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Chinese bass - yes or a no, no

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by IceBass, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. IceBass


    Dec 28, 2005
    Hi, Im new in town and have been reading nearly every thread on this forum.

    One thing I have do ask you...feel free to discuss this matter...

    Did anyone start with a low end chinese made bass or did you all decide to buy a one of a kind million dollar bass and hope you would be good players? The reason for asking is that I have been thinking about getting a cheap upright bass and had my mind set on one of those wich are sold on Ebay but after reading many posts on this and other forums Im propebly not going to get one (cheap that is).
    Is it a total waste of time getting a cheap Ebay - one?
    Is it true that you cant get a good upright under 1000$?

    Icebass :bassist:
  2. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Between the low-end ebay cheapies and the one-of-a-kinds exist a whole lotta basses. Lots and lots. A couple rules of thumb:

    1. It's tough to find a (new) bass of decent quality for much under a grand.
    2. It's tough to find a (new) bass of decent quality *with a GOOD setup,* including good hardware and pro quality strings for much under $1500.
    3. The more basses you play before buying, the happier you're bound to be with your ultimate purchase, since you'll better know what blows your hair back and what doesn't.
    4. Forget guitar shops and warehouse stores selling basses. Buy from someone who specializes in double bass.
    5. Of all the basses you try, if the price tag of the instrument that you find to be the one for you fits within your budget, well, congratulations - you've pretty much found your bass.
    6. Ask questions here and on other boards, and of players, luthiers and shops.

    Good luck, and kudos to you for doing some homework; continue surfing the newbie links for a wealth of info. There's a lot of great stuff out there, and probably more than ever catering to folks looking for entry-level goods, so you're bound to find something.
  3. IceBass -- there are some good inexpensive basses out there (including Chinese ones), but I'd suggest you try to buy one from a reputable bass dealer, not from eBay. If you buy an instrument on eBay, you could potentially be throwing your money away on a crummy instrument but you have no way of knowing until you receive the instrument.

    I play an inexpensive Chinese-made bass that was set up by the bass shop that sold it to me, and it has worked out fine for me.
  4. Hi there,

    I highly recomend taking lessons from someone who is a faculty member of a music department for a large university, because universities own basses for students to use. That's how I started out, and while the instructor charged $50 a lesson, it was worth it because I got to learn on a carved German bass which was made during the American Civil War.

    After a bit of searching, I found another bass player locally who was selling his set up ES-9.
  5. mpoppitt


    Mar 28, 2005
    Austin Texas
    I started on a cheap Ebay bass, and wish I hadn't. It was a constant sourse of frustration, and is know literally falling apart after 6 years.

    Save your pennies and get a Shen, Upton, or Christopher from Norton or Upton. You get a fully set-up bass, with real strings for less than 2k.

    I think these are the best deals going, unless you stumble upon something cool used.
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    You can get a good, professionally setup bass for under $1,500. Under $1,000 is much harder come by. Ebay is full of hacks that just want to get your money into their account and crappy basses on your doorstep.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This may be reasonable advice if you live in the US - but the original poster lives in Iceland and you just don't see these things in Europe...:meh:
  8. IceBass


    Dec 28, 2005
    Thanks guys....great help. I think I will go for a cheap bass to begin with. Maybe after one or two years I will have saved some money to buy a good bass. As someone mentioned I live in Iceland and there are not so many shops that sells upright bass. And those are expensive for beginners.

    Thanks again...

  9. I have a Wan bernadel it is a wonderful bass. For the money it is a deal you won't believe. Chinese bass with a full sound and put together very well. This is the site check them out
    http://www.stringemporium.com/bernadel.htm. I have been playing mine for over a year and I love it. I have four students at William Paterson University that play them as well. CHECK IT OUT!

    Steve LaSpina
    or www.stevelaspina.com
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hey, Steve. Welcome aboard. I've been a big fan of your playing for quite awhile and hope to see you around the forum.
  11. Thanks Ed, I interested to see what going on here.
  12. GeoffK


    Sep 9, 2004
    I bought a Chinese bass a couple of years back from Ebay (around 375 pounds delivered to my door, including a bow and carrying bag). I didn't care for the finish (a bit too orange for my liking, but time has dulled down the shininess and I've gotten used to it).

    Of course, the bass snobs on this site (and there are many) all said "save your money and buy a good one", while proceeding to tell that a 'good' one is going to cost at the very least least five times what I paid; so what do I play until I've "saved up" enough? So the cheap Chinese bass it was.

    And two years on, it's still working just fine; in fact, sounding better all the time. The place where the cheap bass shows its cheapness is in the E string -- on a really good bass this will sound really rich and full and will really ring. With a cheap bass, you don't get that, but I believe you will also find this with basses that cost a grand or more (which, incidentally, is also a 'cheap' bass -- just not quite as cheap)

    AND I did the setup myself -- That will come as anathema to many of the people on this site, but the fact was, I didn't relish driving the two hours up to London, only to have my bass get sneered at by some snobbish luthier, and in addition the likelihood of having to pay more for the setup than the bass itself cost. And you know what? The sound post didn't fall over, and the sky didn't fall in. And with a bit of reading AND GREAT CAUTION you can do it too. My bass is playing very nicely and I'm very pleased. Good strings will make a difference -- the ones that come with it are a bit naff. The bow is, of course, naff as well, but you get what you pay for, right? And besides, I don't really use a bow.

    There's a lot of fear mongering on this site -- people told me the neck would snap off, the top would lift, etc. etc. Well, so far it's doing just fine. But what if they're all right, and my bass falls apart in five years? Well you know what? I'll buy another one, maybe better if I can afford it then. But maybe it won't fall apart and it will do me perfectly well. You can minimize the likelihood of cracks, lifting, etc, by treating your bass well, i.e. don't subject it to large changes in humidity or temperature.

    One note to bear in mind if you do your own set up: DO THE RESEARCH, and TAKE GREAT CARE. There's lots of good infor on this site, and many helpful, generous people -- and there are lots of bass snobs (my advice: be appropriately respectful and grateful to the former, and don't waste your breath on the latter).

    I did make one wrong turn in my setup, which I would counsel you not to repeat. Don't make your bridge too thin -- I did this first time and it started to bend under the pressure from the strings; apparently, this is not uncommon; a thinner bridge will, I suspect, transfer sound better, but looking at it made me quite uneasy (and also I suspect it would effect the intonation, since the foot of the bridge and the top of the bridge were no longer in a straight line, as it were). I eventually popped for another bridge (from a place in the US -- off of Ebay again), and -- being careful not to repeat my mistake -- shaped the bridge; a year on and no sign of bending.

    So my advice: don't be afraid; buy the Chinese bass and take your chances. It's true you won't get a premium bass, but you'll in all likelihood get something that you can learn on and it could last you for years to come. Then, when you're richer in 5 or 10 years' time, and you know what a good bass is supposed to sound like, go and find the instrument that you will grow old with.

    Good luck.
  13. I was about to suggest that you look for an older Engelhardt, then realised that you`re in Iceland, and then saw that Steve LaSpina has posted to this thread, at which point I was overcome with awe and deep appreciation.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is a lot of advice - but what is your background and experience for giving this?

    Why should I take this advice over somebody who is an experienced luthier, music teacher or a seasoned Jazz pro - like many of the people on this board are...?
  15. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    His background and experience is two years of success with the Chinese bass.

    I think it's very important that when people seek advice, they get to hear multiple angles. Not everyone can afford $1000, $1500, $4500 or worse. Better that a person does lots of research and gets playing with some low end instrument than none at all.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    How do you know that? How many people are put off playing DB because they start on an instrument that makes it too difficult to play...? :meh:
  17. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    I wasn't, and I'm still not. I loved the Kay my high school band director inflicted on me, even though the strings were fully an 1 1/4" off the fingerboard in thumb position.

    I bought a $300 Chinese bass because it was that, or not have one at all. Out of financial necessity, I carved the bridge up, lowered the action at the nut, and set the soundpost myself with a giant pair of hemastats to improve its playability (I figured I couldn't make it any worse), and it served me well until I could take it to a luthier (something I would recommend as soon as you can find and afford one.)

    Even after a new bridge + fitting, fingerboard planing, and soundpost replacement, I'll have sunk less than $1000 altogether on this bass, which has been featured in a couple of local radio spots, two songs rotated as bumper music on a nationally syndicated radio talk show, and several small theater productions. Not bad for a "cheap, unplayable" Chinese bass.

    Of course, I'll still buy a $xx,xxx German or Italian carved DB as soon as I can even think of affording it. It's just that I can't right now, and won't be able to for the forseeable future. I would hate to think that someone would put off playing DB because they couldn't afford to drop $xxxx on a decent beginner instrument. Buy what you can now, upgrade as soon as you're able.
  18. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Cuz I have been around music enough years to draw that conclusion. I observed the journeys of tons of instruments - high end and low end. These days, with some research, I think someone Can buy a low end bass that, with a proper set up, will not be too difficult to play.

    Lasting forever, and having ultimate tone are other issues. But as far as finding an instrument that can be made good enough for a beginner to play, without frustration, I'm comfortable stating that this can be achieved these days.

    Of course, if one has unlimited funds, by all means they should spend the money on a better instrument. But when that is not that case - and that is often not the case - it is better to encourage people to find something and get started rather than never starting.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You didn't actually answer my question!! :meh:
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it would be much better to take the advice of a decent DB teacher, with a lot of experience, rather than somebody who may only have just started themselves or who has no relevant experience...:meh: