Going to look at a DB tomorrow-any tips?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by CamMcIntyre, Aug 10, 2003.

  1. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Hey Everyone, i found an ad in the paper today for a Upright Bass in Great Shape for $1000, i called on it. I talked to the guy for a bit, he said it was made in the 60's or earlier, he was a blue grass player-i'm guessing it's a laminate. I schedueled a meeting with him for 7:30 Monday night so i can take a look at it.

    I plan on bringing a flash light with me so i can see if there's a label on the inside-i'm praying for it to say Kay S1 or something similar, but i realize there is a possibility of it being a bass not worth much. I plan on giving the bass a good look over-check the neck joint to see if it seems to be tilting, the fretboard for signs of breakage/repairs, and the body for cracks and battle scars.

    Is this anything i should be on the look out for? I plan on depending on what the label says, and how it plays to come on here and ask you guys once i get the specifics about it. Are there certain brands made in that time frame to stay away from e.g. was there a palatino/cremona bass made back then or do i have a good shot of this being a bass that will work well for me?

    I am a junior in high school that plays primarily jazz and am hoping that this is a Kay Laminate but realize it could be something else that wouldn't be worth it. That's all and thanks for the info/tips. That's all
  2. LarryR

    LarryR Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles

    I'm a newbie as well. I'm now into my 2nd upright. Bought an Engelhardt ES-1 in Feb of this year, then an oppty to get a fully carved Christopher, Model 403T came up. Luckily for me, the deal was a trade plus cash. I did well. It wasn't the dough though. I got a very playable, nice instrument that sounds good, that I'm inspired to PLAY.

    Before you ask the folks up here about tips, check out the newbie links. It contains a plethora of information. Things to think about though, if what you look at doesn't feel right, but you have a sense that it's a nice instrument, taking it to a Luthier (who knows basses, not violins) is something you should contemplate. Just as if you were buying a used car. You'd want a mechanic (an expert) to check it out first.
    For all you know the action sucks, the strings are old, it feels like hell, but, it *could* be a cool instrument. You need knowledge you may not have right now. Do you know someone who KNOWS URBs?

    Also, you really should find a shop that has several basses of various years, makes etc. Take Your Time and play and try and bond, or get a feel for the instrument. They're almost like people. They have a look, then when you get close, a feel. Then if you hang with them for a while, they may change, right in your hand! Think of it...wood is organic, it changes. For all I know it changes with the heat in your body.

    So, my suggestions for you are to NOT concern yourself with brand and age and labels as much as an instrument that feels good and that speaks to you.

    My Engelhardt was ok. I learned the ropes on it. It was always tough to get any volume from the E string, so, I played mostly on the other 3. The Christopher changed all that (thank G-d). By the way, the Christopher has a bevel for the E (Orchestral setup). Initially I was very concerned. I thought, oh ****, I've got spend $ 200 to shave the neck. Well, now I'm thinking I dig the bevel. Makes that E string PROJECT! Also, I never knew what the term "focussed" meant until I played my ES-1, and then the 403T, side-by-side. That's why should gain knowledge first by playing other instruments.

    My Christopher is like a Volvo compared to my Engelhardt (a Chevy).

    I lucked out. Don't make the mistake of rushing into it. Take your time. Save more dough if you can. Do you just have to have a 60's Kay, or do you want to PLAY your ass off? Or, just want an "ok" bass. I guess it depends on what you want. Me? I want to play my ass off on the best instrument I can afford.

    Best of luck with your search. A URB isn't like other purchases. It's a relationship. Changes to an URB are expensive. Take your time brutha and read those links! - Larry
  3. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA

    I'm really glad the Christopher is a hit with you now. I thought you'd like to know that the band director at the middle school was in tears when I told her I had a new Englehardt for her students! She told me she had 5 bass player students (David Young is their fantastic bass coach) and only four basses, and didn't have any money in the budget for another instrument. So now they each get one!

    Your happy, the kids are happy and I'm very happy. It's been a good day!!
  4. LarryR

    LarryR Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles

    Your bass (my new bass) is growing and growing on me. I swear at first play I wasn't sure, but, I you knew before I knew how I'd dig it. The E string is wonderful and Gary put the Thomastiks on, tweaked the bridge for me, new soundpost and playing it is a dream. I told him you said hello.

    Thank you, Thank you for your patience. I'm so happy it worked out well for everybody.
  5. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Larry-i have gone through the Newbie Links many times, i was more or less after what things should i do while i'm there to help me determine the value and appropriateness of the bass. For reference, i play a Kay S1 at school. I'm guessing that i wasn't very clear with what i am asking. Mainly if there are any places/parts i should be sure to check. That's all
  6. OK, you wanna spook the guy? Gently lay the bass on its back on the floor, and check the alignment of body, fingerboard, strings and bridge, looking up from the endpin and down from the scroll.
    Bring a bow and play some long notes on open strings and then on fingered strings.
    Play it with your eyes closed. Concentrate on the sound.
  7. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Just got back. All was going well, it needed new FB and bridge, then i decided to look inside. I'm glad i did. The body material looked to be pressboard/particle board-the stuff that is really similar to cardboard and that is used to make peg boards and the like. I'll continue my quest in finding one. I talked to Durrrl and I think i'll do what he suggsted and go for a Shen from a guy in Cincy when i get the added coin. Thats all and thanks for the responses.