I just wanted to take a moment and say that I can't say enough about how happy I am with Mike and Linda Shank at Shank Strings.
I posted a question this summer regarding luthiers in the DC area and immediately had several responses recommending Shank. I had already heard of them, and had sent them a bow for a re-hair (which looked and played better than ever when I got it back). I liked the fact that Mike was a BASS guy. Not so common down south...seems like most folks work on most string instruments. In my opinion, they don't get that the bass is just a completely different animal when compared to cellos and those other little squeeky things.
I have a weird 2001 Emmanuel Wilfer hybrid. I've never seen another like it, and Mr. Shank agreed that they're not that common. It's weird because it has a carved top, carved sides but a ply back (with a gorgeously figured maple laminate). Anyway, I always loved the bass. I know it doesn't have much pedigree, but it's mine, or rather, it's me. She always had a very complex sound lauded by other bassists who played on it, and by other musicians with whom I performed, but it suffered from a rib crack a while back, as well as a new bridge/post/endpin from a luthier I'm not so wild about closer to home here in TN. I was going to be in DC this July and decided to drive a couple hours beyond and take the bass to Mike for an evaluation. Long story slightly shorter...I just got the right vibe from Mike, so I left it with him, and I just got it back last weekend: I'm ecstatic.
I can't stress enough how honest, no B.S., completely straight-up Mike is. I also can't over praise his build/repair quality. His shop is like bass heaven. It looks how a repair shop should look. Basses in various states of repair - bodies, necks, bridges, old coffee, cigar butts, old amps, ebony shavings.. the smell of leather, varnish. Sorry, I love this stuff. Anyway, the vibe was right. I couldn't have a top-off rib crack new bridge fingerboard realigned/planed nut recut set of repairs done without getting the right vibe, you know? I waited a long time to pull the trigger, and I finally felt like found THE guy.
Mike never tried to sugar coat anything, nor did he embellish or try to convince me that luthiery is any sort of mystery or alchemy-like art. His setup is the best I've had, and I love how he gives you the knowledge to check your own setup out to make sure all is well. We all know when it feels good, but we all wonder if things are still nice and plum. Mike gives you a tape measure and some markings (I'm simplifying here..you can videos of him doing this on youtube) so that you can double check your bridge positioning with confidence.
My bass sings. It vibrates with an energy that you'd swear was the result of blood in veins. I'm sure the rhetoric in this post is old by now, but these are the reasons I play this instrument, and my Wilfer had been so out of sorts for so long I didn't think she'd come back. Mike Shank brought her back and seemed to love every minute of it. By the way, the job came in $200 under his estimate, which I guess you could achieve by just way overdoing the repair estimate to begin with...the catch is that Mike didn't know that I was going to buy a gig bag from him (a Mooradian..not so cheap). Point is, the repair was $200 cheaper AFTER I bought the bag.
I can't give Mike Shank a stronger endorsement. If you want your bass treated the way you would if you knew how to do these repairs, if you want a luthier who listens to the way you play, and wants the bass to respond to that method, and has that in mind with how he approaches the repair/setup, if you want a luthier who will tell it like it is and gets it done, go see Mike Shank at Shank Strings.