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Is this too much to pay for plywood bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by squeally dan, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. squeally dan

    squeally dan Supporting Member

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    I'm an electric bass player. I have wanted to try upright for a long time but just don't have much to spend on one.

    Recently I found one local that I can get for $800. The owner sent a video of it played next to his old Kay. I thought it sounded ok but it's all new to me.

    The owner can't find a brand anywhere on it and doesn't know what brand it is. He says it's 3/4 size and says he likes the sound of it. He says it's a plywood laminated bass. Also says the bridge could stand to be adjusted in order to lower the action.

    Is $800 too much to pay for this? What other questions should I ask?

    Thanks!
  2. squeally dan

    squeally dan Supporting Member

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  3. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

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    Typically the brand is inside the f-hole.

    There are certainly plywood basses meeting the above description that are worth well over $800, and there are plywood basses meeting the above description that would make better firewood.

    Personally, I would find someone who knows at least a little bit about double basses to bring with you. Either that, or try a few more basses elsewhere so you can have a point of reference and comparison. If you still like the feel and sound of this bass better than the others, than $800 may well be a pretty good price.
  4. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    Let's start from square one. What is this bass?

    EDIT -- Thanks for the picture. That bass is what we call a CCB, or Cheap Chinese Bass. I wouldn't buy it for $800, or $80, or $8.
  5. squeally dan

    squeally dan Supporting Member

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    The owner plays upright and say he can't find anything to identify. Nothing in the f hole, etc.
  6. johninmemphis

    johninmemphis Supporting Member

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    If you're still in Huntsville, you've got lots of places to visit in Nashville to check-out double basses. I'd recommend Williams Violin - Dustin Williams is the owner, luthier, and a bassist as well. Get to know some of the other double bassist in the area and they can help advise you as well - Bobby King is another TB poster who lives in Nashville.
  7. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    Disclosures:
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    I have heard great testimonials about Dustin Williams and his shop. He's a great resource there. Check it out!
  8. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it. Supporting Member

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    That looks an awful lot like my Shen SB80, but a Shen is clearly marked inside the f hole. If it was, that wouldn't be a bad price.
  9. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    It looks nothing like a Shen. The lines are all wrong, the fingerboard isn't ebony and that bass has outside linings, which Shens do not.
  10. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it. Supporting Member

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    My, aren't you chipper this morning. ;)

    Yeah, I didn't catch the outside linings. My apologies for providing a wildly inaccurate guess.
  11. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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  12. SteveFreides

    SteveFreides

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    ... or find out if you can take it somewhere to have someone who knows about double basses look at it for you. Another choice is to offer to pay someone from a local shop some money - maybe whatever they get for an hour of their repair time - to drive over and look at it.

    Or, if the seller is a person you trust, find out if you can buy it on a 2-week inspection period and return it if you don't like it. People don't seem to do that much for double basses but for, e.g., brass instruments, it's common practice, even between strangers.

    -S-
  13. squeally dan

    squeally dan Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the info. I guess I should pass on this since the owner can't tell me what it is.

    It really stinks that you can't get a decent upright for less than $1000. You can get a great guitar for less than that. That's the only reason I still haven't picked up double bass.
  14. SteveFreides

    SteveFreides

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    It's not true that you can't get a decent upright for less than $1000. My first upright was a Roma I bought from Ideal on 22nd St. in NYC. Price was $800, it served me well, and it continues to serve a former student of mine.

    Double basses are bigger - more material means a higher price. There is also _much_ less of a market for them than there is for guitars, which again means a higher price because of the law of supply and demand - when more people want something, the price finds a way to get lower.

    None of what anyone has said here means you absolutely shouldn't get this bass. It's your nickel or, in this case, your $800. If you want it, buy it. The worst you'll end up doing is selling it a few months down the road, possibly at a loss. I say you should go play it and if it feels good to you, decide for yourself and don't let us make up your mind for you.

    -S-
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC Supporting Member

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    Yes, of course it's up to the OP, but he asked us. It's true that you can find a decent bass for under $1000, but it is unlikely so, in general, you have to spend more than $1000 to get one, especially if the instrument is new.

    The bass in question sure looks like a CCB. If it is, then $800 is, in my opinion, not money well spent.

    I don't think it's the case that the worst that will happen is that the OP will end up selling it and possibly at a loss. He may not be able to sell it at all. If he can, it may be an extreme loss. In the meantime, he is likely to be getting started on an instrument that will fight him all the way.

    Keep in mind that what feels good to a newbie may not actually be what turns out to be a rewarding choice. Many newbies think that a skinny neck profile feels better than a thicker neck profile and then find out the hard way about the reality. An uneducated choice is just that.

    So, sure, it's his choice. Is it a wise choice to buy it for $800? In my opinion, no!
  16. SteveFreides

    SteveFreides

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    Thou doth exaggerate, IMHO. If he plays this bass for a year and then sells it at a $300 loss, he'll be in about the same place as if he rented from a local music store for the same amount of time. And the rental instruments in my area I've seen are as junkie as junk gets, unfortunately. And he'll eventually sell it for some price.

    You don't have to preach to me - I went to a music store to buy my first bass, and my second (which I still have), and my third (which I also still have). He could also go play this bass, decides it sounds fine to him, remember everything we've told him here, and offer the seller a firm $500 instead of $800. Many things are possible ...

    Just my opinion, no science claimed, and your mileage may vary.

    -S-
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC Supporting Member

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    Okay, but why be in that position at all? I see no virtue in spending $300 having played a junky bass for a year. I also don't think it's exaggerating that he may end up in an even worse position, given the likelihood (however small, but still significant) of implosion, or the fingerboard letting go, or whatever. Junk is junk. Now, as I've said before, if the OP is a DIYer and has decent woodworking skills, then a CCB might serve him well. Absent those conditions, I think that buying a CCB is flirting with danger and disappointment. It's just poor economy, IMO.

    Did you buy a CCB any of those three times?

    $500 being too much to pay, IMO.
    Yup-- well, maybe $8. :)
  18. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    Steve, you assume the bass will hold up for the next year.
  19. SteveFreides

    SteveFreides

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    Folks, I can't add anything I haven't already said. I am content to disagree with the prevailing wisdom here, albeit not disagreeing by much - the best bet will always be a reputable instrument and/or an experienced advisor, no doubt about that.

    -S-
  20. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    Agreed 100%. My point from the outset has been that the bass in the OP's photo appears to be the polar opposite of a reputable instrument. If you look closely you can see the paint flaking off the white-wood fingerboard.

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