1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

A truly affordable upright?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Electra Player, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. I've been wanting an upright, I can't say why, but I wouldl ike to find one to expand my musical abilities.

    But, even so called student models run up around 600-800 on my local Craigslist.
    I get that these are large instruments and require much skill/effort to make, but is there a truly affordable model within the 2-400 range?

    Something is telling me no, but I'd like to try.
  2. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Now both something and someone can tell you. No-- $200-400 just won't do it (unless you stumble upon a miracle). I suggest that you read the newbie links carefully. There's a wealth of good information there.

    A new, entry-level laminate instrument with a good setup (that's critical) will run you at least about $1500. You may be able to find a nice deal on a used bass. It's always a good idea to have such a bass given a thorough check-up by a luthier. Perhaps renting for a bit would be a good idea so that you can find out if the DB is something you want to stick with.

  3. zeytoun


    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon

    (edit: you have plenty of equipment. If you really want to play bass, sell some of it and buy something decent. Or rent.)
  4. E.P. Miller

    E.P. Miller Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2008
    Why not just rent one for a couple of months to make sure this is more than just a passing fancy. You can circumvent the whole first-time buyer mine field for now. If you decide to buy your own, the shop you rented from can probably point you in the right direction.
  5. This may be the route I go.
    I will have to research a place that rents though as I know of none (at this time.)

    And to the person who tells me to sell some of my equipment:
    The total for my instruments was 440 dollars.
    I highly doubt I could sell any of them form uch, except the P-Bass...which I need.
    My Electra Phoenix was what I consider my first real guitar, if not for it I may not have a bass.
    The Workingman is far too good, blows Gibsons away.
    The Moridira..well..okay, that might go for 100-150 tops.
    Good bass, nearly vintage, but virtually unknown by anyone.

    I'm attached.
    And don't start me on my Peavey T-25.
    That is probably my problem.
    Then again, wait till you hear the prices.

    I may sell a few pedals but this is hardly enough for a down payment, more just for extra cash.

    I may also look into the dreaded world of the Dean electric upright..I'd end up regretting it, though.

    If anyone can point to specific brands that may offer cheaper models, I'd be glad to know.
  6. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    One thing you have to realize is that "affordable" and "low cost" do not necessarily equal "inexpensive bass" in the URB world. Here's why:

    If you really want to set yourself up for success on the instrument, you have to face the reality that it's a physically-demanding proposition. You need to spend a certain amount of money to get a bass that can be made playable, or you'll never enjoy it and will ultimately give it up in frustration. Let's compare the possible outcomes, and you'll see why a nicer bass is the best choice:

    #1 - You buy a cheap imported instrument. It's so hard to play that you hate it, or worse, hurt yourself. You've wasted the initial cost of the bass. Then you try to sell it to recoup, and find that the used market value is almost nil. You've lost more money. Or it self-destructs at some point, as these things are prone to do. Same outcome....lost money.

    #2 - You buy a cheap imported instrument, and quickly realize you need something better. Again, no resale value at all on the cheap basses. You'd spend less money buying the nicer bass in the first place.

    When I say "nicer bass", I'm referring to something on the level of an Englehardt or equivalent that can be had for $1500 or less. It's just the better investment.
  8. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
  9. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    how can you say that a used imported instrument has very low resale value while at the same time say that you can't get a cheap bass.

    I really don't understand how EUBs can be so expensive. It's not that different construction-wise from a electric bass, but has even less electronics (for just a piezo)
  10. Low Main

    Low Main Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    I think most of the ones available are largely handmade in small quantities by small shops. And they are made with quality components. Plus, the makers decide to solve engineering and logistical problems along the way, so they come up with things like ergonomic metal appendages and removable necks etc.

    Also, materials can be a problem - you need larger and longer pieces of select woods to produce a EUB. For example, a while back the NS WAV basses had an ongoing problem with cracks developing in the ebony fingerboards. A factory is not going to select and season woods like an individual luthier would. Ebony is unstable by nature and needs coaxing and TLC to make it behave. It is getting harder and harder to obtain decent exotic wood billets that are wide and long enough to be used for upright fingerboards.

    You would think that with what some EUB's cost, they would at least look presentable, but in many cases, that challenge has not been successfully met. There are some flat out ugly EUB's floating around in the universe.

    I remain disappointed that the Eminence looks like a French maid's provincial ironing board, yet does not come with a French maid included.

    To me, the main thing to decide is whether you primarily want to pursue the physical relationship with the upright or the sound of it. If it's just the sound, and you're not concerned about playing with a bow, you can come close to the pizzicato sound by experimenting with various playing techniques on an electric bass that is configured to produce an upright-type sound.
  11. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    The point is that you can't buy a cheap bass that is worthy of playing. You can always buy a cheap bass. They can make nice planters. :)
  12. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings

    I want to buy a 42" plasma TV, but can't find one for $100. Just MAYBE if it's something I really want, I'll figure out how to do it.

    This is just something to think about. :D
  13. Tyler,
    I am from your area. I have been watching Craigslist for about a year for a cheap DB to get started. Not to say you can't get lucky but here have been like five DBs for under $1000 in a year. Among them - one old Kay needed a new front for $250 (missed it, darn!). A no-name for $750 (they didn't return e-mail) and a '02 Engelhardt EC-1 student model that I bought for $750 pretty well set-up.

    But was it a good deal? I added new strings, and a better bridge w/ adjusters and that brought my investment to about $1000. I re-did the set-up with the help of the good folks in the set-up forum at N/C.

    I could have purchased a new EM-1 with better trim (and not orange) for a touch more.

    Talk to the people at International Violin there in Balto. Local - might save $200 on shipping and apply it to set-up.


    Also there is a bass house (over 40 in stock) I haven't been to north of DC:


    Surf this forum for great advice already given on all aspects of bass selecting. I have just given you a local resource or two.

    If you compare a UB to an acoustic guitar, it is remarkable that you can buy a serviceable one for $1200.

    Good luck.
  14. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
  15. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Last I checked, Upton charges more than $400.
  16. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    any bass is worth of my skill:meh: regardless of price. I got a VERY cheap cello not long ago off eBay. This was against every review I had read. It's not the best sounding instrument in the world and Yo-Yo Ma isn't calling me to borrow it, but it sounds more like a cello than anything else I own, and that's good enough for me. I did have to do some work that would have cost a lot of money for a shop to do, but I did it myself because I wasn't worried about ruining a cheap bridge (a new one is less than $15) and now I not only have a decent playing instrument, but the knowledge and courage to do that sort of adjustment on a better instrument later when I upgrade
  17. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    The suggestion was obviously made as an addition to the links provided in the post above it. All of those shops charge more than $400. The point, of course, is that one shouldn't look at cheapie BSOs.
  18. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    As has been pointed out here many, many times, buying a cheapo instrument is usually very poor economy. It can also frustrate the player. See mchildree's post #7 above.
  19. I'm absolutely terrified of Kay since my Kamico acoustic.

    But hey, if it's a USA made Kay and in at least fixable shape, I'd probably look at it.

    For those posting links..I don't know why, it might be some security thing but my computer isn't going to some of them...
    Such is technology.
  20. Tyler,

    Kay uprights have a better general reputation than the Kay-made guitars and some of the best bluegrass players around use them (Exhibit 1 would be Missy Raines). I'd give 'em a try if you have the chance, although you'll have to look long and hard to find one in your price range

    Actually, since you're only about 45 minutes from me, let me know when you're ready to hunt. I've got two old plys ('34 Jaeger, '42 Kay) and a carved late-60s German factory bass that you can play to see and hear some of the possibilities. Shoot me a PM or an email when you're ready.

    Happy hunting!

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.