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carved basses.. how to tell?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by elgranluis, Nov 14, 2005.

  1. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    hello there. How the heck can I tell a carved bass from a plywood one? The thing is, I know a couple of old musicians who have old basses. They have owned them for 30 years, the top has not sunk in, and they dont use them anymore because they were "heavier than a store bass." This is strictly from a business standpoint: I want to see if it is a worthy investment to buy them and then sell them. I culd probably get them for less than 400 bucks apiece. There is also another one with 3 tuners... what{s with that?
  2. you should just buy one, and then learn to play it, and join the dark side of the board.

    or get them appraised by a luthier and give these guys a fair deal...
  3. ArenW


    Jan 14, 2004
    Cocoa, FL
    Yeah, old people are suckers-stick it to em'. :scowl:
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I must say this is the one thing I really hate about coming to TB - just my opinion and personal view - but I come along to learn about and to indulge my love for music when I can't be playing or listening, to talk to people about music-making....

    But it seems a lot of people are just interested in buying and selling "stuff" to make money and it really gets my goat....:meh:

    If there was one thing that would really improve TB for me it would be to split "speculation/acquisition" from "music-making"!! :)
  5. Ahem. Back to the original questions.

    To tell carved from laminated, look at the edge of the top and back. If you see several layers (or plys) of wood you are looking at a laminate. If you see the wood's grain, you have a carved bass.

    Are they good investments? It depends on many factors, most of which cannot be answered on an internet forum. You might actually buy the bass for a few hundred dollars then have to spend several thousand to get them in playing shape. You could very easily end up with $2-3000+ in a bass worth that much or less. On the other hand, you might end up with a really good sounding, easy playing instrument--something a player would love but an investor would be disappointed in. There are several threads here that discuss instruments as investments and I believe the general consensus is that it is a very poor investment. It might appreciate enough to keep up with inflation but probably not enough to match the performance of a decent mutual fund.

    3 tuners? In the dim, distant past 3-string basses were not uncommon. That sounds like what you have.
  6. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    You're just like any newbie: you want to evaluate an instrument but you don't have much experience to base your judgment upon. Either you learn (take classes, listen, watch etc, ...slow process - no short cuts) or you stay out of it. If you want to help them old musicians and if they need help, you can have the instruments appraised by reputable doublebass luthiers; knock off a fraction of the price to make it a good deal, take digital pics and sell them. Negotiate your cut for all your troubles. IMHO, from a strictly business stanpoint, at 400 bucks a pop (pun intended), you're almost certainly ripping them old timers off.
  7. The one with three tuners had three strings. Somewhat archaic, but you will see some references to these if you use the search tool. If you are having trouble telling plywood from carved, you might not want to speculate in the double bass market. If you are really interested in dealing in the musical instrument market, new or used, there is much more to learn. Also there are many well-informed and reputable dealers in this business who have passed this information on for generations, so expect well-heeled competition, whether buying or selling.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    "ludwig the mean" ....:confused:

    I can sympathise with the overall intention - but is there some specific reference which I'm not getting....?
  9. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I'm usually not good at changing names around, in the good ol'tradition started way back by FogHorn and Durrl. I guess you acquire this kind of a skill in the play grounds. My excuse is that I grew up in the Alps, and then in a Paris suburb like the ones on TV those days. so... our sytem of equations is:

    ludwig = luis and the mean <not equal> el gran dig ?
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Maybe it should have been : "Un Petit Louis" - would this have made any sense in France!!?? ;)
  11. It really only requires that you have some vague familiarity with spanish, german, and english. But I was getting it mostly by context. Even the humorous statements like William Tell's arrows, I generally appreciate. I'm sure I go misunderstood at least as often.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I can appreciate the humorous intent - I was just wondering if he was an actual, historical figure....? ;)

  13. Maybe you're thinking of Ludwig the Mad
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks - I knew there was something like that!! :)
  15. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    ok, ok. Thanks for your thoughts. Although I do want to learn to play the contrabass, I am in a very tight sistuation, timewise. I just don't have any time left. I have like 32-hour days. I did tale lessons about 3 years ago, but i moved to another town.

    Now, about the moral issues involved in ripping old timers off. Well, I pretty much think that everything is worth different $$ for every one. If old timers price their basses at 100, that's what they are worth to them. It's not like i'm gonna beat them up and make them sell me their basses if they don't want. If you are looking for a car, and an old timer offers you his working rolls royce for a grand, would you go to a dealer, get an appraisal, then get back to the old man and point him in a certain direction? Maybe someone will, but let's face it, bussiness means making money.

    Yes, maybe it was a mistake to bring this up in the forum, my apologies. There just isn't a single shop around my area that sells a good bass, or a store that repairs them, or anybody knowledgable.
  16. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002

    there is some difference in buying a bass with the intent to keep and fix it and buying for as little as you can just so you can turn around and sell it knowing that you are buying the bass for way less than a fair price......its about the same principle as selling something for an insanely high price to someone that knows very little about the object in question when you know good and well that you are ripping them off.
  17. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Well you aren't going to get any sympathy from us, especially when leave your "location" blank in your profile. To quote you: "bussiness means making money". Well, there are several different ways to make money. If you really want to make some dough, why not just be a pimp?
  18. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX

    Well, i wasnt expecting any simpathy. And that pimping idea, I dont see anything wrong with it. If the bass thing doesnt work out, I{ll start looking for girls. :smug:
  19. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    sure enough, but I wouldnt mind selling a clothespin for 50 grand to anyone that will buy it for that amount. If it is fair for the buyer, it is for the seller. Unless of course he is selling his stuff to pay for his cancer bills or something like that, then I dont see any harm being made.