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Bass Finance

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by PJEBassist, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. PJEBassist


    Aug 3, 2004
    Paducah, KY
    We all know these beautiful, large, deep, down right sexy hunks of finely crafted woods get expensive. A high quality instrument to us is much higher cost than the same thing a Violinist buys. A carved instrument, that's all we want, something those other losers get by cheap on compared to us.

    But here's there question: How the hell do we afford these things!?

    I was thinking, would this involve a loan? Maybe selling your body? Your soul? Well, that wouldn't make sense because without soul there is no bass. I had a discussion with the 2nd Cellist and 4th Bassist of the Kentucky All-State Symphonic Orchestra that went like this:

    Jake (me) - "Why the hell do these things cost so much!??! I just want to get rid of my plywood hunk of junk."

    Clay (bassist) - "Your bass is by far the worst in the section. Mine cost $13,000."

    Cellist (never got his name) - "My cello cost us $15,000. My parents had to mortgage the house."

    I'm getting ready for college. I'm rounding the end of Junior year and then it'll be audition time. How did some of you older guys, well, not necessarily older, but guys with nice basses come to afford these?! It's boggling my mind and well as my parents.

    -Jake Siener
    Paducah, KY
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    Well, if I was asked directly I would answer with a few questions of my own.

    1) What is expensive to you? $13-15K is not a high price for a fine instrument.
    2) What type of playing are you going to do?
    3) is this a Bass you will own for a long time or just play a few years and then play the Computer later like my youngest son did after playing 5 years.

    The playing you will do and your budget are two main questions to look at.

    I own two Shen Basses that I bought new. One in 1997 and one in 2001. Both sound good for Orchestra and Jazz and can do both with the exact same strings and set-up.

    The Shens do not cost 13-15k. The ones I have are under 10k but they also make Basses fully carved that run under 4k that sounds good. Do they match a 200 year old Italian Bass? NO, not in the least. Will they sound nice and deep and project in an Orchestra that is not full of Testori grade basses?, YES.. Without a doubt.

    I suggest you stick around TB and read and listen to what others say about Basses, sounds and prices. Besides the Shens, my other under 10k picks are the Basses by AES known as the New Standard and La Scala. these are made in Germany and finished here in NY. They easily match Basses costing 2x the price from what I have sampled.

    Let us know your answers to my first questions so all of us can better guide you..

    Oh, and how to finance a Bass, 2nd mortage or personal loan (rich Uncle?). Some professional orchestras help the players out in various ways too if you happen to land a job in one of them.
  3. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    The stage you're at, if an instrument price in the teens is out of the question(I would've never expected my parents to have mortgaged the house for an instrument, they didn't even have one)look around the mid thousand range(4-5-6). Shens or Arnold's basses for new ones, like Ken said, also shop basses from Kolstein or Upton's I hear are good,or some older juzeks, Wilfurs, Hofners, any sort of unlabeled Germans, etc. As long as they play and sound like what you may be looking for. Take a trip up the road to The Bass Cellar in Cincinnati or the shop in St. Louis to see what they have. If you are diligent, save money from jobs in your spare time, deliver papers, sell stuff on ebay, you'll be surprised how much you can save in a short time. If you buy it yourself, you will treasure the bass that much more.

  4. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    Hey, man,

    I don't have much input, although I'll echo that I've heard great things about the Shen SB200 Willow, and the New Standard Cleveland and La Scala models (hybrid and laminated: some guys say the laminates even sound better than cheap carved basses).

    None of the above is first-hand experience though, just regurgitating what I've read here on the board. I mainly just wanted to chime in because I'm from right outside Paducah myself, although I'm living on the west coast now ... Best of luck to you!! Where are you going to audition??

    Also, someone mentioned Cincinatti, but Nashville's closer, as you know, if there's a good bass shop there??? (I think the guy who mentioned Cincinatti is from Nashville himself, so maybe there isn't a good shop down there??).

    Good luck!!
  5. jb6884


    Jan 30, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    +1 on the Shen's.

    St. Louis Strings had several Shen's and two very nice ones last week when I was there. One for 2800, one for 4400.. I was pretty impressed with them. Since you are relatively close, I'd recommend the trip up here. They had probably 20+ basses in the shop, at all price ranges, but mostly under 10k. They also have some kind of rent to own program, not sure what it entails though.
  6. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    The way to do it is to save the money you need to buy the instrument. Taking out a high interest loan is ridiculous. (If you have saved by building equity in a house and take a low interest tax-deductible loan to use that equity it's another story.) Yes it takes a long time. But it will end up costing a lot less in the long run.

    The only way to think about this is in the long term. A high quality instrument retains a lot of its value so its total cost over your life time may not be as much as you think - as long as you are not doing something silly like paying a bank interest on the purchase price.

    For right now, stick with your ply if it can be set up well. See what kind of loaner you can use at college. Live like a monk. Work like a dog. Save every penny. Good things come to those who wait.
  7. conte2music

    conte2music Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    I'm sure you're excited about having your own instrument, but make sure you are very happy with your first purchase so it can get you through your undergrad. The school you attend might have a decent instrument that you could use until you find the one you want. Play as many basses as you possibly can to ensure you're satisfied, and won't want to dump your bass in a week or two. A friend of mine hastely bought a no name romanian bass for $3,000, and when he got next to the other basses in our section he almost cried because it sounded so poorly. Avoid bass envy and shop around.
  8. bpclark


    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    I'll second the idea of taking the trip to the Bass Cellar, they are good guys there. Also, Nick Lloyd is in Cincy and deals Shens so you could possibly visit both on the same day.

    On a side...Are you the Jake Seiner I met at the ASODB Summer Retreat? If so, did you get your DVD and did it live up to your expectations.

  9. bierbass


    Sep 5, 2005
    Knoxville, TN
    Yeah, I'll second the notion that you don't need an instrument priced in the teens. There are a variety of basses under $10k that will be more than adequate to get you into a conservatory. The Bass Cellar is a great place to look. Wide selection, fair prices. I've successfully done business with them in the past. Also in Nashville, look at Williams fine violins. The owner is a bassists and does fine set up work as well. Don't rush to buy something, save up and pay cash if you can. Also if you can get to know people in nearby orchestras, they may have a bass to sell. One of my students bought his bass, a 40 y/o Morelli, from a guy in our orchestra for about $5500. His parents had only budgeted for $3500. But the opportunity came up, seemed like a reasonable deal, he paid the other $2000 by working it off(chores, job after school, etc...). Good luck.
  10. bierbass


    Sep 5, 2005
    Knoxville, TN
    Oh yeah, I should add that I paid $800(in 1990) for my first bass and I was already in college. I used it for two years and my next bass was a $3000 carved german bass and used that for a few more years, etc... you get the idea.
  11. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, here's a somewhat different viewpoint. I would NEVER, EVER, downplay the value of having a good instrument. I believe students should have the best instruments that it is practical for them to have--period!

    That being said, today there are many more decent basses available in moderate price ranges than there were, say, 30 years ago. Back in those dark ages, all my parents could afford was a Kay C-1. My teacher at the time persuaded his Italian countryman and master instrument-maker, Gennaro DeLuccia, to do a complete setup on the Kay. So, from the stanpoint of playability, it was as good as a Kay could ever be.

    I managed to do quite well, thank you, with auditions all around the state where I lived and even landed an invited "student" position in a professional orchestra. All on the Kay!

    No, I do not recommend that you find a Kay for your needs. No, no, no! I'm suggesting you keep in mind how important YOUR PLAYING is to your success.

    To guard against my being misunderstood, please re-read my first paragraph. :smug:
  12. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    I'm not sure if you mean this, but I think it's a mistake for people to incrementally "climb the ladder" and buy a new instrument (of any kind) each time they get the money to buy something slightly better than what they have. If you have something that is playable (not so clear in Jakes case now that I read his profile) I think it is best to save until you can make a substantial jump. In his case, the $3-5K range is such a jump, but he may be able to wait longer and make a bigger jump if he is playing a reasonable school bass in a year.
  13. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    I agree and you are correct that I did not mean that at all. I meant that it is best to have the best instrument you can. In effect, I was making your argument that one should shoot as high as he/she practically can and NOT go with student instruments. On the other hand, one should not overlook the importance of chops in excelling. Bob, we are in violent agreement!
  14. bierbass


    Sep 5, 2005
    Knoxville, TN
  15. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    Ditto on teh loan thing.. save save save. As much as i would like to dump my Engle M-1, it has served me extremely well and meets my needs. I am saving like mad, but the sad reality is that all teh money save is 99% goign to need to pay for either a house down payment or a reliable car in a year or two when i finish college and need a place to live or my beater finally dies, haha. Keep scraping all the cash togather that you can! My parents never bought me a bass of any variety ( I play electric as well), so I have been rather poor for most of my working life.
  16. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    I have to agree with the person that talked about ebaying belongings. I had a decent sized record collection of hardcore records that were mostly from the mid-90's that I accumulated from used bins around record shops in NJ and I'm almost done selling my collection on ebay. The total will come to about $4000 when it's over with. I'm going to spend about $2000 on an extention, spend some more on minor work for my bass, and then save the rest for my "buy the best bow in the world fund" which I'll be adding to when I get a job over the summer.

    I could definitely go through some things through my room like old video games and movies and come out with a nice chunk of change too. So just think about that if you're looking for some money to put towards buying a really good instrument. Ebay can be a great tool.
  17. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    You also might want to look at Strunals. THey make some good basses:)
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    For a good sounding carved Bass, try the Shen Willow model. For orchestra you will want the 7/8. These Basses usually run under 4k and under 3k for the 3/4 model. The Maple models and carved backs run higher but worth every penny of the difference. I own 2 of his upper end carved Basses and the 7/8 sounds great in an orchestra along with other older Basses within the section.
  19. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US

    I did 3 degrees on my old bass - 2 at a major music school. I paid around $8K for it back in 98.
  20. PJEBassist


    Aug 3, 2004
    Paducah, KY
    Ok, great comments from everyone, thanks!

    First off I'll explain the situation I'm in. I had to buy a cheap bass at the time in order keep playing bass. I started bass at the end of Freshmen year (May 2004). But I started on school instrument of course but I had to change schools. There is one school where I live with an orchestra, a private catholic school and that got to be too expensive. My current bass plays well and I make it sound the best I can make it but now I'm running into that the bass creates more difficulities in playing than are needed. I was also told "don't be sad if you come home and find the neck's popped off" due to cracks in the neck block. If I was still at that school I'd still be playing a school bass but I'm at a school with no orchestra but I'm in choir and band to try and keep my chops. I'm the principal bass in the youth symphony and have turned in a resume for the Paducah Symphony and now am first on their subs list, the section's full til vacancy, then I'm next on the list.

    I've only played for a year and half now I got 5th Chair All-State Symphonic Orchestra and am working on the Eccles Sonata right now. I think I'm doing just fine for after a year and half of playing. I have a nice, new pernambuco bow that plays very well and I'm happy with it. I play both french and german, but german's my dominant. I'm being recruited hard for colleges and have been told financial problems won't be a problem; my options are plenty open. My chops have gotten just fine and I would just like a better instrument; something that sounds respectable. I've done everything that a bass player needs to do and I try and practice at least 2 hours a day but with boy scouts monday nights, Dixieland Band practice (I play trombone in there), teaching bass on wednesday, reahearsing with the jazz ensemble on thursdays, and Youth Symphony rehearsals on sunday I stay busy. On top of that I have choir and band (especially pep band) obligations to take care of. It's hard finding time to do everything but I take the biggest chunk I can possibly bite off.

    I've played the Shen Willow in the 7/8 and love that bass. I've driven to Nashville, Cincinatti, Columbus, and Chicago just for playing basses. I've played a wide range of basses and even got to sample the Karr-Koussevitzky bass. Trust me, I've shopped around.

    But my real question here is how to afford these things. Loans, mortgages, etc. Would it be a good idea to get a student loan after you find out how much scholarship you might collect? Stories about how others got their basses would be appreciated.

    Brett - YES IT IS ME FROM ASODB! I hope your bass playing has gotten even more beautiful since the last time we spoke. The DVD was great but my DVD player can't handle too much and wouldn't want to play some of it. I was going to try and rip a DVD codec and try it on the computer. The quality on the DVD though is marvelous!

    Thanks to everyone and happy low end!
    -Jake Siener