german upright 1880?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Mr. BassmanPT, Feb 9, 2014.


  1. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

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    hello all,

    i am a talkbass member for quite some time now but first time poster over this section as i have always been an electric bass player.

    you probably guessed by now the reason of this post.

    i am thinking of learning the upright bass and i am in the market for one. i have been reading for some time now what i should be looking for, if new, if used, if old, if laminated or carved, etc.

    i am somewhat confused as to what direction i should take. however, in the meantime, i have been searching for used uprights and i found one that might have caught my interest.

    the seller says the upright is german from 1880 and is selling it for 4500 euros. i have not checked it in person but apparently it is in good condition. i asked for any repairs, the seller said it obviously had repairs done but everything is fine.

    i will try to ask more questions but also remembered to ask a few over here. from the pictures, is this bass laminated, hybrid of carved? i still do not know how to recognise it?

    another question.. the seller says he does not know the maker of the upright. so he is selling an unknown instrument. what is better? buy an old (134 years) unknown upright or a new upright from a known maker?

    another thing that i remembered is how does he know its age but not the maker? how odd is this? i am not doubting the seller but i am arriving in a whole different instrument and maybe this is usual in the upright bass world?

    i would like to keep things on a budget though. 5000 euros only if it is an excellent deal for me. and i am already pushing it as it is a lot of money for an instrument i am going to start on.

    hope to get some opinions from you since you have way more experience than me.

    regards to all. here is the bass. almost forgot. what questions do you think i should do before buying? and where should i look when (if) i go check the upright in person?

    also, do you think 4500 euros is good? bad? fair?

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  2. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    The bass appears in the cell phone pictures to be what the seller says it is.

    Many (most?) older instruments were not built in factories and weren't numbered in any way. Personally, I would much rather have a good old bass than a new one - aged wood has dried out, lightened and hardened and has a special tone.

    If you like the bass otherwise, you should arrange with the seller to take the bass to a bass luthier for an inspection before buying. That's too much money to spend on an instrument without having an independent opinion on its health.

    Good luck! ;)
     
  3. BrettBelanger

    BrettBelanger

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  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

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    The scroll appears pitched forward to the plane of the neck. It also looks to have an Eb neck. Both are issues worthy of professional inspection.
     
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  6. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    Let's back up. Why are you considering spending the cost of a used automobile on an instrument you've never played before and don't know if you'll take to?

    Basses are much, much easier to buy than they are to resell.
     
  7. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    Were beech necks being used on factory instruments back as far as the 1880s?
     
  8. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    My flatback was made around that time and the neck looks like beech.
     
  9. The Spanier

    The Spanier

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    Good advise Arnold.
     
  10. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    And even further back. I have a bass that Hammond Ashley pegged as ca. 1850 with a beech neck. Not to mention that most of the wooden planes were and still are made from beech, sometimes with a hornbeam sole for hardness.

    The forests of Saxony and Bohemia were predominantly beech, so it stands to reason that you'd want to make use of an abundant resource like that. They were probably cutting beech to get to the maple, and a one piece neck/scroll wastes a lot of wood.
     
  11. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    Jake,

    Thanks. That's good to know. I had previously been thinking that the use of beech might be more of an early 20th century developement with high output manufacture of modestly priced instruments.
     
  12. RSBBass

    RSBBass

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    Could just be the photo but it looks like there is a major crack across the button to the top of the one bout.

    I would consider either a much less expensive student instrument to start or even renting in the beginning. If you stick with it and love it, there will be plenty of nice older basses for you to buy.
     
  13. Michael Case

    Michael Case

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    Why is having an Eb neck an issue worthy of professional inspection?
     
  14. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

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    I also do not know much Bout Eb necks... Does anybody care to elaborate why?

    There are good advice in here. Will think things better. Thanks
     
  15. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

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    Because nearly all professional bassists insist on a D neck, therefore resale could be a problem.
     
  16. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

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    i reaaly dig bjorn stoll dresden.. its a lot of money though
     
  17. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

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    I been looking into this. Either one should not be a problem for me.
     
  18. tyb507

    tyb507

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    Both of my basses are Eb necks, and I'm quite happy with them. One nice thing is that the octave is in easy reach. I don't have any problem switching to a D neck bass, though people sure do put up a stink when they have to play an Eb neck! There was a video of pro bassists critiquing a competition bass with an Eb neck last year (at ISB makers' competition probably) and they couldn't seem to get past the neck. Almost to the point of being completely dismissive of the whole instrument. So Arnold's point makes sense...if resale is a concern (and you really never know...a bass you're in love with now may get cast aside in five years when you fall in love with another) then this is worth thinking about.
     
  19. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    I own both and came very late to the game with an Eb neck. I prefer the Eb neck. It takes me a few minutes to make the switch, but isn't much of a problem. I sold an old Eb neck bass last year and got top dollar. I'm sure Arnold's point is well taken though, as he's the pro in the biz.
     
  20. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

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    I agree, thanks for the tip.
     
  21. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

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    Which class of professionals? Classical? Jazz? Country/Western?
    All of my basses have been Eb necks. And, after 50 plus years of playing, I can't remember ever having sat in on another jazz player's bass that had a D neck. Could it be that the Ebs are better suited for flat keys?
    I always thought that the Ds were the exceptions.
    Which came first? Were the earliest basses Ebs or Ds?
     

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