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Custom build buyers remorse - what did you get wrong?

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I know all this, Russ, that's why I sent that spy cat you're feeding right now .

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Had a Limelight custom build a few years back, 63 Jazz in black/tort.  Requested medium relic and for it to be sub 9lb.  I think this was at the early stages of the Limelight operation and unfortunately it came in about 10lbs and heavy relic.  I was given a discount for the wrong relic, which was fine as I wasn't that bothered but eventually ended up selling in less than a year due to weight.

I'd love a Shuker at some point but it would have to be an off the shelf that I could play first.

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25 minutes ago, Hellzero said:

And I ordered my fourth one that sixer EUB called Moaï that is still here as it's exactly what I wanted. It took seven (yes 7) years to reach home. The first year was only meeting and talking about the project, then we started to build. I say we, because it was a two deranged minds idea. I'll never sell it.

OK, that's impressive. My AliKat double bass kept me waiting for nearly 18 months and I thought that was pretty outrageous ...

 

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2 hours ago, binky_bass said:

Both basses started in my head as one thing, then with guidance from the luithers as to what, from their experience of building, will yield the best results, ended as another.

For luthiers (not assemblers), and from observation of bass forums, this seems to be the major difference between a good build and a regretted build.... the ability to trust the luthier and their experience. How many times have we seen someone come up with something and get really pernickety about every small detail and define it to the luthier - they get built exactly what they want but then find out that although the forums all said that Wenge and Iron wood would sound amazing... turns out it was as heavy as the Luthier was trying to tell you. 

It strikes me the best Luthiers and relationships is where theres a level of trust and understanding of their skill. For instance I'm pretty sure If you like ACGs (I do) you could give Alan a pile of money and a brief about what you like and don't like, and what you are aiming for sound wise --- and then just trust him to do his job. 

Even worse is when you see someone crowd sourcing a bass forum's opinion on what all the small details should be to dictate to the luthier. 

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It was a Status Streamline.

I love status basses. But I only kept that for a year - the newer (at the time) square ish neck shape was horrible. Gave me hand cramps and just wasn't comfy.

I loved the sound, the low weight, the bendwell / 32inch scale, the balance, but the neck shape killed it for me.

 

Sold it at a massive loss (it had LEDS).

 

I'd love one with a jazz neck profile or even a sort of mid point between J and P. But they don't offer that. Alas. It would be on my next major birthday present list if it was.

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5 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

For luthiers (not assemblers), and from observation of bass forums, this seems to be the major difference between a good build and a regretted build.... the ability to trust the luthier and their experience. How many times have we seen someone come up with something and get really pernickety about every small detail and define it to the luthier - they get built exactly what they want but then find out that although the forums all said that Wenge and Iron wood would sound amazing... turns out it was as heavy as the Luthier was trying to tell you. 

It strikes me the best Luthiers and relationships is where theres a level of trust and understanding of their skill. For instance I'm pretty sure If you like ACGs (I do) you could give Alan a pile of money and a brief about what you like and don't like, and what you are aiming for sound wise --- and then just trust him to do his job. 

Even worse is when you see someone crowd sourcing a bass forum's opinion on what all the small details should be to dictate to the luthier. 

This is it. To get the best results you need to trust your chosen luthier. BUT they also need to build what you're paying for, I asked for a 'back wood' and was told this would be mostly pointless as it'll never be seen, I still wanted it and as such it was added to the build. You do need to go in armed with a good idea of what you want, the woods you want, the feel you want etc. A truly good luthier will use your list of wants and blend it as best as can be done with their experience and advise you along the way. At the end of the day if you insist on something the luthier tells you will be detrimental to the build, then thats your fault for insisting against all advice! 

I love my ACG and Binky, they are EXACTLY what I wanted and the wait was well worth it! 

If you take the common sense approach, and go with a trusted luthier, you'll get a good result.

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I've had a guitar built to my personal spec by Rob Williams in 2013. Took about 4 months and several visits to his workshop deep in the Welsh valleys, but although I didn't have a specific purpose for it (with apologies to @Happy Jack), I was delighted with the finished product. One minor gripe was that he couldn't get the electrics to work exactly the way I wanted, but that apart it's a beautiful and extremely versatile instrument that is going nowhere any time soon. Before the build started we talked through the spec in considerable detail so he knew exactly what I wanted. I agree with those who say that if you're having a custom build, make sure it's built to your exact requirements as far as possible.

I've had other instruments over the years that were either custom builds for somebody else that I happened to like, pre-built instruments that I bought on spec from a a small- scale American luthier, or factory- built models that the manufacturer modified slightly to my taste.

Aside from the two US pre-builds (which were beautiful basses but which I never really got on with - not the builder's fault I hasten to add) and one of the secondhand custom builds, I still have all of them.

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I had one custom bass made, back in the 1990s.
The reason was the usual problem; demands of the genre creates pressure to get an upright, but transport and storage is a bit of a hassle. I saw a Framus Triumph in use locally and so thought an EUB might suffice. The only one I was able to obtain I had to get made to order, and though it was a very good instrument it had the major disadvantage that it was still a total PITA to transport (not really much better than a DB) and only vaguely approached DB tone and feel. Also, I mistakenly ordered for a 5 string after initially thinking it would be useful, but it eventually turned out that I have no use for one.
Now I have a Warwick Triumph Lite, which is still not perfect but a lot cheaper and closer to a DB.

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Interesting reading this thread and comparing it to software development. "WFT?" you all say, but bear with me.

Quite often business users come in with an idea of what they want and need, and a solution in mind. It is really hard to get them, especially the technically competent ones, to stop proposing solutions but to let us talk until we have understood all the requirements.. Frequently there is a relatively minor piece of functionality (ie used in about 1% of cases), which dictates a very different underlying data structure or software model than the other 99% alone would. Yes you can change this down the line, but the more you understand up front the easier the process is.

Likewise the thread emerging here seems to be that if you go in with clear requirements (sound, intended use, preferences and desires) but discuss and be flexible with the final specifications (exact wood, preamp choice, neck construction), then you are more likely to get an instrument you love than if you spec everything in detail. Some people have more detailed requirements that others would be more flexible over, but it seems that in all cases discussion is the key.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Richard R said:

Likewise the thread emerging here seems to be that if you go in with clear requirements (sound, intended use, preferences and desires) but discuss and be flexible with the final specifications (exact wood, preamp choice, neck construction), then you are more likely to get an instrument you love than if you spec everything in detail. Some people have more detailed requirements that others would be more flexible over, but it seems that in all cases discussion is the key.

Completely and utterly this.

For the custom builds I have ordered, I went to luthiers who were already making something along the lines of what I was after in terms of overall design, and then told them how I wanted the instrument to look, feel, play and sound. I left everything else up to the luthier. The only technical specifications I asked for was a locking vibrato system on one of the guitars I had made.

Edited by BigRedX

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17 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Completely and utterly this.

For the custom builds I have ordered, I went to luthiers who were already making something along the lines of what I was after in terms of overall design, and then told them how I wanted the instrument to look, feel, play and sound. I left everything else up to the luthier. The only technical specifications I asked for was a locking vibrato system on one of the guitars I had made.

out of interest was your Gus a custom build? 

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Mine was easily fixable, I specced Delano pickups on my Maruszczyk and it turns out I'm not a fan. Custom Nordstrands will be arriving soon.

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3 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

out of interest was your Gus a custom build? 

These two were custom made for me based on various demo models:

DSC01123.jpg

DSC01114.jpg

This one was an-demo model that I bough second hand an then got Simon Farmer at Gus to completely refurbish to my specification. Other than the colour change it didn't need too much doing to it as it was one of the basses I'd used as a starting point for spec of my black one:

DSC02144.jpg

The 4-string fretless that is now owned by HappyJack was a straight ex-demo model.

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I have only 2 regrets with my 2007 Shuker build. 1, I wish I'd originally specified the Delano pups I've since had fitted, rather than the EMGs I asked for. and 2, I wish I'd done it years before.

Custom build wise, I'd love another one some day but it's probably out of reach. Maybe a Limelight '65 Jazz at some point, but I will be very strict on the amount of relic I want done (i.e. not a lot). And I've been talking with @Andyjr1515 about some renovation work on an old Overwater short-scale that will be extensive enough to pretty much class as a custom build :lol:  

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I never need an excuse to post my custom Shuker's! 😎

Absolutely no regrets at all.

The only 'issue' or 'problem' is that for me, all other basses don't feel or play as well.

 

21-39-21-38895029421_e4a899939e_c.thumb.jpg.85fad78c91573a9b77c252da715a99ad.jpg

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This is a very interesting thread. I’d heard of the concept of custom-build buyers remorse but not read specific descriptions of it.

My custom-build from @Andyjr1515 worked for me because I wasn’t looking for an improved version of something that already existed. I wasn’t looking for, say, ‘a Fender Jazz but even better’. I wanted a specific, maybe unique, combination of features, light weight being the most important. 
I’m glad to say I was, and continue to be, fully satisfied. 

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I was getting Zilla to build me a custom amp head sleeve end of last year, after some (mixed) recommendations on here. The deadline was end of January but I found the guy was always apologising as I kept having to chase him. We extended the delay until mid February and in the end I just stopped messaging him. Last message I was getting a significant (unspecified and not requested) discount for him messing me around but I just wanted the work done. I guess I have given up now but after a series of very polite restrained messages from me I am somewhat put off. I've had loads of custom work done in the past (mostly straps and pickguards - but including an amp cabinet before) and whilst I get that patience is required with custom work, it was all a bit unnecessary. All I would ever ask for is periodic updates. I don't care if it takes ages, but keep people informed.

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I've met very few luthiers, guitar techs, or similar who could even spell 'time management' let alone apply it. Much the same applies to 'communication skills'.

I'll happily make a very clear exception for https://www.safranbasses.com/

 

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I had Sandberg build me a custom tt from ash with an ebony fretboard, they were spot on with their work and time estimate, I would definitely have another 

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I’ve had one bass and one EUB custom built to my specs.

Both very nice, but didn’t hang on to either as what I actually needed  was a MIJ 62 RI P and a double bass with a good pickup and decent case. But got carried away with the ideas in my head, rather than the realities of my actual needs.

No regrets but unlikely to commission a bass/EUB again as I can get what I want off the shelf.
 

Having said that, I have commissioned a fretless Uke bass from a mate. I have asked for a decent pickup and discreet lines. Other than that he can do whatever he likes, he make great Ukes and not a lot to go wrong. Should be ready next year for a significant birthday as the wood is still seasoning apparently. 

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Posted (edited)

This is why I have started building basses again, I can’t have buyer’s remorse, nor is it likely I’d be able to sell anyway (come to think of it maybe I could as I would only charge a fraction of a luthier brand) and I can make it exactly how I want it.

Edited by HazBeen
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2 hours ago, Richard R said:

Interesting reading this thread and comparing it to software development. "WFT?" you all say, but bear with me.

Quite often business users come in with an idea of what they want and need, and a solution in mind. It is really hard to get them, especially the technically competent ones, to stop proposing solutions but to let us talk until we have understood all the requirements.. Frequently there is a relatively minor piece of functionality (ie used in about 1% of cases), which dictates a very different underlying data structure or software model than the other 99% alone would. Yes you can change this down the line, but the more you understand up front the easier the process is.

Likewise the thread emerging here seems to be that if you go in with clear requirements (sound, intended use, preferences and desires) but discuss and be flexible with the final specifications (exact wood, preamp choice, neck construction), then you are more likely to get an instrument you love than if you spec everything in detail. Some people have more detailed requirements that others would be more flexible over, but it seems that in all cases discussion is the key.

Love the IT analogy. As someone who spent a lot of years writing IT contracts (after trying to drag the spec out of people, negotiate with the suppliers... Yawn) and now works in a company where Agile and SCRUM are used almost everywhere I think this is such a clear parallel, clear to me anyways. 

Just wonder if you could build a bass using Agile... 

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1 hour ago, MacDaddy said:

I never need an excuse to post my custom Shuker's! 😎

Absolutely no regrets at all.

The only 'issue' or 'problem' is that for me, all other basses don't feel or play as well.

 

21-39-21-38895029421_e4a899939e_c.thumb.jpg.85fad78c91573a9b77c252da715a99ad.jpg

Any videosnof these instruments in use MacDaddy?

I love the D extension. Very Kubicki.

 

Excellent work

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