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Entry level carved

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jmceachern36, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    Anyone out there have any experience with the entry level carved basses? The ones I see out there in the $2 to $2.5k range? Lemur, Bob G and a local guy in my area carry them. I'm just trying to gather info on what the potential problems (or positives)might be with them as compared to the laminated ones in that price range. My concern is that I may spend more time getting it repaired than it's worth to me for a bass that will be amplified a larger percentage of the time. Thanks.
  2. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    You may be able to find some older carved top basses for just a little more money.

    There are some out there. I have an older German factory carved top bass that has been appraised at around $3500.

    Check some lutheir sites, like shankstrings.com, uptonbass.com, davidgage.com you just might get lucky.

    Good Luck
  3. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Supporting Member

    RE: "Anyone out there have any experience with the entry level carved basses? The ones I see out there in the $2 to $2.5k range? Lemur, Bob G and a local guy in my area carry them. I'm just trying to gather info on what the potential problems (or positives)might be with them as compared to the laminated ones in that price range. My concern is that I may spend more time getting it repaired than it's worth to me for a bass that will be amplified a larger percentage of the time."

    I have a Christopher 400 series bass, the roundback, not the flatback. Technically, I guess, the flatback is Christophers' entry-level carved, as its MSRP is ~$500 less than the roundbacks.

    I am an amateur bassist, "caught the bug" at a jam session where there was a bass laying unplayed. I had played slab and a little upright many years ago and have played guitar for decades. So I picked up the bass to add some bottom to the session and had a ball. The bass's owner, the multi-instrumentalist host, happy to have a prospective new "bass player" for his jam sessions, offered for me to take the bass home and practice. I did. It was a horrible Korean bass that he had bought for $600 new. I enjoyed practicing and playing but knew, if I was gonna keep playing bass, that it would be on another bass, not this dog.

    So I entered the "good laminate vs. entry-level carved" dilemma. I did *a ton* of research and corresponded with bassists off-list who owned basses I was considering. Several folks told me the low end Christophers were a good, entry level carved, that they were hapy with theirs. Another told me that he had his drop-shipped to him, and that he got it for way under MSRP. He put me in touch with the guy he got it through. I bought one.

    To make a long story short, in the less-than-three years I've had it, the entire back has popped its seams one or two at a time. That is, every "quadrant" of the back has popped seams. Some were 7" long. It's clear that the bass wasn't happy being glued up the way it was. Not a huge issue -- not wood splitting -- but an annoyance and a recurring expense, which is what you were asking about.

    When the bass is "up and running," I'm very, very happy with it. When it's on its way to the luthier again, I agonize over the "good laminate vs. entry-level carved" choice. Recently, my bass started buzzing. I thought it was a soundpost issue, as I couldn't see anything unglued, outside or inside the bass (I have one of those little telescoping mirrors.) I took it to the luthier (again) and he called me to tell me that the endblock had separated from the back, This was the sole, remaining region of the back that had yet to pop. When I picked it up after its (latest) repair (and a couple weeks more of hand-wringing over the "lam v. carved" issue,) I asked my luthier if he thought the back was "finally done popping now." He said, yeah, he thought so.

    As I said, for the money I paid and when the bass is behaving, I'm very glad I have a carved bass. It sounds very sweet and plays well. When the construction/durability issue rears its head -- which it has too often for my tastes -- I wish a had a durable, good plywood bass. That sounds great.

    Good luck.
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Could that explain why the Chrissy hybrid and the entry level carved are priced so similar. One gets you the better carved sound, the other gets you the better construction? Interesting. Glad you were happy with your purchase anyway despite the problems.

    I've had my hybrid for almost 2 years and nothing has ever popped. Seems to sound a little sweeter as the months go by.
  5. Why not split the difference and go hybrid?

    I've not had one construction issue with my hybrid Christopher in the nearly four years I've owned it (aside from a seperated seam it sustained from a run-in with a door frame). True, it may not have as complex a sound as a fully carved bass, but it puts out plenty of volume and nice warm tone and sounds great amplified.

    For the type of music I play (mostly jazz, shows) it works just fine, and I don't worry too much about cracks, etc.

    Whoops, looks like hdiddy posted while I was typing my reply. What he said.
  6. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    For a little more you could get a Shen Willow. I wanted a pro quality bass at a resonable price and I couldn't be happier.
  7. I've heard they kick butt.
  8. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Supporting Member

    Actually, it was "hybrid vs. entry level carved" that I was considering, rather than "good laminate vs. entry level carved." In that, as HoDiddley said, the Christopher carved was not that much more than the hybrid, my thinking was, "Ah, this'll probably the only bass you ever buy; go for it."

    Knowing what I know now, Mike, if I had it to do over, I probably would go for the hybrid. "Waiting for the other (next) shoe to drop" is not a good feeling and I'll never be more than a hack player, the sound of the hybrid would've suited me fine, I'm sure.
  9. Charles Shores

    Charles Shores Commercial User

    Jul 26, 2005
    +1...I also highly recommend Shens!

  10. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    Thanks for all the responses and info. I was thinking shen hybrid sb150 as well. I liked the sb100 but I haven't played or seen a 150. I'm just not sure if the upgrade will be significant. The entry level carved basses didn't blow me away (but I've looked at so many basses that I can't tell a big difference at this point) Bass overload.
  11. christ andronis

    christ andronis Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2001
    I've had my carved 2002 Christopher 602T for a little under a year and could not be happier. It did undergo some tweaking but, to me, it's developing its' sound beautifully and is heads above the Strunal hybrid I still have but never use. The things I'm having the hardest time with are: thinner neck - the Strunal had a fat neck that I'd rather gotten used to. The thinner neck changes my hand position somehow and I was cramping alot until I got used to it. The other thing is balance- This bass balances differently than the Strunal hybrid. It's much lighter and feels different and I'm still getting used to it but have fallen into a "comfort zone". Feels much better.

    As far as construction, mind you I am nowhere near the expert that alot of the guys in here are so if I'm wrong feel free to say something. The Christopher seems to be put together very well. I've had absolutely no trouble with seams popping, The bridge and endpin have been replaced and there's a Mike Pecanic tailpiece on there. It's been through quite a few climate changes, being in Chicago and all. We had a long hot and humid spell, then some really freezing stuff, then unseasonably warm (40's) and the bass has come through with flying colors. It seems to me that if edges were to open, it would have happened by now. I'm very happy with this bass and plan on playing it for quite some time. Good luck in your search.
  12. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    I also have a Christopher 400, I don't know that I would
    recommend it over a Shen, I've never had a chance to
    play a Shen yet. One poster here has had problems with
    a Christopher, but it sounds like he got a 'deal' from some
    back-of-a-truck thing maybe :bag: I had my bass brought
    into a luthier here in Portland who did setup, I am not sure
    what that involved but it did not effect my bottom line and
    she seems to have done right by me :)

    When I got a pickup from Bob and had it installed at another
    good shop in town (Pete's Bass) who tweaked my FB/action
    a bit more.

    But I have had ZERO problems with the bass physically, and
    it sounds and plays sweeter today, two years later, than it
    did when I bought it.

    Good luck,
  13. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    i'm happy with my shen willow......actaully real happy now that i found the strings that give the tone i want.
  14. The difference is considerable, well worth the extra cost. I have the Shen hybrid and my daughter has the laminated, I auditioned them both with my teacher. I felt they were both good, but the hybrid had the more complex and "woody" tone.
  15. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    awww no love for the Strunal hybrid or carved basses:confused:
  16. I've had an 'entry level' carved Eberle/Musima, East German factory bass, for a little over 1 1/2 years.

    It is heavily wooded, ie the top is very thick. It has a nitro finish. It's well constructed and I don't anticipate ever having any structural problems with it as long as I watch the temp and humidity.

    The neck is seems in the middle on thickness, I've played thinner and thicker. The overstand is at the bottom of the acceptable range at about 25mm with a 6 in. bridge. I struggle reaching G on the G string near the end of the finger board, a combination of the overstand and short arms.

    The arco sound is somewhat bright with a lot of mid range harmonics. I'm using Regular Flexicore Mediums. It does allow me to cut somewhat, but doesn't blend as well as I'd like. This may also be a result of my student line bow and needing better RH technique.

    The bass is not extreemly loud, and the tone gets a little brighter as I get louder.

    The pizz sound is fine, nice and dark with a nice ring.

    At the price point, $2000, it is a very solid bass that will last me, probably, the rest of my life, unless I hit the lottery.
  17. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    Apparently the shen hybrid is in demand. Looks like they may be out of them for a while. I'm gonna have to check out Upton's hybrid tomorrow.
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Whatever you do go if you can and play every bass that your're interested in, that way you'll find the instrument that speaks to you. It is true that you get what you pay for, sometimes you get more. You're not to far from NYC so you should probably try to take a trip down here and check out Ideal music which has some entry level carved instruments.