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Choosing my first bass... why is it so hard...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by ErikvanD, Feb 22, 2014.


  1. ErikvanD

    ErikvanD

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Moerdijk, The Netherlands
    Hi all,

    Since August last year I have been taking bass lessons together with my 7 year old daughter. We both like it very much. So far we have been renting a bass but I am now on the lookout for my own bass. Currently I have three basses at home to try out. Quite possible I'll buy one of those. It is a selection of three totally different basses, but nevertheless I like them all. Below some pictures (click to enlarge) I took this afternoon

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the left of all pictures is a Hungarian flatback, gamba model, supposedly made by Gyemant Janos in 1984. I write supposedly as the bass looks like it is younger. It has been made to look a bit older but this is nicely done. The bass has a gloss laquer finish and the workmanship on the bass is good and it sounds very direct. It has an adjustable bridge and is currently strung with Pirazzis regular. I also seems to have a pin in the neck? See last picture. This bass I just picked up this week at a respectable luthier to try out. It has a D neck and 41" string length.

    In the middle of the pictures is an East German Eberhard Meinel of at least 25 years old. It is a fully carved bass, gamba model, made of nice wood but finished in a very reddish paint. Last November the bass got a new bridge, the fingerboard was re-glued and planed and it got a new set of Spiros. I bought this bass on an impulse as it was not expensive, came with a new very good bag, a stand and the already mentioned recent work done. It does need a new endpin though and the neck could do with a bit of trimming down as it is very thick. Also the (new) bridge and fingerboard need to be altered a bit as those do not have enough curve for bowing (the bass was set up as a jazz bass). The bass itself does not have the most delicate form (see for instance the large hump at the bottom of the scroll) and seems a bit rudimentary (or ugly if you want...:meh:). But it is well setup and plays and sounds very nice. And after a while the kind of strange edges (very sturdy!) start to grow on you. I do not like the orange/reddish paint but I could refinish it (I like a good challenge). It has a D neck and 41.75" string length.

    On the right in the pictures is my rental. It is a fully carved, violin corners, Chinese bass from 2010, imported by a local luthier. She imports the bare bodies and prepares the basses herself. It is currently strung with Pirazzis weich. This is the bass I have played on since August and despite being "only a Chinese" I really like its tone, playability and appearance (very nice wood and finish). I do however have worries about a dent at the bottom (see post here). For me, being my first bass, this is kind of my reference point. It has a D neck and 41.75" string length.

    Pricewise the basses are not so far apart. The German is cheapest, even with the work that needs to be done. The Chinese comes second and the Hungarian last. But the differences are not that large. All basses are within my price range and I want to make a choice that is not based on money.

    Below some more pictures (click to enlarge)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    During the last days I have been playing an comparing all three basses and I find it very, very difficult to decide which one I like best. Keeping them all is not an option... The Hungarian and the Chinese are the easiest to compare soundwise as they have very similar strings but the Pirazzis weich seem to sound a bit warmer than the regulars. All basses play well and comfortably (although the German neck is pretty thick). The Chinese has the warmest, more mellow tone. The Hungarian is close by but sounds a little more direct and louder. The German with its Spiros sounds quite different with a kind of everlasting sustain. It is also the loudest. They are all so different but I like them all!

    I realise this is a kind of "rubbish post" as I am obviously the only one who can decide which one I like best but I would still welcome all ideas on the subject...

    Cheers,
    Erik
     
  2. Champagne

    Champagne

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    West Chester, PA
    Go with your gut, your connection, vibe with the instrument....

    Go with what you feel.
     
  3. Champagne

    Champagne

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    West Chester, PA
    Oh, btw, you have it easy with having 3 to select from. I played 30-40 different basses before I found the one I resonated with.
     
  4. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2002
    Location:
    Santander, Spain
    Disclosures:
    Bassist
    Soundwise, the strings on each bass have a big impact on the tone and volumen that you hear. If you have enough time, try and swap strings between all three basses and take notes about the pros and cons of each bass with each set of strings.
     
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  6. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    The bass on the right looks great. I bet you can get into the upper register already really well and you already know it. Keep it.
     
  7. ErikvanD

    ErikvanD

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Moerdijk, The Netherlands
    I changed the strings today and put the Pirazzis of the Hungarian on the German. Which makes the choice even harder as the Meinel sounded a lot nicer with those than with the Spiros. I even put the Pirazzis D next to the Spiros D on the Meinel so I had two D strings I could compare directly...
    What surprised me a bit is that the Spiro D seems to bow better than the Pirazzi D. I have only been bowing for a short while so it could very well be my technique but I was surprised as I usually read that Pirazzis bow better than Spiros...

    I also sanded the finish of the back of the neck of the Meinel. Though still being rather thick it now plays a lot better. My thumb no longer drags behind when shifting to higher notes as it did before due to the resistance of the finish.

    One thing I would like to try is have all three basses played by someone else so I can listen from a distance. That might be an eye opener...
     
  8. paradog

    paradog

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Location:
    Central NJ
  9. DonnyDanger

    DonnyDanger

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Location:
    Brussels Belgium
    Based on looks alone, i'd go with the Hungarian, but i believe it's a very personal thing, you could be in love with a total piece of garbage and still be the happiest player out there. I don't really think you can go WRONG with any of them so go with your gut!
     
  10. figginalarmguy

    figginalarmguy

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2013
    Location:
    n.h
    guess the question is out of the three, calls you when you sleeping in your dreams to be played? or you drive home a little faster to hold.. it's all personal feel, my wife asks how do i connect with a piece of wood and steel, but when i play she dances round the floor.
    so guess that is by two cents.
     
  11. SteveFreides

    SteveFreides

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Location:
    Ridgewood, NJ
    You sound like you like the Chinese bass the best and you trust the source from which you got it - I'd go with that one and be done with it. You play it, you like it. The point is to have an instrument that, when you think about it, makes you want to stop what you're doing and go play or like the previous poster said, makes you dream about playing. That's the one.

    -S-
     
  12. ErikvanD

    ErikvanD

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Moerdijk, The Netherlands
  13. ErikvanD

    ErikvanD

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Moerdijk, The Netherlands
    Thanks guys, I know it is more of a "feeling" thing at this point. The one things that is holding me back a bit on the Chinese is the "dent" issue I referred to in the OP. If that is likely to become very costly in the future that would be reason to not buy it.

    I know myself to be someone that takes ages to decide. This time I do not want that (four basses and a piano simply take too much space in my living room)... I do trust all three basses to be decent (beginner) instruments. All come from respectable luthiers or have been worked on recently by one.

    My teacher just send me some more practice material so I am off now and play some more...
     
  14. Andrew McGregor

    Andrew McGregor

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Looks like the Hungarian one has a carbon fiber rod in the neck. Probably a good thing, would have been a bit pioneering if that's original.
     
  15. SteveFreides

    SteveFreides

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    Location:
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I'd think that your question about the dent ought to be directed to the person who imports them and does the setup on them.

    -S-
     
  16. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Location:
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Disclosures:
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Do you have X-ray vision? ;)
     
  17. ErikvanD

    ErikvanD

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Moerdijk, The Netherlands
    No he has just looked at the last picture... ;)

    I just had contact with the owner of the Hungarian and he confirmed that the bass has indeed a carbon fiber rod in the neck. He also confirmed my suspicion that the bass is a lot younger that the 1984 label states.

    I have also spoken to my teacher and I think I will take the bass to my lesson tonight. That way he has seen and played all three basses too and could give me some input.
     
  18. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2002
    Location:
    Santander, Spain
    Disclosures:
    Bassist
    And you can also hear the bass from the audience perspective.

    Based on the looks alone, I like the Hungarian the most, but I would choose the one that makes me want to play and play.
     
  19. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Location:
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Disclosures:
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Right - there it is!
     
  20. ErikvanD

    ErikvanD

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Moerdijk, The Netherlands
    Well, I just got back from my bass lesson and my teacher was not overly enthusiastic about the Hungarian (as well as about the luthier selling it but that's a different story...) He found the bass to be rather quiet but this could also be due to the strings which are pretty old/dead in his opinion.

    We did not have too much time to discuss the bass as my daughter was waiting for her lesson. He also told me that he would not buy the Chinese but to be honest he was not very specific... (also due to time as the next student was already waiting...)

    I hope to have some more time to discuss the basses with him soon as I really value his opinion. He also offered to come at my house to compare the basses which sounds like a good idea.

    So, to be continued...
     
  21. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago
    It's refreshing to hear your story now that you've made the most important move, in getting an expert's first hand opinion. Most posting similar bass buying questions here never take that step even though it is suggested constantly.

    If none of these three work out, don't worry, you will eventually find a winner. Patience is a real virtue when looking for a bass! :)
     

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