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New bass! Roma 396. Opinions?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Rocktometrist, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. Rocktometrist

    Rocktometrist Supporting Member

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    First time poster, long time lurker. I scored what I think was a pretty sweet deal on a fully carved Roma 396 a couple of days ago. I was able to find out quite a bit about Roma due to the amazing resource that is talkbass (thanks talkbass community!).

    From what I read, Romas were made in Romania with wood shipped from Germany--a deal orchestrated by the late owner of Ideal Music in NYC, as part of an elaborate plan to exact revenge against a Czechoslovakian trade organization. (You could not make this stuff up.) Time passed, the vengeful instrument importer died, and his son (already retired himself and not interested in taking over the business) was left to empty a huge warehouse full of basses and other musical instruments. He decided to sell everything at firesale prices (including many Romas) until finally emptying his inventory sometime in the late 2000s. Whew...I think I got that right...it's WAY more information (and drama) than I thought I'd find about this thing!

    Mine is a model 396 fully carved 3/4. It needs a visit to a luthier for a good overhaul, but I already like the warm low end and mellow highs. It's got a bevel on the fingerboard between the E and A which will take some getting used to (or not--might need to change that). Inside the body, there is a Roma sticker with the model number, and a Hammond Ashley sticker dated Aug 1996. I plan to play mostly pizz jazz with it. So far, I like it!

    Anybody familiar with these basses? Any idea of their general reputation or how much they might be worth?

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  2. Rocktometrist

    Rocktometrist Supporting Member

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    .

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  3. marvin spangles

    marvin spangles

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    Congrats and good luck . Nice looking bass
  4. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Owner/The Bass Spa, String Repairman/L & M Vancouver
    Nice! I saw that bass on Craig's List the other day and it looked like a very good deal.

    I bought a couple of the hybrids to set up and re-sell but I'm keeping one myself. ;)
  5. lcdck

    lcdck

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    I have a Roma 393 Hybrid bass that looks exactly the same as yours. I don't think they have a high market value new or used but the value is in the sound for the price. I think mine could easily be sound for $1200 probably more if I wanted. A fully carved one is probably twice that value (purely speculation on my part).

    Mine has the same bevelled fingerboard, under the E string, which drives me nuts. Still these are an extremely good deal --fully carved, well made with ebony fingerboards and tail pieces. The finish leaves a little to be desired on mine but I've seen worse.
  6. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

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    You sure that's fully carved?
  7. Rocktometrist

    Rocktometrist Supporting Member

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    Yup, I'm pretty sure (plus, my specific model number is passingly mentioned as being fully carved in an old thread here on TB).

    I'm positive the top is carved. On the back I'm almost positive--I can't see laminates when looking at the edge of the back plate (although I can't see any grain pattern along the edge either--just smooth-looking wood). It does have a rounded lip on the edge that LOOKS carved, for whatever that's worth. Is there a sure way to tell?
  8. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    Yup - show us a close up photo of the back plate taken from the end of the bass ie. in line with the end pin.
  9. Rocktometrist

    Rocktometrist Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure if I understand the angle you needed, but here are two shots. The first one is taken looking away from the endpin, and the second is taken looking toward it.

    Also, there is a seam that runs up the center of the back, with a row of cleats holding the two pieces together on the inside.

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  10. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    I still think you got a steal - remember, I saw the asking price! ;)

    The centre seam with interior cleats is suggestive and the photos show no plies or glue lines, so its definitely solid.

    With the ones I've seen, the tops are a little thick and the finish is uh, 'generously' applied, but the boards are nice and there is enough wood in the neck shaft that they can be re-carved to a very playable shape.
  11. Rocktometrist

    Rocktometrist Supporting Member

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    Sweet--thanks for helping confirm what I've got!

    I'm pretty stunned I ended up with a decent quality, fully carved upright (with an upgraded endpin and flexible tailpiece wire, even), for what I paid. I guess the guy didn't play it anymore, had trouble selling it in the past, and just wanted it gone. I was happy to oblige!

    I brought it to rehearsal last night and it sounded great--way richer and more kabloom (tm) in the low end than what I'm used to. With a new bridge and set-up, I think it's a keeper! Score! :bassist:
  12. Rocktometrist

    Rocktometrist Supporting Member

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    Mr. deVilliers, you have a PM...
  13. bkbirge

    bkbirge Supporting Member

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    I've got one of the hybrids, it took some playing for it to open up but overall I like the sound quite a bit. It records very well but there is a resonance spot on the C note at the A string give or take a half step that is very boomy and I don't like at all. Anyone else have these kinds of spots on their instruments, and if so how do you deal with it? Is this a trip to the luthier kind of thing? It's got whatever it came with for strings, some helicores I think and I'm getting ready to put some guts on to see if the feel gets better and tone more even.
  14. Basswhore

    Basswhore

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    I've got the same bass. I've played over 800 shows with it and have taken in across the country several times. It might not be the finest carved bass in the world, but I love it.
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Supporting Member

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    If it came from Hammond Ashley, it was set up properly, which means you're off to a very good start. Congrats on getting a good instrument for yourself. Let me know if you need any local Seattle help or intel.

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