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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Buying cheap basses…

April 15th, 2006 | 3 Comments | Categories: Musing on Music |

I know, you’re on a limited budget and the offer of a new bass for £85 is just too tempting. So you hit buy it now, and hope it’s playable when it arrives. That’s if you’ve got any notion of what ‘playable’ is anyway.

The proliferation of cheap import basses from the far east has led to loads of them turning up on internet shopping sites, lots of them shipped from outside the UK at prices that no high street retailer can match. And why? Because your local music shop has a legal obligation to guarantee that the bass works, that it’s OK, and that it’ll still work in a few months time.

The first thing to go when the price of manufacturing instruments drops that low is quality control. The parts are sourced cheaply in massive bulk, assembled in an OK way, but very few are ever taken out of the process for being faulty – they’re just patched up and put through with the rest of them. Quality varies massively, and if you buy online, you’ve no way on earth of knowing what you’re getting. If you go to any music shop and try out all their cheap basses, they’ll vary a lot in sound and feel. Some will play like a bass worth double the price on the headstock, others like they aren’t fit for firewood.

If you go to your local music shop and spend an extra few quid, try a few basses out, and check what your guarantee is, in the long run I GUARANTEE you’ll save money. No question. You’ll also benefit by buying a reputable make – not only in quality but resale value should you ever get rid of it. Go to The Bass Centre, or The Gallery, or even Sound Control/Musical Xchanges etc. – any well stocked shop, try a few out, and ask as many questions as you like, but don’t get hung up on the extra £25 you spend in the shop. It’s all about the Value Added.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Dale Cruse

    Want to include this on BIG BOTTOM, Steve? I think it would be great.

  • Jamie

    Wise words mr Lawson…although, the net is rather like a big shop window that draws you in!

    You can pick up some gems though in the lower price range, my Peavey Dyna Bass is one of the basses you described, it’s worth double the price on the headstock…but the chances of you getting this kind of result when getting offline are slim!

    Just my thoughts…

  • Anna Margrethe Andersen

    Agreed!!! Never buy a bass you haven’t played yourself unless someone you really trust approves of that particular bass…. Even if it’s supposedly a good brand – quality varies a lot.

    Besides: doing business with a local retailer usually pays off in lower rates for setup and other adjustments. This is particularly important for beginners unless you have a teacher to help you out…

    /Anna