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Thread: NBD & Future of MM Passive Basses...

  1. #1
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    NBD & Future of MM Passive Basses...

    On a whim last week, I picked pulled a Cutlass Bass off the wall at Guitar Center and fell in love. About a year ago, the price tag was around $1,700... Imagine my surprise when this week it was on clearance for $1,200-- I didn't hesitate and bought it

    The next day I went on line to learn more about the instrument, and noticed these are now selling for around $2,200. A little more research, and I discover that used models are listing around $1,600! So today when I came across a new Caprice-- again on clearance-- I arranged for it to ship to me.

    All this got me wondering about the future of the passive line:

    Price:
    Online prices of most MM basses are now selling for about $500 more than they were a year ago... Can the MM passive line survive priced over $2k?

    Perhaps the increase can be attributed to the cost of doing business in California these days? Comparatively, Fender basses are also about $500 more than they were last year as well; American Standards were about $1k, while the "Pro's" are approx $1,500. G&L had a somewhat modest price bump over a year ago. Kiesel prices have slowly risen over the last few years as well. Rickenbacker has been consistently around $2K for some time now, and Taylor guitars have seen a consistent price increase over the last several years as well. California taxes have seen considerable increases I'm told...

    Quality:
    When I compare the quality of my Cutlass to that of my other US made basses, it's as good if not better.

    Subjectively, the Cutlass just sounds more musical to my ears, and the lighter weight along with ease of play combine to make the Cutlass my new #1.

    Oddity within the MM's family:
    Not only does the new passive line have to survive a substantial price increase, it also seems to be the black-sheep in the Music Man line, as it's quite different than the active Stingray, Sterling, and Bongo "Collections."
    A lot of MM fans shun the passives in the online forums, as many consider the new line as simply 'P'/'J' copies, or a shameless attempt to generate revenue on the back of vintage nostalgia (never mind the "classic" series of Stingrays, etc.).

    Remember a recent oddity in the line was the Big Al-- it's no longer in the catalog...

    Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I've long had a limit to what I am willing to pay for a bass, which was $1,500. Looking at the market in general, where there are several Mexican made Fenders and Asian made Laklands, etc. at/over the $1k mark, perhaps my bias is keeping me from seeing the bigger picture in a 2018 context(?)...

    Overall:
    When I compare the Cutlass to Fender, G&L and Lull, the Cutlass sounds/feels best to me. Naturally, "best" is subjective; for me, Music Man has knocked it out of the park.

    -Would I pay $2,200?
    If I didn't already have a small collection of basses and was looking for a primary go-to instrument-- yes. This bass is worth that kind of investment. However, having multiple quality instruments makes it more difficult to justify the expense; is it that much better than those I already have?

    The future:

    -Do the passive models have what it takes to survive and remain in the MM catalog?
    These are fantastic instruments, and comparatively I think they are still in the ballpark, though on the higher end. Realistically, these are likely destined to remain in the shadow of the catalog-core Stingrays.

    -Is Guitar Center's recent "clearance" pricing a sign that the line has reached it's conclusion?
    Browsing the stock of online sellers, there appear to be plenty selling at that price...

    If MM adds 5-stings to the passive line, thus justifying "Collections" of each in the catalog, I would say the future of the line looks strong. Otherwise, I can't help but wonder if these basses are soon going to be rarities like the Big Al...

    What do y'all think?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails NBD & Future of MM Passive Basses...-cutlass-jpg  

  2. #2
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    it really depends on the "passive fans". Once I got an active bass, I haven't looked back. The sonic possibilities and no signal loss is just awesome.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple fretboard / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood Fretboard/ 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Signature Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  3. #3
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    The passive electronics are probably the #1 characteristic that might lead to a short life span in the MM Catalog. Although, the recent price hike might now be the #1 reason-- LOL!

    One of the tings I like most about passive basses is the ease of use. Not having to fuss with a battery, keeping spares in my gig-bag, etc. is a huge plus in my book. Keeping things simple plug-&-play is more enjoyable to me.

    In my experience, unless a player is plugging an active bass straight into FOH, and enjoys having a sound-guy who does not modify your signal, I don't see the benefit of an active bass. While active basses sound great and have unique tones, I find the passive basses have a warmer tone with more bloom to sustained notes. But that's just how my ears hear things. When I'm on stage, my primary signal always goes to the FOH, and I've yet found a sound-guy capable of resisting the desire/need to modify the signal

    Maybe if these passive basses had a switch to engage a preamp... that might appeal to a wider audience. Having that option on my Kiesel V49 and G&L L2K is a key reason I keep them. If either were strictly active, they wouldn't last long in my collection. Having said that, I understand why some traditional MM fans dismiss the passive line.
    Last edited by Monahan; 08-20-2018 at 09:31 AM. Reason: Clarity

  4. #4
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    first off understand that people diss change...human nature.

    We get to make stuff and some is active and some passive....most are ground up but some are our take on a category.

    WE didnt take anyones birthday away it was just another choice for musicians.
    Two requests, please
    Please contact customer service prior to posting instrument issues
    Please don't PM me
    Thanks

    Please dont add me as a friend on facebook....my life is an open book here as it is.

  5. #5
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    I'm a new to MM guy. I had owned 2 basses since the 80s. I had an Ibanez RB885(first ever 5 string from Ibanez) and a Yamaha BB7 from 1984 that had already had a set of EMG pickups installed when I bought it in 1986.

    Late last year, I dove back into bass playing after over 30s years of a break. I purchased a very nice Squier VM 70s jazz and a Chris Aiken Squier P bass. I was having a great time reigniting some old fire.

    Then, while in Los Angeles, I went into Guitar Center and for the first time ever picked up an EBMM bass. It was the 5 string bongo with with the custom GC color and roasted neck. This was one of those moments in life where you realize, you are about to make a huge change. I have the monetary means now to afford some fine things in life.

    I purchased the bongo. I had never played such a finely crafted instrument. When I got home, I opened a Reverb account and listed all of my other basses for sale. I was able to make quite a bit of money from the vintage basses.

    My next purchase was a Stingray in Mint Green I found at my local GC. GC worked out an amazing price due to the bass being on the floor so long. There were some major set up issues and an issue with the bridge that probably occurred at GC.

    I called customer service at EBMM. The bass was shipped out to San Loooey and it was fixed by EBMM. It was quickly shipped back and in awesome condition. This to me showed the amazing customer service that EBMM gives its customers...now I was really hooked.

    During the process of the turnaround on the mint green bass, I walked into a Starving Musician store in Berkeley where I work. There was a black classic Stingray on consignment hanging on the wall....long story short, I purchased it for 750 otd. I did a basic setup and cleanup and it is an amazing bass. It has the birdseye maple neck....wow. Yet another example of the quality.

    At my favorite online music store, they listed a 30th anniv. Stingray 5 in buttercream....based upon my previous purchases, I had to have it. It was amazing and I play it every day.

    Finally. As posted earlier, I picked up a Caprice bass in GC. Tobacco burst color. Rosewood neck. I hadn't thought to try out the passive bass because of the amazing sounds I was getting from my other basses. I plugged it in and played and felt in my hands another one of those moments where you know a change is taking place.

    There is a warmth and fullness to the tone of the passive pickups on this bass that I had joy heard. The neck was pure joy in my hands. More haggling with GC, the bass had been in the floor a year....bam bass bought for a great price.

    I play all my EBMM basses every day now. I dont have a favorite yet, but... I always seem to pickup the Caprice to end my sessions because of the warm full tones I get. So I think i know where I'm leaning.

    There is a blue cutlass maple fingerboard bass at the same GC I go to that's been on the floor for awhile. My sales guy there is offering a great price on it.....and it's going to end up in my inventory.

    I love all my MM bass guitars, which I have been on a ridiculous spree of buying lately, but I think the passive sounds are going to be my favorite. I still go back to the days of when I learned to play a bass, before I had my active ones and feel at "home" with that sound. The warmth of tone is what does it.

    EBMM passive basses are that sound that never seems to get old and you want to hear last as you put your gear away. Slow, solo long sustained tones that the active basses just seem to power through and lose that natural sound.

    I think there are alot of players like me out there and I think this line will be around for an very long time.

    And yes....a 5 would be alot of fun

    That's my 2 cents for ya!

    Brash

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
    Last edited by brash47; 08-20-2018 at 11:55 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Poppa View Post
    first off understand that people diss change...human nature.

    We get to make stuff and some is active and some passive....most are ground up but some are our take on a category.

    WE didnt take anyones birthday away it was just another choice for musicians.
    Your'e right about folks resisting change, though with a little time most embrace the good stuff, and the rest falls away. HOPEFULLY the passive basses are embraced by enough people to justify not only keeping them around, but adding additional models to the line

    Thankfully nobody has taken my birthday away... although I am reaching the age where that might not be such a bad thing LOL

  7. #7
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    `


    I'll ignore concerns over

    Change
    Passive/Active
    Fender
    "California Costs"
    etc

    And I'll address only the "Mystery" of
    whether GC "knows" something no one
    else knows and therefore offered huge
    clearance discounts.

    GC Clearance Policy is quite insane,
    apparently driven by crudely sampled
    data feeding crude algoriddems. The
    bottom line is that GC will occasionally
    clearance price stuff at low give-away
    prices ... and you should just buy it
    and not draw conclusions from it. It's
    a gift to the buyer, when it happens.

    True GC clearance story:

    Three identical basses hang on the wall
    priced at:

    New - $1500
    Used - $1150
    Clearance [new] - $1100

    Natcherly I bought the clearance
    bass, and I left the used bass for
    some other buyer :-)

    I can assure you that the maker of
    those basses was not going out of
    business and the model in question
    remains in that maker's line up.


    `
    Last edited by Golem; 08-20-2018 at 06:13 PM.
    S.U.B. SL4 - SR4p FL [x2] - SR4HH FL [Moses neck]
    SL4p FL [x2] - SL4HS FL - SL4HS FL [Moses neck]
    SR5HS alnico - SR5p FL ceramic [x2] - Bongo4Hp FL

    "Too many basses is never enuf"

    Golem is NOT engaged in social networks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golem View Post
    ...The
    bottom line is that GC will occasionally
    clearance price stuff at low give-away
    prices ... and you should just buy it
    and not draw conclusions from it. It's
    a gift to the buyer, when it happens...
    Yep-- this is how I'm going to view it... and I've got a fresh set of Super Slinky strings to greet the arrival of my new Caprice Bass

  9. #9
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    Bash-- that's a great story!

    Quote Originally Posted by brash47 View Post
    ...I purchased the bongo. I had never played such a finely crafted instrument. When I got home, I opened a Reverb account and listed all of my other basses for sale. I was able to make quite a bit of money from the vintage basses...
    Man, this is right about where I am at the moment. In my case I sold three to purchase the Cutlass & Caprice, and have been seriously considering opening a Reverb account to sell a few others. To bad I don't have any vintage items LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by brash47 View Post
    ...There is a blue cutlass maple fingerboard bass at the same GC I go to that's been on the floor for awhile. My sales guy there is offering a great price on it.....and it's going to end up in my inventory.
    I wouldn't wait too long adopting that Cutlass...

    Quote Originally Posted by brash47 View Post
    ...I think there are alot of players like me out there and I think this line will be around for an very long time...
    Sure hope so! And if MM ever makes a Cutlass with a roasted maple neck in Candy Apple Red, I'll never need to buy another bass again

  10. #10
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    Sterling used to say - a lot - that if he listened to the Forum members, his job would include asking if you wanted fries with that. Having been here for as long as I have, which is a very long time indeed, I can say that I think he's on the money. We are a special bunch and I use "special" in whatever way you want to interpret it.

    I include myself in this. For instance, when the Big Als became reality, I was stoked. Couldn't imagine that they wouldn't just fly off the shelves. Who wouldn't want one? I wanted one! Maybe two. Or four. I forget now. But I know I still have two, a Candy Red and a Sterling Silver, both single H models. Guess I better keep those, eh?

    But I couldn't have been more wrong about their popularity. Of course, they didn't look much like other basses. Go figure.

    This is my way of saying that while I have both a Caprice and a Cutlass and really like playig them, I have no idea about the business end. I know both models are popular on Talkbass, which may signal an acceptance that escaped the Big Al (and the Bongo, at least initially). Of course, Talkbass has "Talk" right in the title and may just mean that people like talking about new stuff. Don't ask me.

    I sure hope the passive models survive the market, though. Maybe become so super-popular that my dream of Caprice electronics in a Cutlass body would come true. Or a Caprice 5er. (Not holding my breath.) They're clearly good instruments and are a different thing for those of us who've been playing mostly active for years.

    Okay, decades.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bovinehost View Post
    Sterling used to say - a lot - that if he listened to the Forum members, his job would include asking if you wanted fries with that...
    What kind of fries are we talking: In-N-Out, or Wendy's?

    Joking aside, I completely agree; it's impossible to make everybody happy, and sometimes good things have short lifespans. Hopefully the Cutlass & Caprice enjoy a long run in the catalog

    The main thing that started me thinking about the future of the passive line was the recent price increase coupled with the clearance markdown at Guitar Center. But as Golem mentioned, I am going to appreciate the GC gift for what it was and enjoy the new basses (still waiting to see a shipping notice from GC...).

    Furthermore, since I turn 50 later this year I am going to keep an eye out for a roasted-maple MM of some sort-- perhaps a new Stingray Special-- despite now needing TWO batteries

  12. #12
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    I was at a Guitar Center that had a WALL of EBMM basses, including a 30th Anniversary Stingray, a Firemust Purple Bongo, as well as some of the new Stingray Specials. The pricing they had did not make sense at all. honestly.

    So yeah, you really can't judge anything based on how GC prices things.

    They also had an amplifier in there, a handwired reissue marshall, that literally smelled like a wet ashtray. HALF THE STORE was stanked up by that amp, and no one there thought to deoderize it.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple fretboard / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood Fretboard/ 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Signature Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  13. #13
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    It was meant to be. The bass was still there when I dropped by on my way home.I dropped a down payment on the Cutlass.

    Diamond Blue, Maple Fingerboard. I won't give away the price yet, but yea it's good. I'm so happy I have a chance to own these 2 basses.

    On a side note, I was working the Coheed and Cambria (sp?) concert in Berkeley a couple of weeks ago, the bass player pulled out a tobacco burst Caprice and went at it for a bunch of songs, it sounded great.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

  14. #14
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    Uh-oh...

    ...My recent Music Man adventure has taken an unexpected turn. Short version:

    (Recap)
    After living with my Stingray of 5-years, I'd finally decided to let her go... then visited our local Guitar Center and I fell in love with the Cutlass (mentioned above)

    Searched the web a bit more and decided to take a chance on a sight-unseen, clearance sale Caprice from a neighboring state GC.

    (New)
    The Caprice arrived yesterday, but sadly it was damaged prior to shipping so I returned it for a refund.

    In the meantime I discovered that the Stingray has been refreshed as the Stingray Special... Imagine my surprise when I started looking at the details beyond the beautiful colors & roasted neck-- It seems the good folks at Music Man have addressed most of what I didn't like about my older Ray:

    - Highs have been tamed
    - More lows added
    - Re-voiced mids
    - Overall weight lightened
    - Addition of stainless steel frets

    Yes, I know forum descriptions of tones & such are subjective, and despite having a love/hate relationship with my old Stingray I really missed it; hence my keeping a slight eye out for a new one.

    After a few nights of research I find that several people are describing the new pickups/preamp as warm and passive-like... THEN I come across an example in that irresistible combination of candy apple & roasted maple neck...

    You probably know where I'm going with all of this...

  15. #15
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    A couple years back Sam Ash had a one-off Cutlass in Pearl Redburst with a roasted neck and ebony board. That combo on the neck really took it to another level. I wish I had the money for it then, although I'm happy with my Stingray Special now. Maybe they'll update the passive line soon like they've been doing with other models and give them roasted necks and new finishes.

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