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A mini-review of a Paul Bryant bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Paul Warburton, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. My friend, writer/bassist Erik Turkman, who wrote a really nice article on me in the October, 1996 issue of Bass Player Magazine, was visiting some mutual friends here in Denver.
    We did a hang at pianist/author Marc Sabatella and his new wife, jazz singer Wendy Fopiano's house.
    Erik had his new Paul Bryant bass with him and I just wanted to tell you guys my impression of this bass.
    A little on the large size (Bryant is of course English), I don't remember the important things like the mensur, but it was comfortable, in the 42" neighborhood. The machines were the English copies of the full-plate Baker machines which i've always been partial to, with matching ebony/brass end-pin. Very nice! The varnish was the only negative for me. Kind of a muddy brown, with some brush marks on the back, not particularly attractive to me. The pattern was a violin cornered Goffriller copy. Erik got the bass from that bass place down in Arizona (can't remember the name, but somebody will come up with it) For a price that is too good to mention.
    The bass was very even...Erik had kind of a bizzare mix of strings on it, including an Obligato G, a Hellicore Hybrid D and A and some E that I don't remember...
    Erik's a jazzer, so it was set up with that in mind. This bass sounded excellent all over the board both pizz and arco. Actually, I wouldn't normally bother to post a new thread on a newer bass, but this was an exception.
    We both came to the conclusion that the bass was crying for Thomastic Orchestra strings. Erik will give me a report on that when he gets back to the SF Bay Area.
    Anyway in terms of most anything you'd want in a newer bass, with the exception of the varnish, this bass passes with flying colors!!
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's one of the options, I've considered! So, there is a local DB'er I know and I saw him again at Jazz Summerschool and he has just (well this year) had a 5-string DB made for him by Paul Bryant (not too far away from us, in Sussex!) - so I've had a chance to hear it extensively and compare it with several other DBs - including those owned by Jazz pros.

    I was very impressed with the sound, acoustically and amplified on stage - although when I tried playing the bass, I was really struggling!! It was just too big and the fingerboard, too "far away" for me!! ;)

    But the sound was very good and to my ears was the nicest bass sound at the Summerschool - well part from the Tuba - but that's another story altogether!! ;)
  3. Are you sure you don't mean New Mexico? I'm pretty sure that Robertsons in Albuquerque had a Bryant last year.
  4. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yeah, Steve tries to pull a couple in each year. Have you checked out Paul's website? The finishes look pretty good on the screen, but that's why you play'em.

    Thanks for the review Paul. Prices are still in the 4 figure range.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The Bryant basses look incredible for the price. I haven't read or heard any bad reviews at all. When I was looking for an instrument I was seriously considering one of these basses before I found my current one.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
  8. I believe you're right.......
    Hey whad'ya want in a free review....? The facts?
  9. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004

    Just the facts, maam. Just the facts. :smug:
  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I played one of his basses last year here in Philly. I wasn't impressed. The bass had contruction issues.
  11. Please tell - these are basses I might consider at some point in future, lottery tickets permitting. :D
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm perpetually surprised that a DB could make it across the Atlantic without some de-construction issues!! ;)
  13. Hi All,

    I thought I'd add my own two cents here. While I've been lurking on TB for quite some time, this is my first post. Please forgive me if I'm a little long winded; I have a tendency towards verbosity.

    I'm quite pleased with the Paul Bryant Gofriller model bass. Mine is the first, and so far only, of this model, so the pictures on Bryant's website and those on the stringemporium website are all of the same bass. For those concerned, yes, I did in fact get it directly from Steve Koscica, who got it from Bryant. I had contacted Bryant previously, inquiring about his basses, and he told me that Steve K is the only dealer he works with in the US, so if you are in the US and want to see a Bryant, you pretty much have to deal with Steve. This is lucky, as Steve is a straight forward dealer, friendly, and he plays the heck out of the bass himself (he is a member of the Phoenix Symphony). I would highly recommend doing business with him. True to his claims, he picked me up at the airport, and he even offered to put me up in a hotel while I was there looking at basses. He shipped me the bass the next day--it only took a matter of hours to get to me in the SF Bay area.

    The bass is a little on the large side, but very playable, as the neck is perched and the shoulders are very easy to navigate. I haven't seen the original Matteo Gofriller bass that this model is based upon, but I imagine Bryant did some modifications to make this one as playable as it is. The dimensions and specs are all listed on the website: http://www.bryantbasses.co.uk/basses.htm

    The sound is very clear and strong. I use it mostly for jazz/pizz playing, but it sings under the bow as well. When plucked, there is a strong and immediate kick that socks the listener right in the middle of the chest, and it sustains very well. While it would be a fine orchestra section bass, those classical bassists who have played it also comment on how clear and resonant the upper range is, and they are tempted to use it as a solo bass. Playability wise, the most common comment is that it is a fun and easy bass to play.

    About the varnish: The varnish is a hand-applied oil-based varnish, applied in coats, so there will naturally be some variation. There are a few visible variations in the back, but by and large, it's pretty even. I'm used to old, well worn basses, so this one's minor variations don't bother me a bit.

    I've only seen one other Bryant bass, one of his solo models, so I can't comment on his overall production, but it seems that they are only getting better as he makes more. The various orchestra models seem to be quite popular in Europe, and I'm guessing they would be more popular in the US if they were more available. For the money, I haven't seen anything that comes close in overall sound and quality in a new bass, and I've looked at a lot of basses.

    I should add that once I got the bass back to my neck of the woods, I had some setup work done, and I'm still tweaking it. I had a new bridge and lightweight tailpiece wire put on, some fingerboard, nut, and soundpost work, but I would expect to do that with most new basses, especially anything made in Europe that was sent to California.

    Oh yeah, the E string was a Helicore Pizzicato string, but I'll be trying Spirocores next.
  14. That has to be the first time that anybody's used the word verbosity on TB!
    Thanks for the info., and welcome to TBDB Erik.
    I wish I could hear the Bryant with the Spiros on it! Let us know Man.
  15. Aroneng

    Aroneng Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2001
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    I also own a Bryant bass which I purchased from Steve K. about three years ago. The bass has acclimated well from the trip across the big pond, with one seam opening during the first winte season. I believe it has been nicely finished and when looking through the f holes the bass is just as well finished on the inside.
    I only play in a local orchestra, my section mates, as well as cello players in front of us, have commented that the bass has a very warm enjoyable tone and projects well.
    As Ed mentioned, the basses are still in the four figure range. For an English, fully carved bass from a respected maker in Europe, his basses are a good value and offer another alternative to other basses within a simliar price range.
    Attached are a couple pictures showing one of the front, and one of the scroll with individually machined tuners.
  16. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The English have been known for the past 200+ years for making Italian Style Basses, Violins etc. with finely applied Varnish and neater Workmanship throughout.

    My Gilkes is as good as any Bass I have ever seen in Varnish and Workmanship and the Sound had a big Plush Bottom like many favored Italian Basses. It Spreads more than sticks out tonally like many Italian Basses do.

    I hear than many English Players prefer a fine English Bass over an Italian for Section playing.

    Anyone else ever hear or read about these things I have mentioned?

    Throughout the last 250 years there have been many qualities of Instruments with English labels. Some rank with the finest Italians and others are just common trade instruments. Within a country and it's music population, all qualities of instruments were demanded depending one ones financial ability. The English also employed some French Makers in the shops and some English makers Trained in France as well. France even supplied various qualities of un-finished instruments to be completed and labeled as English.
    Germany, Czeck and now China do the same thing as suppliers.

    Judge the Bass (or other string Instrument) on it's own merits first. Being Italian, new or old does not automatically mean better.
    A few examples from Austria, Germany, Bohemia/Czeck, France and other parts of Europe have also tipped the scale on past occassions.......
  17. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I had a chance to hang out with Erik the other day. In addition to being a fine player and a fountain of DB knowledge he's one helluva nice cat. He was kind enough to let me play his Bryant bass and I have to say that bass kicks some serious butt. The low G was shaking the walls playing pizz.

  18. Cairobill


    Dec 15, 2003
    Hello All

    Just to tack this on the end of this thread...

    I've just bought a Solo model from Paul Bryant in Hastings. It is an absolutely beautiful bass - sounds fantastic, plays very well, excellent construction...lot's of English db tradition in there. After playing various basses it was clear that nothing came close to the Bryant in its price range...

    Will post pics and more info later...meanwhile have to go play my new bass! :hyper:

  19. I look forward to your additional postings on your Bryant bass. I have had a Gofriller model that I bought new from Steve Koscica last spring. I am very pleased with the sound and playability of it as well as the quality of the workmanship. The Gofriller model has a dark, warm sound but also has a lot of clarity to it's tone. I also think that this is a lot of bass for the price.

    As mentioned earlier in this thread, they do require a bit of set-up work to optimize the instrument. I had an upgraded adjustable bridge installed with a Full Circle pick-up, some fingerboard planing work, sound post adjustment and some other minor items. I put Pirastro Flexcor Originals on the G, D and A and D'Addario Helicor on the E ( a little brighter sound for the E string) since I planned to use this primarily as a symphony bass. I also play a lot of jazz, so I have been using the Bryant for that as well and find that it has a good jazz sound and projects well, even in non-amplified venues.

    The larger size of this bass takes a little getting used to. I have played a 1950's Anton Schuster carved bass for many years and it has narrower bouts and more sloping shoulders. I really like the deeper, warmer sound that the larger bodied Gofriller model produces, however.
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Funny how these threads come around again - so I last posted in August 2004 and since then I have been to another Summer School and got to play the same 5-string Paul Bryant bass again - it's still looks very good although the owner has now added position marker dots - which spoils it a bit - but it still sounds very nice!! :)