How much to spend?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by dragonetti11, Oct 10, 2004.

  1. dragonetti11


    Jun 20, 2002
    I am wondering how much I should have to spend on a bass that can get me up to the level of a professional orchestra. I am a music major and am thinking about getting a new bass. I want the next bass I get to be something that will get me through school and to an audition and beyond. I am thinking somewhere around 9-14K or possibly 15K. For those of you in graduate school or professional orchestras, will this price range be attiquite? I know orchestras are looking for that Italian sound and their is not many Italian instruments in that price range.
  2. Contra|Brett|


    Oct 6, 2004
    my bass teacher's bass is around 30k, and my stand partner just bought a bass that was around 20 - 25k (quite nearly a child prodigy who enjoys playing botesini bass concertos and bach cello suites at the young age of 15) at robertsons & sons.
  3. You need to visit the archive and the Newbie links! You DON'T need to think in terms of $20,000-$30,000 as Brett seems to be suggesting. You DO need to shop around, and visit the sites and stores that may handle a bigger cross section of prices and basses, Robertsons and the big shops on both coasts, particularly in NYC usually have bigger name basses and bigger prices.
    Our own TBDB resident luthiers sell old and new basses, as well as new basses of thier own. These guys are some of the BEST in the BIZ!

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I think how much you want to spend can be a guideline, but like Paul said, you really have to shop around. You can find some excellent instruments in the 10k range. I wouldn't be opposed to a new instrument either. Check out Bob Gollihurs bass links. You will find a huge wealth of knowlege on dealers and makers!
  5. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Absolutely Paul. As usual you provided Dragonetti11 with some very good advice. If you are in the market for a new/old bass here is what I would suggest. Set up an appointment at a bass shop, I have done this at the Cincinnati Bass Cellar, and have them select out their best potential orchestral basses under 20k. CBC put them in a private room and left me alone with them for hours. You don't have any idea of the price of each bass, you only have your hands and ears to tell you which you think is best. Its a lot of fun, and you will be amazed at the individuality of each bass.
  6. Contra|Brett|


    Oct 6, 2004
    it definitely sounded like i was suggesting that, but that is not my opinion in the matter. (I should have elaborated more) My bass was only $6,000 and i am very pleased with it. It has a very nice tone and i do think that i may have it for a very long time, possibly past college.

    I am fortunate enough to have a good bass shop 20 minutes from my house (Hammond Ashley)

    I DON'T think you need to spend 20 to 30k for a good bass.
  7. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Theres a lot to consider here:

    - Some people buy very nice basses, but still can't play a good spiccato. No amount of money is going to change your bowstrokes (unless thats money spent on lessons).

    - I think its to ones benefit to always try a lot of basses and figure out what it is you're after, particularly in terms of sound. Some basses take a little more effort to play, but it might be worth it - its all about the sound in any real-life situation. If you're lucky, the bass will play like a dream and sound like you want it to. My bass cost me about 8K when I bought it, but its got a good deep sound. There are plenty of basses going for 6-8K more than don't sound as well.

    - Don't forget- if you have a nice bass, its going to take a nice bow to really realize the potential of your instrument. Not to take away from the luthiers out there, but the bowmakers (Archetiers?) contribution is pretty big.
  8. Brett, for all I know, you might have been joking and/or laughing at your stand mate about spending that amount of bread on a bass. I just wanted to make it CLEAR to dragonetti that the amount of $$ isn't what makes the availability of a good bass the name of the game.
    As you know sometimes a silly thing like good luck can be a huge factor!
  9. Hey, go to the nearest bass shop and start playing!

    Looks like "dragonetti11" lives in Minneapolis - there must be some shop up there! Have them drag out ALL the basses you can possibly afford and start playing!

    Look on the web for nearby shops, and try joining the online email list called "2xbasslist" -there are lots of helpful people (and basses for sale) there.

    email to:

    subscribe 2xbasslist (or whatever your email address is)
  10. Here's another thing to consider: newly made basses by prominent makers.

    Basses by Dan Hachez (New Mexico, used to work for the shop in Albuquerque) are winning medals all over, and winning bass players' hearts everywhere. They sell for somewhere around $32 K, but they're worth it -all the tone of an ancient Testore, but with the maneuverability and power of a new instrument.

    Basses by Kai Arvi go for somewhere around $17 K and get rave reviews also. Some recent audition winners use Arvi basses, including the guy who won the Baltimore position in 2002.

    Basses by Albert Jakstadt have a distrinctive "ROAR", they make huge sounds! They went through a not-as-good period, but they seem to be "back". I think they go for around $18 K.

    A guy named Lakeberg makes some good instruments in Cincinnati, priced in the mid teens, I think.

    Rumano Solano, of Maryland, is rumored to be making better basses, after years of weak attempts at "budget basses". I hear they're very worth looking into, now.
  11. dragonetti11


    Jun 20, 2002
    What do you think of the Kolstein basses? Fendts? I contacted him and he showed me a few basses in my price range.
  12. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    my bass teacher just got a bass form these people.

    it is beautiful, and sounds HUGE, he bought this after going to more than one bass convention over the summer and still decided this was the bass he liked best.
    its only a few months old.
    he says the low end leaves a little to be desired but it is loud in thumb position...thats according to him, it sounds great everywhere to me....he was playing through a bottesini peice (elegy in D) and i must say after hearing that i have EVEN MORE respect for orchestra players. ;)
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    My idea of a Professional Bass IS an older seasoned instrument. There are many good newer Basses out there today but I have yet to hear or play one that sounds seasoned, relaxed, old, mellow, mature, etc.

    When you say Professional Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic comes to mind. You won't find many Basses there under 50-100K. Those Basses play like butter with ease, depth, eveness, and a beautiful color or mature complex tones.

    I started shopping for a Bass about 4 years ago and some of you may recal some the the names of the Basses I had my hands on. Between Kolsteins in L.I. and Biase's in NYC I played about 2 million dollars worth of Basses and it wasn't that many to speak of, maybe 25 or so.

    Not every Bass I tried would make it for a Pro Orchestra. Not every Bass played easily or sounded full on the bottom or responded to the bow with quick passages on the lower 2 strings.

    What are the standards for a "Professional Quality Orchestral Double Bass"?

    I would like to hear from Professional Orchestral Players that have a JOB in a Pro Orchestra as thier main source of income. That's where you can draw the line I think. The Better the Orchestra, the Better the Bass you should have. If there is a Maggini, Testore, Busan, Gagliano, Guadaginni, Forster, Kennedy, Gilkes, Klotz, Thir, etc in your section and you bring one of these new Basses in you speak of, what do you think would happen?. I'm curious... really...

    Also, I tried a real nice Bow 2 weeks ago. It was by A.Lamy (french).... About 100 years old or so..... 10K.. Felt as good as my old Sartory as far as I can remember but different. I think a Great bow would be equally necessary with the exception of Edgar

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    That is true Ken. I think if you are playing as a professional in a world class orchestra you can justify having a 100k bass, and in most cases require one. However, if you are an aspiring musician trying to make it to the professional level, there are many instruments that can do an excellent job for less than $20,000. As always, it is best to play as many basses as you can.
  15. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    My teacher, who is a professional orchestra player, has about $65K in his performance bass (alikened to Sgt. Shultz in that it is a huge German. Dated early to mid 19th century) and primary bow.

    His smaller Italian of unknown origin, which he keeps at home for rehearsal and teaching was much less, but also very old (he guesses mid 19th century) and has a great tone.

    He has a second "nice" bow as well that was restored only a few years ago for him, but he actually prefers using a $300 Torte bow that he bought because he fancied mine so much.

    Of course, he could easily bow with a broom handle and bailing wire and it would sound wonderful.
  16. I play in the Louisville Orchestra for a living: a full-time, ICSOM orchestra with about 90 years of history.

    I first auditioned for Louisville in 1999. The winner was a fabulous player with a Testore, (he's now in The Met). I was runner-up with my no-name Tyrolean.

    I won the job in 2001 on a no-name Tyrolean bass I payed $8 K for - so name and provenance and price really don't mean DIDDLY at the end of the day!

    The Louisville Orchestra's Acting Principal has a nice old French bass, but mainly used to play on his TESTORE. He now prefers his NEW bass by Dan Hachez; the Testore sits at home unused because the Hachez is AWESOME.

    The Principal Bass of the Cincinnati Symphony won his job on a nice old Italian, but a while ago opted for a NEW bass by Albert Jakstadt - he wanted more power and volume than the old bass could give.

    The person who won the Baltimore Symphony job in 2002 WON the job on a new (okay, 6 to 7 years old) Arvi bass.

    A member of the Seattle Symphony had a nice old English bass; a Dodd. He won that job (and his previous one in Colorado) on the Dodd, but he must find the Hachez basses sound and play better overall.

    YES, new basses DO and CAN have that "buttery feel", that super-thick low end, and huge projection... all at a fraction of the cost, and with a healthier instrument body.

    Think about it another way: Those Busans, Tarrs and Testores were new one day too, right? It's unlikely they sounded boxy then, surely the kicked butt from day one, and have continued to get better.

    It seems likely that you are just as well off finding a bass that Kicks Butt NOW and is new and costs less, than spending tons without even having a job yet!

    Yes there are many players out there, including in Major Orchestras, that are obsessed with "old" basses. That's great, because there are a lot of great Old Basses. But there are some great new basses out there, and they will serve you well. Do not exclude New Basses from your considerations in pursuit of a Major Orchestral Job
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    KPO, I noticed on your webste that the Gig only pays about 32K/annually......... In that case they don't deserve having a Bass over 30K in the section. I don't think it's affordable at the pay scale. On the other hand, Most Orchestras paying 60-80K and up do have the sections graced with Basses in the annual salary/bass cost equivelant. Maybe just a coincidence but I do see a patten here. Yes, only YOU have posted here but most Pro Orchestra Players are elsewhere rather than chatting on TB. I hope to hear from others in your similay employ to hear other opinions.

    I compared my Martini to a Joseph Gagliano two weeks ago. They both have power, depth and spread but, the Gagliano has a matured sound with many colors that only these old relics seem to have. I did the same test today with my Gilkes and Martini. The Martini seems to have more depth and carrying power but the Gilkes has such a sweet mature tone with colors the Martini hasn't yet found.

    I agree that you can get away with a Modern Bass in many cases. My conductor told me 2 years ago after the 2nd rehearsal that he loved the sound of my Bass. It was a 7/8 Shen 800 model, chery picked and set up by Paul at CSC and tweeked by me. My Batchelder kills it for tone but the Shen has some volume to offer. The Shen in comparson feels and sounds colorless to me compared to the Batchelder and especially to the Gilkes or Martini. I don't feel as happy when playing a modern Bass as I do when i feel and hear all those century(s) old colors and tones from an old 'seasoned' Bass.

    So, are you playing for them or are you playing for yourself. Also, section playing,small ensemble playing and solo playing may require different Basses. Only you will know for sure how well your Bass is for you.

    I have a nice collection and buy 'n' sell here 'n' there but I am still searching.......
  18. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    you ever play a hatchez ken? Dan is one of the best out there, person/luthier or maker. I would be curious to hear your opinion since you have played so many basses.
  19. KPO

    Yes. Thank you. The great basses that were played alot, and look it, were once great new basses when concerns were much the same as now ie Tone, power and ease of playing (in the case of Tarr at least) for the working musician. I would bet that a lot of freelance bassists would be concerned about their meisterbass' safety carrying it all over creation (insurance not withstanding). The most expensive bass I've seen in the ad hoc orchestra circuit is a $30,000 Jaquet. Most seem to be the old Tyrolean/Bohemian variety, midline German and French. Seems to me though that if you are, say in a major symphony orchestra, having the best instrument in the ballpark of, say, the cost of ones car (20-50K) doesn't seem unreasonable or gratuitous.

  20. I know that the Ju Fang won principal of indianapolis using a new KC strings bass. I have no idea how much she paid, but I'm sure it was arround $20,000