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DB for beginners, UK?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by dlloyd, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    I've been hankering after a double bass for a while now, maybe two years or so.

    I can't afford one. Even a cheap one. I'm thinking I might try and sort that out over the next few months.

    Trouble is, although I'm by no means a beginner when it comes to bass guitars, I haven't the first clue when it comes to DBs.

    The first question is one of budget... what can I get away with? I've seen basses for sale at around £400 and suspect these will be terrible. I've seen them at around £1000 and suspect these will be better. Any higher than this we might as well forget about for now... it's not going to happen.

    £400 is a lot more attractive than £1000 in view of my sorry finances. Particularly since I'm likely to need to shell out extra £s for a decent setup. Would a £400 bass serve me as a beginner, or would I be better off waiting up to a year for a £1000 and sticking to the plank?

    (Jazz 1940s and up, unlikely to want to bow too much)
  2. Please check the Newbie Links under the Basses heading.
    All your questions should be answered there.
    Good Luck.
    We have many UK TBDBers...i'm sure they'll chime in.
  3. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    theres been quite a bit of talk about this here:


    briefly, in my opinion the 400 quid basses are rubbish, not worth the cost of setting them up, and my favourite bass I've found in the 1 grand region is the Stentor Conservetoire. But theres lots more opinions on the above thread.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So have I!!
    So was I a few years ago - as Paul suggests, there is a lot of info around here and it is really helfpul - this subject has come up lots of times before - although I think Britain is very different to the US in this respect.

    You'd think so - wouldn't you!!?? ;)

    My personal findings have been that DBs around £1000 aren't actually that much better than a cheapie.

    My (very unscientific) research has led me to the following :

    £1200 and under - beginner/student bass
    £2-3k - intermediate
    £5k and over - good DB!!

    So I'm saying equivalent to Squier P bass, then good budget bass - then say a Fender US or top range factory bass.

    There are shops with DBs ranging from £15k - £50k !!! :eek:

    That's why I bought an EUB ;) - although i still want a Db - but I can se that is going to cost me close to £3k...
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But these are basically Chinese factory-made basses ...and most of the threads around here warn people off these....:meh:

    I'm ....:confused:.....;)
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Thanks. I may have overstated my ignorance and have done some research on them, including looking at the stickies up at the top of the forum. I'm really looking for opinions on the budget basses you typically see in the UK.
  7. Hi dlloyd, I'm in a vaguely similar situation, looking for a cheapie bass in Scotland (though I started playing a few years ago on a borrowed double bass, changed to EUB when I had to give that up and now miss playing DB). I've been trying all the basses of around £1000 and below that I can find in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the £400 jobs (usually labelled Antoni) are not great. Olie is definitely spot on in recommending the Stentor Conservatoire (about £1100 when I saw one), which is the best sounding not-too-expensive bass I've tried so far. There are also the cheaper Stentors, the Student (£500 or so) and the Student II (£875). The student II is fully carved, while the Student has laminated back & sides. Either of these sounds way better to my ears than the Antonis I've tried. (I'm leaning towards the Student II myself). All of these come fitted with pretty nasty feeling strings, so you'll want to change those. Good luck!
  8. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Exactly the sort of info I'm after, thanks!

    It's the Antoni's I've seen so far, usually strapped to the back of a cyclist on ebay. Not had a chance to play any bass at all so far.

    I'm in Dundee myself, so any info on Edinburgh/Glasgow dealers would be much appreciated.
  9. There is a Music shop in Bradford on Manningham Lane you should check out, they can sell you a nice upright bass for £500 which usually retails at £650, i can personally vouch for the instrument being very acceptable for a student bass as can the luthier who did some set up work on it. Solid carved spruce top, solid ebony fittings suplied with canvass gig bag. Check it out!
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I suppose this is all subjective - but I haven't liked any bass under £2,500 that I've tried and as I say, if you looked at previous discussions(admittedly mostly amongst US posters) - then they are warning against the kind of Chinese, factory-made basses that people are putting forward in this thread!! :meh:
  11. Good point, and I think Bruce will agree that there are some excellent Chinese basses like Shen and some of the Christophers...but you're not going to be paying the kind of $$ that you guys are talking about.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I don't know really - I'm only going on the discussion I've read here - but these particular basses are not available in Britain...:meh:

    My impression is that there are far more DBs and types of DB available in the US than in the UK and that they are far cheaper there than here....?

    My "real-life" reference is that I go to great pro Jazz gigs every week as a member of the audience and to Jazz Jams/Open Mic/Classes/Workshops as a player.

    My experience is that I love the sound and look of the basses that the Jazz pros play - even when I tried them for myself (!! ;) ) and generally hate the look and sound of the basses that other students of DB I meet, play.

    Apart from one fellow, local student who had a 5-string DB made for him by Paul Bryant - but that cost him £4,500!! I tried this and was very impressed. :)

    So - generally, the pros' DBs are in the £5,000 and up price range... :(

    Maybe I've been "spoiled"....
  13. Thats not a bad thing though, its good to be able to tell the difference between a meaty bass and a somewhat thin sounding bass. As i have the same model bass as my friend when we get to do gigs(weekly) i get to hear how it really sounds, he's yet to get a set of decent strings on the bass but it fills the little 50/60 seater Italian/French restaurants we play in and competes surprisingly well against the Tenor sax, congas and my amplified guitar using a 50 watt accoustic Marshall amp(1/8 vol). Point to this rant if it works, what more do you want? I don't think you need to spend £1000's to get something acceptable from the working man's perspective although their is a thin line between acceptable and BSO!
  14. dodgy_ian


    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    i think just having one is better than not having one at all so perhaps you may have to swallow your slight dislike at the not so great cheaper ones and get one, stick some decent strings on and get a decent set up and make do til such time as you can buy a good one.

    the other thing, which no one surprisingky has mentioned is to look second hand/search around for people in music colleges/schools/thatres who might know of old double basses lying around wanting a home...... i'm sure thats just a useful avenue of research...I know for example theres a knackered old one at my college that no one ever uses and that with a bit of persuasion they would probably sell and that must be the case all over the place, cos nobody plays double any more really.

    I'm very very forutunate bcause I was given a beautiful 1905 German bass, worth a small fortune I believe so have avoided all this trouble.

    But, if you think back to your electric bass days i'm pretty sure most of us will have started on a pap instrument and slowly upgraded and thats what may have to happen unless you get super-blessed like me and get given one.

  15. roach


    Nov 16, 2004
    London U.K.
    Just buy one and start playing.Value dosent matter! notes do.
  16. I wish i'd known that years ago!
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - that's one solution - my own personal one, is that I bought an EUB that sounds great to me - just the sort of amplified DB sound in my head that I wanted.

    My view is that I'm happy to play that until I can afford or find a DB that sounds better. Until then - logically , why should I play something that sounds worse? :meh: To me there is no incentive and I know I just won't be motivated to practice enough.

    Well - when I was 14 years old and hadn't any experience and little idea - I was pleased to play any bass I could get. Now I'm in my 40s and have heard vast amounts of great music at concerts,gigs,clubs on record etc. - and know what a good DB can really sound like - then I'm not going to be happy playing something that sounds bad to me!
  18. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    I think this really sums up my question.

    Would playing a cheap bass (£400 Antoni) hinder my progress? Sure, it will hinder it less than having no bass at all in the short term. But a year down the line? Two years?

    It's a tricky one. I'd find a Squier uninspiring these days... it's impossible to know how I would have felt playing a Stingray 15 years ago.

    I think I'm going to continue saving to the point where I can choose between getting one immediately and saving further...
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Thinking about this again - so you buy a cheapo bass - you still have to pay to get it set up, a decent set of strings can cost you more than £100 - and then you've got to pay that all again when you get the bass you really want, plus you have a potential "white elephant" on your hands?

    Also, are you really going to want to pick it up and play; go out and be seen with something that's not as good as you'd like...or will it just sit in a corner and remind you that you should have saved a bit longer to get what you really wanted....? :meh:
  20. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    ...and there's another way of rewording my question!