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Shen SB-180 vs. SB-200

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by IdealWay, May 23, 2012.


  1. IdealWay

    IdealWay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    I'm hoping to upgrade soon and am considering each of these as possibilities. Can anyone comment on the tonal differences between the two? I'm leaning towards a hybrid because of the durability, and it's a little cheaper, but if anyone could compare the similarities and differences it'd be really helpful. Thanks ahead of time!
     
  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Burlingame, California
    Disclosures:
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Assuming similar tops, the SB 2OO will have a much stronger fundamental and fatter sound overall due to the X-braced solid back and the willow used for it. Willow tends to promote the low end compared to maple. Some of the willow romanian basses have a huge bottom end.
     
  3. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Location:
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    Disclosures:
    AFM 72-147 union card-carrying liberal academic musician
    The only SB 200 I have played was used and just plain dead. I assume it needed the sound post moved and a new bridge. I so wanted to like it. Be sure to play before you buy.
     
  4. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Burlingame, California
    Disclosures:
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    I would head on over to Dustin Williams' in Nashville and check them out. I've heard nothing but good things about his setup and service. It's a relatively short drive from Asheville. Good luck!
     
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  6. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    I purchased my Shen SB80 from Dustin's shop. The bass plays great. He did an amazing job on it.
     
  7. johninmemphis

    johninmemphis Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Yes, Dustin is good. He had a 180 there not too long ago in April - may still be there. Don't remember seeing a 200.
     
  8. engedi1

    engedi1

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    The 180 is a great bass for the money. The 200 will cost $1000 more and I am not sure it sounds $1000 better
     
  9. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Or you could spend even less and get a 150. Mine isn't as loud or complex as my old German fully carved, but it's playing in nicely and doesn't have 100 years of questionable repairs to obsess over.
     
  10. IdealWay

    IdealWay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Thanks for all the input guys. I'm leaning towards the 180 (maybe even 150 if the right deal surfaces) right now. Steve, do you know when they switched from lacquer to oil varnish on the 180? I've got a lead on a 2007 and want to be sure it's the latter. Thanks again.
     
  11. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Burlingame, California
    Disclosures:
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Jon Sprague from Shen was kind enough to go through the records to answer this question. The last of the lacquer finish SB 180 basses will have a serial number 2007-2-XX. Anything from 2007-3-XX on will have the oil varnish finish. We can also tell with photos. Thanks again, Jon!
     
  12. IdealWay

    IdealWay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    This one reads 2007-7-xx so I'm in the clear. Thanks for the info Steve.
     
  13. IdealWay

    IdealWay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Here are 2 shots of the bass. The fingerboard looks more grainy and brown than most ebony I've experienced. Is it a different wood? Any ideas? Thanks again


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. engedi1

    engedi1

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    + 1 to oil finishes. Looks, feels, and smells more pro! I and I think lacquer finishes can choke the tone. Good luck finding a great bass!
     
  15. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    That looks just like the varnish on my 2011 SB-150. My fingerboard is jet-black (dyed?) but the nut has grey flecks. If you buy the bass, try hitting the fingerboard with a small amount of oil -- pure lemon, woodwind bore oil or similar, no wax -- and see if that helps any. What do they want for it?
     
  16. IdealWay

    IdealWay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Thanks mattwallace, I might check him out. Found a SB-180 pretty close for $2,000... Good price? Was set up by Wilhite and supposedly in immaculate condition.
     
  17. IdealWay

    IdealWay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    AFAIK all Shen fingerboards are solid Ebony. My SB-80 is mostly jet black but does have some lighter areas and grain patterns. Nothing like the one pictured though... almost looks like rosewood! Maybe planing the board revealed more grain, or it's just a unique cut of Ebony?
     
  18. engedi1

    engedi1

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    That seems like a pretty decent price. I have seen these go for $1800 and almost bought one myself at that price last year. The price will depend on your region. I have found used basses sell slow, and the dude may take an offer.. The fingerboard looks like macassar ebony to me. This ebony is often used, and then varnished black, which will of course wear off in time. It is hard and expensive to get real African ebony which is becoming rare. Just ask Gibson.
     
  19. ole Jason

    ole Jason

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    The flash on the camera is probably making the ebony seem more brown that it would appear under natural light. AFAIK the only difference in the 150 and 180 are the tuners and figured woods. I actually preferred the wood on the 150.

    In my area $2000 is a fair price for the 180.
     
  20. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    If Jimmy Garrison plays the 150 and Ron Carter plays the 200 which one sounds better?
     
  21. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Burlingame, California
    Disclosures:
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Jimmy Garrison every time. But Jimmy will sound at his very best with an instrument chosen to best compliment way that he plays.
     

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