Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

What makes a Boutique Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave Hill, Feb 2, 2005.


  1. Dave Hill

    Dave Hill Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    I overheard some "dude" at the local GC talking about "poseurs with boutique instruments" and it got me thinking...What exactly makes a "boutique bass" a boutique bass? Cost, fancy woods, exclusivity?
    Does high quality=boutique, because you can get some pretty excelent basses for pretty cheap theses days. You can buy a Fender or a Sadowsky that cost near as much and look very similar, so...? Some fancy new Peaveys certainly look boutique, but...
    Are USA Spector, MTD, USA Lakland, F Bass, and Sadowsky NYC all boutique? Some may now be on the fringe. When will it be safe to play one of these out and still be as cool as someone with a vintage Fender? Oh, and let me tell you, this "dude" was rippin' up a Squire Jazz...not.
     
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think a boutique bass has to be limited production. I wouldn't even say expensive because some custom or small makers are very reasonable and some factory basses are pretty expensive. To me, a mass produced bass may be as good or better than a boutique bass but if you can go to any GC and get one, it is not boutique to me.
     
  3. jvbjr

    jvbjr

    Jan 8, 2005
    Spoken truly like someone who will never be able to afford on, even while living with mom. Will Lee is such a poseur it is ridiculous, he can't even make a living playing bass. :spit:
     
  4. niomosy

    niomosy

    Nov 9, 2002
    Mainly I think a boutique bass is a custom, hand made bass. Other things are just options common to boutique bass builders (exotic woods, pickup options, custom shapes, etc. etc.)
     
  5. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    To me, anyone who uses the word "poseur" is stuck in wannabe mode. :p
     
  6. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    First of all, any dude working at GC calling other guys "poseurs" is more of one himself than who he's insulting.

    As far as Boutique basses go, you'll probably get several opinions. Here's some brands that I consider to be boutique, and not every model by these would necessarily be, but this is just my opinion.

    - Nordstrand
    - Benevente
    - Warrior
    - Pedulla
    - Spector USA
    - F
    - Curbow
    - Ritter
    - MTD USA
    - Alembic Series I and II
    - Conklin, not the GT series
    - Elrick
    - Lakland USA
    - Roscoe

    Notice that I don't mention Spector Euro's. While they are by far my favorite, they are great, but I don't think I would put them in the boutique category because they are mass produced. Maybe my Euro-6 LX could be though, I dunno. 'Boutique' may be one of those things that is different for everyone.
     
  7. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I thinks it's a matter of "who" makes a boutique bass, more than "what" makes one.
     
  8. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    By that guys standards probably anything that is not made by the Huge Three (Ibanez, Fender, and Yamaha).

    I could classify a bass as boutique if it had a few or all of these things:

    1. Wood/Finish/etc options
    2. Non mass produced, i.e. "nice Brand X bass; but there is a better one in the store across town."
    3. Generally a greater attention to detail; a solid neck with no huge gaps at the joint, etc.
    4. A price point that is too high to jeopardize for the average bar band gig, Foderas don't belong at a blues jam unless you are Richard Branson.
    5. The same person who builds the basses is more than likely to answer the phone if you call them.
     
  9. 5stringDNA

    5stringDNA

    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    That's my definition. If oyu want to talk to Stu about getting a USA Spector, it is possible, same with Fodera, Nordstrand, Warrior, etc. Try talking to an Ibanez CEO about getting a custom bass, haha. The one (well at least one) exception I think is the Peavey Cirrus.
     
  10. doogenbomb

    doogenbomb

    Oct 25, 2004
    If they cost over two grand, and the manufacturer only makes 10 a month, it is a botique bass.
     
  11. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder: Wing Bass
    One only has to look at the definition of "boutique" to decipher what a boutique bass builder is:

    Main Entry: bou·tique
    Pronunciation: bü-'tEk
    Function: noun
    Usage: often attributive
    Etymology: French, shop, probably from Old Provençal botica, ultimately from Greek apothEkE storehouse -- more at APOTHECARY
    1 a : a small fashionable specialty shop or business b : a small shop within a large department store
    2 : a small company that offers highly specialized services <an independent investment boutique>

    Based on that definition, I'd say that builders/luthiers that build on demand (to consumer specs), meaning, they don't build speculatively, are boutique builders. That is not saying that they don't have distributors that order basses speculatively. Therefore, I believe that the majority, if not all the builders that Josh listed above qualify as boutique bass builders.
     
  12. mjw

    mjw

    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Yea, I agree. Call MTDbass.com. You'll get Michael Tobias, and he'll actually talk to you for more than 30 seconds. Excellent!
     
  13. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    Even though some basses are "mass" produced, such as Modulus and Warwick, I still see them in the boutique category because they aren't as readily available or as affordable as names like Fender, Ibanez, etc. Also, some of the higher-end Warwick and Modulus stuff is pretty incredible. Warwick's custom shop, if nothing else, deserves to be in the category. They do some amazing work.
     
  14. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder: Wing Bass
    Keep in mind the definition is : a small company that offers highly specialized services....

    Even though the larger, mass-production companies have a custom shop does NOT make them boutique.
     
  15. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    Well, maybe not, but I find more boutique qualities in a custom shop Warwick than a gloss white J-style Fodera...
     
  16. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder: Wing Bass
    I have to agree with you there. Just because a bass builder is a 'boutique' builder, doesn't say any anything about quality. I only *Wish* I had an example.
     
  17. What about luthiers that start of small, then become widely recognised companies over time?

    Warwick comes to mind, exotic, but maybe not boutique to all. But at this point I bring attention to theyre custom shop.

    I guess the same rule might apply with Fender, Ty Zamora Custom Shop 6 String. I dont have a pic, but i dont see how that isnt boutique?
     
  18. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    I think that Modulus you got there is a pretty fine bass, either way. :)

    I saw Oteil Burbridge put on a clinic in 98 when he was playing his signature Modulus 6 and I was amazed by his tone. I was a little disappointed when he went to Fodera, but if I had that opportunity, I don't think I'd turn it down either. hehe