Close encounters of the rarified bass kind

One of the most overused terms is “rare” when it comes to people selling basses. You’ll see it on the second hand instrument websites all the time.
Some uses of the word “rare” are optimistic at most, particularly when describing an instrument made in a factory where there’s more than a rudimentary production line, but that’s the kind of thing that is open to debate and I’m sure that people here will have an opinion. Sometimes basses aren’t so rare, but are super expensive and you just don’t see them in the real world unless you visit the right places and at the right time.

Today I was visiting a local luthier who claims he isn’t a luthier. He’s just someone without training, who makes basses for people who are willing to pay and wait for them. He’s quite the perfectionist too.
In order that his time isn’t too monopolised, I had some friends along.
Last time we visited, there was a Jens Ritter bass waiting for adjustment. I got to examine it closely and after seeing the dollars that they tend to go for, I had high expectations.
I was a bit let down. I think it was likely to happen because expectations are the worst things to ever have. I figured that was it in terms of expensive exotic basses that I was likely to encounter. Estimated cost of $16000 or so dollars?

Today though, there were some basses dropped off for setting up and part way through that exercise, there was another knock at the door and a guy I’d never met before stuck his head into the workshop.
After some quick banter, he made the joke about not getting an invite to “Bass Club” and that if he’d known, he’d have bought something to show.
So he was told to go home and get something, which he promptly did.

He returned with a headless carbon Status, which was pretty cool.
After that came out, he followed it up with a Yellow Rick.
I find myself looking at a first year 1991 Rickenbacker 4001CS Chris Squire Limited Edition Signature Bass.
There are only 1000 of these made, which makes them technically rare.
However, this one is a two digit serial number and it has two signatures on it. The printed Chris Squire one under the pickguard and the other one personally applied by Chris Squire, under the signature guard.

Okay. That’s a bit unusual.

So what this means is that I’m probably the worst bass player to have ever played one of these very uncommon basses.

I liked the sound on the neck pickup.

What I have learned now is that the things that impress me the most about a bass is the set up and the attention paid to leveling the fretboard and frets. After that, the finish and the attention to detail there too. Then the sound and amount of variation that can be obtained just by flicking switches and turning knobs.

If anyone wants one of these limited editions, there’s one without an actual signature available in the UK.

Who else has had a go on something exotic, or ludicrously expensive?
I’m interested on your raw thoughts.


The other overused term that makes no sense is ‘plays like butter’


…it plays melty and greasy? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term before. It absolutely makes no sense.

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I dropped off my niece a few days ago and met her boyfriends father. In the process I noticed a large amount of music equipment in the front room. Baby grand piano, keyboard, drum set, stacks of amps, plenty of guitars in cases. When I started asking qestions, he invited me to come see.

He ends up handing me a 1960’s era Fender Stratocaster. Cool.

Then he opens up another case and hands me a 1960’s era Fender Precision Bass! Really COOL!

It turns out he was a professional musician in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. His money maker was primarily trumpet, which he also showed me, but I had no idea what I was looking at. It looked nice and it was silver. But, with all due respect, I had a hard time focusing on anything else after I saw the P bass.


The most recent one I actually was a part of was when @John_E and I found two SBV-BJ5B’s within half a block of each other, just walking around. There were only 50 made, 20 years ago. Really rare, unobtanium bass. About as rare as you find for a production model.

It’s a cross between a Yamaha SBV and a Yamaha TRB5.

I’d never even seen one before, and boom, two show up at the same time used in different shops on the same block. I love Ochanomizu.


you should have bought them both :rofl:

how much were they?


He bought one!

Pretty reasonable actually, IIRC around 180kJPY, maybe $1300 USD? @John_E can correct me if that’s wrong.


yeah that’s the cool thing about Ultra rare white whales like that, you can actually afford to get one. super rare Yamaha $1500. super rare fender, $15 billion.


Oh no sadly not that cheap at all.
298kJPY, but I was happy to have such a rare and unique, purely Japanese bass. I’m really digging it.


Ahh. Thats still not bad.

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