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Bass shops in midwest/first upright

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by andrewto, Nov 25, 2019.


  1. andrewto

    andrewto

    Jan 2, 2016
    Detroit
    I live near Detroit - where are the places I should be looking for a bass in the ~$4-5000 range within a day or so drive? I've been to Wilson Violins and I'm going to call Guarneri House and the Cincinnati Bass Cellar. I've talked with Mark Leue in MA and he has a few basses I'm interested in. Thinking about taking a weekend trip and looking at those. I called Upton and they can't build me a bass in time for February. Anywhere else I should look, maybe in Chicago? I suppose if I'm going to MA then I can also look in NY. What are the shops in NY I should call?

    Background - I'm a cellist and electric bass player (among other instruments), and I played upright in high school. I do a lot of musical theatre pit orchestra gigs and I just got hired to play a show that doubles on electric and upright. I've been wanting an upright for years and now is my chance to buy one. The show is in February so I have some time to find the right bass. I think I'd like a fully carved bass but I'd be open to a hybrid. I'm currently thinking about buying a new Shen vs. an older instrument that may need repairs down the road. Any advice or general tips would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. JKoehler

    JKoehler

    Jan 31, 2008
    Snoqualmie, Wa.
    A440 Violin Shop in Chicago has got a bunch of nice basses.
     
    bassfran likes this.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    David Gage in lower Manhattan (couple of blocks off Canal Street), call to set up an appointment to see instruments, Kolstein out in Baldwin Long Island (you'll have to drive or take LIRR), Geoff Morrow/ Bass Garden in Yonkers
     
  4. NY might have a good selection, you'll probably pay less in the Midwest. St. Louis Strings and the related KC strings both have a strong selection. If you want to go south Quantum Bass in Houston has a great selection and probably even cheaper prices than the Midwest and NY for similar instruments.
     
  5. Henri Gross

    Henri Gross

    Sep 22, 2018
    I’d stick to Guarneri house, it’s the closest to Detroit with the most selection of higher end basses. If you’re looking for something more manageable, go to Bayberry music in Ferndale, or you could try any of the Detroit Violin Company locations, Waterford or Berkley. Those two don’t have a very large selection, but will either have exactly what you need or will be able to point you in the right direction.
     
  6. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I just picked up a Shen 190 Hybrid and its a fabulous bass for the $$. Got mine used in like-new condition, but even at new bass prices its in the lower end of your range.
     
  7. As far as $$ to dependability, these are probably the best "brand" recomendation. A far better first bass option than I ever had! At the price point the OP is starting at, with a bit of effort a very nice instrument can be found.
    Still, a Shen is always a solid option.
     
  8. andrewto

    andrewto

    Jan 2, 2016
    Detroit
    Thanks for the recommendations. I'll be trying a Shen on Friday, but I think at this point I'm more interested in older instruments. Of course at the end of the day the bass with the best sound wins though.

    I called Guarneri and really all they have in stock at that price point is new Chinese basses. (PS Henry, I think we might have played an orchestra gig together a few years ago) A440 doesn't have anything that interests me, and I didn't really see anything besides new Chinese instruments in the New York shops' inventory. Quantum Bass looks cool but that's quite a drive for me. Cincinnati Bass Cellar mostly has new Shens, but they do have an attractively priced carved Gliga.

    I saw that ad a few days ago. I searched for Gary Ritter and found a few recommendations on here. Someone said that Paul Keller his him work on his instruments so that sounds legit. The only concern I have is a negative review on Google where someone claimed he was dishonest and started harassing the person when he got called out. I actually am an acquaintance of the reviewer but I haven't asked her about it. I think I'll probably go check out that instrument anyway since it's not too far from me. Damon, have you dealt with Gary or did you just see the CL ad?

    So far the instruments I want to look at are:
    - the above bass from Gary Ritter
    - these basses from Mark Leue: https://www.theluthier.us/copy-of-carved-template-page-1, https://www.theluthier.us/saxon-circa-1880, https://www.theluthier.us/copy-of-carved-template-page-2. He also has a nice inventory of Shens, and it would be nice to compare all of them in one place
    - Adam Booker's bass in this ad: For Sale/Trade - Old German Flatback $5000 OBO
    - this bass, just because it has a C extension (which I admittedly will probably never need): For Sale - 7/8 Gemunder Shen
    - Zaret and Sons seems to have a nice selection: Acoustic Basses $4,000 and Up | Peter Zaret and Sons Violins

    I'm still looking up shops and adding to my list. Wondering about going to Canada, if there are any good shops within a day's drive of MI and how much of a hassle it is to buy an instrument there and come back to the US...
     
  9. oren

    oren

    Aug 7, 2007
    Salem, OR
    If you’re looking in Chicago you might give Mark Sonsken at Sonsken Strings a ring. He’s a knowledgeable and experienced luthier, and even if he doesn’t have anything in his stock that suits you he will give you good advice and all round enjoyable conversation.
     
  10. I think you'll find that the selection in Canada is not great. The only shop of note is Heinl's in Toronto. That said, you might find a few Shens at the right Long And McQuade location. The main shop here in Vancouver can have 3 or 4 sometimes, but not all L & M's are created equal. Getting a bass home from Canada shouldn't be a big deal at all if you're driving. I've done it in the opposite direction and it was just a matter of paying some tax after showing receipts. No problem at all.
     
    dan1952 likes this.
  11. [QUOTE="andrewto, post: 23325154, member: 287813"

    I saw that ad a few days ago. I searched for Gary Ritter and found a few recommendations on here. Someone said that Paul Keller his him work on his instruments so that sounds legit. The only concern I have is a negative review on Google where someone claimed he was dishonest and started harassing the person when he got called out. I actually am an acquaintance of the reviewer but I haven't asked her about it. I think I'll probably go check out that instrument anyway since it's not too far from me. Damon, have you dealt with Gary or did you just see the CL ad?[/QUOTE]
    I don't know him. If this bass is real, it is a good price. I would check it out anyway!
     
  12. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Mark Sonksen is definitely a quality guy.

    What the OP describes is what made me eventually decide to have a bass built by Upton. (I know, time constraints.) But it was so frustrating running here and there, trying out one poorly set up old bass after another.
     
  13. andrewto

    andrewto

    Jan 2, 2016
    Detroit
    Update - I went to Wilson's locally and played Greg's personal Shen Rogeri SB 190 hybrid and really liked it. They can order me one but I obviously can't play it before buying. Greg is confident in Shen's consistency; he also bought his bass sight unseen.

    I just went to Guarneri House and brought back 2 Juzeks on trial. They were my favorites in the shop but now that I've played them more I think the Shen hybrid was better. I'm hoping to get to the Cincinnati Bass Cellar in the next few days and I'm hoping I'll find something I like there, since they have a nice inventory.
     
  14. It used to be that basses were like snowflakes and you couldn't make decisions on brands. I think you are over-thinking and over-working for the price point you are working with. Just get a Shen from the closest shop that will set it up well and get on with playing!
     
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Shens are remarkably consistent. That said, the Bass Cellar in Cincy is great and their bass room is amazing! Make sure to make an appointment before you go, and also be sure to eat lunch at the little cafe across the street. It’s really good.
     
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  16. andrewto

    andrewto

    Jan 2, 2016
    Detroit
    Going to the Bass cellar tomorrow! Pumped! Hopefully I'll find the one there; if not I'll have go to the east coast. Lol. And I'll definitely check out the little cafe!
     
    mjt0229 and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Those guys are good eggs. Happy hunting!
     
  18. andrewto

    andrewto

    Jan 2, 2016
    Detroit
    I spent about 4 hours there and took back a Shen Rogeri Willow on trial and I think I might keep it. It sounded better pizz than anything up to 10k. And I had a great panini at the cafe!
     

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    dan1952 and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Beautiful! And I know the panini was good.
     

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