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How to Buy a DB

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by reedo35, Feb 13, 2001.

  1. I've seen so many questions lately about buying DB's I Thought that this would be helpful for some Newbies to get a better idea on how to do it.Hope this is helpful.
    Eleven Tips For A Player Or Parent To Buy A Better DB
    1. Set aside time
    Allow 1 or 2 hours in a week for the process of looking at instruments and/or bows. The process will be more enjoyable and educational without time pressure. The process has three elements: 1) Discovery - involves learning how a better DB can enable you to develop your sound - its quality, tone colors, expression and response; 2) Defining your taste and needs - requires you to ask yourself several questions: what kind of instrument suits your needs best, whether it be for playing in orchestra, doing solos or playing for your own enjoyment? 3) Learning to communicate what you hear to the professionals so they can determine whether changes can be made that will help in finding the "right" violin. Sound will be affected by a change in strings or bridge and a soundpost adjustment. If you like certain things about an instrument or bow, but not others, talk about this with whomever is helping you. It will help you get what you want in the most efficient way.
    2. Determine the appropriate quality or price range of the instrument
    Discuss with your teacher what level of instrument they would like to see you playing. The teacher knows what progress you are making and how the present instrument may be holding you back. They also can gauge future needs. The teacher may also be aware of price vs. value and be able to give guidance as to what price range of instrument you should be considering for purchase.
    3. Plan ahead
    Have a price range in mind when you call to make an appointment to see instruments. That way the shop you are dealing with can get instruments in that range ready for you to consider. If you don't want to spend more than a certain dollar amount make sure to tell this to the seller. For the education of your ear or for your curiosity, you may want to ask to hear instruments in the next range up or down.
    4. Determine the shop's policies for trying instruments
    Ask the shop if they have a "trial policy", i.e. if you really like an instrument, can you take it out of the shop for a set length of time to show it to your teacher, play it in orchestra or a concert hall? Whatever factors are important to your decision-making, determine whether they will fit into your "trial period". For example: Will your teacher be in town to give you feedback; can you get into a hall if projection of sound is important?
    5. Trade-in policy
    Ask about the trade-in policy of the shop. If in the future you need a better quality instrument or a larger size, what value will your present purchase be given in a trade situation? Also try to determine what selection the shop has available in the range or size that might be the next step-up if trading is important to you.
    6. Build a long-term relationship with the seller
    Buying a DB is not like buying a pair of shoes. You don't make your purchase, use it until it wears out and then get a new one. Fine stringed instruments are designed to last hundreds of years and, in a sense, you are just a custodian of that instrument for a number of years. During that time, you will need a repairperson to make certain your instrument is healthy and sounding its best. It is in your best interest if the seller provides this service, especially if the seller offers 100% trade in value. In that way the seller will have an interest in the upkeep of your instrument and will keep you advised of whatever is necessary to maintain its value.
    7. Purchase good value
    Buy a fine DB from someone who has something at stake in being honest and providing good value, such as a good reputation in the community, a business relationship with your teacher or a personal relationship. Value of fine instruments is based on four things: origin, quality of craftsmanship, condition and sound. In most instances, the buyer is quite dependent on the seller's expertise and perspective on the market place to price instruments and bows accordingly. Unfortunately, there is no Blue Book or Consumer's Report for violin values.
    8. Include your teacher in the process
    Your teacher wants you to do your best, not only technically - in learning the instrument - but also in being able to musically express him or herself. Having the right tools, i.e. violin and bow, is crucial to this process. The wrong instrument may result in injury, frustration and lack of motivation. Most teachers will give guidance in this process of choosing an instrument, as having an appropriate instrument and bow plays an important part in their success. Please pay your teacher for any time outside of lesson time that they spend helping you. Some shops pay teacher commissions. If a teacher is advising you and getting paid by the seller, you (the buyer) should know this in advance and it should be discussed openly so that you get the best possible guidance and advice.
    9. Planning payment for a fine DB
    Check to see whether the shop has any financing or can refer you to a bank that understands violin purchases. By the time you have made your decision, be ready to tell the shop how you wish to pay for the instrument. If you wait until you fall in love with one, you may be left trying to beg, borrow or steal the purchase price and considerable heartache will ensue if your plans don't materialize.
    10. The bow
    A bow makes a big difference in the way a stringed instrument sounds and responds. Once you've decided on an instrument, play through bows to find the one that sounds the best on the instrument and responds the best for the player.
    11. Don't forget a protective case/Bag
    The value of your new instrument and bow is only as secure as the case. Determine how much risk you need to guard against and choose carefully. Be sure to ask about what materials it is made of, suspension features and warranties.
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Thanks reedo. As someone in the market for a real bass, your post is very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to post it.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    And to think this was accomplished witout a moderator...
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  5. Thanks Chris. Good Idea!
  6. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Do you mind if I stick that on a page, attribute it to you (give me any info you'd like), and link it to my Links page?? A common question that needs an easily accessible answer.
  7. Bumped! Hi guys, I'm back! :)
  8. Welcome back. I hope you were able to get settled in without too many problems.
  9. Nice to see you.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Ditto that, it's been awhile. Oh, and since you've been gone so long, I should probably mention that it's best not to mention the words "penetrating oil" around SNUFFGUPPIE these days...it makes him shift from foot to foot like he has to go to the bathroom or something.

    Personally, I don't understand what that's all about, but it's creepy just the same....
  11. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    There is so very much about ROUGHTUBBY that frightens me. So very very much.

    i'm going to weep now.
  12. It sounds to me like some fetishes have developed in my absence that I am better off not exploring further. I take a little hiatus and look what happens!Now DURRL and DONOSAUR are moderators!:eek:
    What next! ;)
  13. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    You know as soon as I read what you had written I went straight to here:


    and of course it looks like the same text to me (with a few modifications).

    Perhaps you are the original author of the text or you work for that shop?

  14. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000

    Does it really matter? Reedo's posts have helped many of us here make better-informed decisions about our REAL BASSES. I'm pretty darn grateful to all the experienced guys here who'll share any info with us...they don't have to, y'know? Let's not get nit-picky.
  15. Klimbim


    Mar 3, 2001
    Reedo has indeed been a quite a good source of info, and I'm sure many people have benefited, but give credit where it's due, right? Does it really matter? Not really...but still.....

    If Givens Violins took it from Reedo, I hope they asked him permission, because it obviously took alot of time and effort to produce something like that. And if he took it from them, a mention would have been good, for exactly the same reasons. Kudos to him for bringing into the eyes of bassists still, though.
  16. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Is this a hint Chris?!? ;)
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Nah. I was responding to a newbie when I dug this up. You'll know it's a hint for you when I bump the "Christopher Basses" thread.
  20. hey reedo, any good shops for me to check out an upright for an amatuer/intermediate upright jazz bass? posted a thread on this, but realized this sticky was posted. Either way, im using a school Englehardt and finding while I like ONE of the englehardts (as it's decently setup), what would be a better bass or one thats just as good that I can buy and proudly say I "own"???

    Any help is... helpful:)

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