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Alter Ego Basso vs Yamaha Silent Bass SLB-200LTD

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, May 26, 2017.

  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    So I'm looking at both of these options and would value input from some folks. I recently got a Yamaha Silent Guitar nylon string and am finding it really great for playing at night and for travel. My New Standard Cleveland already has a removable neck but it's still a bit of a pain to travel with and sometimes even around for gigs around town I'd be willing to play a decent EUB for less hassle schlepping gear.

    I played an SLB-200 sometime ago and liked it. I think I played one of the Alter Ego basses a very long time ago but can't be sure. Anyone have thoughts on the Alter Ego Basso vs the Yamaha? The Basso is a little more expensive but seems to involved a little less setup and teardown and also has the possibility to pack even smaller with a removable neck.

    I realize the Alter Ego is better on paper at least - two pickups that can be blended and a spruce top (although the Yamaha LTD model also seems to have spruce in there somewhere too) but I'm wondering whether it's worth the additional cost. The Yamaha is USD 4000 and the Basso is USD 5200. It's a lot in both cases.
  2. You might want to consider one of the Italien EUB models, maybe one of the higher level models.
    Have a look at the Italian EUB thread.
  3. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for the tip. I ready through the thread and checked out the website. Couldn't see any prices there. Any thoughts on pros and cons between this and the Alter Ego or Yamaha?
  4. madbanjoman


    Feb 23, 2011
    MK will email a current price list, but he also sells on eBay. His ebay username is eubesmk. I did a search on ebay for electric upright bass mk and his stuff came up.
  5. Long post: too much coffee this morning.

    I purchased a Basso around Christmas time in 2016 .

    The Basso is exquisitely constructed. The instrument is great for unamplified practice if you are in a quiet setting. It also has a 1/4” headphone jack built-in which is intended for practice, but I never use that. The sound chamber and solid top are loud enough for unplugged practice, especially arco.

    This thing “feels” just like a “real” bass. The weight, balance, etc. are all spot on. It resonates and vibrates beautifully. It also looks like a Picasso sculpture and gets lots of attention at gigs. I’d wager the amplified sound is as great as you are likely to get with any acoustic bass that uses a pickup. Again, esp. arco.

    I have not played the SLB amplified, but I did have a chance to play on one *a bit* in a shop in Hong Kong. The neck felt bigger to my hands, and overall the instrument felt a bit ‘clunkier’ and not quite as elegant. But that’s Italian design vs. Japanese; not to knock Yamaha in any way. I’ve listened to tons of clips of the amplified SLB as well, and for an EUB it’s definitely a serious contender.

    IMO, the break-down is not too bad if you are just breaking it down into the gig bag; the endpin comes out and the shoulders come off, and everything fits into the main gig bag. The stand is a necessity, and while it is lightweight and very sturdy, you do have to carry the stand plus its case around with you if you are traveling to gigs.

    For flights or extended travel, the break-down is a little more involved as you have to pack everything carefully and take extra care with the strings. I had to replace the A string due to a kink that developed during one of the tear-down/rebuild sessions. So there’s that.

    All told, this instrument is not a replacement for an acoustic double bass. Eventually I intend to purchase a 3/4 size acoustic DB and keep both instruments. Personally, for me it would be ideal to have an acoustic at home for practice, and keep the Basso for “rowdy” or cramped gigs. Also it’s cool because broken down, it fits nicely in a closet or wherever so if you have a regular gig with a secure area, it’s nice to have the option of leaving the instrument at the venue when you can. For flights, overhead compartments are pretty easy, but in Asia and especially Japan/HK the overheads are quite small and you sometimes pay extra for a carry-on option. I’ve taken the Basso on about five international flights now I think and the only time I had a problem flying internationally was out of HK airport. I had to check the Basso and it took a couple dings as the flight case is a heavy type of bag, and not a hard case.

    YEMV, etc. I am just an owner of this instrument and I really like it. Yamaha could be good too, but I prefer the Basso and don’t regret the purchase. It is an investment so you have to weigh the pros and cons.

    Let us know what you decide.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
    Adrian Cho and Tom Lane like this.
  6. i have recently been in japan and had the chance to play several yamaha slb's.. in all cases the SLB200 sounded better than the SLB200LTD imho.. for a lot of ppl the SLB200 is a no go bec it has a rosewood fingerboard instead of an ebony one.. just in case you didnt try the SLB200, it is worth it in my opinion (and way cheaper)..
    another thing to consider when buying a yamaha slb is importing it from japan.. if you buy a slb from kurosawa violin in shinjuku online and import it it is still cheaper than buying it here in europe (i dont know the prices in the u.s.)..
    maybe this info helps..
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I ended up buying a Basso. I should have it on Monday. Thanks for helping me make the decision.
  8. Yesss....:thumbsup:
  9. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    My Basso arrived today. Wow, I'm pretty impressed. Definitely a cut above the Yamaha. So many nice things to say about it. You get a lot more body resonance vibrating through body and then through the "shoulder" that it really feels more like a real bass than the Yamaha, at least the SLB 200 I've played in the past. The tone shaping and blending options with the three different pickups are great (it's really two pickups but you can blend the piezo films under each of the bridge feet as well as then blending with the Stat-B.)

    There are three things that actually make it better than my Cleveland:

    a) Less to carry
    b) Having the volume and all those tone shaping options right there at the back of the bass (easily adjustable while playing an open string)
    c) Sound is actually cleaner and more consistent across the range

    I'm looking forward to playing it on a gig and will do that this Saturday with a voice and guitar trio.

    I'm just waiting for the travel bag to arrive. That will allow me to transport it in an even smaller package with the neck removed. I think I will still then get some kind of flight case for it but that will still be much easier to travel with than my removable neck Cleveland.
    Jeshua likes this.
  10. Cool. Please update if you do end up getting a flight case for it. I'd like to invest in one of those, also.

    A couple things I've noticed after having my Basso for a while:

    1.) The foam padding glued to the shoulder is not super tough. The padding on mine has worn away a bit after so many hours of practice and gigging, right where my hip/waistline meets the edge of the shoulder. It's at the point where I no longer wear a belt when practicing and playing.

    2.) The rubber foot which covers the endpin spike will wear down if you spend lots of time playing on hard surfaces like stone or marble. Mine wore through in just over a year. To beef mine up a bit I removed a rubber foot from an old music stand and just stuck it over the smaller existing foot. It's an OK fix for now.

    Other than that, I haven't had any issues. This thing is solid and I love it.

    Quick question: is your fingerboard ebony? Mine is made of a resin composite, I believe. Very strong, yet flexible and resonant. Just curious.
  11. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Have you tried seeing if you can get replacement rubber feet for the endpin? Surely Alter Ego must supply them or know where to get them. I wish the endpin itself had detents in it. When I tried it the first time I didn't have the screw tight enough and it almost collapsed except for the fact I was holding it. I would personally like to replace it with endpin that has detents. It appears to be 5/8" in diameter and is 2' long. I did a quick search and couldn't find anything equivalent.

    Yeah I don't think my fingerboard is ebony. They don't say it is ebony and only specify ebony for the nut and maple for the neck, fingerboard core, tailpiece, shoulders and knee rest, and spruce for the top.
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Do you have the travel bag for your Basso and if so can you tell me the dimensions? Mine is arriving in a couple of weeks. They told me it's about 41" long but I'm trying to find out the width and the height.
  13. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    FYI Alter Ego told me that one of their customers is using this to put their Basso in the travel bag. Unfortunately the reviews are a bit scary as the latches seem to be pretty crappy so I don't think I'm willing to trust that. I was hoping that a suitable case would not exceed the size for oversize baggage. On Air Canada, for example, if the linear dimensions (length + width + depth) exceed 62" or the weight exceeds 50 lbs, they will charge you an oversize fee and you also have to go and check in at the separate oversize counter.
  14. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I was surprised when I measured the string length on my Basso to find that it's just shy of 41" and my Cleveland is 42". I actually adapted to it very easily and although I could feel it was shorter I didn't think it was that much. It's tempting to move the bridge to make it the same as my Cleveland but I'll then be running into the shoulder even more so I think I'm going to leave it as is.
  15. By my measurements, the travel bag measures 103cm x 25cm x 16cm. (Give or take.) Eventually it may make sense to have a hard case made for the instrument so it can be checked safely on flights. The SKB stuff *looks* good but it's a gamble. Ive seen some of their cases for other instruments and they seem to do the job fine...until they don't. It would be nice to see one before purchasing.

    I know what you mean about the "smooth" endpin, but it may just be a matter of time before you get used to it. Especially if you're traveling with it. I can eyeball the right spot for my endpin now. It just took some practice. The endpin itself is pretty sturdy...it's like a truncheon!

    Also I like to use a clean rag or cloth when tightening the endpin screw, and when taking the Basso on or off the stand. My hands sweat some, and I find using a cloth gives me a little extra grip and saves me from squeezing too hard. Especially when tightening the height adjustment of the stand, as it does need to be retightened from time to time and the knurls can be a little painful.

    Yours came with a knee rest, eh? Fancy. Mine doesn't have one but I always stand when I practice and play so it's one less thing to carry, I suppose.

    Oh also the rubber foot that covers the endpin spike. I haven't bothered to contact the staff about that one yet, but they've always been helpful and speedy with information. Eventually I may ask them to send me one but my temporary fix works fine for the time being.
  16. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Actually my Basso didn't come with the knee rest. Just the two shoulders and that's fine with me. I also only stand.

    Thanks for the measurements on the travel bag. So using the calculations you've given me, I believe I could get a custom made ATA case made with say 1/4" plywood and 3/4" foam and it would fit within at least the Air Canada dimensions for checked baggage without paying an oversize fee. However this is pretty tight. It would be right against the limits and 3/4" foam is not that awesome in my opinion. I'd rather be using something like 2" foam. I'll have to see when I get the bag. Rouillard Cases, not far from me, makes cases from aluminum that seem to be pretty good from what I can see. I was investigating getting them to make a trunk for my removable neck Cleveland and the cost and specs for weight they gave me were actually better than any other options I could find. I'm going to inquire with them again to get their opinion and a quote.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
  17. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    By the way, I heard the travel bag has an extendable sleeve to be able to carry the bass with the neck attached once you get to your destination. That's great if that's the case. I've had situations when I went to a play and then had to play multiple gigs and transport the bass around within the city and I wouldn't want to have to keep removing the neck to put it in the bag.
  18. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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