Wanted; Cheap, Durable Bass. Seattle.

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Suntower, Nov 11, 2012.


  1. Suntower

    Suntower

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2012
    Hi,

    I apologise in advance for the windiness about to ensue. New member. Old guy. I've been playing upright for many years... jazz, cuban, rock. Like a lotta guys I bow about as accurately as I spit.

    Years ago I had an old plywood upright. Then one of the bakelite ampegs. Now I have a bsx allegro. All great. But I finally wanna get another 'real' upright'. It's not for the audience... frankly the BSX sounds -fine- out front. But for -me- I'm really missing the 'air' or whatever you call it, playing a 'real' bass. It's just not fun trying to work on bowing with an EUB.

    Unfortunately, I'm pretty shocked to find that the days of getting a cheap Lewis or Kay are loooooong gone. I have -zero- idea on how to shop for one. I see lots of basses on-line for super low prices but I'm pretty skeptical of the idea of buying something like an upright on-line. Or maybe they're fine. No idea.

    I used to go into Hammond Ashley (the big outfit here in Seattle) but frankly, they want to sell me a quality instrument and apparently I can't afford a quality instrument. :D And even if I could, the kind of gigs I play (bars) I'm scared to death to bring in a decent instrument.

    In short, I just need a plywood bass that can play in tune and isn't particularly 'needy'.

    So... if you were -me-... and you could spend, say $1,500 MAX, how would you go about choosing an upright. OR... is that just too little money today?

    TIA,

    ---JC
  2. Nathan Levine

    Nathan Levine

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Location:
    Anchorage, AK
    A couple of years ago Bryce sent a couple of Christopher 3/4 basses to a colleague of mine in the Anchorage School District. If HA is still carrying them, the Christopher basses seem to be quite decent for the money. Seems like they are one of a few Chinese manufacturers that consistently send good basses over to the U.S.

    Lots of threads here on TB discussing the quality of different Chinese instruments. A search for Shen, Christopher and CCB should give you a few weeks worth of reading material.

    In the meantime, go back to HA, tell them your price range and ask to play everything they have in stock within that price range. Look for something that feels good and is easy to play. Remember that you can put any number of different strings on a bass to get it to sound better / different. Good luck!!!
  3. lcdck

    lcdck

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Location:
    New York, NY
    You have several options for $1500.

    The Christopher DB 100 may be in that price range.
    Shen SB80
    Thompson RM-100
    Engelhardt sells two 3/4 models for around $1200

    Do some searches on those models, browse through the DB forums and you'll find many good options at that price.
  4. misterbadger

    misterbadger

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2012
    Location:
    Northern California
    I found a beautiful laminate Upton on Craigslist with bag and pickup for $1200 - be patient and keep your eyes open!
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  6. drurb

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

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    ...and stay away from Engelhardts. IMO, skinny neck leading to left-hand fatigue, low overstand, flat fingerboard projection, overall poor design, anemic sound. Go for the others mentioned as recommended.
  7. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Get a KC Strings Krutz 100. It will knock your socks off.
  8. Suntower

    Suntower

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2012
    Thanks for the replies. I'll do a bit of studying before asking specific questions. I used to live near Ann Arbor, MI and there is a place there with a lot of inexpensive student Chinese instruments on offer. I don't know of dealers like that -here-.

    I do remember Bryce. Very nice guy! I haven't been to Hammond Ashley since they moved (they went from being 1/4 mi from my house to over 1 hr away), but back then they really didn't have any 'super-low' priced instruments. I would feel a bit uncomfortable even asking them about such things as I got the impression that such instruments were a bit beneath what they wanted to do... which I can appreciate... but I'm too broke to have any standards. :D

    Cheers!

    ---JC
  9. wallawallabob

    wallawallabob

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2010
    Media:
    2
    Location:
    Walla Walla, WA
    I am a member of the CCB club. Mine is a carved Palatino. It plays pretty well, and if you are going to play bars (I do too) you will amplify. That seems to nullify the sound of really good basses, unless you also spend a gob of dough on amps etc.

    I have hauled mine in the back of the pickup (no topper) in the rain, snow, and heat probably 3 or 4 thousand miles. I don't think I would do that with an expensive bass....

    My recommendation is to play some cheap ones and some expensive ones, and get a feel for what you like and don't, and what you will pay for and won't. H A are good folks - I borrowed one of theirs to jam with at Wintergrass last Feb. They have all sorts of basses. I'm pretty sure you will be able to find something under $1500 if you look hard enough. I have found several for sale on Craigslist in WA lately.
  10. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    You might check with Anna Doak www.basschurch.com. Don't know what she's got going these days, but $1,500 plywood basses are obtainable. There used to be a few other places in Seattle to shop for basses, but the best of them (guitar emporium in Ballard) closed. It sounds like you know what you're doing, so you might watch craigslist and be patient. If I hear of something, I'll let you know.
  11. Thumpie

    Thumpie

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Triangle Area, NC
    Palatino makes carved basses? Really?

    That's funny. But I agree, if you're not going to follow the process through, then why even worry about what you start with!
  12. lnichols

    lnichols

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Location:
    Round Rock, Texas
    Off topic for this thread (sorry), but can you talk a bit about a skinny neck leading to hand fatigue? I recently bought an early '50s American Standard. The neck is a narrower diameter than other basses I've played. I'm experiencing left-hand fatigue and wondering what I can do about it. Is it the width of the neck across the strings, or the front-to-back that makes for hand fatigue? My luthier put a new ebony fingerboard on it and it's considerably thicker front-to-back than it was originally. The original fingerboard had been planed over the years, so that it was very thin.

    Is there anything that can be done to lessen hand fatigue? Are some strings better for this than others on a thinner necked bass? Or is this just the way it will always be with this bass (unless I replace the neck, which I don't plan on doing)? Just to be clear, I have 2 other basses with larger diameter necks, and I don't have the fatigue problem with them, so I don't suspect a technique problem.

    Thanks, Leni
  13. Marial

    Marial Proud Papa Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Just get one with an ebony fingerboard. No one that I've found in Seattle will work on a maple fingerboard. Not HA, not the basschurch. Mine is a Palatino plywood, and for how cheap it was ($800 brand new) it's great, but I'm having to make do with it as it is because no one will work on it.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Madison WI
    Disclosures:
    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    Regarding hand fatigue, I think it's the depth front-to-back that matters more than the width across the strings.

    I played a Kay for years, and experienced the fatigue. A couple summers ago I got a new bass that has a thicker neck -- within the same ballpark as most newer basses being sold today. I definitely experience less fatigue with the thicker neck, though my hands are not particularly large and strong. Today I actually find the Kay hard to play.

    The conventional wisdom is that the thicker neck opens up your hand more. Don't know the underlying physiology. It was the discussions in this forum that clued me into this, so I'm not claiming any authority or insight here. I experience something similar with my bow hand (French) and find it more comfortable to have a piece of rubber tubing around the grip.
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I suspect there is more to it than that. They're afraid that if they drop the tension and start planing the fingerboard, then something else will fail when they reassemble and they won't be able to to do the job and return it to you without another problem..something. If it was just a matter of maple being too soft, they'd plane it for you every money for a fee, I'm sure.
  16. drurb

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

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Here's an intuitive way to understand this. Starting with an open hand, fold your fingers half-way down to a fist. Now, spread your fingers apart essentially as far as they will go. Try to maintain that spacing as you continue to fold down your fingers toward a fist. It can't be done! The idea is that, on a skinny neck, it's fatiguing to maintain the necessary spacing of the fingers of the left hand, especially in the lower positions. I had the same experience, first hand (pun intended), playing a Kay for years.
  17. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Word.

    I dislocated my thumb some years ago. It finally healed to where I can play again. The thickest DB neck, even with moderate to heavy strings, is not a problem. I can play all night. Fatigued - yes. Cramp or pain - no. OTOH, a thin pork chop neck and even with light strings, and I will cramp within 5 minutes, and even pop the thumb out again.

    Thin necks are for teenagers who don't have full maturity to their hand size or musculature. As the hand grows, the neck needs to grow with the player.
  18. lnichols

    lnichols

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Location:
    Round Rock, Texas
    This makes sense to me. In addition to being a skinnier neck, it's also longer. On my other bass, I can easily play both an F and a G on the E string without shifting my left hand. On this American Standard bass, I can't stretch quite that far and I have to do a small shift.

    Not sure what I'll do about it, but at least I understand what's happening now.

    Thanks, Leni

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