What price will you pay for a Custom Shop bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ChainGang70, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. MMiller28

    MMiller28 Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2003
    my $.02:

    I own three American Standard Fenders. I like classic tones. When I started seriously looking at having a "dream bass" built, I thought about Fender CS...Not for very long though. It was always going to be a Jazz bass, but what would a Fender CS do for me that my beloved Standards don't?

    Yes, I could've gotten an active CS Jazz bass with a figured top and quartersawn neck...But it still would've been a Fender, and to justify spending that much money, it needed to be very different. Different body (chambered), different neck profile, totally different pickups, different preamp, etc. I found that with Sadowsky. Four months to go!
  2. ChainGang70


    May 19, 2016
    Thanks for all the wisdom, both actual and perceived. You all have helped me endure a strong onset of G.A.S. I'll be good to go for another few months.
  3. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    That's like asking how far that power line runs,or what do you think this building weighs?
    Too many variables
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    I don't think this ever happened in the history of mankind. The loss will be worse on a custom shop than a standard.
  5. BIGEJ2

    BIGEJ2 Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Happy Valley, PA
    This is right-on. It's good to have choices and choices keep a lot of people employed. What's right for one person may not be for another regardless of reason.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  6. red_rhino

    red_rhino Artful Dodger Gold Supporting Member

    Not typically. A few years ago, I picked up a CS 64' Relic Jazz used for about half it's original sales price. Killer bass too; loved it, but ultimately sold it for around the same price as I started to whittle down my collection. (Kinda regret not keeping it now. Oh well. Can't keep 'em all.)
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  7. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    Here's another gas killer for you: this gorgeous mim is $749 NEW with free shipping.

    Put your favorite strings on it and woodshed it for a couple months. Then, next time you consider a $4k Precision, test drive the considered acquisition and decide with your ears: "Is this really an upgrade?"

  8. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Let's see, a new CS Fender is $3.5k, so I'd be willing to pay as high as $1,155 for it used.
    $1,200 if it's in the OHSC
    wmmj likes this.
  9. I think it really comes down to which custom shop instrument you are looking to buy. Used custom shop "standard" models seem to hold value well. One off instruments don't seem to do as well.
    For instance used reissue fender cs, a fodera standard, an Mtd 535 with a pretty normal set of options, a sadowsky with a normal top all seem to have pretty set pricing on the used market. Whereas, any one of those models with a crazy exotic wood combo, strange scale length, far out paint job, fretless, etc...seem to be worth less than thier more straightforward brothers and sisters. Usually because it is harder to find a buyer for your electric pink, 32" frettless with your initials beautifully inlaid on the snake wood fingerboard than it is a blue jazz bass with a maple neck.
    wmmj and Son of Wobble like this.
  10. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    $1200 with OHSC and the certificate of authenticity is indeed a buy for a Fender CS - you will be able to flip if for $1,500-2,000 depending on model, your location, direction of the wind.... But I don't really ever see them dip that low, ever for a fire sale. It's a surprisingly efficient market, the CS stuff, which stands to reason seeing as it is a collector-controlled niche. No granny's attic wonders here, only facsimiles thereof.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  11. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010

    You make a great point about there being CS "standards." In this sense, the bulk of the Fender "Custom" stuff is no such thing, but rather represents simply another pricing tier, one involving more labor and finishing.
    But precisely because most of these models are standardized, there are already Fender fans drooling to possess them.
  12. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello. Here is a small sampling of prior discussion of the topic:

    Search Results for Query: custom shop vs | TalkBass.com

    Search Results for Query: custom shop worth | TalkBass.com

    Search Results for Query: custom shop compared | TalkBass.com
  13. First, I'd say buying an instrument in any price range is for most a subjective, personal, and emotional decision, as it should be. It's like everyone's idea of a pretty girl or the perfectly cooked steak.

    Second, for me, contrary to others, I NEVER buy a bass without considering the resale. I've had basses I've owned for 20 years, some far less, but in time, they all find new homes. When they do, I'm not taking a bath on them if at all possible. I've had a few personal favorites that were frankly irrational purchases that I lost money on, but I knew it going in. I'm not looking to make a killing, but I generally at least break even, which for me means I played them for free.

    I owned two Alembics, one I bought used and broke even on as the market rose, and a custom order I also broke even on: Health issues forced a quick sale. If I'd had time to shop it, I'd have made money.

    Which brings me to customs like Alembic or any of the other high-end axes: These you're going to pay for the time and the expertise involved. These long build times run up lots of shop time, which goes into the nosebleed retails these axes fetch. And this is why most so-called boutique (I HATE that term) can have such enormous depreciation, that sort of expense just doesn't resale well. But these are axes few of us can build ourselves or from off the shelf parts, so if that sort of thing is what you want, if you can pay to ante in, you do it, or at least hold out for the occasional used one if possible.

    Custom Shop Fenders (and any of the Sadowskys, Lulls, and all the other 'super' Fender clones) are something I would never pay that kind of $$ for, as I could easily buy a mint used one, or build from Warmoth, etc., exactly what I want: I really could screw one together. Granted, maybe I won't have all the little trick stuff, but for 1/3 or even 1/2 the price I would be as happy as a clam, and not miss a thing. There's nothing on those axes I can't buy myself, or even moreso the exact bits I'd want, so for me, there's no point. The idea of that kind of money for Pino's P-Bass is just stupefying for essentially a nice P Bass. I could buy or build two or three for that spend. I recently bought a Squier James Johnston and am perplexed why I'd shell out double or triple the price for a 'better' (??) Fender.

    I always think that whatever you buy, buy smart, enjoy it, and you'll enjoy it even more if ownership costs you little or nothing. Hunt for deals. Know the market. Know the caliber of the instrument and the appointments it has. You don't learn this stuff overnight, but over time you'll get a sense of what works and what doesn't.

    Of course I always had to buy on a budget. If you've got money to burn, have a ball !
    Revolver and Son of Wobble like this.
  14. NeckPickup

    NeckPickup Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    Boca Raton, FL
    There are (or at least used to be) two kinds of Fender CS basses, "team built" and "master built". With the master built, you choose a specific (and highly accomplished) builder and wait a long time, months or more. The team built ones are carried by some dealers, and are fine quality instruments, but are not so likely to become collectors items, IMO. I had bought a team built '60 NOS P-bass, and it was extremely well made, but uninspiring, maybe because of the sticky highly lacquered neck. I think either one with some relicing is a great substitute for a true vintage bass, but I wouldn't specifically buy one as in investment to compete with a true vintage axe.
    Son of Wobble and Ace Of Bass like this.
  15. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    I have one custom built by Andrew Drake and one in the way. I didn't pay anymore and less than some custom shops and these Drakes are truly custom. Will someone else want them?

    I don't care. That will be my estate's headache. I'm playing them NOW!
    Son of Wobble and ajkula66 like this.
  16. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    To the original post, I guess it depends on how custom you want your custom shop to be. If you're talking about one of their production series models, I would think that you might be better off (in terms of value for money) going in a different direction. This would be null and void if the custom shop production model felt like "the one" to you, but then again, lots of people have found "the one" at lesser price points. On the other hand, if you were commissioning a special instrument that was all your own, then I guess things cost what they cost and must be worth it.

    I haven't specifically purchased from Fender's custom shop, but I have commissioned unique basses three different times from less expensive assemblers. In all cases, I was very happy with the result, but I ultimately ended up selling them. "The one" for me ended up being a regular production Lakland Skyline - go figure.
  17. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I have enough skills to put my own together from parts.

    Right now my main is a $200 squier with $1000 worth of parts. So I guess $1200 is my limit.
  18. I own several Custom Shop instruments (Fender and Gibson -- I'm a multi-instrumentalist).

    I don't regret buying any of them. Understand that buying an American model then upgrading can cost almost as much. It really depends on what goes into the cost of upgrades. Also, you'll devalue the instrument by modding it and you typically lose money selling parts.

    Coincidentally, I just went through the same process you did. I sampled and found the specs I liked. I bought an Amercan Vintage '58 P Bass. It was a very nice instrument, but I wound up selling it a few years later when "The Right" CS P Bass showed up online. I didn't have it built to order. I'd been on the fence about upgrading my AV vs finding the right CS replacement. The replacement came along at the right time. The shop just wanted to blow it out one day and I jumped on it. I got my AV for a good price and sold it used for exactly what I paid for it new.

    For about one grand I got:
    • Handwound Pickups. The pups were the main thing I wanted to improve on the AV58. I really like these.
    • Quartersawn Neck. These make for very strong necks.
    • Lightweight. I don't remember ever seeing a P Bass as light as this one. 7.8 lbs with the covers off. I prefer lighter instruments for tone/resonance.
    • 2 piece Ash body in White Blonde (Trans). The AV was black on Alder. I like both colors. Understandably, a light, good-looking piece of Ash will cost more.
    • A massive neck, which I love. 0.940" at the 1st and 1.00" at the 12th.
    • A little "V" in the neck carve.
    • Journeyman Relic Job. It feels nicely broken in and doesn't look over the top. NOS would have been fine by me.
    • Case candy. Toolset.
    • Higher resale value.

    The only complaint I can make was that the instrument was set up poorly. I suspect that was not Fender's doing. I've bought 2 of their CS guitars new and both were set up very well. Also, I don't care. I set every guitar and bass up to my preferences.

    The instrument sounds and feels great. I'm glad I didn't simply mod the AV58 (which was a really nice instrument).

    So the big costs here are the premium woods and the additional expert hands on detail to the work. For example, a quartersawn neck can add hundreds.

    Fortunately, the P Bass I wanted was nothing terribly unique and I didn't have to have it custom-built. It was a 2016 Limited Edition '57 Journeyman Relic. I just had to set up some alerts and wait for the right instrument at the right time.

    As with instruments at varying price points, the law of diminishing returns applies. Only you can decide if those benefits are worth the additional cost for you. Personally, I favor quality over quantity. I'd rather have one excellent P Bass than 2 mediocre/good P Basses (I'm not a gigging bassist).

    Good Luck!
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
    Son of Wobble and Ace Of Bass like this.
  19. I'd really like to have an early to mid '50s Fender Precision bass.

    I don't think I can afford the real deal, but I could probably swing a Custom Shop model in the $2K-$3K region.

    Unlike the second generation Precision basses, which are covered with the AVRI line, there really aren't any other options for an early Precision.

    The MIJ '51 reissues are cool, but that high gloss poly just doesn't get it.

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
    ajkula66 and eigentone like this.
  20. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I give you a dollar for it.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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