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Do I have to pay Fender prices to get a good bass?


Morning Koa

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Is there such a thing as "Bass Snobs vs. Bass Slobs"?? I would think that there are less expensive instruments that will sound just good as expensive ones. Is there a point of deminishing returns in terms of cost?
From the Band "Morning Koa" - "Chicks Dig the Bass Player!"
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It's not just about sound - it's also about the way that the instrument feels in your hands. if you find a bass that you like for $99, then that's a good bass for you. If the cheapest bass you can find that you like is $3,500, then that's the bass for you. You're the only person that can make that choice.

Dave Martin

Java Jive Studio

Nashville, TN

www.javajivestudio.com

 

Cuppa Joe Records

www.cuppajoerecords.com

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Not at all. Nick one, just don't get caught. :D

 

Only kidding, check out the cheaper Yamaha's, I had one a while ago and it done it's job...and more.

 

Try a search (top right of page) type in "lower priced basses" you'll find a lot of info.

 

Welcome to the forums!

 

Cup

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There is a diminishing return on increased cost in that the difference between a £100 instrument and a £1000 instrument is vast. The difference between £3100 and £4000 less so.

 

As I am sure everyone will tell you, you will only find the right bass for you when you finally wrap your hands around it. It took me about 2 years to buy my last bass and I'm 6 months into a new search.

Free your mind and your ass will follow.
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I have played a Music Man fretless for many years and felt that the only guitars out there that felt good to me were the high priced or custom models. On a fluke I was in a little shop looking for monitors and picked up a fretless Schecter Stiletto Studio 4 banger. I bought it on the spot for $500.00. Relatively inexpensive compared to alot of the "pro" models...It is now my number one and is worth half of what my others cost...If it feels good and sounds good, well I guess it is good.
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Let's start over again.

 

There is Fender Squire. Extremely affordable. OK in a pinch. $100-200.

 

There is Fender made in Mexico. $400-500. Very good basses, low price.

 

There is Fender made in Japan. High quality basses, hard to find in the US. I think in the $700 range.

 

There is Fender USA. Still the standard by which other basses are measured. Around $1000.

 

Then there are all the other brands and quality levels which are roughly equivalent.

 

MusicMan Stingrays were going for around $1200 last time I looked.

 

You will find most pros these days playing basses which cost $2500 and up. Most kids are playing basses $500 and down.

 

Now let's go back in history. In January 1972 I bought a Fender Jazz bass brand new for $300. I still have it and now it's worth about 6 to 8 times that much.

 

In 1972 I also bought a brand new car..a Ford Pinto for $2400. A 2003 Ford Focus is about $14000, over 5 times as much. Gasoline for the car cost 25.9 a gallon in 1972. It's 2.05.9 now, almost 10 times as much. My studio apartment cost $125 a month. They are about $1200 now...10 times as much. House in my neighborhood sold for about $25,000 in 1972. They are going for $500,000 now. Twenty times as much. College fees at UC Berkeley were $500 a year. They are $7000 now.

 

A $1000 bass is a very good deal.

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Is there such a thing as "Bass Snobs vs. Bass Slobs"??

Yes. There are players who will pick up any bass and play it until their fingers bleed, no matter how cheap or old or tattered the instrument is. There are players who wouldn't touch a bass unless it is hand made with the most exotic woods by elite craftsmen. Some will sneer at you if you show up at a gig with anything other than an American Fender. Others would let you jam with a bucket, broom handle, and some string. And yes, some will sneer at you even if you do show up with a Fender.

 

I would think that there are less expensive instruments that will sound just good as expensive ones.

Yes, sometimes, maybe. Depends on whose playing. And good expensive gear can sound just as bad as cheap gear.

 

Don't let the gear rule you. Take control of the gear.

- Matt W.
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Originally posted by billringer:

I would think that there are less expensive instruments that will sound just good as expensive ones. Is there a point of diminishing returns in terms of cost?

JeremyC's post is a good one.

 

Generally speaking, I would say that there is greater consistency of quality from instrument to instrument with more expensive basses. That is, your chances of grabbing a quality Music Man StingRay off the wall are greater than grabbing a quality OLP Music Man copy off the wall.

 

Personally I believe that there is a great variety of terrific basses in the $700-$1400 range. That range would include Czech made Spectors, US made Fenders, US made Music Man basses, Lakland Skyline series basses, some good Yamaha instruments, G&Ls and so on. I think many of these instruments sound and feel noticeably better than many instruments that cost $500 or less, for example.

 

I also think that there continue to be noticeable, but smaller, differences in quality over the next $1000 or so (i.e., $1500-$2500). There are builders who will make you a wonderful custom bass for less than $2500 (e.g., Chris Stambaugh or Carey Nordstrand). I think that the diminishing returns really kick in at around $2500 -- or you're really intensely interested as a player in having very specific exotic woods in your instrument, hard-to-find pickups or electronics, elaborate wood-carving, etc. However, I certainly have been astounded by the sound and feel of some basses I've played that have cost over $3000 (e.g., MTD and Drozd).

 

That's my take on it.

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I got all my basses for under $500 each. Well, okay, one was a gift from gramps, who returned to the Phillippines five years ago (Yamaha BB300, about $250 when he bought it), and the new sexy babe is an early b-day present (Yamaha RBX765A 5 string, on clearance from Sam Ash last Saturday for $311. With the strap locks on it's the business!! I just want to f**k the thing!!! :P ).

 

See them HERE . :thu:

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The diff betwween now and 20 years ago is that back then, an inexpensive bass was $99 in the Sears catalog (or at your local "mom and pop" music store) and it was junk. Bad finish, bad sound, and a neck that would warp in a few years. The "mid-price" basses were $300 things like the Aria ProII; they were OK and sounded decent but were not nearly as playable or good-sounding as the high-end stuff.

 

Nowadays, you can get a Yamaha or Ibanez bass for well under $200. It will sound VERY good, and be VERY playable. It'll have a maple neck & rosewood fingerboard, and a combination of P & J pickups. You'll no longer get laughed out of the studio with a $200 instrument in your hands.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Yes, we are tough. But imagine our chagrin when we'd all chimed in a post, giving thoughtful answers, only to find evidence that the original poster probably hadn't paid much attention.

 

But it's all good. On to the question...

 

Lately I've been a broken record about the Japanese Fenders. I've got one & am lusting after another. These are real "sleepers"; much less expensive than the US versions (e.g. my Jazz was about $550, and the '51 P is around the same), but the quality is at least as good, imo. Actually, my J is a '75 reissue, & I preferred it hands-down to the US '75 reissue hanging next to it, which, by the way, was about exactly twice the price. I just couldn't but the Japanese one down, but no matter how I tried I couldn't get excited about the sound of the US one (it wasn't bad, just not what turned ME on). So a pretty sweet deal. They might be even easier to find in HI; and there's a guy who deals them online & on eBay (www.guitargai.com), & gets some gorgeous ones, but he's not giving them away (still, they tend to run under $1k).

 

If you simply must have a "cheap" bass, I'd recommend an entry-level Yamaha or a MIM Fender.

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Paradoxically I think there's an argument you should spend more if you're a beginner. The quality of Fenders fluctuates more than some basses costing a little more. An experienced player will be able to spot the good Fender and will get excellent value for money. The inexperienced player is more at risk and would be safer with MusicMan, Lakland Skyline etc where quality is more consistent.

 

This isn't just an academic point, it's a big part of the reason I don't own a Fender. Once I feel I know enough to make a good judgement I'd love a good Jazz.

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Don't let the gear rule you. Take control of the gear.
Exactly.

 

My main player is a 5 string Aria Pro II. Cheap ass, bottom line bass (as far as I know). I had changed out the pickups for bottom of the line (least expensive) EMG's.

 

The sound quality is what I want, so therefore, it's the best. Let's say I use a high priced bass on my next gig. Well, the sound quality is gonna be different, and won't be what I want to hear in our songs, therefore that expensive bass is not the best.

 

It's your judgement as what's best. As mentioned earlier, you'll know it when you find it.

 

My standby is a 4 stringer I picked up in a pawn shop for 15 dollars. I bring that as a spare, but it's my main player for blues and older country gigs. It's got the tonality that fits perfectly for those type gigs.

 

And besides...the peoples butts are gonna shake, no matter the price.

Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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I remember one drum instructor who elaborated on this concept. He'd 'help' his beginner students buy a drumset; naturally he collected a fee for such service. And he'd invariably steer them toward an expensive set. When the kid lost interest, he'd do the family the incredible 'favor' of taking the set off their hands so they wouldn't have to bother themselves selling it on the used market. Naturally, he lowballed them.... need I say he made some serious $$ doing this?

 

Originally posted by bc:

Paradoxically I think there's an argument you should spend more if you're a beginner.

You may have a point at some level. But given that most cheap stuff nowadays is pretty good and the beginner isn't experienced enough to know the diff between a $200 Yamaha and a $2000 Spector, I'd tell him his best bet is the Yamaha. A good instrument at a very affordable price where, if the interest wanes (it does happen sometimes; music's not for everyone), the family hasn't bet the ranch on the student's success. It can be sold painlessly, or stuck in a closet for future amusement.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Originally posted by jeremyc:

Where is that pawn shop??????????

Yeah - even the frankenbass bone-yard at my local Pawn shop runs the $69-$99 range. And some of the basses they're asking hundreds for are not much better.

 

For beginners, I am of the opinion that beginners should get an inexpensive bass, have it well adjusted and take care of it. As their skills develop, they will learn what they like & dislike about certain basses.

- Matt W.
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Relatively inexpensive compared to alot of the "pro" models...It is now my number one and is worth half of what my others cost...If it feels good and sounds good, well I guess it is good.
Sort of like Geddy Lee as time went by. Brand new expensive Rickenbacker... brand new expensive Steinberger... brand new expensive custom Wal... Used '72 Fender Jazz found in a pawn shop for $200...
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Y'know, before complaining about the high cost of basses try pricing a "good" (that is NOT a student model) violin,cello, upright bass. Even a $4000 "boutique" bass seems incredibly "budget" in comparison.

 

And, if you really wanna try it....price out some microphone preamps, like the ones you have seen in studios.........

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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In a past life I taught bass to beginners:

1st issue: the bass should be able to be adjusted so that the action is very comfortable.

2nd issue: the bass should be able to be properly intonated.

3rd issue: the tone should be pleasing.

4th issue: the bass should be comfortable to the player.

 

If those four issues can be satisfied, then the price of the bass is not important. I have and regularly use one of Rondo's SX p-bass fretless clones that I bought for $100. If their fretted basses (p or j) knock-offs are as good as mine, they would be great entry instruments.

 

The good thig is that electric basses are usually very adjustable. Unless there is serious problem with the neck being twisted or the truss rod broken(which CAN occur), there are many good but inexpensive basses out there. I wish the same were true about upright basses.

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Another thing to keep in mind is what is your future bass worth to YOU? My beloved Sadowsky is easily worth every penny I paid for it. In fact, I would have gladly paid more.

 

People buy basses on the cheap hoping to get a bargain, then they are suprised when they are unhappy with the bass. We all dream of finding a mint condition '63 Jazz Bass or '57 P Bass for $50 at a pawn shop or even less at a garage sale. While this has been known to happen, usually it does not. Why screw around hoping to win the lottery. Save your money, do some research, find a bass YOU like that is worth the money you are willing to spend on it.

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Originally posted by bc:

Paradoxically I think there's an argument you should spend more if you're a beginner. The quality of Fenders fluctuates more than some basses costing a little more. An experienced player will be able to spot the good Fender and will get excellent value for money. The inexperienced player is more at risk and would be safer with MusicMan, Lakland Skyline etc where quality is more consistent.

I disagree. The beginner doesn't know if he or she is going to continue to play for years and years or whether bass won't turn out to be the right musical pursuit at all. Sure, you could resell a more expensive bass for more money, but if you only drop $200 on a new bass and it turns out not to be your thing, then you're probably going to be more relaxed about the whole thing. If I had told my parents when I was a teenager that I wanted to drop $850 on a new bass, they would've wanted to check my head! When I went to the shop with about $250 in my pocket, they were very supportive. :)

 

I recommend that a beginner buying a new instrument go to the store with an experienced player who can help them evaluate instruments, or go to a store with a solid reputation for trustworthiness and patience regarding client support during gear purchases.

 

My first bass was about $200 in the mid-1980s and turned out to be a solid instrument. I eventually gave it to a friend, who was a beginner that I got started on bass, when I got a better instrument later on. It now serves him well as he informally enjoys learning the bass. (Plus, he got a great deal...free! ;) )

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by dcr:

Lately I've been a broken record about the Japanese Fenders. I've got one & am lusting after another. These are real "sleepers"; much less expensive than the US versions (e.g. my Jazz was about $550, and the '51 P is around the same), but the quality is at least as good, imo.

Don't forget Tokai, the original "Lawsuite" bass. I lusted after a few of these myself and must say they are very nice for the price.

- Jon

-----

You have the right to remain in the groove, any solos cannot be used against you, you have the right to snap and pop, if you cannot snap and pop, two fingers can provide the funk just fine.

 

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Willie I think if you buy used and shop around carefully you can often pick up a good quality bass with little risk of dropping cash. When I decided I might like to take up bass I advertised in the local newspaper for a used bass. It was very much in the front of my mind that I might fiddle about with it for a week or two, get bored with it, let it gather dust in a corner for six month, and then look to sell it. I did not want to risk losing a lot of money on a speculative idea.

 

I was looking for a workhorse type bass for £160-£200. A guy called me and said he had a Wal (in fact, bizarrely, two guys with Wals called me). I knew very little about basses, but I knew Wal were a premium brand. I said, sorry, I'm looking for a cheaper bass. One said, I'll take £350 for a quick sale. It didn't take me much research to work out I'd probably drop less on reselling a Wal bought for £350 than most £200 basses.

 

OK the story is not typical. For one thing, fashion has been unbelievably kind: I probably paid £350 for a bass worth £400-£500 and it's now worth twice that. That's pure luck and nothing to do with my judgement. And I realise that if you've only got £160 you can't spend £350. But I'd still say my general approach - buy high end if you can afford it, buy used and have the patience to wait for a good deal - worked for me and I'd recommend it even to a beginner. If I'd found a £160 bass I might have ended up with an inferior instrument that was less pleasure to play and not be playing bass now. And I might still have lost money on it.

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