*SOLD* Swanson Bass: The "Gullwing"

Discussion in 'DB Classifieds Archive' started by LouisF, May 20, 2010.


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  1. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I find myself with a plethora a basses and more on the way!

    In addition to my main bass (Italian, 1985, by Jorge Vasquez de Anda), I have the Gary Karr-model Upton bass now (http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=513764); and a 7/8ths Italian-style orchestra bass that my friend Roberto Giormenti is bringing up from Argentina (http://www.auday-giormenti.com.ar/modeloavanzadoe.htm).

    Nick Roubas promises he will finish the world’s longest bass restoration project (http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=286587&highlight=nick roubas) in June.

    This leaves the Swanson bass I got from Wayne Holmes last summer:
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=563731&highlight=swanson

    Something has to go (or the Significant Other will kill me!). And the Swanson, regrettably, is it:

    This is definitely an odd-duck of a bass, but it sounds great, especially in the mid and lower registers. It does need some set-up work (higher register is a bit choked). It is strung Permanents now, and I had planned to take it in to:

    a) add a Stenholm Extension;
    b) change the endpin to an angled Stahlhammer (not Laborie) endpin (http://www.vivaceviolin.com/pp/Accessories/Bass/857.html) for easier bowing;
    c) and change the tailpiece (Thomastik) (which I think is part of the high register issue)

    The bass needs to be cared for like any old carved instrument, but I’ve played it in opera pits and regularly in one of my community orchestras (great Beethoven bass!). This bass is not for everyone, but for the right player it's a steal.

    I’m asking $4,000 for the bass with the (uninstalled) extension, end-pin, tailpiece, low C extended Permanent and an extra large Bobelock case thrown in. $3,500 for the bass alone. Shipping is extra, but unless you’ve dealt with these basses, I wouldn’t recommend buying it without trying it out first or at least talking to me about it in some detail.

    Thanks,

    Louis
  2. beingbecoming

    beingbecoming

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2004
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    is it fully carved or hybrid?

    thanks
  3. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    It's complicated. The best answer is in the thread I listed above:

    "Would you call these carved or hybrid basses? or something even in between?" His answer" "Yes!"

    On mine the top is definitely carved, and I think the back is, but maybe the sides aren't. Bob Swanson basically repaired basses for the Pittsburgh Symphony and he made this basses for symphony players to use as second instruments. They were made with whatever wood was around, and to what shape struck Swanson's fancy at the moment. The only exception are the necks - which he imported from Germany and are excellent. Wayne Holmes felt that Swanson basically built the instruments from the neck down.

    Having said all that, everyone will tell you that these are $3-4K basses that sound like basses ten times more expensive. They're idiosyncratic, but terrific. If two of the other three basses hadn't been custom made for me they might have been easily up for sale instead.

    I really hate to give this bass up, but if it (or one of the other basses) doesn't go, the girlfriend will... Hmmm....

    Hmmm....

    Louis
  4. LeslieD

    LeslieD

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Your girlfriend is going to hate me, but... Girlfriends come and go, but you'll NEVER have another Swanson bass. Other than what I've read on TB, I really know nothing about these basses and have never seen one in person or played one. Yet for some reason, I just can't stop looking at these basses (yours especially). I have the feeling that your particular bass will ultimately have a very interesting journey ahead, complete with a larger-than-life story (okay, maybe not on the scale of The Red Violin--but interesting none-the-less). I probably shouldn't project anthropomorphic qualities on your bass. Sorry about that! Good luck w/ the sale of this instrument.
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  6. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Leslie,

    Thanks. I agree - about the bass and the transitory nature of relationships... I've had more than my share of both, good and bad.
    This is very special bass, and I think we do anthropomorphize these instruments (it's certainly what the Suskind play I just did was about).

    We'll see how it goes if somebody is interested. I'm already having second thoughts.

    Louis
  7. conte2music

    conte2music

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Location:
    Dobbs Ferry NY&The Adirondacks
    I'm a fellow Swanson owner, Louis... From time to time I consider selling mine as well....but then I talk myself back from the ledge ;)

    As you know, there are very few of these available. It's doubtful that you'll find anything that will sonically compete with this bass for 4K (Is that really all these awesome basses are worth?). Best wishes.
  8. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Lordy, I know. Love stinks - and I mean the bass, not the gf!!

    Thanks for the support. We'll see.

    Louis
  9. beingbecoming

    beingbecoming

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2004
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    It's too bad you are all the way in LA and I'm all the way in NY :) I have a first time home buyers credit coming my way and this looks like something I'd love to blow it on :)
  10. beingbecoming

    beingbecoming

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2004
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    By the way.. just curious.. is it ship-able?
  11. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Not easily, but it was shipped to me by Wayne Holmes from TN.

    Doable... but carefully.

    Louis
  12. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    The bass is going out on trial now. I'll keep you all posted.

    Thanks

    Louis
  13. conte2music

    conte2music

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Location:
    Dobbs Ferry NY&The Adirondacks
    Best wishes on your sale, Louis!
  14. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    We'll see -- haven't quite made peace with it... but thanks, everyone, for the input.

    Louis
  15. Richard Simon

    Richard Simon

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    How'd the Swanson trial go?

    Am here in LA, so I'd love to have a go at the bass meself.
    Would use it primarily for jazz - unless its upper-register issues prove insurmountable.

    Thanks,
    -richard
  16. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    It's probably just getting to its destination after shipping and packing (no easy task on this bass). I'll keep you - and the others - posted. I did have the pleasure of being able to stand out in front of the bass and listen to a jazz/blues bassist play it - the bass really fills the room.

    Louis
  17. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    The bass has (after a very complicated couple of weeks) been sold and is in good hands in St Louis.

    Louis
  18. LeslieD

    LeslieD

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    And so its journey and story continues. I can't wait to see the movie (and listen to the soundtrack!). :)
  19. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    You have no idea!
    LF

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