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Why do other companies make Fender look alikes?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by DaveCustomMade, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. Granted, Fender has been around for a long time, and has one of the most well known looks for bass guitars. But my question is this. Why do other bass makers create basses that look like fenders? Sure Fender is fine looking, but they really AREN'T the best looking design out there. In fact, I kinda find them a little 'clunky' looking. :bag: Am I missing something here? I do have to say that I haven't been into bass playing for decades, so perhaps it's the nostalgia thing, or is it just a design that seems to work well? I can understand bassing it loosely off of Fender designs, such as Nordstrand, Benevente, and the like. Anyone care to enlighten me?
  2. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    IMHO, it's because a lot of people believe there is a huge difference between modern and vintage fenders, better materials used, etc...

    Top high end makers like Lakland, mike lull, Celinder, sadowsky, ken smith started making these as a response to player's requests to have a jazz bass or p bass that is not totally falling apart..one that you could actually take on tour with you.

    The norm used to be to use your vintage p-bass in the studio only, and then use your fodera or whatever live...

    A sadowsky j bass can be used in both venues, and actually, these bases are lower priced...3 grand as opposed to 5-8 grand!
  3. niomosy


    Nov 9, 2002
    The goal seems to be to build basses in the styles that many bass players want yet build them at a quality better than Fender. There seems to be enough demand for it, too.
  4. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    Another reason may be more interesting:

    These boutique/hippy sandwhich bass makers may have grown up playing/restoring/buying/selling Fenders....it's a tribute to Leo!
  5. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    One question I would like to ask, (and forgive me if this has been talked about before in other posts) is:

    If you took a vintage 1951 p-bass, new old stock, and then compared it to the Fender Custom shop 3000 dollar 51' reissue, what exactly would be the difference in tone/mojo?

    They use the same exact materials, the pickups are hand made by Ms. Ibarra, to the exact same specs..

    I read about this particular p-bass in bass player mag, and they went to great lenghts to describe the care used and attention to detail used in it's creation...
  6. MichaelScott


    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    While we are at it- I've always wondered why cars have four wheels, doors, and windows. I've seen other designs out there.
  7. IMO It´s not the luthiers, it´s the players. The majority of bassists seem to be pretty conservative, when it comes to design (or anything bass related actually; the endless ERB bashing is a testament to this). I´m sure luthiers would like to try more radical designs, but people just wouldn´t buy them. To most players bass=Fender.

    Personally I think it´s a shame. If (and hopefully when) I ever have a custom bass built, I want it to be really unique. And that means that it should look unique too. I´ll either design it myself or give the luthier a carte blanche.
  8. flea claypool

    flea claypool

    Jun 27, 2004
    They say copying is the biggest compliment
  9. I think it's fine for a designer to loosely base the bass off a fender, but when it is [for the most part] and exact match down to the pickguard [which I don't like most of the time], pickups used, knob placement, . . . .pretty much things that make it look like a fairly close P or J bass copy.

    I'm not talking about wanting to see wild designs either. I personally find things like flying V or other 'out of the norm' designs . . . tacky. I just prefer to see a nice good solid design that doesn't look like a Fender or even a Music Man.

    I guess I feel this way because most of the time when I go to a concert, I see the bass player using pretty much what other use, just a different color scheme. The way I see it, the Fender look isn't the 'all in all' when it comes to bass design.

    Of course, this is just my own personal opinion.
  10. Basically, it's either to offer a similar bass with higher build quality and attention to detail, with individualized specs (I.E. Sadowsky, Lull), or make a similar bass with generally cheaper parts and quality for a lower price (SX, etc). Some, like Lakland, offer their own take on it, a more modern rendition of a classic.

    It seems people just love the Fender mojo, whether it be the sound, the high gloss neck, or even just the look. There's a reason it's been around so long. But there's also a reason why new companies have emerged offering new ideas and improvements.

    Fender does its share, with active electronics and graphite reinforced necks, but it's not exactly middle ground between "Fender" and "modern". Benavente, for example, offers active electronics with high quality preamps and modified shapes. And some builders such as Shuker take the classic body shape, pickup layout, and headstock (for the msot part) and modernizes it with exotic woods, custom options, and many pickup and electronic options.

    What's great about this is that it forces Fender to modernize just a tad to stay in the business. Fenders had neck problems; graphite bars were added. Players wanted active electronics, noiseless pickups, and fancy tops; Fender created the American Deluxe and FMT line.

    It's very simple - if Fender were the only ones making Fender, they would have a monopoly over that market. And many players such as myself just prefer the feel of a Fender style neck, and enjoy the thick Fender sound. These companies more or less give Fender a run for their money, and competition usually means lower prices and higher quality.
  11. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    But they aren't 50 years old. Part of the mojo is playing a 50 year old instrument. It has a history. It is worn in.

    Partially it is also that the wood has had 50 years to open up. This is along the same lines as why Stradivarius violins are so coveted.

    By the way, a think that a new old stock '51 P would have more value to a collector than to a player.
  12. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Maybe it has to do with the design vs tone factor. For example if you made a different shape complete opposite of Fender and put in stock Fender pups in the same location, the resonance factor of that body design might be different, so the tone could change. Of course I don't have the facts to prove it, it's just a theory.

  13. I´ve been thinking about that too. My hunch is that if you use the same woods and have about the same mass, the body shape shouldn´t be a big factor in tone. But like you, I don´t really have any facts to back this up. I´d love to hear some thoughts about this from a luthier.
  14. ApeIsHigh81


    Aug 24, 2004
    The tip will always be left to dangle & swing from.
  15. emor


    May 16, 2004

    What does that mean?
  16. Al Caldwell

    Al Caldwell

    Mar 18, 2003
    St.Louis , Mo
    I am waiting on my Low End Jazz bass. I have 2 Seven string Jazz Basses
    and 1 five string Fender style bass. That shape has been with me for all my musical life. That sound has moved me for even longer. But i've never
    imagined I could buy a 7 string Jazz Bass. I'll get all the good stuff like the Benavente pre and EMG's with the EXB pre. But when i'm holding that new baby , i'll be thinking about the past! But my sound will be all about the Future!!!!
  17. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    The first part of this article gives an overview. It is mainly about acoustic guitars, but I believe the same thing applies to bass.

    The executive summary is: As the wood ages and as it is played it changes, and those changes are good! :bassist:
  18. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Yeah, but when those great old original '51 P basses were used to make those recordings 50 years ago, getting that sound that we're trying to emulate, they were made of brand new wood. And they weren't all worn out (or worn in).
  19. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Hey yah, that's right huh?

    That's a REALLY good point....
  20. emor


    May 16, 2004

    Interesting article.

    Maybe I'll take my Squier down to the local Sherwin Williams store and have them shake it until it turns into a Sadowsky. :D
    (Literally, shake the crap out of it.)