When (beginner, intermediate, advanced, ...) can one truly appreciate a high-end bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JPK_DK, Sep 5, 2020.

  1. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I like some of the points you make. I have a Mikro that was built to perfection. Tight fitting and quality components. And I use a Gallien Krueger MB108 combo with an 8" woofer and it sounds awesome (to be honest I blew the speaker and replaced it with a 125 watt Eminence). So there's that..... :)

    EDIT: I agree with your opinion on the Rumble. The entry level combo farted out very quickly and it was anemic in tone control. I had it for exactly 3 days before it went back to Amazon.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
  2. parttime


    Apr 23, 2020
    well, it seems as tho most everything has been said. but high end instruments are a thing of beauty and pleasure. 2 little stories.

    my dad played banjo, and so that was the first instrument i learned to play, starting at around 6 or 7 years old. he only had one banjo (we were pretty low middle class) and so when he was done practicing i would get a couple hours of play time on it. then a couple years later, he bought himself a quality banjo (tho i can't remember the brand name) and of course i was not allowed to touch it but i inherited his first one as my own. happy days! i played and played on that thing for years, until one day before my dad woke up i had the cajones to pick up his banjo and give it a rip. it blew my mind. it was at that moment that i realized what a difference there could be in instruments!! it was night and day in both set up and playability. i knew the thing was louder and more resonant just from hearing my dad play it, but to actually fret the strings and play rolls was sooooo much easier and more pleasurable. in a a wierd way it sort of made me not want to play my banjo anymore, and i really didn't play too much after that honestly. i felt cheated!!! hahahaha (stupid bratty entitled kid sorta stuff).

    second story is when i went shopping with the ex wife one day and i went to the dudes section to poke around. i found a sport coat made from leather which was fo sho not my thing. but because it was so expensive i just had to put it on for a second. i have never been able to put into words the feeling i had when i put that jacket on. it was like i owned the world and i felt like i could should lightening from my hands while wearing it. it was amazing. truly like few other sensory experiences i have had....all from a piece of clothing that i wore for less than a minute.

    i guess my point is that i don't feel there is a time, or some period you have to wait or some skill level you must acheive before you appreciate a high end instrument. of course, you have to know what crap feels like before you know what good feels like. but hey, like the sword in the stone, i feel that when and instrument is supposed to find you, it will. maybe you inherit it, maybe you find the diamond in the rough at a garage sale. maybe you just buy it for yourself becuase you can even if you have no playing experience. it doesn't matter really. to me it's jealousy (a natural human emotion) that makes people whine about beginners having high end instruments. i would argue that somebody who starts on a boutique just won't know how good it is until they are at they're buddies and pick up their friends super cheap junk bass. that's the moment they will appreciate what they have.
    luciens, 31HZ, JPK_DK and 1 other person like this.
    • When your hands and ears are refined enough to sense the fractional differences in sound & feel
    • When your ego is hungry enough to own a luxury commodity
    JPK_DK likes this.
  3. equill


    Nov 25, 2010
    It's often repeated that brain development peaks around 25, and from then on it's a slow slide into senescence.

    That study got re-evaluated not so long ago. Turns out the test population were mostly cube-dwellers who'd reached what they saw as the pinnacle of their respective careers, and didn't think they needed to learn any more.
    Turns out that peak and slide happens when you stop learning, however early or late that is.
    LowWay, JimmyM and alaskaleftybass like this.
  4. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Totally agree! There is absolutely no point in starting with a Fodera or other high end bass as a beginner. Before you really know what you want you have to have played on many basses. And you have to have a few years of playing experience. Sure the bass you start with has to be in good condition and with a good setup and reasonable sound. But that can also be a 200$ bass off the shelve. Even a Squier starters kit bass can keep you happy for the first few years. You can always upgrade later.
    JPK_DK likes this.
  5. Delsan


    Nov 21, 2015
    Any level of player can appreciate a good instrument. It has less to do with their playing level and more to do with their maturity.

    Someone with respect for the instrument will admire how good the bass is, from stone cold noobie to career gig player.

    Someone who is high level will just be able to explain better what makes the bass better. They'll be more traveled with electronics, action, string tension, etc.

    Case and point I let a guy at a gig I played at use my Spector Euro for his set. He was, unashamedly, terrible. He knew he was playing bass at a level far below what he could. But I saw him about to use a cheapo Squier (the skull and crossbones one) with some dead, pink neon strings that were so worn they were almost silver again.

    He was drooling. And he said the bass made him feel like playing better and practicing more.

    I wonder what he'd say if I let him play one of my Mayones lol.
    31HZ, equill and JPK_DK like this.
  6. JPK_DK


    Aug 9, 2019
    Wow, thanks so much for all the thoughts and stories, guys! There are some real hefty gold nuggets in there and I really appreciate the insights!

    My own story reflects a lot of what was said. I guess I could fairly early on "feel" that a certain bass suited me better than another one, but I would often be very hard-pressed explaining the reasons for this in more detail.

    Now, as an intermediate level player, I think I have developed a much better understanding of the physical/mechanical "bits" that make up a bass guitar (and thus account for differences between instruments), but also for the importance of other pieces in the signal chain (cheapo electronics vs good quality stuff, for example). But there is still lots to learn... In any case, I would agree with what many have expressed that there is no "law-of-nature" correlation between an instrument's price and how much it fits you or how much you like it; and, if there is, it is certainly not a linear one.

    Yet, having invested in a 2K instrument a few months back, this has really pushed my motivation and my technical proficiency to a new level. While this is always hard to evaluate for yourself, my band mates told me so... and isn't that the best confidence booster really!?!
    equill and 31HZ like this.
  7. Pedullist


    Oct 31, 2016
    I had a Japanese Fender P from age 15 to 19. It was not a bad bass, but when I switched to a second hand Pedulla (after saving money for a long time) when I turned 19 I quit blaming the bass for my failures. It had to be me. That was an eye opener, and it made me practice more thorougly. Plus it was such a joy to play and sounded terrific all the time. Don't start with a high end bass. Buy a decent one until some things start to bother you. You'll appreciate it more. Same logic applies to stuff like camera's as well btw.
    JPK_DK likes this.
  8. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    When you commission a luthier made high end custom, you will get exactly what you want from a bass.
    The thing is, when doing that, you should have already figured out what you want. Furthermore, you should know that there often is a difference between what you think you want and what you actually want and you should be sure it's the latter.

    A beginner usually has to develop to a stage where personal tastes and personal style begins being a thing.

    So I'd not see any sense in buying a Carl Thompson to begin with. Apart from all that, you usually wait for at least a year on a custom build because the good builders usually have a long list of orders.

    I can see the sense in buying something solid, though. You can absolutely start out on a US made Fender.
    This might be a bass you'll keep forever.
    JPK_DK likes this.
  9. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    When (beginner, intermediate, advanced, ...) can one truly appreciate a high-end bass?
    I don't know, but I think a beginner will benefit from one almost more than a more experienced player, as a better instrument makes things easier.
    LowWay and JPK_DK like this.
  10. MrMoonlight

    MrMoonlight Bottom feeder Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2008
    Man, if that thing had four blades, I'd be all over it!
    LowWay, equill, DigitalMan and 2 others like this.
  11. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    I've said it before but this is just how I see it. There are a million high performance cars out there but very few have professional drivers in them. It's about your passion for driving not your ability. That said, getting to understand the art of playing on a cheap instrument means you've a better idea of what you want later on instead of buying any flash axe straight off the bat just for the sake of it. That's economic sense.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
    JPK_DK and jazzyvee like this.
  12. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    I picked up a few €2000+ basses at Session Musik (Frankfurt). I expected at that price, that they would practically play themselves. No such luck. They weren't any easier to play, the frets felt no different, the tuners felt no different, and they didn't sound like a choir of angels on high. About the only things I noticed was that the pots felt more "solid", the paint job was better, and I was worried about causing damage.

    I can only conclude that I play/sound just as good (or just as crappy!) on my El Cheapos as I would on a Super Wazoo; I guess I'm not at the point of appreciation.
    equill and JPK_DK like this.
  13. Maynard46

    Maynard46 Inactive

    Jul 13, 2020
    double post...aka - glitch in the matrix
  14. Maynard46

    Maynard46 Inactive

    Jul 13, 2020
    the difference between the good players and the bad players is not the Mayones vs the Squire....its practice.
    If you are seeing if you like bass then start with something low cost so you are not wasting your money.
    but buying an expensive bass doesnt mean poopie if you dont practice. talent is a myth. its all about the practice.
    JPK_DK likes this.
  15. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    Not entirely off subject (6 string guitar)
    When I was working in the music store I had a retired gent ask me about a beginner rig to learn guitar. He said he didn't want any crap, and was glad to pay for stuff he only had to buy once.
    It took his about an hour to choose a Gibson Les Paul Supreme, and a Matchless amplifier+ accessories. His bill was $8K.
    You can't buy TOO good, but you may not make the perfect choices every time.
    JPK_DK likes this.
  16. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Jaco only needed three
  17. When the new student decides that bass playing just isn't their jam a $200 bass is going to be much easier to sell off than a $2000 bass... so there's that.
  18. LowWay

    LowWay It’s got 4 strings ‘cause they’re bigger! Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    W Mass
    I play Bordwell’s in a punk band made up of 50 year olds.
    alaskaleftybass and equill like this.
  19. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Around here it’s normal for established players to have as many basses as they want, of any pedigree, and to flip them whimsically with or without regrets. So what’s the big deal if a new player doesn’t make a perfect (and defensible) choice on their first bass?

    I’m pretty sure that in addition to our noble protective herd instincts, that sometimes it just grates upon our collective craw to think of a new player skipping to the front of the line.
  20. 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.

    Sep 22, 2021

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