Shen SB190 5/8 Gamba

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Thumpie, Oct 28, 2012.


  1. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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    Triangle Area, NC
    So I tried a Shen SB190 5/8 hybrid flat-back. Unfortunately, it was sold, and the shop isn't going to stock them unless they're ordered.

    It was a gamba model. I've not been able to find anything about this model on Shen's website. I'm guessing it's a new addition.

    Has anyone bought one of these? I thought it was a very comfortable bass with a decent sound...
  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    Oct 12, 2004
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    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    The labeling on these is strange. The size is really a large 3/4. I don't know why most of the labels that I've seen on the SB 190 hybrids have mistakenly listed the size as "5/8". They are clearly not any where near a 5/8 size.
  3. drurb

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

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    Sounds like they meant 7/8.
  4. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

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  6. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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    Triangle Area, NC
  7. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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    To quote Beerman's website:

    Samuel Shen Hybrid 5/8 Double Bass

    Sam Shen Model SB190 5/8 size double bass with carved top and sides, maple veneer back, Euro brass tuning machines, German-made ulsa endpin. Lightly shaded, hand-applied oil finish. Beautiful, unusual size bass. 41 - 1/8″ string length.​

    The only other SB190 models I've seen are NOT gamba, either.
  8. Thumpie

    Thumpie

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
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    Triangle Area, NC
    I just emailed Shen:

    Could you provide specs for the SB190 5/8 Gamba bass? There is no information on your site. Is this bass a new addition to your line?​

    I'll let you guys know what their reply is.
  9. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    The Shen Rogeri string length is 41 1/4", so I think that we are talking about the standard large 3/4 Rogeri pattern here. The top length (from the end of the neck block to the end of the tailpiece saddle) should be about 43 5/8" and the lower bout width will be about 26 1/2" on the standard Rogeri pattern. A 5/8 size bass won't be anywhere near this size. If Shen is now offering the Rogeri in gamba form, without the usual vilin corners, that is real happy news to me. The labor expense of making violin corners puts the price up significantly higher. Fun stuff!
  10. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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    Beerman says it is an "unusual size." He also says that a real "5/8" should have a scale closer to 40", so it's difficult to characterize this bass which has a top that is smaller than most 3/4s, but a scale length closer to a 3/4. The bouts were quite narrow. I wished I had measured them while I had the bass in my hands.

    At any rate, regardless of what Shen is calling it, there is no information available about any Gamba SB190s.

    Maybe you'd call it a "solo bass"?
  11. drurb

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

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    Here we go again with the vagaries of fractional bass "sizes." The informative specs are vibrating string length, bout size, rib depth, etc. Even then, as we all know, you gotta go play them. There are some big-bodied basses that are a dream to navigate as a player because the builders have been savvy about ergonomics (shoulder slope, rib depth taper, overstand, etc.) I know, I play one! I never placed much stock in whether a builder calls a bass a 3/4, a 7/8, a 5/8, an 11/16, or whatever. That nomenclature is probably only informative in a relative sense within a specific builder's offerings.

    One seeming inconsistency that I see in this thread is:

    I don't know who's right but these two claims appear difficult to reconcile.
  12. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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    Yeah, I hear you.

    Honestly, I don't care what the bass is called, but it is smaller, felt comfortable, and I want more information!
  13. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    The strange "5/8" labeling for regular Rogeri models seems to be a shop labeling error that has a life of its own. For me, it's just an "Oh, well" situation that doesn't have any bearing on how they physically stand in between the regular 3/4 and 7/8 size instruments from Shen.
  14. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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  15. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

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    I examined a new hybrid Shen SB190, 5/8 ths size gamba bass at Upton's Boston shop on Friday.

    This is in fact a new model. Flat back, willow sides.

    String length was normal 3/4 length, body is 5/8 size.

    The bass was getting setup so I did not get to play it, although plucking a couple of strings produced a very dark thumpy sound that reminded my of one of the Pollmans we have at work.
  16. Thumpie

    Thumpie

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    Thank you. Swan, read this.
  17. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

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    No problem Thumpie, you are not going crazy.

    FWIW, you might try calling Upton if you are really interested in one of these. I believe they said they had a couple.

    My gut feeling is they will sell very fast, the one I saw was a very attractive, petite bass.
  18. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

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    Though I'm more of a large 3/4 and 7/8 kind of guy, this is an interesting new model developement and may explain the "5/8" labeling of some of the Rogeri model bases that I've gotten in the last year. Does anyone have dimensions for this 5/8 size model?
  19. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

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    Hey Steve

    Sorry, I wished I had asked more questions about it when I was seeing one in person.

    On the setup table, the bass looked pretty darn small. It was... cute.
  20. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

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    Vice President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    As John @ CSC explained it...there was a very small number of new 5/8 size bass bodies that accidentally received 3/4 necks. John called us to see if we were interested in them as they were something similar to what we do with our 5/8 basses and, knowing that we don't get hung up on numbers the way some shops do, thought we would appreciate them and find them homes.
  21. iiipopes

    iiipopes

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    May 4, 2009
    Could be a good solo bass?

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