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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Won't I get a better price on a custom instrument if I order it directly from the builder?
A: Actually, no - you'll either pay the same or less (often substantially less)
when you order a custom instrument through BunnyBass rather than ordering
directly from the builder. This seems 'opposite' from what a lot of people
often assume would be the case, so we'll try to explain why this is so.
If a builder sells his instruments for less than what his dealers sell to customers, this is what is known as 'undercutting his dealers'. When this happens, customers eventually start going straight to the builder, bypassing the dealers. At this point the dealers have little incentive to carry the builder's instruments, and pretty soon the dealers drop the product line. Losing their dealers is bad for most builders becase dealers provide 1) a means of distributing the product, and 2) customer service. A manufacturer without these two important components eventually disappears into the dark abyss of eternal repair jobs and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for dinner every night.
This is why some custom builders don't offer discounts to customers who 'buy direct', or they may limit themselves to discounting at a rate significantly less than what their dealers offer. Builders usually do things like this to keep the dealers happy, to make sure the dealers will continue to do their part to properly represent the builder's instruments. In other words, it is a cooperative relationship. BunnyBass works very hard to maintain a good working relationship with all the builders we represent - we want to make sure that can offer the best value to anybody who orders an instrument from us.
Q: Do all dealers offer the same prices for a custom made instrument?
A: Theoretically, yes. Most builders have fairly strict guidelines about how they'd like their dealers to handle pricing. They enter into agreements that set limits to how much the dealer can discount their instruments. One of the reasons they do this is to create a "level playing field" for all the builder's dealers. For example, if all the dealers agree to sell Brand X basses for no less than 20% off list price, then ideally a customer would be free to choose whichever dealer they felt most comfortable working with, without having to worry about pricing. Everybody would start with the same list price, discount by the same 20%, and that would be the final price. Of course in the real world not everyone honors these agreements and some dealers will quote prices a little under what their agreements allow, just to get "an edge" in attracting more customers. Please be careful when considering whether or not to work with a dealer who does business like this - dealers who systematically break promises to their own builders in order to marginally increase profits are often looking for other "creative" ways to cut corners too...
Q: How do I order a custom instrument?
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A: The process is surprisingly straightforward. BunnyBass is very detail oriented and we're careful to guide you through each stage of the process, always keeping in mind the primary objective: that you come out of this process with an instrument that is just right for you...
1. Contact us with your ideas.
2. We discuss the various possibilities, based on what you want.
3. If you don't already know which builder you'd like to build your instrument, we can make
4. Finalize the specifications and then send them to the builder.
5. We get a price quote and an estimated delivery time for you to consider.
6. If everything is agreed upon, you send in a deposit and...
7. ...building begins!
8. The balance is due when the instrument is completed.
9. The instrument is evaluated, documented, and permanently archived.
10. The instrument arrives at your door, and a lifelong friendship begins!
Q: How long does it take for a custom instrument to be built?
A: It varies a lot from builder to builder. A typical "build-time" would be between two to four months. In some cases, ordering an instrument from some builders may involve a waiting almost a year (this is not typical though). Some of the factors that determine how long or short you'll have to wait for your instrument are: 1) whether or not the builder is very busy or back-ordered, 2) if you've requested certain kinds of woods or components that the builder may not have immediate access to, and 3) the degree of complexity of your instrument (elaborate, difficult, or experimental construction techniques, lots of fancy inlays, and so on).
Q: How much of a deposit is required in order to have a builder start working on my custom-ordered instrument?
A: It varies a little from builder to builder, but generally a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the actual asking price of the instrument is requred to begin building (50% of the discounted price, not the list price). The balance (plus shipping) is generally paid after the instrument is completed.
Q: If I see an instrument on the Custom Shop: new instruments for sale page that's currently 'on order', is there any way that I can reserve it?
A: Yes, you can reserve any instrument currently 'on order' by making a 25% deposit. When you reserve an instrument with a deposit, we'll no longer accept any offers on that instrument - either by offers of immediate full payment or offers over and above the instrument's asking price. In other words, we consider a deposit made on an instrument 'on order' a promise to purchase and therefore we essentially treat the instrument as if it were already sold. When the instrument arrives, we'll contact you and ask you to send in the balance, and when the payment clears the instrument is immediately shipped to you. If you change your mind for whatever reason before the instrument is completed, just let us know and we'll refund 50% of your deposit.
Q: Aren't custom instruments a lot more expensive than one bought 'off the shelf'?
A: It depends - some are (superfancy ones!), but often times they're around the same price to a production instrument with comparable features. On one hand, an instrument made specifically for you can be more expensive than a mass-produced instrument simply because there's a lot more time, care, and heart put into its creation. On the other hand, most people who ask for a price quote on a custom ordered bass or guitar are surprised by how reasonable the prices are. You may be paying more for better quality, but you're also not paying for the cost of full-page ads in popular magazines, or paid endorsements and free instruments given to "rockstars".
Also, you might also want to consider how much more likely you'll be to hold onto (and use!) a bass made exactly to your specifications, than you might be to a generic, depersonalized mass-produced instrument. Many people who have a custom bass created for them tend to use that instrument for a long time - perhaps decades. When this happens, you begin to form a close relationship with an instrument, and it often becomes a full participant in the development of your personal style and sound. You'll actually save a lot of money by holding onto one instrument that really fits you, rather than going through 6 or 15 or more "inexpensive" instruments, one after the other, hoping to stumble across "the one" (and hey, wood doesn't grow on trees you know! please think about how much wood is wasted on cheap, mediocre instruments...). More than anything else, the decision of whether a custom-ordered instrument is right for you is really a reflection of your personal values.
Q: Besides being able to choose your options more specifically, are custom built instruments really better than mass-produced ones?
A: Of course!* Because they're not high-volume production instruments, custom 'handmade' instruments are given an incredible amount of care while they're being built. When a talented builder focuses the knowledge and skills they've accumulated over many years (or even decades) on a nice piece of wood and begins sawing, carving, and filing, the results are what we think of as equal parts good science and magic. Instruments such as these have a real personality, they have soul (they do!). They reflect and embody the love the builder has for the materials they use, as well as the respect for the tradition of luthery. An expert individual working on an instrument with their own hands from start to finish has the opportunity to make thousands of micro-decisions, all of which added together result in real differences in sound, feel, and playability.
We're aware that not everyone can feel or see the difference (we have our own theories: modernity,alienation, desensitization...!), or perhaps these attributes are simply not important to everyone. But beautyand quality are not just abstract concepts to us, and so we spend a lot of time (maybe too much time!) livingwith and learning about the instruments that we think embody these virtues. One or our missions here atBunnyBass is to do what we can to help support the diverse group of people who have dedicated their lives to creating these wonderful instruments. Their instruments and the resulting music they produce has brought us a lot of joy, so it's always a pleasure.
*not everyone shares our sense of values, so other people may say "of course not!". but that's why there's all kinds of basses out there, right? different basses for different people! ^_^
Q: I still have more questions - may I ask you more stuff by e-mail?
Please feel free to email us or fill out the custom order worksheet if you'd like to discuss the creation of a custom instrument.
[ Custom Builders ] [ Creating Your Own Instrument ] [ FAQs ] [ For Builders ]