Advice on Hybrid/Carved Under $3k?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by CombustionToad, May 9, 2019.

  1. CombustionToad


    May 9, 2019
    Hi there,

    I am an advanced upright bass player located in Colorado looking around at possible options to upgrade my current bass. I play many instruments and have a cheap(er) plywood bass at the moment which works great for pizzicato but when bowed there is much to be desired. I have looked around (staying under the $3k price point) and come up with a few options, but some of them have more info on them than others. I'm curious to know any sort of advice that anyone can give me!

    Option 1: Estle Louis Fully Carved from Gollihur Music
    - Price point is intriguing
    - I haven't heard very much about the actual sound of these basses other than just a few comments here and there
    - I have read not to get hung up on the "fully carved" idea... how would this compare to a Shen hybrid?

    Option 2: "Affordable Carved Bass" from String Emporium
    - Seems like the exact same bass as listed above... anyone have insight on how this bass sounds though? They probably both come from the same factory and therefore are basically the same bass

    Option 3: Thompson RM-200 Hybrid from String Emporium
    - I have heard many great things about this bass, and it is a very reasonable cost (especially once shipping/accessories are added)
    - Again, how does this compare with a slightly more expensive Shen?

    Option 4: Shen SB-150 or a Used Nicer Model
    - This is a super popular bass with my teacher's studio
    - Wondering how this compares to something fully carved (made in China as well) from above
    - With the cost on this versus a Thompson, am I paying for the brand name, or should I get on the bandwagon and look some more into a Shen? I have heard fantastic things about them and played a few myself, but I'm just considering all of my options.

    Option 5: Recommendations?
    - I have very little experience with buying basses (I've only ever owned one) and I am seeking advice of those who either own any of these basses or of anyone who knows something within my price range. I am open to any ideas!
  2. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle

    Aug 16, 2011
    Nashville TN
    A shen is your best bet. I would argue you can find a good maybe used shen hybrid for $3000 It just depends on your area.

    Based on the other options you listed this is the best bet. I love my shen carved and recommend shen plywoods/hybrids to all my students.
  3. For under $3k for a carved top bass, look very closely at the used market in your area and spread the word around that you're looking. You'll get more bass per $, used than new.
    CombustionToad and james condino like this.
  4. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    I have had a couple of students with hybrids from String Emporium and I think they are an excellent value. If you get one you'll likely keep it forever as a backup when you get your life bass. I would steer clear of $3000 new carved basses. If you take your time you may be able to find a decent used carved bass for that price. It might be a good idea to go to a shop and play a bunch of stuff to get an reasonable idea of the sound and feel you like. Your bargain carved bass will likely come from a private seller.
  5. Uncorked


    Feb 16, 2012

    I would also recommend the Thompson Hybrid from String Emporium Its an amazing value. Steve will ship it to you and let you play it for a week. You just pay shipping back if you dont like it. Mine was set up perfectly and a joy to play.
  6. ArteK

    ArteK Supporting Member

    I picked up an old (late '90's) Upton Medio Fino hybrid used from the classifieds here for about $2200.

    I had to drive from Boston to Pittsburg over a weekend to pick it up (probably spent another 400 bucks or so and two solid days of driving and cheap hotel'ing), but it was completely worth it.
    CombustionToad and tonequixote like this.
  7. Michael Drost

    Michael Drost Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2009
    Grand Haven, MI
    I’ve owned a Thompson hybrid for 5 years or so. Super solid bass and sounds great. Here it is in action with Spiros.

    Guitarodeo, BobKay, dhergert and 9 others like this.
  8. Any of those are going to be fine. Just get a good set up. That isn't an area to be fussy in. You can find nice old fully carved basses in that range but, they may need repairs. The basses you list are all recently made and have reputations for being sturdy. They won't light the world on fire but they also won't hold you back.
  9. nogbert

    nogbert Supporting Member

    Jul 18, 2010
    Denver, CO
    If you're in or around Denver you MUST reach out to Bob Ross at Ross double bass. Ross Double Bass | Maker and Restorer of Double Bass Instrument

    Hands down best luthier around, and he has a huge number of basses. His work is superb and his customer service is amazing. check out his shop and I'm sure you'll find something you like, or get the information you need

    I bought my Shen SB-150 hybrid from him and love it; his prices are also great. He also offers a free 3 year warranty on shens if i'm not mistaken.
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Keep in mind, basses of the same brand and model are not created equal. I've played Shen Hybrids that ranged from so-so to excellent in terms of sound. There's no substitute for getting your hands on a bass before you buy.
  11. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Just Anoither Old Guy

    Jan 5, 2019
    Columbia, Maryland
    Just as a side note to the OP, when I bought my fully carved Romanian bass, I played it back to back with the Shen 150. While I passed on the Shen for various reasons, it was a close second, and I will tell you it was louder than the fully carved I went with. The SB150 is a fantastic bass.
    CombustionToad likes this.
  12. CombustionToad


    May 9, 2019
    Thanks for the suggestion! I've been there a few times for repairs but never to shop. I will make that a priority.
  13. I’m happy with my new Thompson RM200 purchased from String Emporium last month.

    I was pretty much on the same search as you and considered the Shen 150 (which is a very safe and well regarded choice) but feel the RM200 is an outstanding value in it’s hybrid price range.

    As it’s always preferable to have a hands on experience before before buying an instrument, I do have to say that Steve K. has got the shipping down to an art, and he stands behind his basses.

    I would definitely say it’s worth your consideration.
    CombustionToad likes this.
  14. Just an additional metaphor as to my search in regard to a recent manufacture Chinese double basses:

    (and I’ve owned both automobiles)

    Shen is to Volvo, as Thompson is to Subaru.

    As always, just my 2 cents...
    DaveAceofBass likes this.
  15. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Ah, a true Portlander: Volvos and Subarus.

    Wouldn't it be: Shen is to Thompson as Volvo is to Subaru?
    michaeln and DaveAceofBass like this.
  16. Ya got me there buddy!
    AGCurry and DaveAceofBass like this.
  17. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Where in Colorado do you live? I’m in Colorado Springs, and have a Christopher hybrid that you are welcome to check out, just to get a chance to play another bass. (I might sell it for the right offer)

    You should also try to play other basses in your town if you can connect with other players.
  18. CombustionToad


    May 9, 2019

    Thanks for the offer, and I will absolutely keep that in mind! I have plenty of basses that I am planning to play in the next couple of weeks/months--either friends or down at shops around the area. I'm in the Denver area and I am currently just wondering if anyone has personal experience with any of these basses that are online for an intriguing price before considering them at all. I will add Christopher hybrids to a list of options as I explore some more around my area.
  19. Uncorked


    Feb 16, 2012
    Im up in Gypsum, 35 miles west of Vail if you want to drive 2.5 hours to try out the Thompson Hybrid.
    CombustionToad likes this.
  20. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I've never touched one, but I've worked with Mark a bit and can highly recommend him for his honesty and service ethic... If you're seriously considering an online or phone purchase, it's probably worth a call to Mark to find out how this bass compares.

    And, the big note, shipping is free for CONUS for this item through June 30 if purchased with one of Mark's bass bags. (I got an e-mailer from Mark which is why I am aware of this. NFI.)
    CombustionToad likes this.