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for What are some otwhen buying my first DB?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Lance Jaegan, Feb 7, 2001.

  1. Lance Jaegan

    Lance Jaegan

    Dec 23, 2000
    I've finally decided to get a "real" bass, and I'm wondering what are some other things I should look for when I go shopping. I've looked through some articles on buying a double bass, and here are some key points. What are some others? (By the way, I'm going plywood, I don't have the money to put up for a really nice carved bass, but I can swing 2500-3000, for the bass, and setup afterwards.)

    -Worm damage
    -collapsing/collapsed top
    -can I reach over the shoulders well?
    -String tension - loose or flabby?
    -Don't go for a bass w/ a varnish
    -Look inside the F holes with a mirror and light, to see if the bassbar is attached completely to the top's underside, and the endpin and neck blocks aren't cracked
    -Sight down the fingerboard to determine if the neck is on correctly.
    -Check neck installation.
    -Measure bridge: generally 6-7"
    -Check cracks to see if they've been repaired correctly
    -Watch out for buzzes

    Anything else you experienced bass buyers can add? I got most of this stuff from an article David Gage wrote in Bass Player.
  2. Well, Gage knows his stuff,and those are all very good points. But do you know the difference between a correctly repaired crack and an incorrect one? I also recommend checking all seams for separation and/or sloppy glue jobs.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Your budget will get you a very good plywood. You can look for an older Kay, King, or American Standard.
    A collapsed top is quite unlikely on a plywood. I've never heard of worm infestation on a plywood. Anybody ? Bridge height is not as important as string clearance. [ I think what Gage is referring to is the problem with old basses which were designed for gut strings. When you go to metal strings, the string clearance is much less, and when you put a lower bridge on, you find that the bow runs into the body of the bass when you bow on the G or E strings. The only solution is to elevate the finger board by relocating the neck. This is expensive. ]
    Those are all good things to examine. reedo's point is that
    you would need someone knowledgeable to do the looking. For $2,000, you should be allowed to take the bass on trial for a week or two.
  4. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    I would look for an ebony board. A bass that's made in US or Europe. An ebony tailpiece, quality tuners will help. I like heavy brass for some reason. A lot of boards are painted or shellacked to look like ebony watch out there.

    If it doesnÂ’t have them already, rollers in the bridge should be figured into your budget as well as a quality pickup. My faves this week are Gave Gauge Realist and Barcus Berry (still). Others go with mikes. This depends on the kind of music you want to perform. Strings may need replacing and the fingerboard may need planing you your liking. Make sure to budget a couple hundred for a bow even if you feel you will be a plucker. The other thing you want to figure in is lessons, books and or videos.

    Lastly YOU got to dig the sound of it!

    Good luck
  5. Lance Jaegan

    Lance Jaegan

    Dec 23, 2000
    Thanks for all the suggestions and information guys. I was wondering if any of you know of double bass setup/repair shops in or by the northwestern Illinois and eastern Iowa areas along the Mississippi? Yeah, I plan on getting a bow, I love arco, as well as pizz. I'll probably go with a carbon fiber bow. I read the thread Gard started on getting a bow, and got a lot of information from that. As far as telling whether cracks are patched and the seams put together well, I'm an amateur woodworker, and although my work isn't the greatest, I can definitely tell when something isn't done well. I'll definitely try to get a trial period. I'm not plunking down $2000 for a lemon, when I can easily avoid that by having patience. A teacher is definitely in the future by the way, but I don't know where I'm gonna find one around where I live!
  6. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    Any univerity orchestra will have people who will point you in the right direction. Does Easter Iowa have a music department?

  7. I'm not sure what Gage meant by "don't go for a bass with varnish" - every bass I know has been varnished, including all of Gage's... ??!!??

    General guidelines: don't go to a Music shop or "music Store", go somewhere that specializes in string instruments. Helpful Hint: If they sell electric basses or band instruments, steer clear.

    You can get a truly decent, solid wood bass for $3,000 - $4,000 at one particular shop I know of - it might be worth borrowing a K or so to get a quality instrument that will actually appreciate in value.

    Another Hint: Always take another bassist with you when you "shop", so you can play and listen alternately. Disregard what a sales person says about "sounds good", just listen and feel on your own.

    Get insurance immediately. Try joining ISB for a good rate on instrument insurance; a regular company won't know anything about a bass.

    For a wide variety of basses in a wide variety of prices, find the time to visit bass shops like Andy Stetson's "Bass Cellar"
  8. I'm sure he meant to be wary of basses with a cellulose based laquer varnish, as they tend to crack and chip much more than a DB with a good Oil or Spirit Varnish.

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