Those who know me will be aware of my allegedly unhealthy interest in bass guitars. It is unarguable however that you can never have too many bass guitars, and actually, compared to some folk, my collection (currently five) is decidedly modest.
The latest bass guitar acquisition is one that falls into the ‘self assembly’ category, and the reason it came into being I think has something to say about the perils of offering customers too wide a range products. You see, the new bass, christened the Surf Jag (‘Surf’ after its colour, Surf Green, and ‘Jag’ after its body shape, a Fender Jaguar), is a fusion of a few of my favourite Fender components, shapes and colours, and I came to assemble it myself primarily because Fender doesn’t make one like it.
At the last count however (yesterday), Fender, including its Squire sub-brand, has a range of 96 different bass guitars, with many available in up to five different colours. You’d think then, with that degree of choice available, nobody would be left wanting, but I’m far from the only one who fails to find a stock Fender bass that presses all the buttons (you can of course order a ‘Custom Shop’ instrument but the price for all but a few fortunate folk is way beyond prohibitive). Bass forums are full of players writing, “If only Fender made a….…”. And that, I think, is the downside of offering a huge range of products in numerous styles and colours: it fires the imaginations of potential customers. Once they appreciate all the potential combinations they begin to imagine a favourite unavailable one, and then scour the internet looking for the necessary components to build it themselves. So, I got my Surf Jag, and Fender lost a potential customer. But I don’t think I’d have ever imagined the Surf Jag if I hadn’t seen those 96 other Fender basses that didn’t quite do it for me.