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Bass Purchase Dilemma

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by LaurenBell, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    I have several basses at my home currently, an old bass and a very new bass. The old bass, I was told, is 200+ years old. It was restored by this place and it has no tag, but it is very responsive to the bow. It, however, has an extremely tight sound in the upper register and the fingerboard only goes up to a B. It is a round back. It is priced at $15,000. The tight sound could possibly be from set up, but it would take some experimentation to figure this out. The new bass is two years old, although it really has only been played for a year because the girl who owned it stopped playing bass and has had it laying around. It has a louder overall sound, but the bow response is not quite as quick on the sixteenth notes. It is in excellent condition, unlike all of the cracks from the restoration of the old one. The fingerboard goes up to a D. It is a flatback. My teacher has also suggested that the strings on the bass could be replaced to get a better sound. This one is a Lakeburg and Baer and is priced at $14,300. I am a high school junior who is planning to pursue a career in music. I currently have a plywood, but I'm looking to take the next step up. Both instruments are very nice. My problem is the bow response issue. Although it's likely, it's uncertain that if I bought the newer bass that the sound would get fuller and better bow response. I have pics that I'm trying to get on the site. What would you guys recommend?
  2. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    My bit of advice is to play many basses, until you find one that you can't walk away from. Cincinnati is a good place to buy a bass, with both Nick LLoyd and the Cincinnati Bass Cellar in town.

    Good luck!
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Your complaint is that you have to choose between two expensive instruments?


    Which is easiest to play?
    Which sounds more like the bass in your head?
    Which does your teacher like?
    Which sounds better with your teacher playing them?
    Which sounds better 20 feet away?
    Which sounds better from behind?

    Don't worry about cracks, every old (and some not so old basses) has cracks. The new bass is going to get some cracks. ASIDE: I remember the first winter I had a wood bass. I was sitting in the living room and CRACK, the thing sounded like somebody shot it with a pellet gun. Of course I freak out and take it to Gage's, where Sprocket is talking to me and at some point says "Hey, relax. they're wood. they crack."

    Even though I wish I had the thorny problem of having to choose between two $10,000+ basses, I would still suggest PLAY MORE BASSES. I think I remember seeing that you were northern midwest, there are a couple or more good bass shops well within driving distance. If you (or someone close to you) are making that substantial an investment, you really should get as wide a sampling as you can before you make a decision.
  4. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Bill Lakeberg just won a gold at the VSA in the Double Bass Category in Oregon this month. Those basses might appreciate pretty soon.

    But, they have a bit of a "tinny" sound for a while - I've tried the one you're probably looking at - its not bad, and easy to get around on. The sound is decent, and projects well.

    Don't forget - bow response is at least 50% about your bow technique.
  5. As Ed said, you're in an enviable position for your age being able to pick a bass from that price range!
    Be sure that when you have your teacher play the bass for you, that he and you are in the same place for both basses. Same goes for when you play for your teach. In other words you need to hear the basses from the same part of the room with the same distances from the basses.
    Also, if you can do this on a hard wood floor, it would be nice.
    Good luck....
  6. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    I'm going to go visit my teacher, Rick Vizachero, again tomorrow bringing both with me. I actually have shopped around, nothing quite as far as New York, but I've been down to the Bass Cellar and a few other local shops. The one I liked the best from the Bass Cellar was a Jakstadt (most of them were enormous power monsters, but I'm looking for something that can split the difference between orchestra and solo for college), but then I tried this Magini model Lakeberg and Baer and it was enormously better, especially for how young it is. I do really enjoy playing the older bass because it doesn't have that "tinny" sound. I guess that's really my main issue with the Lakeberg is that when I play it, it has that tinny sound. It's almost guaranteed to improve with age, but it's not certain. I guess I'm having a hard time being able to take a gamble that the depth and quality of sound will improve because you don't know exactly what you're going to end up with and for that kind of money... I'm just not quite the risk taker. :meh:
  7. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Never buy an instrument based on how you think it might sound sometime in the future. If it doesn't turn you on as a musician you should pass.
  8. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Couldn't agree more.

    Keep playing. It can take longer than you might want but you'll know when you found the right bass. It will feel and just sound right.
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sorry, but not all new Basses are prone to cracking in thier first few years. Many reasons can be the cause from wood aging to climate change to low humidty to too much dry heat to poor construction.

    I have a 200 year old Bass without a Crack in the top aside from a few small splits around the edges and FF holes but nothing in the belly at all. This was made well, and with great seasoned wood, and probably well cared for throughout it's life.

    Do not accept the 'Cracking' thing about all new or old Basses as being 'OK". Some Basses just crack..Tension, stress, dryness? Who knows...But not every Bass HAS to crack......

    Go with sound, condition, playability, and your needs... Buy the Bass that you can play now and not in 10 or 20 years. You may have different tastes by then..... Let your teacher help you but go with ur 'gut' feelings as well....If it's for you, you will know it..
    ... Good luck.....
  10. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    Before you drop 15,000 on any bass. Go to New York :)
    Even if you don't end up buying a bass there it is worth the massive number of basses that you can play back to back. If you planned right, you could possibly test 50 basses all smack in that price range in one weekend.

    Also, I agree with the other posts...If you have doubts, then you have yet to find the bass for you.
  11. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    Oh, one thing more...

    It's sounds like you are getting a bass for classical studies at college and possibly subsequent orchestra auditions.

    If this is the case, please, please, please get your teacher to play your final choices in a small to medium sized hall back to back. You will be amazed at which basses carry and which ones don't. I will venture to say that the one that projects in a hall is not the one that you would have first expected.
  12. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Put me in the pro-Lakeberg camp.
    I played one of his basses last year, and fell in love.
    Nearly traded my 1880 German (maybe French, according to David Gage. . .) bass in on it.

    I hear you about the solo register, but I found the sound penetrating, rather than harsh. The one I played was on the large side with biggish but manageable shoulders. I also played a Thomas Martin at the same time, which sounded more relaxed and warmer. I like the quicker-responding, less-forgiving sound better myself.
  13. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    I think I'm going to buy the Lakeberg bass. I took both basses to my private teacher last night and we discussed the problems with both instruments. I began to realize the Lakeberg already had a better lyrical sound quality to it and that it could only get better with age. We also talked about how horrible the set-up work was on the old one (as in costing about $2500 to fix). Not only did this discussion help me be more informed, but I have also begun "falling in love" with the Lakeberg. I was driving home today, and I was just thinking about the bass and being able to play it. Not playing a bass in general or the old one, it was specifically "I can't wait to get home to play the Lakeberg." :)
  14. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    It's settled. I'm getting the Lakeberg. :p
  15. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    sweet...enjoy... :bassist:
  16. How about some pictures? Congratulations!
  17. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    How do I shrink the photo so it doesn't take up so many bytes?
  18. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    What program are you running? What OS?
  19. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    ummm it's IPhoto for Mac OS X
  20. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    Grrr.. Why can everyone else get it to work right except me?
    I did get this to work though. Hopefully this works. The bass's color is actually a little bit lighter than what it looks like in the pictures.

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