Shen Gemunder 7/8
Hey Talkbass community, I was wondering if anyone knows anything about Samuel Shens 7/8 size gemunder. If anyone has any comments about the bass I'd love to hear them. I've been looking into this bass for quite a while but I wanted to hear from other people's perspective.
I studied at IU back in the late 80s and early 90s. My playing lapsed for more than 20 years, when I decided to restart about 15 months ago. I had heard about the influx of Chinese instruments but had never experienced one personally when I began shopping around for a bass.
After a lot of research and speaking to former colleagues, the Shen basses emerged as a good candidate for an instrument for my personal use (i.e. good quality and very suitable for playing in a semi-pro community orchestra).
While poking around on the net, I found a decade-old Shen 7/8 Gemunder maple flatback listed on eBay by a pawn shop in Florida. I would never recommend anyone buy an instrument without first laying hands on it; however, in this case, the price was so extraordinarily good, that I took the risk. I drove about 1,200 miles round trip to bring it home. (It is no. 48 in the TB Shen Owner's Club: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f1/she...l#post14538806 )
To answer your question (finally) I have found this instrument to be not just good, but remarkable. I'm using Helicore low-tension orchestral strings, and the bass responds very well under the bow and has a nice big sound in the section. The principal has told me it sounds very punchy and projects well, both arco and pizzicato. (Important to hear others' assessment, since our only perspective is with our ears perched above the instrument.)
The word I most often use to describe the bass is 'satisfying.' The feel, sound and playing experience are all highly satisfying. As much so as a lot of very expensive and highly regarded European instruments that I played as a student. In fact, I have grown to love the bass so much, that I put a low C extension on it last summer. (Which also sounds fantastic.)
The current models, which are built with Willow ribs/back rather than maple, have a more fundamental bass sound (less pronounced overtones) that many players like even better. As I understand also, willow is less likely to expand and contract with seasonal climate changes, which makes it less likely that you'll have problems with cracks. (My bass migrated from Florida to Indiana when I bought it; it does not have any cracks, although it appears that it once had an open seam repaired on the backside near the bottom block, a fairly common place for basses to open up.)
I don't have any reservations at all about recommending a Shen bass. If you're doing orchestral playing, I'd say the 7/8 Gemunder would be a good choice. As has been noted many times on TB, setup is everything. If you buy new, buy from a dealer who's a luthier and can assure you a good quality setup. There are many in the Ohio Valley, Tennessee, Chicago, California and all over the place. (I don't know where my bass was purchased by its first owner, but it had definitely been in capable hands.)
Send me a PM if you'd like to chat in more detail.
Hope this helps!
Thanks for the awesome response Chris! I'll be sure to be in touch with you soon.
I have the willow version. What attracted me to it when I tried out basses in the shop was its deep sound. IMO, it sounded much better than the 3/4 model. This is a loud bass that sounds great for its price, I highly recommend it.
Same bass, different woods used for the sides and back. (Willow, instead of maple.)
I have a Willow Rogeri. Amazing bass. It's equals or surpasses my old German basses.
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