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considering a long term investment....

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by tbassist4, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. I recently stumbled across the Roma basses, and their new liquidation sale. They're selling fully carved full size Romas for $1,299. The price is low enough where I might even spend that much just to see how it would turn out. I ended up paying around the same amount for my Chinese plywood after paying for the bass, shipping, and repairs, and that ended out to be a great bass; It will serve me through the end of this year at the least (freshman in college).

    As far as I can see in my limited experience, this Roma bass would probably end out better, but maybe I'm wrong. What kind of improvements in sound should I expect from a carved bass within the next few years? I hear they open up very well, and, if this is worth it, I would like to purchase this bass for college, and watch it grow in sound quality, and then eventually sell it to buy a better bass (that is, if this doesn't turn out to be great bass that I'll end up using for years, which it very well might...).

    What are the risks involved? What should I watch out for, and what should I do if this ends out to be a lemon? With this price I am worried and a little excited as well. What are the takes from those who know better than I do (which should be most of you, haha)?

    Also, how would the investment in a cheaper, fully carved bass like this compare to buying something like one of the more expensive hybrids from Upton or a New Standard Bass?
  2. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    I saw those as well and being in the market for a hybrid or fully carved am very interested in the replies you get. Thanks for the inquiry.
  3. At that price, I don't see how you could lose. Many of your other questions would be difficult guesses or impossible answers. Double basses are highly individual beasts and are all different. If you haven't heard a carved top versus a ply, then try to find two and listen. No two sound exactly alike, but IMO, the carved top is just much richer in timbre. My guess is it's going to blow the Chinese laminate away right out of the box. I have a 2005 model Bulgarian Kremona that sounded good but was a little tight at first and after just two years it is really different and loud, very loud. How fast that happens just depends on the individual instrument and how much time you put on it.

    Expect to have the set-up done, which will add some to the price, but still, the next closest fully carved is the Kremona from Gollihur and it costs substantially more and also needs set-up work. These Romas are new-old-stock if I remember right. They weren't built yesterday. Carpathian spruce can be really good stuff. And these are coming to you with a little age on them already. If they haven't shrunk and cracked or any of that yet, they are not likely to soon. It is my understanding that they have been sitting in a warehouse for some years in metro New York. These are kind of pre-seasoned, if you will. If they had five string ones, I'd be snapping them up myself. At that price, it is tempting to go for the four banger even.

    All in all, I just can't see how it could be a bad deal. Worst case, you might have to sell it after these are all gone at about what you paid. If you like it and hold onto it for a few years, you might even get a small dividend when you upgrade. I can't see why they would be more prone to problems than anything else from Eastern Europe.
  4. dchan


    Nov 19, 2005
    Bethlehem, PA
    I've played these basses at Ideal Music in NYC. Some of them are pretty good and some of them are just okay.

    The problem is twofold for me:
    - I don't really have the ears or experience to figure out which one is the best sounding one.
    - The luthier there is not really a trained luthier: he only gets the bass to be playable enough. By this, I mean bridges not cut very well, fingerboards not planed well, etc. I remember seeing large gaps at the feet of the bridge on every bass.

    But like Silversorcerer says, I don't really think you can go wrong here. These are decent quality basses that are solidly made and have aged over the years. With a proper setup and good strings, they can sound pretty good. And at the same price as entry plywood basses, it's a sweet deal.

    But at the same time, you have to ask yourself how much are you willing to invest in a bass. The Romas are good. The Eberle basses, a bit more expensive, are even better. But how do you know how good these basses are. I think the worst thing for me is buyer's regret, when I find something later on that was much better than whatever I bought before.

    The same thing goes for basses, which I group in the same class as cars and houses. You really need to know which bass is best for you and not simply buy one based on price. So I would suggest that whatever bass you get, you need see it and try it out first before you buy it. Otherwise, you're just buying blind, no matter how good of a bargain it may seem.
  5. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    ...or, in this case, buying deaf. ;)
  6. Thank you very much for your responses. I think I might go in on this one. What I'm looking for is a bass to get me through college, that will bloom into a loud and full orchestral bass. I plan on getting a 4/4, and those have a lot of potential for a good orchestral sound, or so I've heard.
  7. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    I purchased one of the carved Roma basses from Ideal and it was just delivered to my local luthier about two hours. His initial impression: nice bass. It's strung with D'Addario hybrids but, per my request, a new set of Flexocores, in the original wrappers, was included. It also came with a Mooradian bag (extra $$ but a good deal). My luthier says that his suppliers could not offer him a fully carved bass at the price I paid.

    This Roma was sold to me as a 1/2 size bass but the actual dimensions and string length (40") more accurately describe a 5/8ths sized instrument. My luthier will give the bass a full evaluation next week and advise me as to what he thinks needs to be done in terms of set-up and modifications.

    Working with Steve and his mom was a great experience. Steve promptly answered all my questions and sent very detailed photos that my luthier and I reviewed. The bass took three days to get from NYC to my luthier's shop in Chicago (FedEx LTL freight).

    Would I have bought a basss costing $7K+ this way? NOPE. At this price level, however, I was willing to take some risk. i have no doubt that, given Mark's reputation for quality work, I won't be disappointed. I'll post the results when everything is done which will take a couple of weeks.

    BTW: Steve had a nice 1/2 size hybrid that he was selling w/o strings, bridge, or tuners (holes already drilled) for a good price. Might be worth checking out if you're looking for something smaller. He also had an Eberle and Hoffner, both laminated.

    I strongly recommend checking out www. bassesonline.com if you're looking and haven't received your trust fund distribution yet.
  8. This is sounding better and better. I've been in contact with them, and now I'm getting a good feeling about this...
  9. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    On his "specials" page, at the bottom, Steve lists three No. 10 E. Wilfer fully carved basses which he is (or was) selling for $3.5K each as "luthier specials". This is because they have some repaired top cracks. From my limited research, I've learned that the No. 10 Wilfer is the low end of the fully carved Wilfer line but I've seen a couple of these selling for $6- 8K (Yes, they were identified as No. 10). If I wanted one of these, I would have had a luthier check it out before dropping the $$ but they do sound interesting. As always, IMHO only.
  10. I just recieved my carved Roma 2 weeks ago from Bassesonline in New York, and I couldn't be happier, however, I'm fairly useless as far as reviewing it goes. This is my first double, and only the second one I've actually laid my hands on, so my experience is nill. All I can say, is Kate was awesome, not a scratch on it, it realy is, to me, a beautifull instrument. The set-up has some slight buzzes, the action seems high, and the E seems quiet, but I assume a proper setup will remedie most of that. I live an hour north of Toronto so to the door it ended up around $1700 CND incl tax + ship. $300 less than the cheapest used bass around here, so I figured, I wasn't realy risking to much in buying sight unseen. I wish I could help more, but I will be interested in hearing what the expereinced guys have to say.


    ps. my first posting.
  11. Welcome to talkbass, Chris! And welcome to the world of double bass in general! I'm not far ahead of you in my little bass adventure here myself. It's great to hear you had such a great experience with your Roma! I'm pretty much set on getting one. I'm mostly trying to decide between the 3/4 and the 4/4. I have a 7/8 Chinese plywood, so I might go with the 3/4 just so I can have a more manageable instrument. I think my favorite part of this is that I'll be getting a new instrument that's made well, so I can watch it grow and mature myself over time. Haha, if it turns out to be a good bass, I'll have a story to tell if people admire it further down the road. Good luck, and have fun with your Roma!
  12. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    A short follow up on my Roma bass:

    My luthier, Mark Sonsken, just advised me that he believes the bass requires: 1) a new bridge with height adjusters; 2) fingerboard re-shaping and dressing; 3) soundpost replacement and/or adjustment. This is of course, in addition to re-stringing the bass with the Flexocore strings that were included. Estimate: ca. $900 US. I'm not surprised by his recommendations nor this cost estimate. He also estimates that a bass of this quality would normally sell for about $4K.

    I'm only posting this to remind those of you who may purchase one of these basees that, most likely, some work of the nature described above will be needed and the cost needs to be factored into the budget. My bottom line: Bass = $1299, Set-up/mods = $900. Total cost = $2200 for a fully carved bass. It may not be the right one for your needs but it's certainly worth checking out while Ideal still has them.
  13. I think it should do well enough, right? I'll be using it throughout undergrad, and as an orchestral bass in whatever situation I choose to enter. Within a few years, I expect it should open up very nicely, and continue to do so. I'm going to talk to a luthier about it this Saturday and get his opinions, as well as try what he has in the shop. My bass needs an entirely new bridge and has some seam separation that has me a little worried. I've only dealt with separation once, and that was a little bit on the button, which was glued and fixed up very nicely. This looks a little more serious; it's separating on the left shoulder between the top and the higher rib (correct term?), so I don't know what he's going to say about it. It might be that I need one of these Romas sooner or later. Either that or another bass if I find one I like. We'll have to see.

    Are there any opinions on the matter, expert or otherwise?

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