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Fender-gone Conclusion

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Just now, MacDaddy said:

Many years ago, I bought my new-to-me USA Fender Precision bass, for the princely sum of £150.

Maybe it was the sign of the times, and my young age, but it never lost the wow factor for me, as in 'wow, I own a proper USA made Fender bass!' which of course made me love playing it, and want to play and gig it more.

For me, I don't think I could ever have the 'wow factor' from a MIM.

 

I get that, and thinking about it that’s probably why I feel like I can only own US Fenders as my gigging instruments. Although I’ve been very impressed with the quality and playability of MIM Fenders of recent years there’s always a voice in my head saying “but it’s not a US Fender, you need a real one”. Daft but hey, that’s how it is for me.

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33 minutes ago, MacDaddy said:

For me, I don't think I could ever have the 'wow factor' from a MIM.

That is just how your head got used to things growing up though isn't it? I mean I couldn't get a wow factor from a fender anyway but I never really thought much about the country of origin, more about the instrument itself.

I understand that conditioning, I remember getting my first gibson after watching all my guitar heros with their les pauls and thinking 'wow, I have a gibson', then getting the creeping realisation that it wasn't as good as some other far cheaper guitars I had. 

Obviously anything that makes you want to play something is good.

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Because of other hobbies and interests eating at my disposable income too, I have largely been a bass bottom feeder of sorts lately.
I’ve been mostly buying and playing Corts and G&L Tributes this year and genuinely have no complaints about them. I used to play pretty much exclusively USA Instruments at one point but nowadays I don’t feel I necessarily need to be doing that as the quality of the Indonesian gear is so good. That said I have bought a USA MusicMan Cutlass bass in 2020.
This could all change again at some point as I rarely ever stay still on the basses I own. Maybe half as many basses that each cost twice as much will be the focus of the next overhaul. 
I do love seeing all the Super J, custom builds and high end exotica on here though. It’s like super cars on you tube. I will never own one but it doesn’t stop me wanting to look at them😍
 

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It doesn't matter what will get the job done. Anything can get the job done. The important  is what makes you feel happy while it's in your hand and what inspires you to play and enjoy, even if it was the logo 'made in the USA'

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I recently bought a new, expensive Fender having hated 95% of the Fenders I've tried in the past. I was so shocked to find one the felt how I wanted it to AND sounded how I wanted it that I did not hesitate. It could have been a MiM or MiJ. It's clear you can strike lucky with any model from any year or country and find "that special one". There's also the fact that everybody has a different idea of their perfect fender sound. Aficionados have anecdotes and recordings to call upon to judge a bass. Novices like me just know what they like. I think both opinions are valid and part of what makes Fender a cultural icon. They're all amazing to somebody!

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Posted (edited)

I owned a couple of 1000$ + basses as well as some cheap budget ones, and while the basses that costed above 1000 dollar definitely were nice instruments that I loved and that sounded absolutely awesome, and which I would wish I hadn't been stupid enough to let go of, as well as you can be sure about getting an instrument of great quality almost every single time you buy a bass in that sort of price class, which isn't exactly the case for all budget instruments, where quality control seems to be quite lacking and very inconsistent, the cheap budget Ibanez GSRM20 4 string Mikro bass that I own now, though with upgraded pickups, is on my top 2 favorite basses that I ever owned (in doubt if the Jerry Jones Longhorn, which costed 1200$ from new, back when it was still in production 10 years or so ago, that I once owned might have been my number 1 over the Mikro, if I hadn't been stupid enough to sell it, but not even positively sure about that), and luckily having as good as perfect fretwork from factory as well as what might be the most stable neck of any guitar or bass I ever owned. 

In my opinion and experience it is absolutely possible to get lucky and find a cheap budget bass or guitar, where accidentally all stars seemed to have aligned when it was made, that with a pickup upgrade, and eventually some other electronic and hardware upgrades, is every bit as good as a much higher end bass or guitar. 

Cheap budget basses might not been quite as fancy, but in pure functionality they might in some cases be every bit as great instruments as higher end ones, just considerably more of a rarity  and dependent on pure luck, due to the typical randomness of production and quality control in that sort of price class. 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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I imagine every expensive new bass I buy will turn me into a better player. Mind you, I also buy some cheap stuff just for the fun of it.  Every bass offers something, none of them do everything.

I agree with the OP's sentiments, but I reckon some of the enjoyment I've had over the years from guitar and bass has been tied up with acquisition of gear, swapping, part-ex etc. I'm a hobbyist.

My trade is photography (40 years), and as a professional my attitude to gear is quite different. You buy robust equipment and keep using it until it can't earn you any more money. I'm still using studio flash gear made in the early 1980s (it doesn't actually get better with age). I regularly find myself standing next to amateurs using far more expensive gear than me. It doesn't worry me any more than it would my professional-guitarist mate who only plays Squiers.

Hobbyists drive the market, whether it's cameras or guitars. Imagine a world where we all stuck with the first adequate bass we owned.

Some of the prestige bass makers would still be working from their sheds.

 

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Posted (edited)

I love my Squire P's but would they stand up to night after night on stage?...not sure.

Edited by greavesbass

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My two main working fivers are my Sire V7 and my Shuker custom build. Obviously the two bear little resemblance to each other in terms of tonal character -- the Sire is a classic Jazz, the Shuker is a smooth hi-fi sophisticate. A pair of 501s and an Armani suit, if you will. But they're equally good at what they do, and that's a massive compliment to the Sire rather than any form of critique on the Shuker. The Sire gets all my gig work at the moment, for two reasons:
1, its tone is a far better fit for the genres I currently play in;
2, if something major happened to the Sire on a night out (theft, major damage etc) I would be gutted but I could buy another... if the same happened to the Shuke, I would be totally, inconsolably heartbroken because it is irreplaceable. 

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Been said above but the way a bass is set up makes a huge difference to how it feels and sounds.  I've been paying a lot more attention to my own basses' setups recently and have never been happier with them.

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And one of the biggest improvements u can make to any bass is rolling the lower fingerboard edge...light and day difference.

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On 08/07/2020 at 16:39, Burns-bass said:

The problem with these threads is that people who have bought expensive US basses feel that this is a criticism of their choice. 

The original post missed one crucial point, it’s not the pursuit of ‘the’ ultimate jazz bass, but ‘your’ ultimate jazz bass. 

You can play a packed out show at the Albert Hall on a £400 bass - I did. Now I play a US Fender because I like it the best.

Good point well made.  My fav jazz is, for want of a better description an ACG bitsa.

 I have also enjoyed a couple of nice Fender MIJ Geddy Lee Js if we are talkign about Leo's gear.

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5 minutes ago, ead said:

Good point well made.  My fav jazz is, for want of a better description an ACG bitsa.

 I have also enjoyed a couple of nice Fender MIJ Geddy Lee Js if we are talkign about Leo's gear.

I think my favourite fender basses were the MIM Geddy Lee and my Squier CV P. I have an Aerodyne J at the moment, but I don't think I would notice if it wasn't there one day for a few months.

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I would be very interested in a Squier or Sire, but I spent a very unproductive morning in Anderton's checking their basses and they were all too heavy for me. I did the same (several times) at Guitar Guitar in Epsom. . . . same result, and some of them would have required upgrades in the sound department.

I would like to release funds from my gear over the next few years, so this subject is of interest, but lower cost basses still have to compete for their place and right now, my current Jazz and P bass are a better fit, ie lighter and sound better. Those are my observations, yours may be different, but until I can find the right bass I'll have to stick with my current, more expensive, instruments.

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15 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I would be very interested in a Squier or Sire, but I spent a very unproductive morning in Anderton's checking their basses and they were all too heavy for me.

I don't know about sires, they always looked heavy. the CV P bass I had though weighed very little. A lot lighter than any of my fender Jazzes were (admitadly that is only 3). So much so it was a little bit headstock heavy. so it is surprising they are heavy. Obviously if you are comparing it to something built for weight, it probably won't match. My swamp ash shuker is certainly lighter, and my chambered mzk is also probably less.

Maybe the other models are heavier.

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9 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

Maybe the other models are heavier.

I have 3 restrictions; I want to stick with "Fender" style basses, they have to be 5 strings and I don't want to build my own basses. I'm still looking.

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Hiho,Well I,ll muddy the water a bit.

After years(decades) of trying to get on with a jazz bass I took the plunge on a Peavey Foundation.Instantly here it was,what I,d been after.

get a decent one,the earlier ones are the best to me.I now have 2.They have handcrafted in USA on them.

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20 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I have 3 restrictions; I want to stick with "Fender" style basses, they have to be 5 strings and I don't want to build my own basses. I'm still looking.

Have you tried a Sandberg Superlight?

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1 minute ago, pineweasel said:

Have you tried a Sandberg Superlight?

I've heard of them, but have never seen one in the flesh. I'll add it to the list.

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46 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I have 3 restrictions; I want to stick with "Fender" style basses, they have to be 5 strings and I don't want to build my own basses. I'm still looking.

Ahh, well I assume that will rule out actual fenders. my mzk is a 5 string light fender style, but not budget

25 minutes ago, pineweasel said:

Have you tried a Sandberg Superlight?

Also not that budget

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I think that's the issue for me. So far I've found that cheaper basses are not light enough and light basses are not cheap enough.

If this hypothetical bass isn't light enough I can't gig it and if it's not cheap enough I may as well stick with my current bass, which is what I'll probably end up doing.

It's an interesting project though, so I'll keep looking.

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On 08/07/2020 at 12:11, LukeFRC said:

Mexican bass is good enough for that fella in Vulfpeck...

Well, that and his EBMM signature model, :

 

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On 22/07/2020 at 12:05, chris_b said:

I've heard of them, but have never seen one in the flesh. I'll add it to the list.

There aren't many Superlights in the wild! I went looking and if I didn't want to by a  custom one I could only find 3 4 string versions for sale in the whole of Europe. I ended up buying one that was shipped to Leeds from Madrid. Guess what - it's superlight! Haven't gigged with it yet but it feels lovely to play. 

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