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Dilema Plywood vs. Carved at the $1500-$2500 price point

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by armybass, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    OK, here is what I am trying to figure without getting too deep in the weeds. In Jan I plan on getting a bass and my price range is $2K to $3K. I know I can get a great plywood bass for $2000 and I can get a pretty decent carved bass for $3000. I have had both of the basses that I am looking at before. I am looking at a Weiss Carved bass from Europe in the $2500-$3000 range. I had the same bass a few years ago and it was a great bass but I have also had great plywood basses too. I am just kinda torn between the two at this point. I got my degree in bass years ago and have some orchestral experience but mainly have been a jazzer when it comes to most of my gigging experience. But I am thinking about maybe joining a community orchestra. I am just not sure which way to go. I know I will be pleased either way but am looking for any opinions that you all might like to through out.
  2. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    At that price you may find it difficult to get a good carved bass but more likely to get a ply bass that you will like. With the dollar/euro exchange rate together with the cost of transatlantic shipping I'd be dubious about a European import in that price range. Get on to Upton's site. You may just be able to find a hybrid at your price - a carved top and laminate back and sides.
  3. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    If you are going to be doing any serious orchestra playing, you should lean towards a fully carved instrument. Yes, one can play a ply in a community orchestra and sound halfway decent, but, IMHO, you won't be happy with your sound as you advance.

    Getting a fully carved new bass for $3K will be a challenge. Your best bet there is to buy a used bass (like the one I have for sale on the Classifieds (sorry for the shamless self plug)). Another option would be to get a hybrid DB. Of course, fully carved and hybrid basses are great for jazz, but plywood basses are not that great for classical.
  4. tomshepp

    tomshepp Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Maynard MA
    MHO. If I had $3 grand to spend, I'd take a serious look at the ply Cleveland in the classified section here on TB. I don't know who the owner is, but I think it's in your neck o' the woods. (down south somewhere...) New Standard basses are great. Period. They offer a great value in DB dollars. Again, MHO:D

    I hope that I'm not breaking any rules. But here is the link. I'm not affiliated with the owner.
  5. There is no dilemma here. Don't buy a carved instrument for 3K. It will cost you a lot more in the future. Buy a great plywood bass and save your pennies for a quality instrument.
  6. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    What Jason Said. Some of the previous replyers didnt read your Post very well. He's saying he already can purchase these basses.

    Get the carved one if you can afford it. Then get a good pickup :)
  7. tomshepp

    tomshepp Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Maynard MA
    Jason said not to get the carved for 3K....... right? The OP is lookin' for opinions.... right?
  8. Based on the information I've gotten from the OP (mainly a jazzer, MIGHT consider joining a community orch.) I think it's best to put money into getting something sound rather than trying to get something for nothing (a 3K carved bass). Repairs are very expensive and a real headache....
  9. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    You might be able to find a used Shen SB 200 3/4 either in a local Virginia shop or on craigslist for about $3,000.
  10. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    Thanks for all input and opinions, I am open to all ideas and appreciate the input.

    I totally understand the thought that a great plywood bass is better than a cheaply made carved bass and I understand the cost that could come down the road with said cheap carved. As I said, I owned one of these carved basses once before. It is a Joseph Weiss, sold by Chuck Levins Washington Music. It is a full carved bass and a great bass for the price. I had it for three years and gigged it quite a bit with no problems or issues and it was a great sounding bass for the money...I thought.

    With that said.... if we follow the logic that a carved bass for less that $3K is not worth the money.....what does one have to spend to get a quality carved bass? I know this is all subjective but I am interested in hearing your opinions and reasoning behind them.

    Although I was a bass major in college and have a good bit of orchestral experience I do consider myself more of a jazzer. I would like to have a bass that sounds good in an orchestral setting but I feel fairly confident I can do that with a plywood bass.
  11. If you look around you can find a quality Juzek/German Shop Bass for 5-6K.
  12. rusag2


    Oct 22, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I have yet to hear anything negative about Upton basses. I'm in a similar price range and their hybrid seems just about a good fit to me. If ever I'm on the East Coast again, I'm going to make it a point to try to get into the shop there.

    I'm not at all affiliated with Upton.
  13. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    That is certainly a concern for me. I did not experience any needs for repairs to my carved bass but I was always worried about it and the cold snaps we had here in VA the past few years really freaked me out.

    I have always been a fan of plywood basses due to the durability. My first bass was a 40's King Moretone and it was a TANK!
  14. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001

    I see lots of great stuff on that site but I cannot swing a trip to Boston. It will have to be somewhat local.
  15. Maxvla


    Nov 1, 2010
    Oklahoma City
    Oklahoma Strings
    In your price range, the Shen hybrids sound like a good fit. The SB150 is a great bass on the lower end of your range, the SB180 has better wood, and the SB190 is slightly better again. Moving up to the SB200 is too much of an increase, unless your dealer is giving you a killer deal.

    If you are needing a bass, bow, and case, the SB150 is a great fit that doesn't stretch the budget and will give you a good sound.

    I've sold many of the SB80, SB90, SB150 and SB200 to local schools and universities. They are consistently very good. I've even been surprised by some of the 1/2 basses that have come through with a surprising amount of volume for such a small instrument.

    I agree with some of the other posters about a carved bass for $3,000. Perhaps this is a good deal, but it does seem too cheap to me. If you have a private teacher or even just a more knowledgeable friend bass player, take it from the shop and show them before buying.

    Laminated basses are usually just fine for jazz or bluegrass (majority pizz), but for arco, there's no substitute for carved. A hybrid bass can help you bridge that gap at a lower price.
  16. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I was very impressed with the Shen basses that I saw at Bob Ross in Denver.
  17. I agree that a Shen would get you very far indeed. It's not the most sophisticated sound but it's solid.
  18. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    If you could swing a trip to NYC, Ideal Music has a bunch of plywood, hybrid, and carved Romanian and German basses for under 2k, including some really nice Wilfer plys....
  19. Do you really think those are good instruments? They seem like complete garbage to me....
  20. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    ... Maybe 50 years ago or so Juzek and even some Wilfer's were viewed as Shen today.
    I wonder how all these Shen basses will sound 30 years from now...
    From what I hear here on TB, a carved bass can improve with time, and a plywood... maybe not so much...

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