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Double Basses in Malta

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by rodmallia, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Hi there!

    I know there are a handful of Maltese people around here and although I'm guessing they're more into bass guitar than double bass, I'll post this question nevertheless.

    Is there anyone who can suggest a good music shop in Malta where I can try out a few double basses? I'm still in the process of deciding if a double bass is for me or not, since I never played one. The interest has been there for years but for lack of finances and logistics, I never even got close to trying one out. It seems that Malta is quite barren when it comes to double bass territory ... not enough players, teachers, shops and luthiers ... which makes it kind of impossible to even get started ...

    Which brings me to another request. I would also need to find a good luthier and a teacher (I'm interested in jazz, not classical music, at this point) with whom I can work with.

    I've read a number of threads on this forum, and even though they're chock full with information and good tips, they don't really apply to Malta because we're very limited when it comes to certain kinds of music and instrument availability. Case in point, I've been waiting to try out a particular jazz-box (hollow-body guitar; because I also play 'some' guitar ... ) for 4 months at least, and I've now given up because I've grown tired of listening to the same old excuse: 'the new stock should be in any time, now ...'. Other music shops, of course, do not stock any. And how can anyone make a learned decision about an instrument without ever trying one out and comparing? More so with double basses, which cost a lot of money. I'm definitely not willing to splurge out on an internet-ordered DB without ever having tried one, and without even feeling one in my hands.

    Anyway I'll stop here before this innocent post turns into one long rant :(

    Thanks in advance for any replies!
  2. Although I am not Maltese, my Dad is and I feel your pain! I live in the UK but travel to Malta relatively regularly, and it really shows how countries like England and America are pretty spoiled for choice.

    I've only been to one music shop in Malta (only one I know!) which was in Valletta, it's within one of the inside shopping areas I think? The only thing I saw were Mexican Fender basses and at a pretty bad price compared to what I know...needless to say, I'm afraid I can't answer your original question :rollno: wish I could.

    Speaking of which, what other music shops do you know of in Malta? My father and his parents came from St. Julians bay, right next to the new Hilton.
  3. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Looking for a bass sounds like a great excuse to visit Italy where I'm sure you'll find lots of them. You could probably deduct the trip as a business expense as well!
  4. There is Knight Music in Hamrun, as well as the Euro Institute of Music (which is a Knight Music outlet) (www.knightmusic.com)

    Not far from the Knight Music in Villambrosa Street there's Audio and Auto Sound (more affectionately known as Leli tal-'Bose') - he's the local agent for Ibanez Guitars. He doesn't have a website and the shop itself is quite shabby looking. I went to try out a John Scofield signature guitar model a few weeks back, and it seems to have been there piling dust for years. It was badly out of tune, to boot. That, along with the Pat Metheny signature guitar, was the only jazz guitar I managed to find in months of searching.

    In Msida there's Olimpus Music (website currently down) and further south in Haz-Zabbar there's Band Aid (www.bandaidmusic.net). The latter are also luthiers (it's a family-run business, I'm told) but I believe they specialise in guitars, so I still need to check if they would know how to set up and restore double basses.

    There's also 'Ministry of Music' in Iklin, opposite 'The Model Shop', just a stone throw away from the main roundabout.

    As for the one you mentioned, 'Boffa' (I believe), I doubt they still get those cheap Strat imitations. I believe they now specialise in TV sets, satellite dishes and such like. I'm not sure if there's another one in Valletta, in Zachary Street (adjacent to the theatre ruins) ... it seems to go in and out of business often.

    Those are the ones I know of - I'm sure there are others which escape me right now, but in essence, most 'music shops' are in reality, glorified guitar and amplifier shops, with perhaps a violin and trumpet which has been gathering dust on display for years. :eyebrow:
  5. That might be an idea but it'll probably turn out to be too expensive. After all, I'm still a full-time student (read: poor, with a limited budget). Which also means that the idea of deducting as business expense does not apply to me :crying:
  6. Might i suggest you consider a Thomann 111, they are a cheap German bass but nicely made double bass and with suitable pickup and string choice make a very nice sound.
  7. 'evening, Rod.

    Charles at BandAid in Zabbar glued and cramped the neck to body on my Chinese project bass - the story is here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=490868&highlight=

    He's also assembling a "new old" Hofner jazz guitar for me - another story I'll tell you about when we meet. His work is very good I think; but I wouldn't describe him as a double bass luthier.

    I'm back on the rock now after my UK trip. The WOMAD festival left me with a nasty summer cold (camping in England is a dumb idea) but we'll have to meet for that drink when I'm back in the land of the living, especially as we live within a few minutes' walk from each other.

    Speak soon

  8. I still haven't found a double bass luthier and I'm guessing they're quite rare on the rock. Even though Charles's expertise is perhaps limited to guitars, I'm sure he can do a decently good job on the double bass and, given his reputation, I would definitely consider him.

    I subscribed to your thread and I'm now pretty interested in seeing how the double bass is coming together :)

    In the meantime, I found out that the local School of Music in Valletta does not offer double bass lessons anymore, so there goes my idea of getting a good, solid technique on the instrument :(

    I am aware of two players who do give private lessons (one of who used to teach at the SoM), but private lessons aren't cheap, and given the difficulty in finding cheap basses in Malta (I guess a second-hand market does not exist, here), things are leaning towards the difficult. But I'm hoping I'll be able to sort something out. More on that when you're back in the land of the living :)
  9. For some reason, I overlooked your comment, TenorClef - sorry about that. Thank you for your suggestion - I will have a look at them, too. I've read the thread where you reviewed the Thomann 111 and it seems like these instruments are pretty good for someone who's just starting out and is not keen to spend too much money until he's really into the instrument - someone like yours truly, that is. At €399 for the rosewood fingerboard and €599 for the ebony fingerboard, they're pretty much a steal, if they can deliver. I'm looking for an instrument that will last me at least 5 years (more or less) - enough time to grow into a semi-decent player :)

    One more question: do you think it's a good idea to spend those €200 for an ebony fingerboard? Is the price justified? I'm quite new to DBs so I don't really know to what extent the fingerboard influences the sound.

  10. Hi again Rodmallia, you know when i first got the Thomann 111 bass i was concerned that the rosewood fingerboard would not be good enough but having read through the bass forums seems like lots of basses use rosewood, come to think of it lots of guitars use rosewood too. So i'm less concerned now about the neck. The fully laminate construction means that the bass is a little quieter than a semi or fully solid wood bass in a purely acoustic setting but then the plus side is the bass is very sturdy. Mainly i use my K&K so the whole louder or quieter issue is a bit academic. Acoustically i've tried playing the bass with piano and saxophone and it worked well with the gut/nylon string combination. From what i have gathered gut strings tend to be louder than steel. I don't see this bass really needing to be upgraded now but i do like the idea of buying an ebay semi built kit bass with the solid top just for the fun of putting one together :)
  11. mattugia


    Jul 12, 2014
    Rabat, Malta

    This thread got me interested. I am a double bass player having a 3-stringed double bass. I am converting it into a 4 stringed double bass. However, I have a problem. I mistakenly closed the ribs with the back and the front of the double bass together, and it completely went out of my mind to do the pieces of wood on the back like the ones below (by the way, any idea what they are called)?

    Anyone know of a person who works on such things in Malta, or any suggestions on what to do?