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Craptastic China Bass for Newbie...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by FlatNate, Jun 13, 2002.


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  1. Hi Guys,
    I am pretty new to the double bass forum. Anyways, I guess I am looking to see if you guys think further investment is a good or bad idea. Here is the deal:

    I have played an upright for eleven years, and haven't been able to really play one since I gave up my rental and school bass at the end of high school. I miss it dearly. So recently I was able to acquire a used 10 to 15yr old chineese "box" for roughly 300 bucks. I have a pretty good relationship with the local luthier and he looked it over and told me it seemed to be will maintained (straight neck, descent bridge, and strings). He ended up telling me it wasn't a bad deal for 300 bucks, and would have catched about $1100 new (very similar to a lot of the basses they keep in their rental stock).

    Anyways, my friend asked for $300. So I picked it up as a "banger" that I can put a magnetic pickup on for some rock type shows I do (at least until I find something much better). On the down side it has a crummy fingerboard, and nut.

    I guess I am really wondering if its worth having my luthier put a rosewood or new fingerboard on it (he'll give me a good deal too). Is this kind of bass worth putting another $200 or $300 into. Sorry it is so long winded, but I am just wondering what your guys take is on all of this. I know a carved bass or a fifties Kay would be nice, but I know it will be a while before I can afford one (at least in my area). Thanks in advance.
    -Nate
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Hi, welcome to the board. It's just my opinion, but I wouldn't sink any more money into that axe (assuming it's in the Palatino/Cremora mold) unless you know it's going to be many years before you can afford to get a better one. One of my students has a Palatino, and is salivating daily over every other DB he sees. He's gigging on the junky bass to save money for a Christopher or something on that level, and I think this is wise. I don't know what the fingerboard is made of on that thing, but it's a really light, soft wood, and it buzzes like crazy. The saddle broke off several times, the neck is kind of warped...etc. etc.....these basses are like walking time bombs. And tone bombs. On the bright side, when you finally do get a better one, it'll seem like heaven.

    Peace,

    Chris
     
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    My repair guy shared some wisdom with me one day after he quoted a $500 repair on a bass that had cost me $300.

    "OK, what kind of bass can you buy today for $800?"

    So the simple answer is if you have $300 into it already, if another $300 will give you something as good or better than any $600 basses you might come across, then it's worth it if it makes the thing usable for a few years. I know what Chris is saying, but if the bass has already survived 10 years it's probably not going to die any time soon.

    By the way, that $300 bass with the $500 repair would cost me about $2000 to replace today :eek:
     
  4. You guys both bring up some good points. Putting too much money into it is rather silly (and I know it). However the neck is still straight, the joints aren't bad so thats not too shabby for a fifteen year old Chineese bass. So I figure if the new fingerboard isn't more than 300 and I spend about 600 total then it isn't too bad of a deal for me personally. I just want something to thump on a bit for the next couple years (I am long out of any my old orchestra days). As a result, I won't be using it in any real formal or jazz type settings. I doubt I would ever invest in a nice carved bass with the kind of playing I am diong right now (although they do sound wonderful). Finally, if I can sell it to some kid in four or five years for about 300 bucks, then maybe I'll come out okay. I hope that I can get a descent bass to learn some slap stuff on in time. Thanks for the advice.
    -Nate
     
  5. Executor666

    Executor666

    Jul 3, 2002
    SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW. SELL YOUR CHINESE BASS NOW.

    Try to look for a Kay or Engelhardt on Ebay, and PLEASE ditch that Chinese bass (especially if the label reads "Palatino" or "Parrot") and avoid buying a Cremona AT ALL COSTS. Cremonas are absolutely kraptacular and are not much better than a Palatino. A decent new bass will set you back about $2000. There is a nice carved-top "hybrid" bass available for about $1800-$2400 called the Strunal 5/20. Beware: Strunal basses are often command higher prices than they should. Avoid spending more than $2400 on a Strunal 5/20.
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    You said that already. A bit too much sugar in the old French Roast, perhaps?
     
  7. didn't your mum teach you its not polite to generalise ?

    the particular basses you mention are certainly widely regarded as not worth the wood they're made from, but to be sure, there are also some very nice instruments coming out of that country

    perhaps you missed this thread, for example

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=23294

    just my $.02
     
  8. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    My DB is a Palatino (all I could afford as a broke college student, and I got it for a paltry sum), and it's actually a solid instrument. I've had it worked on and upgraded significantly by a local luthier (adjustable bridge, couple of setups, nut adjustments, etc) and it plays quite well. I feel fortunate that I was able to get what I did. Those who have heard it played or have played it themselves have said it sounds nice as well. Who knows, eh? :)
     
  9. My DB is a Palatino, too. Maybe I just lucked out, but I've had it nearly three years and it's holding up very well. Would I recommend it for everyone? No. But it fit *my* criteria perfectly as far as budget and availability for a starter DB. Got it at a store because at the time, I knew of no luthiers or teachers in the area.
    Had to change the strings and added an adjustable bridge, and yes, it could probably use a luthier's TLC, but I've had the strings as low to the fingerboard as the tolerances anyone else has mentioned here and not gotten any buzzing (although the volume suffered immensely--a common problem, I understand). The couple times I've played out I've gotten compliments on the sound...
    I also bought it with the idea that I would not sell it, but would keep it as a second bass when that magical day came and I scored that Prescott :) So the pressure is off as far as sinking a bit of money into it. (Something to consider if you do outdoor gigs and don't want to take a chance of messing up a carved instrument worth several thousand $$$.)
    My teacher didn't drop dead when he saw it--thought that was a good sign, too.
    Many bassists have mentioned time or rent-to-own plans or whatever the terminology is--maybe a little research into that would yield some positive results--in that you could start out with a better bass right away and the money you would have put into the Chinese bass would instead be applied toward the purchase of your (interim) dream bass.
    But if $600 will net you a nice, playable bass that fits your needs, and you know and can deal with its limitations, and it's not holding you back in your quest for musical perfection, then it's probably okay for awhile.
     
  10. Well I picked it up. It only set me back $300, and it turns out it was made in 98. Yeah it isn't a Engelhardt or Kay, or Strunal. Still, 300 bucks did get me something "playable", and yes it actually is playable. The tone is fair, it is definately not bad, I had the bridge trimmed a bit, so the string height is descent. It stays in tune... I dunno, when I get 2 grand I will definately go for better. Still I think given my situation I made off pretty well (for now). So I will "Sell the China Bass"... but maybe in three years or so. I need to get out of college and pay some bills in the mean time. Thanks for the advice. I'll probably see you guys around the forum more, hopefully not due to too many problems.
    Later,
    Nate
     
  11. I like my Chinese bass. It's a well-contructed, good-sounding, nice-looking axe. My teacher backed that opinion up too. So one has to be careful about overgeneralizing about the origins of a bass & take a look at the instrument itself, methinks! Course my China-bass cost about $3000 new & I got it for $2200 used, so we're not talking about a piece of worm-ridden driftwood here...
    :D
     
  12. DalmerM

    DalmerM

    Oct 15, 2002
    North Carolina
    I play mostly bluegrass and country. I have looked for a decent double bass for years and could never find one I could afford until I ran across the China bass I have now. Bought new, it is nearly two years old now and has performed great. I done most of my own set up work, lowered the action, made a new sound post and sanded the back of the neck finish off smooth. I still want to get new strings for it, but as is, this bass still seems like a darn good deal for the money. It's just a plywood bass, but it gets the job done, at a price I could afford.

    I know of two other people who has bought them and only one is having problems with his. I bet because he leaves his bass sitting by his air conditioning/heat vent. I keep a humidifier tube hanging in my f hole.
     
  13. Wow, I thought my thread was long dead. The bass turns out to have descent tone (adjusting the sound post a bit helped a ton), but I soon noticed after bringing it home that the fingerboard was just way too soft for me. So I spent another 200 bucks to put an ebony fingerboard on it.

    I know, why buy a bass for 300 and put 200 into a fingerboard and nut? Still it is okay by me. I plan on putting a Pierre Joseph string Charger or similar magnetic pick up on it so I can play it on stage in a louder rock kind of setting anyways. I'm looking more for playability than true tone at this point. Tone will be determined more now by my pickup and preamp, similar to an electric. As of right now, I like having the upright more for show than anything else. Still it is nice to get away from the routine and whip out a bow once in a while. Someday I hope to invest in a nice carved bass or maybe a vintiage Kay. Just not yet.

    -Nate
     
  14. BrandonEssex

    BrandonEssex

    Feb 21, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    When you're ready to go carved, make sure to play a Juzek or two. I got mine in July, and even with a few minor imperfections, it is a beautiful instrument, and not rediculously expensive. My Engelhardt sounded good, and was perfectly playable, but the Juzek is just on another level.

    Another nice aspect of a mid-priced bass like this one is that if you want to play an outdoor gig or a club date, you don't have to chew your fingernails off worrying about your 10,000 bucks invested, but you can still get most of the character and resonance out of a Juzek (or another similar instrument) that you can a turn of the century german bass.

    I like to compare it to bicycles (my other consuming hobby)
    a 150 dollar Huffy sucks and proably weighs 50 pounds, but it's better than nothing, and it means the difference between riding or not riding.
    An 800 dollar Trek is not fit for world class racing, but it will give you a comfortable ride, not weigh you down, and gives 95% of the benefits of a bike that costs 10 times as much.
     
  15. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    I play a cheap Chinese bass, only cost £469 new, made by Antonio I think? something like that.
    Anyway, I think its pretty good for something so affordable, nice tone (although a little bit quiet) it came with a crap bridge but thats easily sorted out. Acoustically it sounds great, and with a K&K Bass Max through a GK combo it sounded pretty good as well, although a tiny bit trebly.
    John Edwards played it (see my rant on bassists thread to find out who he is) and was pretty impressed, so there you go...
     
  16. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I like the bicycle analogy. A Crapatino is a Huffy. It works and you can pedal it, but it's not terribly enjoyable. Still, if you've never ridden a better bike, you may not realize the difference. Of course parts are gonna start breaking and it'll cost you more than the bike is worth to fix it. At the end of a year or perhaps two you've spent got nothing left from your initial investment.

    The Englehardt is the $250 bike. Nothing fancy, but workmanlike, and if you take care of it it'll last forever. Some refinement- a new bridge or a better seat, plane the fingerboard and true the wheels- and it's downright enjoyable.

    A really nice Chinese factory bass gets you up into the $350-$500 bicycle range. And beyond that, you've got all those hand carved bikes and full-Campy equipped basses....
     
  17. I've subsequently found out that my Chinese bass is made by a violin-maker there, Samuel Shen. A couple of the local symphony bassists (Rochester Philharmonic) help to design & import these instruments, and they seem to have garnered a decent reputation from those who've owned them. It's the difference between buying a production line instrument or buying one that was actually made by hand, and you find either category in many countries.
     
  18. So I spent another 200 bucks to put an ebony fingerboard on it.
    Dang FlatNate,
    How did you pull that off. A new Ebony Fingerboard and Nut for 200 bucks. You got yourself a Deal and the way you put it I assume that included labor. Keep your Luthier and hold him Dear to your Heart..

    Dave
     
  19. Spanky2112

    Spanky2112

    Aug 20, 2003
    Utica, NY
    :)
     
  20. brake

    brake

    Jun 23, 2003
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    I'm probably gonna end up gettin a cheap-o on ebay.. I just want an upright to see if I dig it enough to spend big $$
     



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