First Double Bass For 9.5 Year Old - Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by rickstrong, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. rickstrong

    rickstrong Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2004
    New York City

    My 9.5 year old son, who is already a cellist and writer, wants to start playing double bass. I'm in the process of researching instruments and I'm finding it a bit difficult to settle on the right first one for him.

    So far I've come up with:

    1) Rental (ply, I believe) from Kolstein ($600/year)
    2) Engelhardt M3 1/4 ply bass (~$900 + setup + shipping)
    3) 4/4 eBay solid wood cello (scary!) set up as a bass ($200 + shipping + bass mods)
    4) A real entry-level carved 1/4 bass - e.g. Sunrise from Lemur or similar ($1700 and up)
    5) Has anyone had any experience or hearsay evidence RE: HORA in Romania? I understand that they have a carved 1/4 bass for ~$1200...

    I want him to have a good experience right off the bat - he'll need to play arco as well as pizz, as he's in a classically oriented music school and is considering switching from cello to bass. I also want to do this in a cost-effective way.

    Thanks for any opinions/info!

    Rick Strong
  2. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN

    I remember a year or so ago Bass World Magazine (ISB Publication) had an article on the right selection of basses for youth/beginners. I keep most of the back issues, so I will look when time permits. Hopefully I can find it.
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Don Z. (here on TB) has a carved 5/8 Bass in perfect condition for around the same price as a modern chinese plywood.

    It is about 39" string length and would be much better to learn on a real wood Bass than to fight a developing Plywood. He can also keep it all his life and save you thou$and$ from buying Basses each time he grows. 39" string length is not too big to learn on for his age.

    My youngest played about that sized Bass in the 4th grade and now plays a full 3/4 41" since he was 11 years old (now 13 1/2).
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Check your mail...
  5. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I bought my nephew a 1/8th size Chinese laminated bass from a local dealer for $1500 when he was 9. Much cheaper than renting in the long run, and trading successively up to the 1/4 laminated and the 1/2 sized 50+ year old German bass he's playing now cost only a new set of strings.

    Keep in mind that any bass you buy you'll want to trade or sell in a year. It's much easier and probably more economical to buy from a local dealer who will give you full credit on trade-up in the future.

    Does he need a solid bass? I don't think so. There are plenty of good laminated basses, and who pay top dollar for something that will be traded in in a year?

    The Englehart 1/4 sized basses I heard were pretty dead. Not recommended.
  6. At 9 years of age my daughter was comfortably playing a 1/2 size bass. Unless your son is on the short side for his age, I would go for the 1/2 size instead of a 1/4. Judging by our experience the sound will be better.

    For reference the 1/2 size my daughter used had a vibrating string length of 38 1/4", the upper bouts were 18 1/2" across, and the lowers were 24" across.

    Judging by what I've seen of elementary and middle school rehearsals, not to mention the packed stages in an all-county rehearsal, you would sleep better if your son had a all plywood instrument.

    Even now that my daughter is 11 and playing a standard (3/4) size bass. I bought her an all ply, Shen SB100, rather than worry over a more expensive carved instrument.
  7. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Just adding to the list of what kids start with, I started DB at age 11 and played a 1/2 size for just a few months (a Kay) before switching to 3/4 size. It wasn't too hard to navigate.

    It was funny, I was paying another kid in junior high school $2 for very organized half-hour bass lessons, carrying my bass 6 blocks to his house, and he was very meticulously working me through Simandl Book 1. At age 14 this kid was an excellent teacher. After several weeks his mother found out I was paying him and insisted (for some reason) he could not charge me. She took us in the kitchen and made us a cocoa. The installation ceremony of Pope John Paul II was on TV that day, so that dates it!