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Christopher DB402T vs. Upton Hybrid

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jhillman, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. I have been talking to the guys at Upton over the last few weeks, and I have all but decided to order their UB Standard Hybrid. I am still a few months away from having the money I need, so I have been exploring other options just to see what else is out there. One of the guys I talked to in a local violin shop called me today and told me that he has a 2004 Christopher bass, model number DB402T, for about $2800. It sounds like it is in good shape. From what I have read about the bass, it is a fully carved Chinese bass.

    Some of the people I have talked to have said that Chinese instruments are the best basses for the money right now, and others have said to avoid them like the plague. The Christopher would be nearly $1000 less than the Upton (after adding a bow, case, and shipping to Utah), but I was hoping some of you out there might be able to tell me what you think about this. I will get a chance to see and possibly play the Christopher bass next week, and there is no chance I will get to see or play any Upton bass before mine is shipped to me, if I end up ordering it from them.

  2. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    I've been playing a hybrid christopher since I started playing double bass in 2001, I'm guessing mine is a 300 series since it's a round back. I payed about 2400 for it back then w/ a realist pickup installed. From what people here have told me, it's better quality than those below average "crappy chinese basses".
    It's been a good bass to learn on and it can sound beautiful when bowed by skilled hands in a spacious room. But it's anything but perfect, and now that I think about it I've probably dumped another 2,400 into keeping it playable over the past 8 years. (Broke the neck off, trying strings, setups, pickups)
    Evenness from string to string is pretty bad when compared to nicer basses, it has incurable wolf-tones, and even with a new setup the fingerboard buzzes at the same spots it always had.
    For jazz playing, it does the job nicely with a big sound that really barks, but it lacks the character/nuance that nicer basses can have.
    Granted, as a brand new player I was just happy to have a new bass and due to lack of experience I was unable to recognize the shortcomings the bass had.

    The one comment I get a lot is, "wow, your bass is nice...it's so shiny!" :rolleyes:

    I have not played an Upton, so I can't comment. But, I will say that the christopher would be a good bass to learn on, despite the negatives I've mentioned. In fact, I know two amazing young bass players (way better than me!) who learned on a christopher. One just upgraded to a 14k Wilfer and one just got back from playing his christopher at Birdland. :eek:

  3. RD


    Jun 17, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Cheap Chinese Basses are to be avoided! That refers the ones offered on ebay for a few hundred dollars or a bit more. They are frequently offered in package deals.
    However, Shens and Christophers are Chinese basses of good quality. There are a few other quality Chinese makers but I don't know them.
    Have your teacher or a luthier look at the bass for the best advice. Do a forum search of "Christopher" for more info.
    Good Luck!
  4. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    I have a DB304T hybrid Chrissy and am very happy with it.
  5. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Can you get your teacher to check out the Christopher with you in person? If you don't have a teacher yet, there are several teachers in town who you could ask to go take a look.
  6. I'm glad to hear that the Christopher basses have a reasonable reputation. The guy who contacted me about the bass is a luthier at a respected violin shop, so I trust his opinion of the instrument. What I would really like is an objective comparison of the Christopher and the Upton. I am so impressed with Upton's operation that I think it would take quite a bit to change my mind. The Christopher has Gamba corners, which I really don't like, and while it is stupid to make a decision based on the looks of the instrument, it is still important to me that I feel good about all aspects of the instrument I buy. It is likely the only instrument I will ever buy.
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I'm sure it's not perfect, but most of the $2400 you sank into it after purchase wasn't the bass' fault. We all try new strings, get our instruments set up, try pickups, etc., and I bet that neck didn't break itself. If it sounds beautiful in a spacious room and has a big sound for jazz as you say, you're doing pretty good with it. Most basses have wolf tones, as far as I know, and if you still have fingerboard buzzes after a new setup, take it back or get another luthier to look it over.

    For your purchase price of $2400, it sounds like you got a good instrument to me.
  8. jonas


    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Kontrabass-Atelier, Lando Music (Germany)
    Maybe this helps to compare these different models: The Christopher DB300 series is their hybrid series. The DB400 series is the least expensive fully carved line of Christopher (followed by DB500 and DB600, which are made of better and higher flamed woods). While the DB300 has a Polyurethane varnish, the fully carved ones have spirit varnish. The last digit indicates the model: 02 is Gamba, 03 violin, 04 Busseto.
  9. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Well you would have to come to grips with the Gamba versus Violin shape, but this bass that is local so you can play it or hear it played, and apparently a person you trust is telling you it is a good instrument. Adding to that, this particular bass would be hard to find new for less than $3,000.

    You may not find anyone who has played both models, and not only that, the comparison may not be relevant for the particular bass that you are considering.

    Assuming the bass has no issues and sounds good, the price is good for a fully carved chinese bass from a company with a decent reputation.

    Here is some info on the 400 series



  10. Hmmm. My Christopher, purchased in 2001 at Gage in NYC, is a DB601T. Any idea what this designation is?
  11. jonas


    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Kontrabass-Atelier, Lando Music (Germany)
    Has it a flat back? The 01 usually indicates Gamba Flatback, but is only offered for the DB400 series. The T means Three quarter size, by the way.
  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    :confused: Isn't Upton offering free shipping (or a very large shipping allowance) on their basses? If so, then what accounts for the $1000 difference? I assume you'd be getting a bow and a bag with either bass.
  13. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Bryan, TX
    If you're gonna buy, sight unseen, (considering the Upton, which you won't be able to play until it lands at your house...I'm sure it'll be a good bass, but apples to apples....), you might want to check out a company called NEMC (1-800-526-4593). They have the Christopher models at INSANE prices. The 402, brand new with a bag, is 2199. Add shipping, and a setup, and you're at 2800 or so. You can also get that model in a violin shape for the same price, or the busetto for 2399.

    For that kind of scratch, you could also look at a Shen 180 (also a hybrid), or for a few $ more, the 190, which has a solid top, willow sides, and a maple ply flatback (KILLER bass for pizz), or a fully carved Willow bass for 3100 from Steve Swan. He's about 650 miles away, so it's drivable. You'd save on shipping, AND be able to play it first. He has close to 60 basses in stock, I believe.

    Not saying you shouldn't go Upton or Christopher, but if you're willing to drive a tad from Utah/SLC, you can get a LOT for 3K these days, AND you'll be able to play different basses to see what speaks to you! Man, what would be KILLER is if Upton had their basses in the larger bass shops around the country so people could actually play them side-by-side. I for one, would love to give a new Upton hybrid or standard lami a thorough test drive locally to me!
  14. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Which are the apples to apples?
  15. Andrew Grandahl

    Andrew Grandahl

    Sep 11, 2007
    I'd go for the Upton.
  16. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Bryan, TX
    Comparing ordering/buying an Upton sight unseen to ordering a new Christopher 502 with violin corners sight unseen.
  17. Gary Lynch

    Gary Lynch

    Nov 18, 2008
    Sonoita AZ
    A nice entry level fully carved (top & back), solid sides bass, is the John Juzek 400 sold by Adam Juzek at Metropolitan Music. His advertising is pretty much vacant so few even know about them. My luthier Matt Bohn told me about them. Matt has sold a few and thought them to be a fine value for the price.

    The bottom line is I paid $1600 plus tax for a fully set up 3/4, 41 1/4 scale, carved bass. It has a satin finish and all ebony appointments. Matt set it up to growl like a beast. So far it has been excellent. I can't believe I scored a carved bass, that's not junk, for that price.

    So, there are getting to be more alternatives for entry level (under $3k) fully carved basses.
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Ah, thanks. I guess if you haven't played them and are ordering them blind it might seem like apples to apples.
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, as I've said here many times before:

    Do not, however, be fooled. There are entry level carved basses that, from many standpoints, are far less desirable than a quality ply! Think of ply, hybrid, and carved as three overlapping distributions (bell-curves, if you will), with the mean value of "quality" being lowest for the plys, intermediate for the hybrids, and highest for the carved ones.

    Now, to be fair, I haven't played the Juzek Chinese imports. Still, there is no magic. A "fully-carved" bass for under $3k involves quite a few compromises. I've yet to see/play/hear one that I found more desirable than the best of the hybrids I've played that were of comparable cost. Perhaps sometime it will happen.
  20. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    FWIW I owned a Christopher and an Upton -- both hybrids. For me there was no comparison. The Upton was a much better bass.

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