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Eastman vs. Shen

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Marta P., Jan 14, 2014.

  1. Hello!

    I am in the market for a new bass and was hoping that I could get a few pointers. I played an Eastman 305 a couple of months back and thought it was a pretty nice instrument. I was seriously considering buying it until I saw all of the praise that people have for Shen basses. Has anyone had the opportunity to compare an Eastman to a Shen? If I were to get a Shen I think it would be between the 7/8 SB200 Willow and the 3/4 SB200 Rogeri Willow. I have not had the opportunity to play a Shen, but I live in the middle of Wyoming. Not a lot of bass shops around here. I would most likely be ordering the Shen from Nick Lloyd Basses in Cincinnati without having actually played it (I know, I know). Any information on this shop would also be appreciated.



    Oh, I suppose i should mention that I this bass will mostly be used for jazz, but I am also hoping to improve my classical chops (both in an orchestra setting and as a solo player). My budget is in the $5,000.00 range (in case you'd like to make other suggestions).

    Thanks again!
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Nick Lloyd is one of the top cats anywhere. Buy with confidence. It would be well worth a flight to Cincinnati to play his basses and the Bass Cellar, too.
  3. I've played an Eastman 305 back to back with two Shen Willow Flatbacks and a Shen Willow Rogeri. The Rogeri was well over my budget but I bought it anyway because it was so good.

    At the risk of being slapped for plugging a friend's business, check out theluthier.us. Last I heard Mark had a lovely Rogeri with Sloanes for under $4k, and he ships basses. No disrespect to Nick Lloyd. He's a super nice guy who comes very well recommended.
  4. Thanks! I will definitely check it out. How did the necks compare from the Eastman to the Shens? Also, is the setup pretty good on Mark's instruments?
  5. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Shen, for sure.

    Call Nnick and talk to him. He'll be able to help you choose the right bass for you and his setup is second to none.
  6. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    You could also call Bob Ross Double Bass in Denver. He carries Shen, and would be a closer drive.
  7. Yes. I had a string buzzing problem and he made a house call to fix it. Good guy.

    The Shen has a nice thick U-shaped neck, which I like. I don't remember how the neck on the Eastman felt.
  8. Fat bob

    Fat bob Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2013
    +1 for Bob Ross. He's is a great guy. He was recommend to me from Forest Greenough- bass prof at CSU. Bob has several shens in stock as well as several older basses. Nice to know the "local" luthier. There's also a shop in Denver with a couple of basses if you are in the area it's worth a stop, Kolacny music.
  9. Thanks for all of the suggestions! I emailed Bob Ross and am currently trying to see if we can set up a date that I can play his basses. Since he carries both Eastman and Shen I thought it would be a good opportunity to try them both myself (plus he says he has a five-string dragon head in his shop that I would love to have so it's a pretty good excuse to try that out as well :)). I am also talking to Mark Leue about his Shen Rogeri Willow, so I've got all kinds of good leads to follow! Thanks to everyone who has chimed in so far!
  10. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Eastman necks have a comfortable full shape, not too much different than Shen necks. Not too large, not too small.
  11. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
  12. Shen!
  13. Thanks for answering my question about the necks, Steve. And thanks for the Craigslist ads Hqubed. I hadn't even considered looking at Colorado ads. It seems like most everybody loves the Shens! I'm looking forward to giving them a try.
  14. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    theluthier.us has a couple of sb200's that are seconds, very reasonably priced!

  15. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    I think it really comes down to what is said by the all of the most knowledgeable folks here all of the time, play as many basses as you can and choose the one which speaks to you.

    My son has had a few Shens ply, hybrid, & carved, each was a good bass and served the intended purpose for him at the time. We picked up an Eastman 305 Quenoil at ISB that he uses daily for his work at school, he would not trade it for any of his previous Shens.

    As the masters here say: play as many basses as you can and choose the one which speaks to you.

  16. Dimmik


    Apr 16, 2012
    I've never used a Shen but I own an Eastman VB-95. A decent entry-level bass although I had to get a luthier to fix the set-up. It's a comfortable bass but my one complaint is that trying to hit the octave position on the open G forces me to crook my hand a little. I can work with it but it's annoying and it does make a difference. Also, it's a bit clunky in the thumb position range. A little more sustain would be nice. Also the bridge can warp on you so watch that. Another thing I noticed on some Eastmans is that the black dye on the fingerboard can come off on your fingers. That should NEVER happen. Mine doesn't do that but I have played some models that did. These are the things I would compare to a Shen model. If you find a Shen that gets around those problems for under five grand or you find an Eastman that doesn't have these problems then it would be a good buy. I have to stress that you MUST play BEFORE you buy. NEVER buy sight unseen or, in this case, unplayed. Take that as a STRONG word of warning. Good luck.
  17. Well, over the weekend my husband and I made a trip down to Ross Double Bass in Denver and played a few basses. Or, I guess I should say, I played the Shen Rogeri Willow, played on an Eastman for a moment, went back to the Shen and bought it. So yay! I am now the owner of a Shen Rogeri Willow (3/4)! Bob Ross was absolutely great, even going so far as to ask a couple of his bass buddies to come play some instruments for me and give me pointers on things like pickups. It was a long drive, but completely worth it. While I did like the Eastman I played (and I think I liked the neck on it more than the neck on my Shen), it didn't have the warm tone and huge sound of the Shen. Granted, the instrument I bought was built in 2008, so it's had a lot more playing done on it, plus it has the deeper ribs of the Rogeri model and the Eastman was sporting lighter strings. And the Eastman was $1,000.00 more than the Shen, so, you know, out of my budget. Anyway, I am in love with this new bass and will definitely be going back to Bob for my future bass needs. Now I just need to get to work!

    Oh, my husband also named the bass on our drive home. I was looking for name suggestions. He started to say "All of our money," but I interrupted him thinking he'd said Oliver. The bass is now Oliver Money.
    dgrambo likes this.
  18. That's exactly what I did! Congratulations on the new bass, and kudos on the clever name.
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Congrats! Love the name. Remember, no pics, no bass. ;)
  20. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Congratulations on your new musical partner. I love the name! ;)