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First Upright Suggestions

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Larry99, Sep 29, 2005.


  1. Larry99

    Larry99

    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Hello all,
    I've been thinking about purchasing and learning to play an upright (I've been playing electric for 20+ years). Any suggestions on what to buy? Nothing fancy but nice enought to want to play it. Besides size, what are the basic differences between full scale and 3/4? Guess I'm leaning toward 3/4. I'm thinking somthing used in the vicinity of $600-1000 (man these uprights can get expensive!!!).

    Any sources, on line and otherwise would also be appreciated.
     
  2. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Check out the newbie links on this forum first. Then do a search of this forum. There's a ton a information available.

    Then you have to decide on a budget.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Wanna see expensive, stick around, sit back, fasten your seat belt, and enjoy the ride.. Oh, and be prepared for an occassional shock or two.. lol

    PS: Don't forget about the Bow! They run from about $100. to 15k.
     
  4. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    I recently got my first DB after playing electric bass for 35 years. When I was doing research before making the purchase, the biggest surprise was the huge difference in the "quality curves" of the two instruments. The electric bass is about the most bullet proof instrument in my experience. I can take most cheap electric basses, give them a good set up, and they will play great and sound pretty darn good. An incredibly small investment can get you an excellent instrument for a student to start with. Quality increases as you pay more, but the differences are pretty subtle - a fairly flat quality curve. On the other hand, the double bass has about the steepest quality curve of any instrument that I am familiar with. The scariest thing is that cheap basses have a high probability of being effectively worthless. They can be impossible to set up to be reasonably playable, and they can simply fall apart in a short time.

    The problem is structural. The DB has lots of very large, thin pieces of wood under a good deal of tension. It is adjusted by planing and carving wood rather than turning screws. Because of the size and surface area of the wood, it is much more susceptible to climate issues.

    So in going from the toughest, most reliable, easiest to work on instrument I know to the most delicate and hardest to work on, I had to change a lot of my approaches to dealing on the internet, paying for expertise, and doing my own setup work. You may be in for some of the same changes.

    Good Luck
     
  5. Listen to Ken. He knows a thing or two about "used" basses!
     
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Yup, VERY Used........lol
     
  7. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    This raises the issue of whether Larry99 should, necessarily, be looking for a used instrument or not. With a budget at the very low end it becomes even more important to buy from a reputable luthier who can provide a proper setup. Why more important? Well, because newbies on a low-end budget are more likely to be "taken" than pro's (like Ken) looking to spend tens of thousands. In any case, there are many decent new instruments offered by such luthiers if the budget can be stretched beyond $1000.
     
  8. Larry99

    Larry99

    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    hmmm. thanks for all the info guys. sounds like it's worse than I thought. Guess I should stay away from internet purchases. I guess I'll just have to look around and play and see what I like and in the meantime keep saving $$$

    thanks again.
     
  9. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Not really that much worse (except you're not going to get something decent for $600) but check out the Upton site. They have a bass that has gotten good reviews on this forum and it comes all set up for under $2k.
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  11. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    Hi Larry, I see you are in the Phila area like me. I just bought a back-up bass to use for a jazz class I was taking at U of Arts in town from Sam Ash in King of Prussia.

    It's a Strunal Model 50/4, Czech made, 3/4 size laminated with ebony trim. I payed $1300 new. For the money, I'm very happy with it. (David Gage is selling this same instrument with his set-up, Strunal case, choice of strings and adjustable bridge for $1900.) Check www.strunal.com for more info. You can probably pickup their entry level model 50/1 for just under $1000. I believe Strunal's are available on-line a little cheaper but you'll have pay for shipping.

    Shank's near Hersey PA has a couple of used plywoods for sale in the $1200-$1500 range, and members of this forum speak highly of him. Check his website www.shankstrings.com. He also comes highly recommended on this site.

    If you want to spend $1500-$2000, talk to Gary at Upton bass. He advertises on this website.

    Best of Luck
     
  12. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    One advantage of the Upton basses is that they will be delivered to you with a pristine setup.
     
  13. Larry99

    Larry99

    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    So it looks like I need to spend around $1200-1600 to get somthing decent which isn't out of the qusetion, it's just a bit more than I anticipated.

    thanks again guys this has been really helpful!
     
  14. jlilley

    jlilley Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2005
    Mill Creek, WA
    Have you considered renting? In my area, you can rent a plywood bass for around $75 a month and a hybrid for $125-150. It's a great way to get a good bass, work on your chops and save for the bass you really want.
    John
     
  15. philly

    philly

    Nov 20, 2004
    nyc