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Can You Really Tell The Difference?


plangentmusic

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It's time to get real.

 

Is it cheap, or is it boutique?

 

I made a little "sound test" playing a silly similar riff with 3 different basses.

 

All 3 basses were set at full with the tone in the middle.

 

All 3 basses play well.

 

One is a $300 Squier VM Jazz

 

One is a Custom built bass with Nordstand pickups. (The pu's alone cost $250)

 

One is a $169 Squier Jaguar. (Hey for the price of a Fodera I can buy 47 of these things and have enough left over for a couple of sets of strings).

 

Can you tell which is which? And come on...is it THAT much of a difference? Go to the fist song "Bass Comparisons."

 

Take your guess!

 

 

 

 

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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#2 is clearly my favorite. That J-bass tone rocked. Setup on the bass was good; no clanky stuff. #3 sounded like it had cheap on board pre-amp making the lower frequencies a little overbearing, but it beats the thin clanky sound on #1.

 

Oh. Right. Which one's which?

 

#1 is the cheap bass

#2 is the Nordy

#3 is the only bass left.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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My thoughts were the same order as Seamy-

1 - Squier Jazz

2 - Squier Jaguar

3- Custom w/Nordstrands

2 and 3 both sound pretty good to me. #1 seemed to have "issues" both with the sound of the pickups, and the setup/fretwork that I could hear when you played, especially some rattling.

I am prepared to be wrong.

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band

 

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My thoughts were the same order as Seamy-

1 - Squier Jazz

2 - Squier Jaguar

3- Custom w/Nordstrands

2 and 3 both sound pretty good to me. #1 seemed to have "issues" both with the sound of the pickups, and the setup/fretwork that I could hear when you played, especially some rattling.

I am prepared to be wrong.

 

You are correct that #1 had issues. I set it up as well as it would go, but there is an inherent clank to it.

 

It's also interesting how certain tones are either appealing or displeasing to the listener.

 

Still, you got one right.

 

 

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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Interesting! Paul got one right. Seamy got one right.

 

 

Well, it'd be pretty hard to get only two of them right.

 

LOL. True.

 

(This is like an I.Q. test. The process of elimination will reveal what's what).

 

Okay, this may be more telling. Go to the second song where I make a comparison while slapping. Same order.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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They all sound a little different, but they all sound pretty cool... nothing I hear from any of the tones would necessarily indicate a higher quality instrument to me. They're just a little different from each other. So... I don't know which is which... if I had to guess, I'd still say I didn't really know... maybe the last one is the really expensive one, the second is the second-most expensive and the first is the cheapo.

 

Side-note... unless you're making a one of those bass-muso recordings, the real test of any instrument's tone lies in the way it mixes with the sounds surrounding it. From what I am hearing on this, pretty much any of the basses would sit in just about the same place in the mix.... I think.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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They all sound a little different, but they all sound pretty cool... nothing I hear from any of the tones would necessarily indicate a higher quality instrument to me. They're just a little different from each other. So... I don't know which is which... if I had to guess, I'd still say I didn't really know... maybe the last one is the really expensive one, the second is the second-most expensive and the first is the cheapo.

 

Side-note... unless you're making a one of those bass-muso recordings, the real test of any instrument's tone lies in the way it mixes with the sounds surrounding it. From what I am hearing on this, pretty much any of the basses would sit in just about the same place in the mix.... I think.

 

The way a bass mixes with other instruments is what it's all about, but I've found it isn't necessarily a "better" bass that works better.

 

For some things a P hits the spot. For others, a P is a dog. Some things scream for active electronics while other times actives sound too sterile. You never know.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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Whats my prize?? [/quote]

 

The prize is piece of mind that comes when you realize that paying an extra 2K for that bass you might be gassing for is not going to make much difference at all -- in how you sound, how you play, how you record, how others hear you or how many gigs you get.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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The prize is piece of mind that comes when you realize that paying an extra 2K for that bass you might be gassing for is not going to make much difference at all -- in how you sound, how you play, how you record, how others hear you or how many gigs you get.

 

Oh if only I could live by these words. It is true though. I have had $3,000 basses and $300 at the same gig and switched and no one knew - not even "trained ears" had any idea. They just thought it sounded like me.

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1 - Jag

2 - Jazz

3 - Custom w/Nordy

 

I have to admit I barely heard them with this laptop and my daughter watching The Fresh Beat Band in the background so I gave up rather quick. Above is just a guess based on nothing more than the order you listed them and my burnt brain.

If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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The moment of truth...

 

PaulK got it right. The second "sweet" sounding bass has the nords and the third bass did have a cheap preamp that gave it "false low end boost."

 

But isn't it interesting...most people preferred the 3rd bass, reason being, (I presume) is it had the most output, and the clearer you hear something the better it sounds.

 

The first was indeed the VM jazz.

 

The second had the nordstrands.

 

The 3rd bass, the one that most people thought was the the most expensive, was the Jaguar -- $169 new.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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PaulK got it right.

 

That's right, baby. And if I'd have known which of the two cheap basses had the crappy preamp, I'd have nailed it.

 

But really. Bass #1 wasn't set up well, which is why I assumed it to be the cheapest. Clanky. A better setup makes it easier for the player's touch to shine through. Tone-wise, it'd benefit greatly by a set of flat or groundwound strings to tame the top end. Granted, with the rest of the band in the mix, the clanks often get lost in the drum clatter.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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PaulK got it right.

 

That's right, baby. And if I'd have known which of the two cheap basses had the crappy preamp, I'd have nailed it.

 

But really. Bass #1 wasn't set up well, which is why I assumed it to be the cheapest. Clanky. A better setup makes it easier for the player's touch to shine through. Tone-wise, it'd benefit greatly by a set of flat or groundwound strings to tame the top end. Granted, with the rest of the band in the mix, the clanks often get lost in the drum clatter.

 

Believe me, it was set up well. The clankiness came from cheap frets and the tone of the pu's.

 

Not a fan of groundwounds. I know they're supposed to be the best of both worlds but I find them to be the worst of both words -- no highs and not smooth feeling at all.

 

Sure, if I were to record that bass I'd do a few things differently but the idea here wasn't to hind the flaws but to show everything on equal terms.

 

But I'm glad you recognized the crappy pre-amp. I was thinking 'this is louder and I'm more attracted to it, so why does it bug me?' Still, it's amazing that some kid just starting out with no money can have an instrument worthy of playing professionally.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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I didn't actually prefer any of the sounds over each other, I thought they all sounded good. I actually believe that the Person playing the bass has more to do with the sound than any bass.

 

 

Thanks bro, I'll take that as a compliment. : )

 

But you're right. If you can play...as long as the instrument makes a sound and plays in tune, you can make music. And spending thousands on a bass is, to me, like spending thousands on a wrist watch. It's not going to tell time any better than the one that cost $50.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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In the most recent threads we've come to the conclusion that we only really need a bass that costs under $400, that's setup properly of course, no effects, moderately priced cables, and an amp/cab setup that's easy to move around. I'm OK with that.
If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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In the most recent threads we've come to the conclusion that we only really need a bass that costs under $400, that's setup properly of course, no effects, moderately priced cables, and an amp/cab setup that's easy to move around. I'm OK with that.

 

That's pretty much it. Not that it's what everyone should do. I like discussing the differences in basses and I have several. But let's be real. The notion that a boutique bass is anything more than a trophy is unrealistic.

 

I never hear anyone talking about "that great Victor Wooton sound." Yet, mention The Lemon Song, or Rescue Me or Maggie May or Sex Machine or Tom Sawyer or Run To The Hills and everyone will say, Yeah, killer bass!

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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In the most recent threads we've come to the conclusion that we only really need a bass that costs under $400, that's setup properly of course, no effects, moderately priced cables, and an amp/cab setup that's easy to move around. I'm OK with that.

 

I'm trying to be OK with it, too. My bass was $750 but I still agree with your post.

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In the most recent threads we've come to the conclusion that we only really need a bass that costs under $400, that's setup properly of course, no effects, moderately priced cables, and an amp/cab setup that's easy to move around. I'm OK with that.

 

Yeah but if someone can afford a boutique bass, why should he not go for it? I have 3 basses under EUR 500 and one which cost me over EUR 1,000 plus a bass (a Yamaha TRBII).

 

Whilst I sound like myself on all of them, and none of my band mates would probably be able to tell the difference if blindfolded, I really like the feel of the expensive one. It may or may not sound better, but it sure as hell feels a lot better and that makes it a lot more attractive to play.

 

It seems like "a bass should not cost more than $400" is becoming the new "less is more". The truth, as always, is smack down the middle and subjective to personal preference and situation.

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Why don't you go shopping for an instrument which you would play in a symphony orchestra? Prices in six figures are common.

 

We electric bassists have it pretty easy.

 

That's for sure. I'm not against anyone having an kind of bass, I've certainly had my share, but in the big picture, I think we/I worry a little bit too much about things that have a minimal effect on tone.

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Interesting thread. I always think this - that all this time, money and effort i put into my tone, and no one can even tell the difference. But i do think people (non-musicians) can FEEL the difference, even if they can't put their finger on it. they will just start dancing, and not know why.
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Interesting thread.

 

I agree that great sounds can come from many price ranges of bass.

 

I disagree on the "trophy" statement. I may not be able to hear an expensive bass, but I can feel the difference. And sometimes I like that feel, and can play more confidently with a "better" (relatively) bass in my hands.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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And spending thousands on a bass is, to me, like spending thousands on a wrist watch. It's not going to tell time any better than the one that cost $50.

 

The more expensive watch may last longer, may need repair less often, may fit better around your wrist, resist the elements better, etc. But certainly there is a threshold beyond which one is primarily paying for certain aesthetics OR personalization, and not a reliable timepiece. (And some folks prefer vintage timepieces that have a certain aesthetic or nostaligc value, even though they don't tell time as well!)

 

One of the most uncomfortable, poorest sounding basses I ever played was a Fodera. One of the most comfortable, best sounding basses I ever played was a Fodera -- seriously blew me away. Pedulla basses often don't work well for me. I've had mixed experiences playing Alembics. I've played a truly lovely Stambaugh. I played two Citron basses at a county arts fair (yes, Harvey had a booth at a fair) that were awesome -- one was the Steve Swallow model which was different than any other bass I've ever played. At the same fair, in another booth, I played a Veillette that I loved and another that I didn't. I've played Sadowskys that didn't feel good to me, and others that worked well for me. I don't think I've met a Lull that I haven't enjoyed. I've played a Benavente that wasn't a good fit for me.

 

Years ago I met a number of the members of this forum, although most of them are not around much any more, at Jimmy Coppolo's shop on the west side of Manhattan. We played a variety of boutique models and I think we all varied in which ones we liked better, but I think we also all appreciated the diversity of sound and feel at our fingertips (Rob Allen, F Bass, Elrick, vintage Fender, and more).

 

I've certainly played plenty of lower end basses that I felt made it tougher to play or more challenging to get a good sound (e.g., there is a Squier P bass that was a nightmare). I've also played inexpensive instruments that felt great and sounded great (e.g., a Peavey Millenium that was something like $199 new and a joy for me to play; regularly Ibanez basses at all price points work well for me).

 

I have a two "boutique" basses. They are good matches for me and my playing. They have some sentimental value because I purchased them at particular milestone moments in my life. However, to consider them "trophies" would be too narrow an interpretation. They weren't justified based on my needs, but I'm a better player now because of them. They certainly have inspired me to play more. Both were extremely comfortable to play right out of the box (so to speak). Can I do well with less expensive instruments? Yes, and I still do.

 

I appreciate the diversity of options that we all have as players in terms of instrument choices. We are fortunate that we can often make the bass parts go w/ fairly inexpensive gear. We are also fortunate that we have opportunities to pursue instruments and amplification at different price points that make us individually happier to play. Yes, often the audience won't notice or care, but if we have instruments and gear at hand that make us happy and allow us to express ourselves musically then good for us.

 

I don't judge my fellow bass players by the instruments in their hands, but rather by the music that they make. Maybe I'd hear the same thing if they were playing a different instrument, but I appreciate that they have made choices in their lives that have given them the resources or the desire to play particular instruments. (However, there is certainly a time in one's experience playing fretless when it is not yet time to come out of the 'shed!) I'm sure that I would think Anthony Jackson sounds great on an Ibanez Soundgear 506, but it's really something else to hear how he sounds and how he plays his Fodera.

 

Peace.

--SW

 

 

 

 

 

 

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Not a bassist, although I DO have a beautiful old '60s Precision Bass my dad gave me, that he bought for $150.

 

As a guitarist, having an instrument that sounds good to ME, and plays well, with good intonation is of prime importance - then I feel comfortable and can play my best.

It could be that I could bring in an instrument next week that I didn't like and no one would know the difference - and I could still do the job, but I wouldn't ENJOY it as much!

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