Bass Guitar Rocks: What has been your favourite experience since opening Ultimate Basses?
Dave: I have a lot of memorable sales to many very nice customers but one purchase that stands out is a bass that I had a tight time constraint with regards to delivery. He needed this instrument in time for a performance at the Montreal Jazz festival. I was able to co-ordinate a timely delivery with the supplier and personally hand the bass to my customer in St David, Quebec.
This was a special instrument for him. The top wood came from a relative of his so it has a personal connection. The feedback [from the customer about the bass] was excellent; He is very pleased with the feel, tone and craftsmanship of it.
BGR: The majority of the items that you carry at your store are considered “boutique’, do only the rich and famous shop at your store?
Dave: I have customers who purchase a $20 set of strings all the way up to a $10,000 bass. Mind you, the majority of my products are considered mid to high-end. That shouldn’t exlude the customer who wouldn’t ordinarily spend $1000 on a cabinet or $5000 on a bass. It’s all in the perception of value, what your ears discern and what you are able to pay.
Some of the basses I’ve sold my customers are now worth more than what they paid for them. An “investment” in the truest sense of the word. As an example; one of my customers paid $6000 for a bass that he felt would cover all the styles of music he plays. This to him, this means taking just one bass to a gig instead of three. As well, the sound engineer thought it sounded better than any of his other instruments.
BGR: What is your target demographic?
DAVE: I have never thought of “targeting” customers. I choose products that I feel are of excellent quality and have performance characteristics that give bass players the best opportunity to express themselves.
BGR: How many of your customers are local (within an hour’s drive) versus long distance?
Dave: 90% of my customers are beyond an hour’s drive. I do business all accross Canada as well as USA, Japan, Europe and the UK.
BGR: How many of your customers purchase gear sight unseen?
Dave: About 75%. Quite a few of my customers have purchased items on recommendations in Talk Bass or magazine reviews. Items such as cabinets, amps, cables and strings are items customers can rely on for being all be the same regardless of where they purchase them from.
Basses on the other hand are more of a personal item. Logic would dictate most bass players would play an instrument before buying it. However, most of my bass guitar sales have gone out to customers who have felt comfortable with my description of the instrument.
BGR: Do you inspect the item for these customers prior to shipping?
Dave: Always. I do a thorough inspection of the item before it gets packed up for shipping.
BGR: Do you feel we’ve advanced the craft of instruments/amps/ and
cabinets with current technology?
DAVE: Looking at it from a custom bass point of view, I think the instrument will be as good as the luthier’s skill level, if it’s being made from wood and not composites. For example, Mike Tobias at MTD, is one of the best at determining what combinations of wood to use when looking to achieve a particular tone. The cost of these basses is reflected in the time and materials used to make them.
CNC woodworking machines have found their way into some of the builder’s operations which can cut down some of the manual time needed to do pick-up routing and fret slots for example. I feel this is
a good idea since it also adds to accuracy where its needed. Amps, cabinets, pick-ups and pre-amps are constantly evolving. A lot of R & D is spent trying to come up with a better product. One example
is Neodymium drivers found in many of the better speaker cabinets. Its up to the consumer to sort through the hype and identify which new products really work.
BGR: What’s in store for the future of Ultimate Basses?
DAVE: I’m looking forward to 2008 for a number of reasons, Mike. To start, I’ll be taking delivery of our first two Nordstrand basses. Both five strings, one will be a NX style bass and the other a SC. The Nordy basses here at the shop have a great fit and feel so I expect the two customs will be just as nice. Check out Carey’s website for examples of his superlative instruments. http://www.nordstrandguitars.com/gallery.htm
I recently took delivery of the second F-Bass that was on our order sheet with George.
There are three more BN5’s we’ll see in 2008. In the next few weeks I will be posting pictures on the website so you can view the tops that these basses will feature. Numerous F-Bass customers have dropped by to check out amps and cabinets. I’ve always been very impressed with the tone and playability of these basses. So much in fact, I decided to order one for myself.
As stated on my website, there are six Fodera basses available for pre-sale. I’m hoping Vinnie and Joey will be able to deliver at least two basses for 2008. With the Canadian $ fluctuating at or above par with the US$, it’s been a great opportunity for my customers to afford one of these much sought after instruments.
Equally impressive are the MTD basses I carry. Mike is running at about a 14 month delivery and there should be three basses arriving early 2008. All will feature Redwood tops that Mike says are among the best he has had.
One of the questions posed was what’s new for 2008. I have a few things in the works and will pass along details once they are firmed up. Once item I can share with your readers is a new instrument I’ll be carrying next year. I’ve been associated with Ken Smith Basses since 1985, primarily distributing his bass strings to numerous music stores across Canada. Having owned a few six strings, I can vouch for the quality and playability of these great basses.
If there is a particular bass readers would be interested in auditioning, give Mike at BGR.com a shout to let him know. It will be a five string but which model has yet to be decided.
Check out the Ultimate Basses website for updates on bass-only gear that’s hard to find north of the border.