good but moderately priced student bass for student going into college?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by tbassist4, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. Hi, I've just started playing bass this schoolyear (I'm a junior in highschool), and from my background in bass guitar, I've caught up to highschool level and just love the instrument! Over the summer I'm going to be enrolled in a very, very intense practice schedule to get my chops up (classical, arco) for a college audition.

    My problem is that I have a 4/4 (large 7/8 as the luthier said, I beleive him over ebay, haha) Devilli upright, yes an e-bass. It's an extremely good value for the quality (after a rigorous overhaul, of course....really rigorous, as in completely stripping down fingerboard and sanding and restaining, bridge made adjustable, new endpin and pole, various soundpost adjustments and of course, new strings, and who knows what else), coming in at $1000 total for bass, overhaul, strings, bow, and case.

    I need a good bass to audition on and to use in college. My bass is very nice and actually outdoes my school's bass ($2500+), but I know that it might not be able to compete at the college+ level (annoying buzzing notes and just not the best bass out there...haha). Over the course of the rest of the year I can probably rake in a maximum of $5,000, (thats really a maximum) which I know can't buy the best bass, but should be able to buy a pretty killer advanced student one.

    What are the best basses availible for my situation? Should I go for an old bass and overhaul it (by a professional, of course)? Or should I look into something like a new standard and really push my savings? Are there any brands that specialize in this tear of basses? I'm really looking for the best bang, or the most bass, for my buck.

    Or am I completely misjudging the situation, and might my bass work? It sounds pretty good I'd say. After the overhaul it projects well and doesn't buzz during arco (only jazz pizz, which I really won't be doing any of). I just was thinking that It'd be good to get something really nice, instead of kinda nice.

    Has anyone here ever been in the same situation that could respond and give me a few tips? Even if you haven't, any knowledge on the subject at all would help greatly. Thank you so much.
  2. jb6884


    Jan 30, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    Why is it still buzzing after the "overhaul"? If your setup included reshaping the fingerboard, and new bridge, that thing should be good to go with no buzzing. I'd call the luthier and ask him if there's anything he can do. As for a recommendation in the 5000 or less range - Shen basses are pretty sweet... if you want to go the vintage route, it's possible to find something in that range I think -- But it's getting harder and harder...
  3. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    If your playing is great the judges at the audition won't care what kind of bass you're playing. As long as you can get a decent sound out of that bass, concentrate on your playing for now, and eventually you will find a better bass.
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    In that range I would get a Shen Willow carved Bass. Best bang for the buck. Sell the other bass and upgrade your Bow as well. A good bow can run for 1-3k depending on what you find. A great Bow can be 5-10k.

    I own 2 Shen upper end carved Basses and they are great at any price. I also own several Basses in the 25-85k range as well so I feel qualified to judge. I have used my Shen 7/8 in several Symphony concerts. I would make sure if you get a 7/8 Shen that you get a guarantee of no more than a 42" string length and a D neck. I have heard someone here mention his Bass was longer so make sure about the specs. My 3/4 is 41"/D neck. For Orchestra, the bigger 7/8 is deeper and louder as well. It makes a very good Orchestral Bass as my Conductor has commented how much he liked my sound when I was using the Shen when I first entered the Orchestra.
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Isn't there a Shen SB1000 in the classifieds area for $4500?
  6. alright thank you very much, i'll take a look at those shens. But does anyone have a comment on the new standard basses? I know they're 3/4, but how do they compare to shens? What type of tone does each have, what is characteristic about their individual sounds, and which would be more beneficial in an orchestral/solo setting? I think I'm leaning towards the shen, unless someone can convince me that new standards are good enough to make me learn to play a 3/4 size versus just getting a 7/8 shen.
  7. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    A comment about the New Standards? Just do a search of this forum and you'll find a lot of comments about them. Can't beat a New Standard in that price range!
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Hey, great idea, a New Standard thread!:bag:
  9. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
  10. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
  11. sibass89


    Jan 29, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    There are those Wan-Bernadel Basses from Bass Café that are pretty sweet for only $4600 and there are HIMA basses. You can also find some old Czech basses for around 5K.
  12. thank you for the help, and I apologize for my lack of knowledge on the new standard side of things. I didn't expect to be flamed for asking for a comparison between a new standard and a shen, but I was. Do any of those threads compare them? What I'm not looking for is blind praise of new standards w/o a view of any other basses.
  13. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Whoa there, you didn't get flamed. Believe me, when TB flames you, you know it! It's just an inside joke, though, that there have been so many threads here praising the New Standard bass. You can't miss 'em.

    I'm not sure you should worry too much about the difference between a 3/4 and a 7/8 bass, especially in terms of "learning to play" one or the other. It's a little misleading for players newer to the's not like they're different instruments, it's just that certain dimensions are different. String length and whether or not the neck is D or Eb do not determine whether the bass is 3/4 or 7/8, so you can just learn to play The Bass and decide later which body dimensions you prefer.

    But your question is a good one: with under $5k to spend, which is the best bang for your buck? I've been asking it myself lately in a half-hearted search for a backup bass, and everything I've seen indicates that the Shen willow (as Ken Smith mentioned) and the Wan Bernadel (see the ad on the left of the screen) would be excellent ways to spend your money. I've heard nothing but ecstatic praise about Mr. Schnitzer's New Standards, but in that price range you would only qualify for the laminated version. There's certainly nothing wrong with that (better a fabulous laminate than a clunky carved, and AES doesn't seem to do anything by excellent work), but for a few hundred bucks more you could take a carved Shen or Wan Bernadel to school and it might make more sense in the orchestra.
  14. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    I know this gets said over and over... but since you have bought that first starter bass and now have funds to get something a step up, don't sit and talk brand names, go PLAY some basses. Its forgivable to have the very first one be mail order or whatever, but the next time around it should be because you put your hands and ears on a bass and fell in love :)

    The bass I just bought has no brand, it was made by a luthier in Budapest who I and no one here has probably ever heard of, but
    DAMN its gorgeous and it breaks my heart when it sings.

    You wont find that without physically going out and looking.

    Searching it is almost as much fun as finding, so good luck...
  15. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Certainly no flame intended. I'd be interested in hearing someone who has spent serious time with both basses compare Shen and NS as well.
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    A local buddy of mine who owns a Shen Willow did just that (comparison of a Shen Willow and a NS hybrid). I can't speak for him, but I believe that his conclusions were that the Shen might have a slight edge for orchestral work because of the carved back, but the the NS was a superior pizz bass and overall was much more ergonimically satisfying to the player. It should also be noted that he had arco strings on the Shen, and there were Dominants on the LaScala. He finished his comparison by ordering a NS LaScala hybrid (he had been doing his comparison with mine). I don't know if he is keeping the Shen willow or not.

    Caveat: His primary concern overall between the two basses was playability, since he has suffered from pain in both arms and shoulders that has caused him to have to reduce his playing time and even stop for extended periods, even though he is a pro player. I believe he ordered the NS in order to have a great sounding bass that plays easily and well, sounds great, and to keep the injuries from wearing him out as fast as they have in the past with his other basses.

    Amen. If what is in this thread can be called a flame, then several other threads around here can only be described as the firebombing of Dresden. I'm sure no harm was intended here. :)
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have played the 7/8 Gamba Maple round back which they no longer make and have played the 3/4 Willow. I can only imagine the sound difference from the 7/8 Willow which a friend of mine has decsribed as compared to the 3/4.

    I have played the NS Basses and La Scala Basses as well. Every Bass was a killer. The few Standards I played were set up for Pizz mainly so I can't judge the Orchestral sound. I did tell Arnold of AES that I thought the NS would sound good set-up for orchestra as well but never had the chance to try it. The LaSacla I tried set up for Orchestra is way over the Shen price so my opinion is based on what I know and conclude.

    AES also sells Shen Basses so you know Arnold likes them for what they are. I am between a rock and a hard place as I know Sam Shen personally and Arnold as well. Arnold works on all of my Double Basses now as my Luthier of choice. I also own 2 Shens as well.

    For under 5k, I thing the Shen Willow is worth looking at but a Standard with Flexocors may sound great as well. That is the part I can't fill in as I haven't tried it with Orchestral strings.

    If you are not trying Basses out and your choice is between these two, call Arnold at AES and ask him. He will tell you straight up what he thinks. He enjoys repeat business just like the rest of us.
  18. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    In the same under $5K price range, I see Ken Norton is "semi-customizing" (my word, not his) the fullt carved Christopher 600 series for @$4600. Has anyone tried this as an option in this range. The 3/4 AES Cleveland I had was a large 3/4, set with orchestra Heliocores FYI.

  19. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Pete's Bass shop here in Portland has a 600 Christopher
    Busetto that I looked at. Its beautiful, I'm particularly
    fond of the Busetto shape, and it sounded good, but for
    me the Hungarian I bought was superior. That being said...
    basses are like a life partner, to each his own :)
  20. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Except for zipping them up in a bag and putting them in the back of your car. Right? :eyebrow: