prices that are asked for bassguitars and acoustic basses are not
understandable. I probably think this way because Im mainly
interested min two things: the way the bass sounds and how easy
it is to play on the bass. Less important is the way it looks. Of
course, its nice if my bass looks good, but Im mainly interested
in what I can do with it. This is really a musicians viewpoint and
you would expect luthiers to have the same criteria. Acoustic bass
luthiers dont look at it this way. Theyre more interested
in the way the bass was built, the handicraft. When looking at old
basses, theyre especially interested in the way repairs were
carried out in the past and in its present condition. 1580
1630 the most beautiful basses were built in Italy. Gaspard
Bertoloti, also Calles da Salo and his student Magginini are famous
I mentioned, beautiful basses were built in Italy, but the sound
does not seem very important for the price that is asked for a bass,
which I think is strange. A bass like that will cost $50.000, whether
it sounds beautiful or not. I know a terrible story about a bassplayer
who bought a bass from that period. He was not able to play on it
yet, it needed extensive repairs. When he finally got to play on
it, he discovered that the bass sounded terrible
My acoustic bass has a nice sound, though it does not sound exactly
the way I want. Ill just have to keep looking. But I expect
the beautiful bass that Im hopefully going to find in the
future to be a new bass. A beautiful new acoustic bass costs half
of what a beautiful old bass costs. For a beautiful new bass a price
between $20.000 and $25.000 is not unreasonable.
The higher the price for a bass, the less the improvement in sound.
I do not mean to say that its impossible to buy a beautiful
acoustic bass for $50.000, but that the difference between a bass
of $2000 and a bass of $25.000 is much bigger than the difference
between a bass of $25.000 and a bass of $50.000.
The differences between prices of bass guitars are even more incomprehensible.
My bassguitar was made by Rikkers, a luthier here in Groningen,
the Netherlands, where I live. It cost me about $1500,-. I compared
it to guitars that sometimes cost three times more, but could not
understand why these other guitars cost more; certainly not because
they sounded better or were nicer to play on. They just were different,
thats all. You may now well conclude that I have no ears,
am absolutely crazy, should stop writing these columns, etc., etc.
But I can assure you that this really is the truth: guitars are
priced by many manufacturers mainly by taking into consideration
demand and time and effort spent on their product. For a great deal,
it does not reflect the quality of the product. Thats sad,
but its true.
The same goes for my amplifier. I use a Mark Bass minicombo. It
costs about $1250. I compared it to amplifiers that sometimes cost
five times as much, without noticing any improvement. So if you
want to buy an acoustic bass, a bass guitar or an amplifier, I would
advise you to trust your ears only. You do not deserve an extremely
expensive bass, you deserve a very, very good bass. Realize how
you want your new bass to sound before you enter the music store
and find an instrument that matches what you want to hear as closely
as possible. Another bit of advice: dont buy your bass the
first time. After having made a first selection, come back to try
the basses you like best again.