Hi everyone, now that I have had the Thomann 111E for about 9 months I wanted to give some observations about my bass and how it's holding up.
1- I took my bass to a luthier (who happens to be a bandmate) and did all the upgrade @MIKMANrecommend. Hardwood tailpiece,new tail gut, carbon fiber endpin,bridge shaping, and my bass needed some minor fingerboard planing. The tuning pegs are pretty rough but don't seem to slip, so they are staying for now. I got some parts of eBay and my friend did the work for cheap, so I only needed to put inanother 15% of the purchase priceto have the bass set up. Without that discount and penny pinching on components, it could easily have gone up to 50% of the purchase cost. If you took this bass into astring shop for a full setup like this, the total cost after purchase price of the 111E and work bill could bemore than a student bass they have for sale in the showroom. Something to consider....
2- My luthier commented that theebony on the nut and fingerboardwas pretty good, especially for theprice. Still, it is a very thin fingerboard and a pretty thin neck profile overall. Not quite as skinny as a Kay, and not so small that I'mgetting any cramping, but thinner than most basses I've played. Thebass is totally stable structurally thus far, and the luthier didn't think it had any structural issues. NoPalentino-esque implosion yet
3- I'm running Velvet Blue on theE+A, Golden Slap D, and a Cordes Lambert-clone treated weedwackerfor the G string. I actually tried gut strings at one point early on, butkeeping with the bass's theme I wanted to see how it would respond to an economical string choice. Ialso tried the full set of the Blues, but found the uppers too bright and stiff. The strings are a medium-high, about 8.5 on the G. I basically tried to set up the bass to get as much acoustic power as I could withoutbeing too unwieldy to play. The bass responds well to low tension strings, IMO.
4- After the setup, strings, andupgrades, it's a usable pizz basswith a good bit of punch in the lower and middle registers. It's prettymid-ranged focused, but dark enough to hold a nice round tone. I bought this as a pizz bass, and it sounds good in that Kay-with-guts kind of way. Not a very sophisticated tone, but warm and projecting. I used it this week at a bluegrass jam with about 20 people and it cut really through the mix without killing my hands. For jazz, I'm getting the dark old-school sound that is really nice for that's really nice for Gypsy jazz and swing. I find the upper registers a little sterile (even when I had plain guts on there), but that's life with a student most plywood basses I suppose.
5- It's nice that a bag is bundled in, but it's very thin with almost no pockets and handles. You might get a couple of months of regular use out of the bag, but expect to have to replace it sooner than later. To me, it doesn't add much value to thepackage.
6- The price has gone up about 50€ since I bought my 111E, and the price has also come down on the European-made Thomann 11. IIRC, these are relabeled Strunals and are much more of a known commodity than the mystery-meat 111E. For only 130€ more, the 11 seems like a better bang for your buck. If the price gap was that small when I was buying (it was closer to 300€ at that point) I probably wouldn't have bothered with the 111E.
So in summary, the Thomann 111E can work out as a perfectly usable, nice sounding gig bass with the right setup and upgrades. Just be be mindful that this bass still needs a full luthiers setup, so be sure to factor that cost in when setting out your budget. You may find the best "out the door" deal comes from your local string shop!