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Experience with upton bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Bassplayer1836, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. Bassplayer1836


    Feb 24, 2019
    Okay so I’m lookin To buy a new bass and have been eyeing the Upton Bass Brescian. Anybody out there worked with them and what was your experience like?
  2. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I own two Uptons. Great experience both times. Most important, I really like both instruments.
  3. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I feel like the basses I've played are nice, but, under-built. I exchanged emails with them about their grossly overpriced re-hairs, and was unimpressed - they seemed to arbitrarily charging master bow maker prices.
    However, people are happy with the basses. Most everything in New England is over-priced and I don't think they are an exception.

    MCK_BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    My daughter has a hybrid Upton bass which we bought 2nd hand a while back. One of the tuning machines developed a problem. Hard to explain but it needed to be replaced. I wanted to get an exact match so that I could just replace it on my end and not have to put new screw holes etc on the bass.

    I reached out to Upton asking if I can buy a single tuning machine from them or whether I would need to buy the whole set etc. They responded very quickly saying they would send one immediately free of charge which they did. Given that we did not buy the bass direct from Upton I was fully prepared to pay for the part but it was a very welcome surprise to see how quickly they responded and how they stood behind their product.

    Since then we had couple more interactions with Upton, all very positive and pleasant.
    MattZilla, levonrocks and carl h. like this.
  5. About 2 years back I was looking to have a hybrid made by Upton. I asked for an international shipping quote as I’m not based in the US. About 5 days later I had to remind them and did get the quote.Then I replied with a mail with some questions and requests in order to get things going. No reply. I wasn’t going to send another reminder in order to get a response. I decided on another bass.
    I’m sure they make good basses and there seem to be a lot of happy customers and based on that I thought I’d see what they could make me .
  6. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    Upton has a very good reputation. My experience with them has been very positive, overall. They bent over backwards to make things better when they made an error. The bass I bought has been more than satisfactory, and it's a fiver, which they don't usually make.
  7. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I had a good buying experience with Upton and really like my bass. They have also been helpful with answering any questions i have sent them related to the bass.
  8. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    I feel like i have so many thoughts on this.

    let me start with my experience with upton bass -

    i've visited the showroom and i recommend anyone shopping for a bass does the same. they have a lot of fine basses and often lots of uptons to play. Everyone i interacted with was friendly and helpful and playing basses I couldn't afford at the time was a really educational experience.

    Recently when I was in the market for a bass, i contacted them about an instrument they had listed in the $20,000 price range. I was requesting any possible audio/video of the bass, just to get an idea, before making plans to drive up and see it. I called, and then followed up days later with an email. never heard back. I continued shopping elsewhere.. they seem to have this issue often with communication..?

    as far as the instruments go, i've played a few of the super deluxe upton basses (in the 18-25k range) and they're really fine instruments that hold their own against any other one-maker instrument. The problem is that if you are in the market at the $10,000 or so range, if you have access to a few uptons and a a few shens, it's hard for me to imagine the shen loosing that shootout based on sound alone. I really love that they're made not only in the USA, but here in the northeast. I would never suggest that gary needs to compete with Chinese prices. but as a player who puts sound first and pedigree second, more than once they've lost my sale because i fell in love with the sound and feel of a higher grade shen bass.

    in both cases, the shen i bought years ago and the one i have now, i'm happy with the decision if that means anything.

    my only other specific thought is that I played in an orchestra briefly next to someone who had an upton hybrid that sounded really great. I don't know what it cost, but it was a really nice sounding bass with plenty of low end for the section.

    Good luck with your shopping experience!
  9. byrdzeye


    Mar 28, 2013
    Toronto, ON
    Very pleased with Upton's service and the Bohemian Hybrid Deluxe they built for me. This is it's 3rd winter in Toronto, and the first time it's gone out of adjustment. A quick call to Jack helped me out so that I wouldn't have to take it in for service. Great basses, and I feel that they are very reasonably priced.
  10. This brings up an area in DB-land that is sometimes mentioned but rarely discussed. Just what on a double bass puts it in the Goldilocks zone -- where things are "just right" when it comes to build? What are the red flags that suggest over-built? Or under-built? For what should we be looking?

    I have enough years with EB that I can tell when a bridge or electronics is over-engineered; but on DB, from my knowledge base all I have to go on are "flimsy" or "too heavy."
  11. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I'll try not to sound like a broken record. I've written some pretty extensive reviews about Upton if you want to dig here. Here is the short form version.

    In 2014 I ordered an Upton Standard Ply. My experience with them was great. Communication was great during the order/build process and after when I'd ask questions about setup. They own thier work and want happy customers.

    A few years later I asked them to make me a custom wooden end pin. Again they did a great job.

    Five years later I'm still happy. I've played a ton of gigs, from festivals to dive bars with travel and all four seasons that living in the north east brings. Recorded three albums. I've had no issues with it. No failures.

    I'm glad I went with Upton. Given my experience the first go round, I would go back to them if I ever decided to upgrade from the plywood world.
    dhergert, rknea and groooooove like this.
  12. I own two Upton basses. And, #2 (a hybrid Bohemian) I bought custom while putting up for sale through Upton another earlier Upton bass. It sold for what I paid for it, which you can't say about every musical instrument.

    I haven't had much contact with them lately as I've just been a satisfied customer. People love the sound of these basses and they are zero maintenance from my viewpoint, so what more can you ask. The comments about prices are not wrong, but look at the alternatives and I think they are worth the price if you include that the resale value is high. Get them to install one of their pickups on it too - worth doing if you gig, the pickups are good and also low maintenance.

    btw - that pic of me is at their old shop before they moved to the barn.
  13. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I think in some of the lower end basses I saw, durability should have been a focus, but, they had thin tops and backs. One sounded great, the others I tried were fine. Shens and honestly even Christophers are far more impressive at the lower price point. If you have the luxury of over paying to buy American, I would say that is a great use of extra money. Sadly, there are better basses for the money out there.
    Of course they have a great reputation for service when you buy a bass - I expected them to be more of a cool local bass shop based on their rep. and videos. I didn't find that to be the case - so I want to add that to the other voices here.
    If you spend high dollar on a bass from them - even second hand, they have a fantastic reputation for service.

    I actually didn't find any New England shop I was a fan of, and just timed using Quantum in Houston with my work in Texas. So, it is probably me and not them!
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
    logdrum likes this.
  14. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've had quite a bite of experience with Gary and Eric over the last decade, all of it extremely positive:

    In 2007, while I lived in the High Sierras, I ordered laminate Professor, which I used for both orchestra and chamber music while up there. The bass has been used since without issue at a local college there;

    In 2010 ( I believe) they build a "deluxe" hybrid Karr which I used in my one man show in Los Angeles for several years with great success; again I also used in chamber music and concert work.

    Finally, in 2016 Upton built a 5/8th "Fantasia model" Concord, which is an absolutely great bass. For personal reasons which I will not go into here, my wife and I decided to donate the bass to Adam Booker's bass program at Appalachia State. Below is a Youtube of Adam playing the bass.

    I have also bought a couple of bows from them (both high end and basic) and am trying a new bow, "reconstructed" by Eric, this week.


    CayGee, pasmithy, rknea and 12 others like this.
  15. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Bravo, LouisF!
  16. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
  17. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    A very thoughtful donation.
    The instrument seems very free and resonant. Good college instrument.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  18. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    We are so honored with this gift! Aside from my rambling around on this bass, it has been used by students needing a higher quality instrument for solo recitals and even one successful orchestra audition in the region! I can’t thank Luis enough!
  19. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I have what you consider their low end ply - a stock Standard model. While I'm not a professional, or a touring musician, I have played the living daylights out of mine in many environments. The bass has certainly taken more than a few knocks a this point. It's never given me any durability issues.

    Part of what you are paying for is the CS. If that is worth something to the customer, then it's worth something to the customer. I guess that really depends on the individual.
    matthewbrown likes this.
  20. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    Yes, the customer service is a key factor in deciding what you are willing to pay. In my case, there was also the fact that I could drive down and pick up the bass myself. The only Chinese bass I ever played was junk, and while I know that things have improved (as so many have provided evidence for this), I do like to buy from people like Upton, or as I did in the past, Steve Azola, because of their excellent service and quality. Also, that such craftspeople are willing to work with you to make changes you might want to the instrument, to customize it a bit, or if something is not quite right.
    damonsmith likes this.

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