Best DB brands

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by BJ Bruner, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. BJ Bruner

    BJ Bruner

    Nov 25, 2020
    Logan, UT
    What are some good brands/models of double bass that I can get to play jazz? I'm not exactly in the situation to get one as of now, but I want to have a good idea of what I want to get when the time comes.
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I use a Shen. It works well.
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    longfinger and Keith Rawlings like this.
  4. We love brands because it makes it simple. It is great to trust a publisher or a record label and be able to take a chance and buy on trust - the idea being they have done the research so you don't have to. Double basses are not dish soap or even bass guitars. You need to do the research to find out what you want and need and not blindly rely on brands.
    That sort of thinking is actually the thinking you will need to break out of to learn to play the thing.
    You have to be able to research and understand paradox and nuance just to find your way around the fingerboard.
    I would recommend starting the process early and learn about the qualities of the double bass and choose accordingly.
    A Shen or comparable hybrid IS a solid starting point, but it is rarely a "forever" bass. They are recommendable due to being "solidly adequate" and consistent. NOT amazing.
    If you want a quick start I would go that route.

    The conventional wisdom is to look for a carved European shop bass that is around 50+ years old, you have to go around and play them to find the right one.

    There is a silly notion out there that luthiers are chomping at the bit to check out every bass you are considering - most are going to charge for their time and it won't just one bass.
    You teacher, however, is generally more invested. The better bass you have, the less you struggle, the easier it is for the teacher!
    bcamp and AGCurry like this.
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Agree with Damon, though a student bass could be your forever bass, depending on your goals. The best route, if possible is to rent a bass and take lessons and then as Damon says, have your teacher advise you over time on basses that you are considering.

    Seriously, we're not being difficult, what you know about buying and playing bass guitars will work against you as you move this direction. If you can put it aside for a while, some of that experience will certainly help you later.

    The guide we published was a group effort and is our collective best advice. This question comes up a lot, as you can imagine.
    bcamp, AGCurry, Joshua and 3 others like this.
  6. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    It's easier to say what brands should be avoided.
    What we look for are good structure, good sound, and ease of play.
    There are well-known, highly regarded brands, and there are many makers not so well-known but just as good or better. But even among those "brands," you will find jewels and lumps of coal, because each instrument is unique.
    John Chambliss, Fretless55 and TroyK like this.
  7. bcamp

    bcamp Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2013
    First, check out the guide. It really is good, solid advice based on facts from real life players, not salesmen. When the time comes to buy your bass though, try to take a real jazz player with you. Let them give the bass a good work out and stand out in the room and listen. Is this the tone you are wanting? Each bass, even within brands (even within models) sounds differently and it's difficult to judge the instrument's complex tone objectively from the playing position. You are going to be amazed at how varied the tones will be from a group of different basses. When you find one that sounds good to you, play it and see how it feels. Keep in mind that brand new instruments are likely to be set up relatively high and feel much stiffer than the older, broken-in instruments. Good luck BJ!
    AGCurry likes this.
  8. I should say: I am not disparaging Shen or the concept of "solidly adequate". My travel bass is a Shen and I am spending about half of my practice time on it and I don't hesitate to use it for gigs or recordings.
    A Shen may not blow your doors off but they won't leave you wanting, either.
  9. John Chambliss

    John Chambliss Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    Looks like you’ve just started playing electric bass. You should fill out your profile information and when asked, members here can help recommend Luthiers, Teachers, and other Double Bass resources in your area.
  10. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    If you spend some time here in the “Basses” forum you’ll find numerous threads full of advice and opinions on all the various brands (new and used), and you’ll start to get a sense of what people like and why. This will include everything from old plywood to hybrids to fully carved basses.