and holds tuning/intonation well.
    Sounds good.
  11. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I've had 30 or so basses and I'm fairly confident saying my 2011 American special pbass is a keeper. Nice chunky neck. Balances perfectly. The action is perfect. Sounds like a bass ought to sound.
  12. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    I have a couple of basses that are keepers because of sentimental value. But my one true keeper (the bass I'd grab if the house was burning down) in my MTD.

    What makes my MTD a keeper for me is that when I'm gigging, playing or practicing with any of my other basses, I always wish I was playing the MTD.


  13. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    This is exactly my experience with the USA SB-1 I picked up a little while ago. I stopped even looking at the classifieds and really have no desire for anything remotely similar. Sure I still love my Gamma fretless and just bought an EUB from the classifieds, but those are totally different instruments. I don't have fretted GAS anymore.
  14. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    Korean made basses can be excellent. One of the finest basses I have owned was a Korean made Spector! Should have never sold that bass.
  15. I don't have a lot of basses, never have had more than 2 at a time. Never had the money or interest to collect pretty ones. They were always tools of a trade that had to be fun to play, reliabile, and sound good, or they were gone. My 1960 Fender Precision that I got in 1973-74 is my keeper because it meets those criteria plus I have a lot of history with it.

    I'll bet I'm not the only one who has kept an axe because of the good memories it envokes.
  16. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    Who cares what type it is. As long as you love it thats what matters..
  17. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    That's good, because it seems to be your whole point.

    It's only gear, dude. It works for you or it doesn't. Happiness is in your head, not in some light-industrial product.

    Invest your happiness in your friends, family and pets -- not some stupid bass.
    It's just a glorified stick.

    There's no magic here, just delusion. The more you know, the less magical gear becomes. In that musicians know virtually nothing substantive about the gear they use, they live in this weird world where instruments "speak" to them, they give them names and all the rest of that hippie stuff. Never mind their enduring craving for, and investment in, exciting marketing lies.

    That's forty-plus years of working on gear talking. I've yet to see a guitar or bass that wasn't woefully short of ideal -- essentially just a collection of design and production shortcomings, compounded by whatever damage was inflicted on it during its subsequent history. The best you can hope for is a tool that works adequately for you as far as you are even capable of understanding what that objectively means in your situation.

    Aside from the constant craving for novelty, as people mature (and good luck on that), they become more aware in some inchoate way that even with all them awesuum stickers their instruments aren't quite right...and they go through a whole bunch before realizing the ideal doesn't exist and never will. They make their peace with that and start living in the land of the possible.

    The more you learn, the less "magic" you have to shovel.
  18. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    What I mean by that was, you may keep a bass because your wife bought it for you or it was your uncle's old bass. You may not play it at all. You may even despise the feel... but you keep it because of a sentimental attachment that doesn't translate to playing it.
  19. Gaolee

    Gaolee Outta my way! I'm caffeinated! Supporting Member

    Playing what I have makes me happy. I like the sounds the instruments I have make. Since I don't need to sell them, they are keepers. Whether or not they are keepers has more to do with having enough room and not needing the money than whether they are perfect in any way. None are perfect, and I like them all.
  20. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    For me sound, playability and looks are the main factor, but beyond that, I think about how easy would it be to replace? I have a Jaco repro that I love, but don't play much anymore. I'll likely never give it up because I had it custom made for me and it would be impossible to get an exact replacement. I would be much more likely to sell an off the shelf brand because it likely would be easier to replace if I decided that I want another one.