Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Electra Hollowbody Bass

I’ll just be honest up front...I’m not sure I can whole-heartedly say that I wish I had this one back. However, it was definitely a very cool bass. Some people love instruments based on the way they sound, and the way they sound only. Or just the way they feel when you play them. I fall into a slightly different category. I am definitely concerned with how an instrument sounds and plays (otherwise I would have never sold this one), but I’m also very into the way an instrument looks. I have a feeling that more guitar players base their decisions on the way a guitar looks as much as I do, but no one really wants to admit it. I know people will say, “Well, I prefer certain colors over others, but I would never let that be the final factor in buying a guitar.”

I would.

I would not buy a natural wood Stratocaster with a black pickguard. Oddly, I would definitely buy a Telecaster with a natural wood body and a black pickguard. In fact, I would prefer it. I wouldn’t want any color of Les Paul except a gold top. Even if you gave me one. I’d just sell it and put the money towards the gold top. Or an orange Gretsch Nashville with the cool western inlays on the neck. But not a red Gretsch or a white one.

So, I decided that it would “look” really cool to have a hollowbody bass. I couldn’t really afford a nice old Gretsch or a real Gibson, so I sat down at the computer, started searching eBay and came across this 70s Japanese copy made by Electra. It was an exact copy of an old Gibson and I figured it would probably sound pretty decent. A lot of the Japanese copies from that era sound as good or better than the American instruments they are copying. Unfortunately, this was not the case with this bass.

The story was good though and I got sucked in. A lady was selling this bass that her recently deceased husband had owned for many years. It had sat in the closet for the last ten and was “in mint condition” according to the description. Original case and everything. Sweet! Just what I was looking for.

So, if you’ve ever bought anything on eBay you know the feeling...you get all excited about buying something, you bid and wait, and then, if you’re lucky enough to win, you get all excited again because you won. Victory! And then you wait. Some people are great about sending stuff right out and some people send things out when it’s convenient. And they pack it in ways I would never consider packing an instrument. That’s a different subject.

Finally the day arrives and I get the bass and pull it out of the package and...hmmmm...one of the pickups doesn’t work. Hmmmm...the jack is funky. Hmmmmm...it’s not really mint condition at all. And it’s going to cost me more money just to get it up and running. Disappointment. Two weeks and a little over $100 later I have the bass back from the repair shop over at Buffalo Brothers and decide to use it to record with. Wow, that’s some lame tone. Not much at all to be happy with. Now (already) it’s decision time. It has been a very rare occasion that I’ve bought an instrument and lost money on it. In fact, I’ve been pretty good at finding things for bargains and turning them around for a profit. This one was destined to be different. I decided to bite the bullet, take some new photos, and list it back on eBay with a fair and honest description. And a much lower price tag than I’d prefer. So, this one didn’t work out and it made me stop and think about how much I base my decisions on visuals. I’ll never stop allowing aesthetics to influence my decisions, but I’ll never allow them to completely rule a decision either. I can honestly say, man, I don’t wish I had that one back.


G L Wilson said...

Well, it certainly looks the business, but if it can't deliver the goods then you were right to sell.

fourstringers said...

I got the same bass from ebay. Pretty much got sucked in myself for the look. It had some problems too but after fixing it up a little I plugged it in and it sounded awesome.
I'm not a huge fan of hollow bodies and I'll rather play my other basses but pretty much everybody asks me to bring this one in the studio, even producers and engineers. Maybe I just got lucky. I kinda think so because this is definitely not a well built - high quality wood/hardware/electronics bass. I'm sorry yours didn't work out.