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

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

  1. Delsan


    Nov 21, 2015
    Aye. I've owned a Ricky too, it was actually nice. It smelled like Ginseng for some reason. It was blue.

    I distinctly remembered the string spacing and the action. Both very good features.

    But man. Compare that to my one of a kind Mayones? Not even close.

    I've got two NAMM one off Mayones basses, my Warwick, and a Dingwall D-Roc now. And I'm pretty content.
    LowWay likes this.
  2. madmaskbass


    Apr 29, 2008
    So you could say you're a fan boy!

    In honesty i think whatever keeps someone loving and playing bass power to them!. I know that in my younger years when i actually did the bulk of my stage time (but not necessarily time on bass practicing lol) i play mid level basses and didnt really even think about anything better. After a long hiatus and rebuilding gear from scratch I have been inspired and play my basses 1000 times more now that i have special basses that i love owning and playing. Learning and being gear obsessed is interesting to me and has driven all aspects of my passion for bass (except theory..yuck!!)
    JPK_DK likes this.
  3. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    I've been play guitar for many years and had nothing but a Mexican start for over 10 yrs. At the same time I started bass, I sold some property. I was able to learn with the best and try what I wanted, it was simply opportunity for a big kid. Lol.
    equill likes this.
  4. Peter Hess

    Peter Hess

    Aug 21, 2020
    After 35 years of playing all the usual fenders, Gibsons, and god knows what else I walked into a local music store and there it was, hanging up with a sign that said ‘this weeks special’. It was an Alembic epic priced at 1k. I couldn’t get to the bank fast enough. If anyone thinks the quality of the instrument doesn’t make a difference we’ll, it does. My playing improved almost immediately.
    Just imagine driving a Ford then moving up to a BMW and you’ll get the idea. The quality of the materials and how they’re put together can be felt immediately. Would I recommend laying out 10 large for an instrument for a beginner? Hell, no. But for someone who is at, maybe, the intermediate stage I would say start saving your money.
    I’ve had my epic for 15 years now. At 70 years of age I’m past the age of even considering buying another instrument. I’m gonna ask my wife to bury me with it. 965FEF20-F694-4D13-A7A8-473511C7D41B.jpeg
    legalbass and darkinners like this.
  5. Frank Vozak

    Frank Vozak Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2020
    Oak Park, IL
    No commercial affiliation
    I have owned a new '67 Jazz Bass, a new '67 Mustang bass, a new '67 Gibson EB-O, a new 2018
    Squier Precision P/J, a new 2019 Squier SS Jaguar Bass, and a new 2019 Fender CB-60, all of which cost $300

    But my best bass is my new 2020 Squier Precision Mini which cost $149'

    To me the moral of the story is that the best bass for you is the one that best accents your attributes, least shows up your shortfalls, that fits your
    relative tolerance for neck dive, that sounds good, with how you play
    (1/2/3 or 4 fingers plus or minus thumb, pick, slap or old fashioned thumb),
    that gives the tone you want (from John Entwhistle treble to very low bass, like treble turned off and bass at max), how many strings do you like (4,5,6,8 or what ever permutation)and how your body interacts with a bass
    ( are you short/tall, big hands/small hands, short fingers/long fingers, short arms/long arms, or look like Kareem Abdul Jabar or Napolean) and to some degree what kind of body style and colors do you like.

    I think then best option is to walk into a music stores that has alot of basses and then try them ALL. Then do your choosing based on what you can afford
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  6. candiehappy


    Oct 21, 2011
    this entire question is based on a false assumption, that you need "experience" to "appreciate" an "expensive" instrument. I put "quotes" because the assumption that "expensive" means "better quality".

    Here is one simple fact that any beginner on any instrument (not just bass) will tell you. Trying to learn on a something that fights you every step of the way is the #1 way to discourage someone from continuing to learn.

    A stringed instrument that is not set up correctly regardless of cost will make a beginner consider quitting every time they pick it up. Same with any instrument that is difficult to play because it is poorly made or poorly set up.

    "expensive" basses do not immediately mean better quality or easier to play.

    All that said, one of my best playing if not my best playing bass is a 1980-something Hondo Flash by Harry Fleishman. By no means "expensive" now or when it was new. My Squire 70's Vintage Jazz has the best feeling neck of any actual Fender Jazz I have ever picked up. I the most I have spent on a single bass is < $650 US and that includes my NS Design NXT4.

    $$$ does guarantee easy to play and price does not preclude you from setting up an instrument to play as well and easily as something that was more expensive. Fret ends can be sanded, etc.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
    JPK_DK and legalbass like this.
  7. When I first started playing, I could only afford very cheap, used basses. When I went to the music store, I could definitely tell a big difference between the sound and feel of my equipment and really good equipment. The more I played, the more I could make the cheap stuff work for me, but the more I could appreciate the high end stuff.

    Now, I can afford what I want. I have some really high-end gear. I can still tell a difference between my cheaper gear and my high-end stuff.
    JPK_DK and Guild B301 like this.
  8. Frank Vozak

    Frank Vozak Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2020
    Oak Park, IL
    No commercial affiliation
  9. glitchslap


    May 3, 2009
    There is a big difference between basses and the way they are built...playability, attention to detail(electronics,wood choice,weight,fretboard and all the things that reflect personal touch and workmanship!
    JPK_DK likes this.
  10. Neil Folkard

    Neil Folkard

    Nov 24, 2016
    I am an intermediate player, and a manager at a music store let me try out his big bucks custom, boutique, F-bass 5-string fretless, and even at my moderate level of experience, the difference was quite noticeable. That thing played like a dream; far beyond the other basses I own. Bottom line: I want one!!
    JPK_DK likes this.
  11. Bartrinsic

    Bartrinsic Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2018
    San Diego
    There's no turning back. . .welcome to the dark side.
    MD-BassPlayer likes this.
  12. Frank Vozak

    Frank Vozak Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2020
    Oak Park, IL
    No commercial affiliation
    I agree . On three of my basses they played like crap until they got a good set up. When buying mail order I just add the price of a good setup to the cost of the bass. And I think it makes a difference how old or dry the wood is. I think if you buy an expensive instrument you will get aged wood and the set up will stick or buy a Squier with "wetter wood" and expect to have more frequent set ups while the wood ages in your own house. My model railroad club learned the difference between green wet wood and aged wood---we had to readjust benchwork and therefore track work with newer wood, but the wood that sat in the layout room 3 years before use created no problems. We should remember that unless we play an instrument that is not made of woode, that we are playing a living thing that will change over time
    Cowboy in Latvia likes this.
  13. sunnyboy010101


    Sep 19, 2013
    I think having quality tools can help you improve and can be quite inspirational in the right context. My illustration:

    I'm a passable bass player. Getting better because I want to as well.

    My first bass (back in around '75) was used, cost $100 and had no case. A short neck fender copy. It sounded 'ok'. Then in the early '90s I saw a fretless used in the music store for $400. Because I've always wanted fretless I bought it. It sounded 'ok' on my amp, which was a super-cheapo guitar amp in a big speaker (no money, see?)

    I played it for years and figured "well, it's fretless and only cost $400 so I'm happy even though it only sounds OK".

    Then I played a semi-pro gig with a songwriter. The intro band (and hosts) let us use their amps. I plugged my bass into a 'very expensive' bass amp with the big stack speakers and could not believe the sound. Kinda like that scene at the start of "Back to the Future" except not as explosive. The bass player suddenly rushed on stage, and I was worried because I thought I'd done something wrong. Nope. He wanted to try my bass (I agreed) and then offered me a bunch of money for it on the spot. I declined, but was amazed at how much just using a good amp could mean to the sound.

    I've since played many good amps, and now have a decent amp which makes the bass sound just awesome. I only wish I'd bought a decent amp years ago.
    George Dennis and JPK_DK like this.
  14. It's really just priorities...

    Playing different Basses under differing cercomstances and being able to appreciate the advantages that upper end Basses can offer. If you want a Bass that offered better performance, stays in tune better and has a nicer feel/weight you may decide that shelling out the cash for it makes sense in your journey as a player.

    Some guys still have the first Bass they ever had. I would have no use for it practically or sentimentality. I remember getting it, learning on it and trading it in on a real Bass six months later. I grabbed an Alembic Series One in a pawn shop for $1000 and sold it a couple years later. Moved to another Bass that met the needs of a gig. No comizeration. Next one is on deck!
    JPK_DK likes this.
  15. Jaribu


    Dec 31, 2019
    As far as the audience is concerned, a decent bass guitar with a great amp means more. For upright bass get the best one you can afford. Check out this guy playing an Ibanez SR300.
    JPK_DK likes this.
  16. Ahhh . . . this is a rarity. An ear that can distinguish the Bosendorfer "covered" sound. I have been playing various Fender (and Ibanez) basses for like 30ish years now, and I'll be honest, I have no clue as to the difference between the sounds of those instruments. Sting Rays seem a little edgier, and those "boutique" models seem a little "whoomier" (more sustain maybe?). I can notice the difference between my lower-end Roma upright and a really fancy Busetto or Pollmann under a $1000 bow.

    But the Bosendorfer versus Steinway argument -- that's a real debate. I would take it even further down the rabbit hole, and mention Broadwoods and Pleyels. This is like filet mignon versus McDonald's. It's funny how most modern ears assume the "Steinway" (or "Yamaha") sound is the "only" piano sound. Not so. People like Beethoven, Mozart, or Haydn (and even Liszt, Chopin and Rubinstein) would be astounded at our acceptance of this uniformity of tone color through the registers. The piano was originally meant as a mini-replica of an orchestra, not as a separate instrument on its own -- which meant, throaty growling bass, and flutey or reedy mids and trebles. The old Andreas Stein and Anton Walthers (which Mozart and Haydn would have been writing for and on) have an instrumental identity all their own, but this identity is the result of an effort to imitate the orchestral palettes familiar to the 18th century ear.

    Anyway -- sorry to ramble. But my own ear perked up at the word "Bosendorfer." Thanks for sharing that experience . . .

  17. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Unless you're doing classical music, most "pianos" are Nords, possibly in a piano shell. $3500 for a Nord Grand with really good samples of really good pianos is hard to argue against. That said, I was watching a documentary recently and they were covering Studio B in Nashville. They have a Steinway in there that's been in place for 50-60 years and I was expecting it to sound good. But then they played a few notes and I was blown away. But the number of times you're going to play a magical piano in a magical room with super mics and an engineer that can do anything is probably slim. So, a Nord Grand is a better choice most of the time. I think we're living in a golden time for getting different piano sounds. But they're samples which will offend the purist.
    JPK_DK and PhatBottomBass1 like this.
  18. Doug P

    Doug P

    Nov 26, 2008
    We have all ( maybe ) spent too much $$ trying to find the right bass. As with anything .... you have to put it in perspective to how much money you have.
    I could come up with examples but it pretty much says it all. A beginner I guess knows that he or she is a beginner and will sooner or later find the bass they like the best, the cost of this is only how much they are willing to spend to find it. And I guess most understand there is a reason for the “price range” or if not ..... they really don’t care about $$
  19. brother21


    Dec 26, 2008
    It's been stated before 95% of your skill level isn't above what a $300 bass can do.

  20. I couldn't agree more. When I was a kid, most families had some spinet piano of some sort, and they were almost always untouched since they brought it home: No regulation, no tuning, all the careful attention any properly maintained acoustic piano requires. Most people simply aren't willing to spend the money yearly, and in a lot of places, it's hard to find a truly qualified piano technician / tuner.

    I'm a big homer for acoustic pianos, but . . . . . samples and the actions on the best electronic pianos have gotten so good, you'd be an idiot to have an acoustic piano in your home, unless you have the income to buy a good one (no less than a good studio upright as the ground floor) and maintain it properly. There's a handful of electronic ones I'd have here in the house tomorrow if I ever get the itch to go back to having one around the house.

    I never dreamed I'd feel this way, but they really have gotten that good.
    JPK_DK and Guild B301 like this.
  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.

    Sep 27, 2021

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