Bass Dealers in Pittsburgh Area?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by AaronG, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. AaronG


    Jan 4, 2016
    Hi everyone I was wondering if anyone had recommendations for shops that sell double basses in the Pittsburgh area or within a few hours driving distance. I've been playing electric bass for a few years, but have always want to play the upright and finally have the money to get one. I'm pretty much a complete newbie to double bass (rented one for 3 months awhile back) so I'd need a shop that could set it up for me and possibly have someone proficient in double bass to play the instruments for me so I could hear how they sound. I'm looking to play mainly jazz and some classical so I'm looking for fully carved instruments or possibly a hybrid. Thank you for the help!
  2. Bruce Wallace lived in Pittsburgh before he did the snowbird thing and headed to points south. Maybe he knows something.

    There really isn't much in your part of PA. If you can drive to Cincy there's the Bass Cellar and Nick Lloyd, both of whom have stellar reputations. I also have a lead in Oberlin that I was going to follow up on if I make it out there this summer.

    What's your budget?
  3. AaronG


    Jan 4, 2016
    Hey thanks for the reply. It looks like Nick Lloyd may be a bit out of my price range, but the Bass Cellar seems to have some stuff I could afford. Comfortably my budget is around 5k, but I could stretch that up to 6 or 7 if there's something I really like.
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Look up Mike McGee in the Pittsburgh area. Good luthier and he may have something.
  5. Michael Karn

    Michael Karn

    Apr 16, 2014
    Mike Shank is maybe a little far from The Burgh but he'd definitely be worth a visit. When i was there (a while ago by now, '07 i think) he had plenty of good stuff in your price range. Really nice guy too
  6. AaronG


    Jan 4, 2016
    Thank you for all the great suggestions! I'll definitely be checking out some of these places starting in February.
  7. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    I'd second the visit to E-Town & Mike Shank's shop. It's worth a look at the website and a call to Linda to see what they might have in your range.

    I'd also reach out to some of the double bass instructors in the area via the universities to see if any of their students might be looking to sell.

    I did this and scored a very nice working mans Upton last summer.
  8. jdepriest


    Sep 20, 2005
    Waynesburg, Pa
    Check out Volkweins Music in Robinson, PA near the airport. Full disclosure, I used to work there several years ago. Good plywood rental student basses. The shop can do a descent set up. They had a couple Shen hybrids for sell last time I was there.
    If you have the time go to the Bass Cellar in Cincy. I bought my Shen Rogeri there.
  9. I bought a new Shen hybrid at Volkweins. I went the rent to own route, but I am not sure they rent out to non school districts. I was able to do that through the school district where I teach. They guys there have always done good work with my rentals and my new bass.
    Another place is Resonance Violins in Mt. Lebanon. Families with money there, as double bass can be quite the $$$ you can buy and rent to own basses there. Renting to own isn't a cost effective thing, but for me I had to do that. I am glad I did as I figured out more of what I wanted by doing that. It did cost me more in the long run.
    Shanks Strings is a haul, but they have selection in stock. You need to make an appointment. My experience with them was trying to find a bow, made an appointment. They were very short, to the point, but helpful. You could be driving a very long way for a very short, shoved out the door visit, but you will take some knowledge with you.
    There is an excellent luthier, Vince at Brighton Music Center | Musical Instruments, Music Store Pittsburgh. I am sure they could help you find something too. Vince did some awesome work on a bass I got for my school, and was very reasonably priced.
    Product Categories Basses | J.R. Judd Violins is also out the way, but all of the orchestra teachers in my area far east of the city agree they are a very good resource for stringed instruments.
    Although they don't have any in stock at the last visit I made, they do have an excellent bass teacher - Main Street Music & Sound | Run By Musicians For Musicians are very nice, music store owners who know what they are doing in a good way. If you live to the East of the city, worth a visit. Not a double bass shop per say, but very nice guys with a great teacher of double bass at the store.
    There are more folks out there as well. Hook up with a teacher, and they could possibly help you find what you are looking for. Pay them for their time.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  10. Mgaisbacher


    Oct 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    I got my first upright through my high school through Volkwiens. I honestly would not suggest them because theset up was very basic and what the told me I was going to get was a lot different then what I received, but being 17 and not knowing anything about basses at the time I was non the wiser.

    I agree with everyone so far that has suggested Bass Cellar, Shank Strings, and Mike Magee even though non are really in the Pitt area but it will pay in the long run to go to a bass shop verse a violin shop that has a couple basses, or a company that basically just sells instruments to schools.
  11. This is an old thread, but I thought that I'd chime in, just in case you're still looking or anyone who stumbles upon this thread needs someone around PGH. Shen basses are some of the best sounding for the price ... and if they're set up well, they'll play as well as an instrument that costs much more. On the low end, they're around $1900 and range all the way up to close to $13k. They have a wide variety depending upon your budget, what kind of sound you want and the conditions you're going to be playing them in.

    Mike Magee is probably the best bass-specific dealer of Shen's in the Pittsburgh area. He does all of the work on my orchestra bass, but I'm going to have him get a plywood Shen for me.

    I play bluegrass and have a Chadwick Folding Bass (Shen SB100) for flying and tight travel spaces. It's great, but I want an instrument that can be set up like my "good" bass that can also be played around a campfire, in cold weather outside and take a good beating. Picking up another Shen that doesn't fold seems to be the best value for what I need to do with it ... and I know Mike will be able to set it up to play as well as my handmade bass.

    Mike is an authorized Shen dealer and, being a bass player himself, he knows how the instrument should play and his set ups are amazing. He's in Slippery Rock, so it's really close to PGH. if you want to check him out.
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  12. madbanjoman


    Feb 23, 2011
    Thanks for posting to this thread. As a Pittsburgher I have been thinking about where to take my bass for a setup. I will have to try Mike Magee.
  13. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Shout out to Pittsburgh folks...that’s my hometown. I almost bought my first bass from Bruce Wallace but instead got it from a guy named Wilhelm Castellon, if memory serves me correctly. I’m not sure if he is still around or selling basses, but he was in around 1993 when I got mine.
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