Is it worth buying a custom bass?

To be fair, my other bass is a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz purchased used for less than $300. I put another ~$350 in pickups, custom wiring, and upgraded electronics into it.
If I could only take one bass to a gig, it would be the Jazz. It is more versatile, easy to play, and sounds amazing.
So I can’t be a snob about this. I have a super cool custom P-bass, but my budget Jazz is just as good.
I have to admit that there is a part of my reptile brain that says, “yes, but you look more cool with the P-bass!” Which is true, but no one other than your wife is looking at the bass player :grin:


It’s nice to have something attractive to play, but experience has taught me that the looks that initially attracted me become increasingly less exciting to me the more I look at it. This results in me wanting to seek out some other pretty thing, and the cycle repeats.

So the lesson is that it’s pointless to buy a bass for it’s appearance, and much more practical to buy for the low price, value for money(let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely nowadays to buy a bass that isn’t top notch quality whatever the price), being lightweight, and all the qualities that WILL stand the test of time of being useful for me in the long run. I will get bored of good looks, but I will never regret buying a lightweight bass, one with good balance, and one that is good value for money.

Yeah. This extends to a lot of stuff as well, in kind of the amorphous cloud of “quality”, as in qualities that you learn to appreciate and only come with experience with instruments.

Random example, Fender doesn’t make an instrument with a bolt-on neck join as good as the one on my (production) SBV. They just don’t, custom shop or otherwise. No matter how much I spent at Fender, my SBV would have a better and more solid feel there. The inset and tightness and basic solidity there blew me away on first trying one.

Things like that, you don’t get from ordering online by looks.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To you the beauty is in the function, and that’s fair. No argument with that.

To me, the bass makes a statement, and the looks have to reflect me in some manner. Are looks the only factor? No. But there are basses I don’t like the looks of and would not like to play.

You mention weight, that’s less of a factor to me. I’m a big guy, 10 or 11 pounds doesn’t tire me out. So I’m not as concerned with weight when evaluating a bass.

I’ve been looking at Surveyor 87 basses for several months. Looks are good, nice clean lines. It’s a PJ, Seymour Duncan SPB1 pickups, ebony fretboard, just checks a lot of boxes.

Then they came up with a rainbow crackle version, and I pulled the trigger. Looks are just a factor out of several, but they do count in my personal vision of beauty.


For me it’s not about being tired out - it’s that it is a big factor in the overall feel of the instrument. At least for me. I simply have found myself shunning heavier instruments for lighter, presented the choice. It’s one of the first things I noticed about my TRBX604 vs my 304 - it just felt substantially better overall, at over a pound lighter.

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Bootsy - Hold my beer.


Yeah - like I said, I’ve been appreciating form a lot more over time :rofl:

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Y’all realize that we have re-created one of the major arcs in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in this thread, right?


One of the higher end basses that still has me perplexed is Sadowski. There are (understandably) a load of them around NYC and they are very very very expensive and generally look like a regular J bass. I haven’t played any, in case I fall in love, but am perplexed at how these can be “that good”.

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I’ve always wanted this superpower. The ability to wear the most outrageous stuff and have people look at me and say “oh yeah that’s him”. Bootsy, George Clinton, Slash, many others can wear whatever and it’s just another day at the office.


There are many boutique small shops in Japan that make what are essentially extremely high quality Fender clones. Like, really really high quality, very expensive yet otherwise vanilla J and P basses.

Not my thing either.

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I notice the weight when I pick it up, but once I strap it on, I woldn’t notice a difference between my medium scale Jaguar or my 6 string ESP. And there’s several pounds difference between them.

What makes a bass uncomfortable to play are other things for me. Neck is right up there, so is fretboard. I don’t know what size frets are on my Surveyor, but I want more like that. Give me those narrow tall frets.


There’s definitely a whole lot of intangibles that go in to overall feel of a bass. Neck is huge for me too.

But weight is definitely one for me. YMMV.

We all have our vices. I work all the time then come home to take care of my family. We rarely take vacations. I don’t gamble and don’t fancy night out drinking.

We do enjoy good meals. The way I see it if I don’t spend on eating out just 3 times a week I can have myself a nice highend Squier at the end of the week, hold on to that cash and repeat the next week it’s a MIM and one more plus some change I’d have a nice MiA before the month end just not eating out and weekend party.

Plus my collection is paying for my hobby and keeps me busy, lol. Every bass I own including the $100 Squier puts smiles on my face every time I play it. They do last a whole lot longer than a fancy meals too.


I would love a custom shop Warwick, just I’d love a no holes barred Harley Vrod but the cost for both is something that is beyond my reach. It’s really as simple as that.
There is a local luthier who is working with a Melbourne based manufacturer who is producing some very nice looking basses made entirely from locally sourced woods that are running at around the $3000aud mark.
This could be quite tempting


I watched that build video already, ages ago when it turned up randomly in my youtube feed!


have a configurator where you pick the body, the color the hand (left or right), the string number, and pretty much everything you want from a list of thing they offer, and DO make for their owns stock and display around the globe ad Sandberg authorized dealers.

In this case, you either see one off the wall at Sandberg or another place that sells them, that is perfect in every way and pay for it (a pretty hefty price tag…granted they are awesome, just saying, expensive) and take it home and love it for life.


you find the perfect instrument off the wall, and jam it and fall in love with everything about it, even the price tag, but it is in flaming hot pink flamingo, with teal accents. Darn, perfect guitar / bass, but ugly as sin.

This is me in 1991. I used to go to Carvin off 17th and grand (in Santa Ana, next to the orig OC Guitar Center) weekly, and oogle over their wall of guitars, loving every one of them.
Remember, I had Dain Bramage back then, I wanted to play guitar, not bass, it took many years, many drugs, many TBI’s and a few more WTF happened, hospital stays for me to get it right, but forgive my youth of weakness I need to prey upon it to tell the story accurately.

Of course I weeded out the bolt on necks,
and then the bright or black or white finishes,
and all the neon flashy, ugly as sin guitars, I’m ugly in a way a man in a mini skirt, pumps and a tube top looks when he starts to get his 5 o’clock shadow)
*Remember, this was 1991, the age of Motley True, and Poison and …and…and…and I don’t remember anybody else, and TBH, IDGAF.

So, there I am at the story with the perfect guitars, that would only work if I were in spandex with big puffy metal hair (not I had the hair, but it was more like Rex Brown hair, or Rob Zombie hair, not Aerosmith hair, oh, didn’t have any panty hose hanging off the microphone to rock like him anyway,
Slap back to reality.
Ok, great guitars, play awesome, love almost everything about them, but I would have to kick my own ass if I got one and played it outside my bedroom

So, what do you do.

CARVIN…Now Keisel…
Has a catalog of all the models, with all the options that can be put on each model, and all the finishes you could on whatever model you picked.

So, I had the ash. I took the order form, I selected the perfect guitar body (model slips my mind), and put on a reverse headstock in black, the body and neck was koa and bubinga, 5 pc neck, glued together, and cut and shaped into a neck thru guitar. Beautiful gold carving bridge, gold knobs, gold tuners (sorry, I hate gold now, but on the koa wood it looked really good), and the bass is finished in 2 weeks, was exactly what I wanted, they even gave me 20% off list.
So, I got exactly, I mean EXACTLY What I wanted in a guitar, couldn’t have been happier, and paid in cash. the payment wa easily $666 and a few cents, I shit you not.
I loved tat guitar. that was the kind of thing you have made, and even in 20 years, even if both hands don’t work and you can’t life your elbow above our knee, you still have a beauty like that hanging on your wall, and tell the story of the glory days.
I would do just that

But the point of the story is, what do you get for your money? are you getting a true customer bass, or are you getting a replica of one of their normal basses just in their collection, but customize things like color, beige, tuners, headstock, etc… and just pay a small uncharge for doing so, like say the bass model, off the wall cost $1000, and you can upgrade the bridge for $30, or a better bridge for $50…
and you can get the body color a coated color of your choice for $50
a tongue oil finished natural wood finish for $30
and reverse head stock for $10 (if you wanted it)
and hipshot tuners of your choice for $30
Drop D extender for 1$10
Jumbo rolled frets with border $30
Active pre-amp - $90
Pick ups
stock $0.0
SD - $15
AG - $50
Nstrand - $60
EMG - $50

Strap buttons
standard no charge
strap locks - $10 - you get matching set for your strap


Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes it is way worth it if you know it is exactly what you want, and exactly what you would get, as long as you found something with enough features you dolly live with, but for a minimal, few hundred bucks to get everything you want, its kind of a no brainer.
Especially what they check you out and give you 20% off, basically giving you all your upgrades for free.


When I first started wearing nice hats I was a little self-conscious, especially when some dumbass would say something like, “hey, are you supposed to be Indiana Jones?”
One day my wife said, “If you are going to wear a hat, Be The Man in the Hat. That is who you are.”
So, yeah, when I walk the dogs I look like a detective in a 1940s noire, but that’s who I am in my head, and I don’t apologize for it :sunglasses:
Don’t apologize for what you like — embrace it and pull it off with style and panache! That’s how Bootsy gets away with it.


That’s what I think about my toupee. You wouldn’t even know until you got up close!


There’s no way to do that with parachute pants any monger sadly. Period. :upside_down_face:

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