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Decision time. Any help appreciated

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Bob Rogers, Jun 9, 2005.


  1. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    As I've mentioned in previous posts, back in March I ordered a left-handed 200 series Christopher from Bob Beerman's shop in Greensboro. Now Concord (the distributor) says the bass won't be here until August. Bob is very appologetic and offered to do whatever I want in regards to returning the deposit. He has also talked to Engelhardt as an alternative - they say they can deliver a lefty in 2-3 weeks.

    This is my first URB and my original plan was to get a medium priced laminated bass figuring that even if I got a carved or hybrid eventually, I'd want to have a ply bass for outdoor gigs. (Lots of oportunity to play out in the Virginia heat and humidity.)

    So here are the alternatives for laminates I am considering.

    1. Wait for the Christopher.

    2. Order an Engelhardt ES1 from Beerman. (He puts a new bridge, strings (Kolstein Heritage), soundpost in the Engeldardt while doing the setup. On the Christopher he puts on new strings and bridge adjusters.)

    3. I put in a call about a New Standard Cleveland. Still waiting to hear back. Don't know if Arnold makes lefties or not. Originally I had been thinking about a Cleveland hybrid as my "next step."

    4. Non-ply options included Bob Golihur's carved Bulgarian basses. Also, Jim Laabs has at least one lefty bass in stock. In either case I'd take the bass to Beerman's shop for setup.

    5. Then there is the "do not pass go, do not save $200" option of going directly to a Cleveland hybrid. Seems like overkill for a first bass, and I'd rather have a cheaper bass for outdoor gigs, but it's something to think about.

    Right now the Christopher is still on order. Beerman is emailing them asking if the August date they are giving us now is any better than the June date they gave us in March.

    Any advice or other options would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    if you are just learning would it be that hard to learn to play a right handed bass?

    i guess if your coming over from a slab then perhaps it would be alittle beneficial to get a lefty. but i would get a quality one to begin with.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Arnold is at the ISB this week. You shoud wait 'till he gets back and gather all your choices with models, cost and delivery on the table b4 deciding. I would suggest getting only one of the Basses mentioned as they are in the same $ range sort of speaking.

    The next level would be a Bass in the 10-20K range or so that gets converted to a real lefty Bass. If you are looking at a Cleveland, then you wont want to go to the 5-10k range as that Bass covers most of what you can get in an older German/Czech shop Bass in the 5-8k range but without the repair bills.

    As far as learning Lefty or Righty, you will have a dis-advantage going in to the better Basses if you ever go that route. Trying a 100K Testore and deciding how it will sound when you reverse the Bass Bar, Soundpost and everything else will be a crap shoot after it's been that way for 300 years. Playing in a Bass section Lefty?.. Never seen that.. Not Violin, Viola, Cello or Bass...Something to think about...
     
  4. I asked Arnold the same question some time ago. He told me that it was possible, but that he'd need some additional time to order some specific parts.
     
  5. I owned an ES-9 for several years and found it to an excellent bluegrass bass. After a professional setup and a couple of upgrades such as a tailpiece cable, it had lots of thump and volume. It was the equal to any Kay I have ever heard. It was also built like a tank--very heavy. Also, the neck on the E'hardts is very thin which I found to be uncomfortable.

    I have a good friend who has a laminated Kohr (made by Christopher) which is a very good bass. It actually has a smoother tone than the ES-9 but lacks the volume and punch. It did not receive a very good setup and consequently, does not play as easily as the old S-9, but with a little work, could probably be a better bass than the S-9.

    I currently have a laminated Cleveland. Volume? Yes. Playability? Yes. Tone? Yes, yes, yes. I spent the weekend at a bluegrass festival in in Alabama and the Cleveland was center of attention. The stage was set up with a single mike and one additional mike for the bass. Every other bass required its own mike to be heard. However, the Cleveland had no problems being heard on the single mike. It received many compliments for its tone. As one guy said "That thing just sounds musical." Several other people were convinced it was carved. Even while jamming, there was no shortage of guys (even a couple of banjo players) who wanted to take it for test drive.

    I would think twice about going with a fully carved bass if you are going to do a lot of outdoor playing. Heat and humidity by day and dew by night could cause lots of problems.

    If it was between the Engelhardt and the Christopher and the sound was my primary consideration, I would go Chrissy and spend a few hundred extra bucks for a setup. If durability is the most important, I would probably go E'hardt and spend a few hundred extra bucks for a setup.

    All that said, if the money is there, I suggest you go with the laminated Cleveland (provided you can get a lefty). It would probably serve your purpose as well or better than a hybrid model for a couple of thousand less. I guarantee you will not regret buying one.
     
  6. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Thanks for the replies so far. I'm going to wait to hear back from Arnold before doing anything.

    Just clarify a few things about my situation - I've been playing slab and guitar lefty for 35 years, so righty isn't a preferred option. I'm strictly a weekend warrior player. My goal is to push the Motown/Atlantic/Stax/Volt that I play on slab more toward Louie Jordon/Nat King Cole Trio and then push toward more jazz and Latin. I may learn arco eventually, but that's down the road. I don't really have any plans to play with an orchestra. Of course, down here in SW VA you can find someone to play bluegrass about any night of the week, so I'll probably do a lot of that.

    If possible, I'd rather work with Beerman. He is one of the few good technicians "close" to me (one hour drive). I'm very aware of the importance of a good setup. I do very good setup work on electric instuments, but I leave acoustic instruments to those with experience. So I'd like to establish a relationship with Bob with the first bass if possible if he's going to be working on my instruments in the future.
     
  7. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    The recent Kays I've heard don't come close to the better Christopher laminates.
     
  8. Ditto....
     
  9. I've had my new all carved bass from Bob Gollihur for about a month. I ordered it January 28th and it arrived April 25th, about 3 months. Like your bass would be, mine could only be built to order, because it was a five-string 4/4. I played a 4 string all plywood bass before this and really, you should consider this all-carved bass for yourself for several reasons, but I wouldn't let the shipping schedule be the determining factor.

    The all-carved difference is a huge difference. The carving on these instruments is very well executed also. The tone is complex and the instrument begins opening up immediately and will improve from good to better over time. I know of a couple of people who've already had these basses a few years and the durability and sound reports are all good.

    These are more like small shop basses really than factory basses. Mine is signed on the neck block in pencil by the shop Master, Ivan Georgiev, possibly a descendant of Dimitar Georgiev, the Markneukirchen trained founder of the shop. If the shop were in Germany and not Bulgaria, we would probably call this an Ivan Georgiev, or Georgiev bass instead of a Kremona-Bulgaria. It would also be about 3 or 4 times the price.

    The price is quite deceptive, in fact. You truly seem to get much more than you paid for. It's true that there is nothing fancy about the instrument in terms of wood grain, but there is nothing short about its appearance either, and the materials are high enough quality to deliver both rich sound and durability. The hardware is good serviceable stuff (particularly nice endpin), and there isn't much to upgrade. For pizz., mine was good to go out of the box. I will tweak the string height and spacing, but that is mainly for arco set-up. The FB set-up as shipped is pretty good also, but personal dressing would improve it maybe. Bridge feet had to be fit as well as the sound post. If you have a good relationship with Beerman's, I'd get them to do all that stuff.

    The type of playing that you describe you will be doing could mean that further upgrades to your instrument would be unnecessary for a very, very, long time. I know a fellow in Savannah who has had one of these basses almost 3 years now. He plays everything from community orchestra parts to blue grass on it, and he loves it. I don't see how you could miss with this one. :)
     
  10. ctcruiser

    ctcruiser

    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    FYI, I am very happy with my lefty Engelhardt ES-1. I had the same idea that I did want to spend a ton of money for a first DB and being left-handed did not give me many options. It was playable right out of the box. The fingerboard has very few flat spots. I bought it through a local luthier, David Mix. When I go on vacation, he is going to touch up the fingerboard and put on an adjustable bridge. I may add new strings, but I like the sound and feel of the Corelli's that came with it.
     
  11. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    Can someone please explain to me the motive behind having a left-handed instrument? What is the benefit, especially for beginners? I am left-handed but cannot fathom putting a bow in my left hand. Isn't it difficult to find a teacher who orients him/herself in the same manner? why would you not just learn the instrument as it has been played for hundreds of years?

    Also, won't it be difficult for you down the road to find a quality older instrument if you so choose? It seems to me like you could be significantly altering the sound of an instrument by having a luthier do all of the work to switch the orientation (moving the bass bar, soundpost, etc.)
     
  12. ctcruiser

    ctcruiser

    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    To each their own. Personally, my right hand is more dextrous and flexible, so playing left handed makes more sense. I can't fathom holding a bow or plucking strings with my right hand.

    As for dealing with teachers, it is like learning from a mirror image. I have never had an issue regarding lessons. I think it is easier.

    When I was initially looking for a DB, I went to a local Sam Ash music store to look at their Strunals. I asked the salesperson about the availability of left-handed models. He asked "Why left-handed? You can just stand on the other side. After all it is only four strings". I just shook my head and walked away.

    I hope that someday I will be good enough to want a better instrument. Maybe I will move up to the carved bass at the Gollihur site.
     
  13. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Thirty five years ago I tried to learn electric bass right handed. I found it very hard. It was much more natural to pick with my stronger hand. Lefties (and righties) vary quite a bit in the degree of their hand and eye preference and the tasks for which it matters. (I can eat righty with no problem, can't sight a right handed rifle for love or money.) There is a reason that bass has been played in this orientation for hundreds of years. It is far easier for most right handers to play it this way. It's not an arbitrary choice. If is were, string instruments invented by different cultures would be oriented randomly. It doesn't make sense for me to make a choice that will make it harder for me to become a repectable player on a plywood bass just because I want to leave open the option of playing a $50,000 bass professionaly in an orchestra.
     
  14. I have several left-handed friends who play bass the "right" way, so to speak. They've had no problems.

    It's not just professional orchestras that this would be a problem in. If you ever have to play with another bassist, it will cause many problems.

    Playing left-handed, especially if you're a beginner, seems very lazy. For all the effort you put into finding a bass, you could just as easily learn it correctly.
     
  15. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Paul- As I said, many left handers adapt to playing right just fine. As you say, there can be problems when I play with right handers. But I never have the problem. The rightys do because they are ignorant, bigoted, and lazy. Can't seem to figure out that playing with a lefty is like looking in a mirror. Probably too stupid.

    Why don't you start another thread and suggest that people change their skin color to one that you consider "right."
     
  16. Was I just accused of being racist?
     
  17. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    No. In fact, my post assumed that you were not a racist and would not enjoy having the parallels between your attitudes toward left handers and the attitudes of racists pointed out.
     
  18. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Bob,

    I have to agree. While I do just about everything else left handed, I play the double bass and the Fender right handed. I also know a few other lefties who play right-handed double basses. Although I've known several lefties who play bass guitar left handed, I don't know any that play the double bass that way. That's probably just as well, since I've only seen a few left-handed DB's in over 30 years. While left-handed bass guitars are relatively common, the double bass seems to be an almost exclusively right-handed instrument.

    I've heard several Christophers, but haven't heard one that I really liked that much. The New Standards are one of if not the best sounding laminated basses I've heard and are also wonderfully well made. If I'm not mistaken, they are made to order, so maybe a left-handed NS is a possibility. If you haven't already, you might also want to contact Samuel Sprague and see if Shen basses are available left handed. The Shen SB100 is a very nice laminated bass.

    Good luck!

    -bob
     
  19. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York

    Agreed. I don't see how you could ever play in an orchestra period. Can you imagine colliding bow arms with your stand partner. That would suck.
     
  20. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Bob Beerman checked with someone from Shen (which he carries) and was told that they do not make lefties at this time.