Best upright bass for $5K?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MattyHoskins, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. MattyHoskins


    Apr 21, 2015
    Hi all, I've had an old Kay that finally croaked when it slipped out of my hands and fell two feet and hit the floor. First time I've done that in 28 years. Same bass I've had forever. I'm an intermediate player. I used to play a lot more but now it's more for church and small gigs. I used to do a ton of orchestral but now I mostly do arco and pizz at about 50/50 ratio. I'm also wanting this upgrade to kick me into getting back into playing more, probably at a community symphony and some folk/bluegrass local stuff. I'm looking for the most versatile and reliable bass for around $5k. Any suggestions?
    armybass and 210superair like this.
  2. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Need more info...

    Are you targeting to buy new or used?

    Country of origin preference?

    Do you want carved, hybrid or ply?

    Lots of options exist, so a little more directional guidance would be nice.
  3. Versatile and reliable is probably a new hybrid. NS or Shen would the best "brands" in that range, you can also really find a nice old European bass for that if you are patient!
  4. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Gosh, there are so many alternatives at that price point there's almost no way to guide. If you expand your scope beyond Shen and Upton and a couple other mass manufacturers that are highly consistent, there are literally hundreds of basses for sale at any given time ranging from new to 100 years old. And after a few years the personal history of the individual bass also enters into the equation.

    It's not like cars where the brand name and model means a lot. Between two different 50 year old carved basses from Eastern Europe with labels applied by their US distributors, there's simply no way to evaluate other than playing them and investigating their physical condition.
    dan1952 and David Barootian like this.
  5. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    I just bumped mine in the classifieds.
  6. rknea, Keith Rawlings and Adam Booker like this.
  7. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    When you say your old bass "croaked" when it fell, what exactly got damaged? It's surprising what can be fixed on a bass and that may also be a viable option.
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  8. MattyHoskins


    Apr 21, 2015
    The neck and back cracked a bit. It can be anywhere from $500 to $1500 to fix it and frankly, I'd rather upgrade to something that's not plywood.
    Dr. Love likes this.
  9. MattyHoskins


    Apr 21, 2015
    I'm not against used but really asking about new. No country of origan preference. Don't want ply but I'm interested in hybrid or carved.
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
  11. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    The usual suspects: Shen, New Standard, Upton, Gollihur, String Emporium, Romanian Calin Wultur, Lemur; also I've heard that the new, higher end Eastman's (605 etc) are pretty good, too. It's a much better price point for quality than it was even a decade ago...

    ...And of course, Adam's bass!
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I played some Eastmans and the high end one was very nice, but probably more than $5k? And yes to Calin Wultur, too.
  13. @Chris Fitzgerald sounds great on his La Scala hybrid. You might be able to find a used one for 5k. 4 or 5k will get you a really great, dependable Shen.
    In this price point, for new made in USA basses, a big percentage is going to just that. Since you said you are not concerned with country of origin, you are best off with a bass made in eastern Europe or China or a used instrument.
    Chris Fitzgerald and Dabndug like this.
  14. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I owned one of the first hybrid Upton Karr basses made, and I still think they are around $5K... but there is a lot out there.
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks @damonsmith . I would be remiss not to mention that my plan is to retire in 10-12 years, having played pretty much my entire career on a LaScala hybrid. They can be bought new for $6,500. I have played exactly three basses during this time that made me think about upgrading. They ranged from $28k on the low end to $38k on the upper end. I just don’t see the upside to that.
  16. 210superair


    Sep 10, 2019
    Sell it to me! :D

    On a side note, the title of this thread alone highlights a major difference between UB and slabs! Lol.... Their threads are titled 'what's the best bass under 1k...'
  17. Mgaisbacher

    Mgaisbacher Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    I will second this, I've had a New Standard La Scala Hybrid for about 5 or 6 years now and the only basses that have made me truly feel like they would be a significant upgrade have been in the $25K and up range, and mostly in the 30K and above. Was just lucky enough to try two bass in the 40K+ range and while either would have been significant upgrades the LaScala holds its own especially when you consider the price difference. (edit/ clarification: by "try" I mean I spent about a month with one of them and about 2 weeks with the other)

    Basically what I am trying to say is the New Standards are amazing instruments for the price, although a new hybrid is a little above the budget you stated. They are something you should at least strongly consider. If you're budget is firm at 5k then I will also suggest a shen, you can find these almost everywhere and if set up from a good shop they can be really great instruments for the money. I've never had experience with any of the string emporium or Lemur basses so I can't really comment on those but I am sure they are fine options as well.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  18. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    These look really nice. Wish I could try one but I live in Europe.
  19. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Immediate consumer purchase satisfaction will limit you to the obvious choices mentioned.

    Patience will reward you with far more bass for far less money than you imagined, especially in this economy.....
  20. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Les Fret... where in Europe are you?
    Les Fret likes this.