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Bass Exotica In The UK?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DaveBeny, Nov 6, 2000.


  1. DaveBeny

    DaveBeny

    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Having visited a few guitar shops and shows (Mad About Guitars) over the last couple of years, I'm always diasappointed by the fact that most stores, even those with fairly-large bass departments carry large stocks of Squier, Fender, Yamaha et al, but not much of anything else.

    I'd love the chance to get a good close-up look at some stuff by the likes of Zon, Alembic, Conklin, etc, but these sorts of brands are virtually unheard of in some UK shops.

    I made a day-trip into London over the summer, and checked out some store in "tinpan alley" - The Bass Cellar and Rose-Morris are the two I remember, but even there, it was a very similar set-up, Fender, Musicman, Yamaha, and...that's it.

    Are there any good UK shops where I could see (perhaps even cautiously try?) some nice imported exotica? I never got to the Bass Centre in Wapping, and I've read good things about The Gallery in Camden. Have any British posters visited these shops, or had the chance to play some rare imports?

    Any comments Bruce?

    Thanks,

    David
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - it's usually not worth visiting Denmark Street for exotic basses - they have the "meat and potatoes" models usually or at least those from large companies - Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha and Warwick.

    For the really exotic - the Gallery at Camden is very good and its definitely worth visiting just to talk to Martin Peterson who makes Sei basses on the premises. He always has about 30 or so on the go, as they take 6 months to make and it is fascinating to see the custom basses as "work in progress" - the smell is amazing! Pleasantly that is - all that wood!

    The Gallery is small, but every inch of space is filled with high end basses - Sadowskys,Alembics,Electric uprights lots of Sei basses of course which are very good. A lot of pros visit the shop and get custom basses made and trade their old ones in - so you get the chance to buy a bass owned by a "star"!

    Having said all that - the Bass Centre in Wapping has a much larger range and always has something interesting - the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable as well. Last time I visited they had - large range of Lakland and US Spectors, Modulus, Zon, large range of Alembics, 2 Sadowskys, Wals, Ken Smith, Dingwall Voodoo, large range of Status basses - and loads more - that's just the ones I can remember. I remember looking at the Oteil Burbridge 6-string semi-hollow signature bass, Steinberger electric upright and trying several Tune basses as they had just had a shipment - they looked very nice and were cheaper than most other imports - but eventually I settled on the Tobias pre-Gibson Classic 5.

    Over the last 2-3 years, I have tried literally hundreds of different basses at these shops - while only actually buying 2 or 3. They are definitely worth thge effort to get to and as they are both remote, you don't get impulse buyers wandering in, like you do in the West End - Denmark St. I spent a whole afternoon in the Gallery with Martin Peterson, competely undisturbed - he just said try anything you want and carried on making basses in the basement! I have also spent several hours in the Bass Centre with only 1 or 2 other people in the shop - no noisy flashy guitarists etc. You can get the odd noisy "slapper" though! Whereas in Denmark St. it seems compulsory for there to be several "kids" trying to impress, who obviously have little talent and even less chance of actually buying the bass they are playing!
     
  3. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    What Bruce said.

    I think that the Bass Centre have a Birmingham Branch. Also the MAD about guitars show is on again soon (I am thinking about going)and the Bass Centre have a pitch.

    There are some manufactureres so see http://www.musiclive.co.uk if you have not already.

    Happy hunting.
     
  4. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    spelling mistakes left in for your enjoyment. :)
     
  5. DaveBeny

    DaveBeny

    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Thanks for the words of wisdom Bruce.

    I live in Birmingham, and when it comes to bass, you've got to settle for either Musical Exchanges (don't start me on them!) or the Bass Centre. The problem with the Bass Centre is that it's very small and shares shop space with the Acoustic Centre (50%). As a result, they don't carry much stock. I pop my head in every now and again to see if there's anything interesting, but don't feel comfortable in there, as it's so small you can feel the assistant's eyes following you around.

    CS, I went to the Music Live (used to be Mad About Guitars) event at the NEC last year, and I don't think I'll bother this year. Most of the stands are from small regional retailers all trying to flog the same stuff, and most stands don't give you the chance to try anything. The Bass Centre's stand was a major disappointment in particular. I got to pluck on an NS upright for about 30 seconds, but not into an amp. They were basically to trying to shift a lot of old Mexican and Japanese Fender stock. I remember Bernie Goodfellow coming over and slapping the life of out a '75 reissue Jazz, which drew a little crowd of saddos, and produced comments from my friends such as "Dave, why can't you do that?"!!!

    David
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I'm glad I live nearer to London than Birmingham! ;)
    It sounds like the BC in Wapping is very different to the Birmingham branch - I did actually wonder about this, as the basses mentioned in their large adverts always seem to be in Wapping and I wondered if they duplicated in the other stores - obviously not!

    If you get the chance to look through December's "Guitarist" magazine, they have an advert just after page 53 which lists a huge range of 4-string "exotic" basses, with prices up to £3,350 !! But from going there, I know all these are in Wapping. They also have a lot of multi-string basses.

    Next time you're in London (!) make sure you get to Wapping. I find the best way is to get the 100 bus from Liverpool St. Station. This goes very frequently and is much quicker than the tube - you also get to see the Tower and Tower Bridge! If I am in a leisurely mood and it's a nice day, I will walk along the Thames from London Bridge station... the ideal day out for a bass player! ;)
     
  7. DaveBeny

    DaveBeny

    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Bruce,

    I always have a good look at the Bass Centre's adverts in 'Guitarist', though I wish they'd give more details of important things like prices, rather than "full range of brand X amps now in stock - call for more information"!!!

    You're right, the Bass Centre in Wapping does seem to carry all the best stuff. They claim that they can ship any item between any branch withing 24 hours, but I'd never dare ask them to do this - most of the stuff is beyond my budget, so if I wanted to look at, say, a GB bass, that's all I could do, look at it! (Unless they let me buy on ten years' interest-free credit, with nothing to pay until 2100!)

    I'm going to try and get down to London over the Christmas period - I'm finally going to splash out on a gig-quality amp - I love Ashdown's stuff, but I tried an Eden 300watt head about two months ago, and absolutely loved it (gorgeous clean sound). The Bass Centre are doing a few deals on Eden rigs at the moment, with good credit terms, so if I can make my student loan last a little bit longer....!

    David

    PS. I started this thread because my dreams are currently haunted by a GrooveTools Bill Dickens signature 7-string bass. Am I nuts or what?!
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I bought my Eden Traveller after auditioning amps at Wapping and deciding it was the best - but I must admmit that I actually purchased it from Overwater in Carlisle by mail order, because they had a better deal at the time!!

    The December 2000 issue of Guitarist gives prices on every 4-string!

    As to the Groove Tools 7 string - I must also admit that's one bass I haven't ever seen in the UK. I've tried loads of 6-strings, every brand I can think of, but have never seen a 7 lying around to try. I'm sure that something like this was reviewed in Bassist, but I've never seen one in a shop.

    Bassist also carried a feature on a 10-string Schack bass that would have given you mightmares!
     
  9. DaveBeny

    DaveBeny

    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    I remember that 7-string Conklin review in 'Bassist' - it was the issue with Stuart Zender on the cover. Good review, as I recall. The price was the best part of £3K. Ouch.

    Regarding that 10-string Schack - the "Godzilla of bass" they called it - the word "excess" springs to mind!

    David
     
  10. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    David I was undecided 'bout the show and so I have decided to go to the Gallery/and or Bass Centre. Thanks.