Is it worth buying a custom bass?

Some shops [from Fender, Warwick, Spector, Sandberg, Dingwall, Fodera, etc] offer custom made bass that can fit your needs. From your experience, is it worth buying custom made bass than an already made bass? In what situation would buying a custom made bass worth it? What are usually the components or configuration that makes it better/worth buying a custom made bass than an already made bass?
Thanks for sharing everyone.


I suspect that if you have the need for a custom bass you will know it, from having some specific request for your peculiar way of playing, which will make things easier for you. I think that I wouldn’t even know where to begin, so one thing is sure, those are not for me :slight_smile:


IMHO, I think that once someone has some experience in playing bass, and has achieved some level of proficiency (i.e. NOT a complete beginner), they will know what configuration suits them best.

Again, like everything else, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and there is no single answer that will fit everyone.

Also you need to consider the price . . . if you know what you want and can afford it, then I definitely say to go for it, @jpartogi . . . :wink:



There are threads on this topic already.

Better to search and add to an existing thread before starting anew, keeps all the info in one place.


Good point, @John_E . . . I missed this one.

@JoshFossgreen, could you please merge this topic into the existing “Fender Custom Shop” one?

Thanks again, Joe


Unfortunately most people are not in that boat and compromise by settling for less than what they really want. Typically this leads to an upgrade and an upgrade and an upgrade…

I would also not purchase anything without thorough research before purchasing and have never compromised when purchasing a musical instrument, or anything else for that matter.

Regardless @Jazzbass19 's statement s how I defeated Bass acquisition syndrome.
Just my opinion.


Id rather pay local luthier shop who does everything handmade to create me replica of a bass that is no longer is production. Eg Music Man cutlass, caprice or sabre.

And then you can suit it to your need. My local luthier would do it for around 1250 euros with some really nice materials. Materials are not expensive but hands are.

Getting custom shop of an existing bass seems pointless to me. Its not like you cant buy bass you like and modify it to suit your needs, and it would be much cheaper than buying eg fender custom shop.


Yeah agree. I would say Warwick’s approach where the custom basses are substantially different than the production models does have merit though.


Buying a bass that is close to what you want, and doing upgrades, is a viable alternative to the custom shops. Some people, myself included, have fun doing upgrades.

To me doing upgrade after upgrade and chasing your tail is a symptom of not knowing what you want exactly. I feel I am in a better position to buy a custom bass now after doing some upgrades in fact, my requirements are much better defined now.


It depends on what level of customization you are looking for in your next bass. If you need different color and pickups then most of the big companies will do.

If you really want to bring out your wild idea to life then you need some smaller boutique brand. During Covid-19 lockdown I was watching a lot of YouTube channels and a couple made an impression on me. One was the great guitars build off, Dan Thompson from guns and guitars made this inverted tuners headstock, I love the idea.

I also love the video from Lignum Art, they make cool stuffs among them, guitars and basses. My daughter watched the video like a hundred times, so I contacted them. Then it started, they are pretty much up for anything, the wilder the better, lol.

I also contacted EMG, no surprise there, I’m a big fan. I got the custom set built(just minor tweaks and electronics) then place the order in November, and received my bass early May.

My parameters were

Inverted headstock
fretless with Ebony fingerboard
Emg X series electronics with BQS preamp 4 knobs
Schaller’s Da Vinci tuners and hardware
Finger Ramp
Minimal fret line markers and inlay design.

This is what I got

Check out the thickness of the ebony fingerboard. That at least twice or three times thicker than your Fenders fingerboard

My next project is short scale multi scale 4 strings
Delano Xtender p pickups and Sonar preamps the quad at the bridge is still finalizing. While I like to go gig or go home, I do like the simplicity of one pickup.
3-1 tuners headstock.
Celestial inlay designs glows in the dark
Purple bursts
Ebony or richlite fingerboard (it’s fretted, makes little difference)

They have contacted Delano and getting all the info they need. Since I’m less mad at Hipshot I’m going with their gold hardwares, lol.

They are also building a couple of custom fretless neck for my MusicMan.

Here’s what I’ve got so far.

It’s a great experience for me and the video was great too, if you want a bass that made only for you then this is it. I don’t need certificate of authenticity since it’s on a video.

Let me know if you have any questions.


On the personal side I bought a nextwave CNC machine for a small job mainly for my wife and kids projects(that’s what I’ll be telling them as soon as I take it out of the box). I bought a custom headless cnc files I will try to have a go at some point this winter. Plus hopefully @T_dub and I can do some side projects with custom pickguards and ramps.

Here’s that project


Absolutely agree, @Celticstar . . . :+1:



Personally, no. I would never pay the amount asked for custom basses because it’s a lot of money and the difference in price totally dwarfs any(if any) benefit I will get.

I think you have had to have very very specific needs that no other manufacturers has yet produced for it to be even partly worthwhile to have something custom made.

Some people like to have custom made if they can easily afford it because they like to have something unique. Just like many people love to have limited edition watches and pens. For me, the bass is just a working tool like a hammer or a chisel that I choose and respect for its function rather than its form. Others value form over function more.

Many people take an alternative route and buy a cheap bass and then mod it into oblivion, and which will be significantly less expensive.


For me, yes, it is worth it. My P-bass isn’t custom, per se. It was built by a boutique instrument company in California & purchased through a dealer, so I didn’t get to specify exactly what I wanted, but it’s the equivalent of a Fender custom shop bass.
It was, and is, worth it to me. I play left-handed. Options in style, color, and configuration are limited, even at the higher price ranges. Dingwall, for example, doesn’t even return my emails about a custom lefty Lee Sklar model.
So when I found a surf green, left handed P-bass that is essentially a recreation of a 1954-55 Precision from a builder renowned for making instruments that are, as one reviewer put it, “more like vintage Fenders than most actual vintage Fenders,” I went for it. Don’t regret it a bit, though I’m willing to admit that there might be some confirmation bias in my thinking.


If you want a custom option on mainstream basses like fender then you can always do the upgrade yourself and get what you want. I do tons of that myself. Going that route I do suggest that you practice on a couple of cheap Squiers before making your first mod on MIM, or MiA. I’d advised against modding MiA but to each its own.

One thing I would not do is to pay someone to scratch up your instrument and charge you premium for it. Getting a custom Dingwall probably not a good idea unless you know for the fact that Fender or Gibson is acquiring it because the”Pre-Fender” instruments are usually appropriate a lot more.

Plus, you are the only person in this transaction who pays the custom premium. When you sell it’s the price of the model you bought, unless you get the master Luthier version custom shop where only one luthier touch your instrument from start to finish and he/she happens to be famous and die right after finishing your instrument, then you’d make bangs.


While it’s always cool to have something super unique, my question would be “what do you need or want in a bass that none of the mass-produced basses offer?”

If you don’t have an answer to that question, why spend the extra money for a custom bass?


And to me the second question is can I easily mod a mass produced bass to meet the need or want?


I’ve come to value form a lot more, or at least appreciate it a lot more than I used to, but in the end this is how I feel as well. I like having cool and relatively unique instruments, but that doesn’t mean I need to pay $5000 to get one that is only incrementally better (if that) than the production models at a fifth the price.

I am definitely not a collector, that’s for sure.


This actually happened to me. I had a left-handed mandolin from a well known luthier. It wasn’t crazy expensive when I bought it because the market for left-handed mandolins isn’t huge.
After he died, however, and people realized I had the left-handed mandolin … long story short, I bought it for $1,500 and sold it for $4,500 and probably could have held out for more.


Love it!

I feel you @LeftyChad, left handed equipments of any kinds are hard to come on the market let alone used market. The absolute worst has to be women left handed items. Women usually not into selling equipments in general and lefty chicks forget it.

I helped my friend sell the golf equipments when her lefty mom died, we got more that the brand new set. She was a triple threat senior left handed woman. My daughter will call it ultra rare! Lol.

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