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Ordered an Upton

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by BobKay, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

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    Did quite a bit of lurking here, and exchanged pm's with a couple of you, and the result is that I placed an order for an Upton Bohemian hybrid yesterday. Upgrade to the "honey/amber finish" and antique tuners. Otherwise fairly standard. Would prefer a more blonde finish but Upton doesn't offer that now.

    Looking forward to a more standard neck profile compared to my '51 Kay; as I get older and play more I'm getting a little cramping from time to time and I think it is because of the slender neck. And several knowledgeable people with more experience than me have confirmed.

    Going to sell the Kay, but not until the new one is in hand. I'll post something in classified probably.

    Thanks for your help even though you may not have realized you were helping.
  2. mindwell

    mindwell Supporting Member

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    +1 to all the generosity longtime members show by helping those of us who are less experienced to get our bearings. And Bob, congratulations! That Bohemian should be a wonderful instrument.
  3. drurb

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

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    Congrats, Bob! Ah, so you went for the hybrid rather than a lami. Remember-- no pictures, no bass! :)
  4. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Les.
    Yes, decided that since this is the last bass I'll buy, I upgraded to the hybrid and I'll just be more aware of how I treat it.

    Pictures will be a while, since I don't expect to see it until May or June - but I'll definitely figure out how to post the photos.
  5. misterbadger

    misterbadger

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    Congratulations - I've been drooling over that bass for a year!
  6. drurb

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

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    Famous last words! Yup. Uh-huh. Sure. :D
  7. artfahie

    artfahie Supporting Member

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    My Bohemian Hybrid sings like an angel... I got delivery on it last March and there is no question but that the character of its' sound has blossomed. Last night I was playing with just a pianist and we were both talking about how great the bass sounds. I use it for jazz/combo work and have Spiros on it... play it through a MarkBass P121 (12" woofer) combo for an incredible sound... If Gary were to offer me a free "upgrade" to my "Sweetie" I'd probably just look the other way, this thing plays that good ! Good luck with yours.

    Art Fahie
    Maine
  8. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

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    Les - jeez, I'm already 66 - how many more of these can I use? Besides, per the suggestion from Ray Brown, I'm only going to play the low notes!

    Art - right now I'm planning on Spiro medium, since that is what I have on my Kay, and I've never played any other string. Which Spiro do you use?
  9. shwashwa

    shwashwa

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    did they charge you more because of the varnish color? i notice you referred to it as an upgrade
  10. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

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    Yes, it was a $250 upgrade for the "honey amber." I'd like a true blonde, but apparently it is no longer available from them. Would have been even more expensive, I think, because it requires a different veneer for the laminate. But I could be wrong. I'll be happy with the honey amber.
  11. shwashwa

    shwashwa

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    thats hilarious
  12. drurb

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

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    Why?
  13. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    I'm assuming the "humour" comes from the fact that it costs more for a different colour of varnish. To someone who hasn't made a bass before, that likely seems crazy. One would assume that like staining a deck, one simply picks a different starting colour and the process is the same.

    While I also haven't made a bass, I know from working on bows that obtaining different colours isn't that simple. The finishing process on bows vs. basses is decidedly different, but the similarity is that it can be significantly more work to stray from your usual colour palate. In dramatic cases like going from Upton's darker colour palate to a completely Blonde bass, this could mean a change in materials used, which means a change in construction techniques, costs, sound etc.

    Aesthetics plays a huge factor in how someone perceives an instrument. Plenty of very wise bassists, audience members and fellow musicians are very quick to judge a bass on its appearance. People hear with their eyes, and if they think your instrument doesn't look right, chances are they'll think it doesn't sound right either. This goes a step further with a new instrument. Even one bass with a finish someone equates to "cheap lacquer" can be hugely damaging to their reputation. "I saw this guy playing one of their basses and it looked weird" at best could mean they lose some business. At worst their brand is damaged irreparably, and all because they tried to make a customer happy.

    That's the balancing act. On one hand, they need to make customers happy. This means having plenty of custom options available that they execute flawlessly to make a bass that exceeds the demands and expectations of their customer. It also means every bass that leaves their shop has to be able to attract or at the very least, not deter future customers. This means they'll have to say no sometimes.

    Sorry for the novel, and sorry if it sounds like I'm on Upton's payroll (I'm not). I hope Bob will be very happy with his bass. From what I've seen/heard about the basses there, I would love to have that conversation one day with Upton about a bass of my own.
  14. artfahie

    artfahie Supporting Member

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    I also play the Mittels.... I'm 66 as well and trust me the upper register will sing after a few months.... imtonation will become more apparent (in a good way).... my bass was one of the last they built before they changed the body style of the Bohemian... I have a Fishman Full Circle & antiqued tuners as well. I also had my upper bout slightly enlargened to get a bigger tone... I can't imagine anyone not loving the sound of my bass... really. Keep us posted. BTW, mine has the "deluxe" top.... I did it on Upton's suggestion.... based on my own experience I can tell you that almost a year down the road I don't miss the money, but I'd feel like crap if I thought I cut any corners this late in my life... if you haven't already committed to it spend the extra $$$.... really.
  15. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

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    One quick note about the up charge for the lighter color - it's because of the need to select a veneer that will look good with the lighter color. It is not simply an up charge just because of the lighter color.

    Of course, I would understand even that approach. The Bohemian is the entry level product, designed with good parts and a standard finish, to try and meet a price point.

    They (Upton) clearly state that any deviation turns it into somewhat of a custom order, takes more time and perhaps different materials, and will result in some additional charges. I'm fine with that approach, and made the decision that the extra charges still make the product a good value for me.
  16. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Vice President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Bob and Mike both have it right. We charge more for the lighter finish because the wood selection is over the top. Poplar can be, well...ugly. Green, gray, and cold yellow. Put dark brown over that though and all those weird colors turn into nice shades of brown! Stick amber over those colors and it just looks like poo. I've seen the best pieces of spruce have a sap pocket or knot shadow RIGHT where the finish arch is. You have hundreds of dollars of stock and hours of time into a piece just to get selected out as not good enough for a light finish.

    There are also limits to what we'll accept as custom work because even though it's your bass...long long after you're gone...the bass will live on...and it'll always be "ours". You're just the first owner ;)
  17. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

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    Thanks Eric for clarifying things. While I have worked with some pretty ugly Pernambuco and other woods with knots, weird grain, colours that aren't all that appealing etc. bows are pretty much expected to be that dark red/deep brown colour people equate with Pernambuco which helps to make some of those things more appealing. If a bow has those kind of imperfections in it and survives the initial bend, it is often seen as "character" instead of "ugly". A lot of people don't realize that most bows have been finished (completely different process than basses) to be darker, and Pernambuco actually looks pretty yellow/orange/not appealing before that process. There is also very little completely black ebony left, but I can't go giving away too many trade secrets.

    This is what I was trying to get at, and one of the most amazing things about instruments and bows. Prescotts, Magginis, Panormos, and Sartorys, Pfretzschners, Villaumes, etc. were all made by people. In many ways they have become legends of their craft. They were just regular guys back in the day. Just like Gary and Eric at Upton, Arnold Schnitzer, Mario Lamarre, and the many other luthiers who contribute or are talked about here on a regular basis for their outstanding work are now. Bow makers are in the same boat. I know people who have a Sartory but prefer their Sue Lipkins, or Zdzislaw Prochownik, or Reid Hudson or whoever. I am sure that some of these makers are making instruments and bows that are going to be held up in much the same fashion generations from now. In order to meet your own standards, and leave a consistent legacy behind, every piece of your work needs to be fantastic. Every bass is a representation of the maker's work regardless to what the initial buyer is interested in.

    We live in a world now where it is extremely easy for someone to leave behind some sort of legacy. Just think of the fact that almost everyone carries around a video camera in their pocket attached to an internet machine that also lets them call anywhere in the world. And the NSA has a record of absolutely all of it. Jokes aside, those of us who are the first owners of our instruments are very likely not going to be their last. If you have the opportunity to play on some of the amazing old instruments from centuries ago, take a minute to think about the people who have played that bass before you. And the people who made it. And the fact that it was once a tree.

    Sorry to good off into left field here. I should likely have started a "Life is deep when you think about it" thread. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

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