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I know this has been covered to death but...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Matt R., Mar 15, 2010.

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  1. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    I'm sorry I know there are a lot of "what beginner DB is good for me" threads. Couldn't find an answer to my specific question however... I am considering a super cheap DB to learn on. I'm a left handed electric player of 23 years by the way.

    I know that a good beginner DB should start between like $1000-1500 from what I've read. I know cheap DB's have setup issues, etc. Also, I know the DB I'm looking at would not be recommended for gigging by experienced DB players


    the bass I'm considering will likely never leave my house and it will be used strictly to learn on. That being said, would this cheapie be worth the plunge just for that purpose? Here it is:


    Thanks guys!
  2. waleross


    Nov 27, 2009
    South Florida
  3. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL

    I already checked that site out. I know that the bass I'm looking at is considered "junk", I get all that. But I specifically wonder if it will be suitable only for learning purposes. Tone isn't even a huge factor for me right now. I just want to learn technique and I'm super broke.
  4. uprightbass.com


    Jul 28, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Is not compensated for endorsements. Does not sell for profit.
    Yes it is a topic that comes up weekly, but we've yet to have a sticky on it, but we should. There are many BGers that ask the same question, which similar to yours. It's usually a variation of: I've played bass guitar for many years, I want to learn the upright, what's a cheap bass that I can start on.

    The problem is that the cheap basses aren't just lacking in tone. They're just unplayable. It may look like a bass, but I think it's closer related to a table in terms of what it really is. Double basses are far from cheap to take up, but it's worth the patience to save up for. I always recommend renting from a decent bass or string shop first. Most allow you to bank most of your rentals towards purchase later.

    Lefty DB's are a niche, recent creation to accommodate BGers. I can't give you much info on that. Most left handed people I met just played the same bass as everyone else.

    The most recent post similar to yours was:

    A post on lefty basses:
  5. I notice the ebay bass you're looking at is a 4/4. Maybe some real DB players (unlike me) here at TB could comment on that larger-than-usual size for you?
  6. I had a crap bass in college. At $500 used 20 some years ago, it was probably better than the one you're looking at. It was just work to play, no joy the way it should be.
    One thing you might consider is the risk of getting turned off to playing DB at all.
    That's a much bigger risk than the wasted $500. You could rent a ply Shen or Christopher somewhere just to get going. At least when you look at this kind of bass you'll have an idea about the difference.

    Good luck,
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Although I wouldn't go near the thing, I doubt it has the string length that would correspond to what we'd call "4/4" size. Those sizes are far from standard in double basses but, more often than not when you see that in those adds, the seller has no idea what he/she is talking about. I'm guessing it's really what we'd call a "3/4" with a 41-42" string length.
  8. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA

    This is the best advice for a beginner because it also fosters contacts with double bass teachers, luthiers, violin/bass shops etc. IMHO, buying a bass from a guitar store or ebay is heading down a road of frustration with virtually no recourse but to lose money and desire. The "deals" on ebay are found by people who already know what they're looking for. If you're truly interested in playing double bass then starting and fostering these contacts is the most important thing you can do for yourself. The financial risk of renting a bass and taking a few lessons is less than $500. Contact the band dept. at your local high school or community college for some advice to get you started.
    Can you go it alone and persevere- of course, but it's much more difficult.
    Good luck.
  9. Allright, here goes;
    The similarities to your and my situation are striking, actually, so I will share my humbling experience.
    I too am a lefty, and have been playing EB for a while (+- 15 years on and off, mediocre at best), but got the DB bug around May of last year. As I am a married with child type of person with other expensive hobbies, I wanted something to "get my feet wet" with, and didn't have a lot of cash to play with. I saw that exact same bass, from the exact same place on fleabay, and was very happy when a "lefty" came up on auction. But, I noticed in many of the sellers other listings that I could "flip the strings and bridge around and convert it to lefty". Now, I may be dumb, but I ain't stupid, and this raised a red flag to me, but not high enough on the pole to keep me from impulse buying a Crap and Mona (Cremona) from a mail order band/orchestra place.
    I awaited the delivery of my prize with baited breath.
    In the meantime, I learned minor things:crying: about the instrument; details like what a soundpost and bassbar were, and how, (since I ordered a righty), how my new bass would never ever sound even close to right. I found out that the bridge was specifically cut for the factory (i.e. right handed) setup, although laughably so in hindsight, so I would a) need a new bridge and b) pay someone or learn how to myself cut one. More $$. I also found out that the strings were only really useful for holding the tailpiece in place during shipping. More $$.
    I received the bass, and began the arduous task of setting it up. I really didn't comprehend the true meaning of "Ebonized" until I saw it in person; I think the closest comparision to what was on the fingerboard is the rust preventative undercoating that Ziebart used to sell for $99.99 in my neck of the woods. Buzzed as bad as you can imagine. Still, I tried to remain optimistic (i.e. delusional) about the whole affair.
    Within three days, the endpin had failed, and needed to be replaced.
    Quick order to All Hail! Bob, and I was back in business ($). As the "instrument" acclimated to the drier fall climate, the soundpost began making itself known as a prominent bump on the back. I learned how to trim and set a soundpost (sort of), and this process was aided by buying a handy dandy soundpost setter ($).
    For whatever reason, I hadn't the faintest clue about Talkbass at this point, but stumbled on it during a Google search on "Cremona". needless to say, I was a bit crestfallen, as it seemed I had bought the worst of the worst, but at the same time, I was motivated, because I realized how much I really enjoyed the instrument, Ziebart buzzes be damned.

    Around about November, I decided that I hated the Crappytona, and found out that a few manufacturers were doing correct left handed builds (Shen, Thompson, Engel, Upton). At this point, I had officially thown $781 (plus tools!) at an "instrument" that I had already outgrown. I bought it thinking the exact same thing you alluded to (I don't care about the tone, I just want to learn, etc. etc.), but within a month, I had lost any real interest in my EB's, and was ready for a new instrument, and also finally admitted to myself that a 41.5 inch board with four strings would have been a similar "learning" tool.
    More $$$$. . .
    Jump ahead to 3 weeks ago, and I just took delivery of my new, made for me (or another left handed mutant) bass, and it is WORLDS better than the money pit I bought to "learn on".
    I tell this to help you out at the risk of humiliating myself a bit more on TB, but to save you from going through this nonsense.
    Seriously, if I had not done this stupid thing, I could have afforded an Upton in another month or so, even though I am happy with what I did eventually get. I also had the opportunity to learn how to put a ton of lipstick on a very unattractive pig, for whatever that was worth. Certainly not $781.
    I noticed that you have quite a great collection of EB's, and I really think you would end up at the same point I got to with my CCB, although probably quicker.
    If you have waited 23 years before persuing the DB, what is another XX months/years to do it right? At the very least, play a few DB strung incorrectly;) to see if you even like the damn thing. Rent one, even.
    Cheaper than what I did.:rollno:
    Good Luck!
  10. If this means anything to you, I'm waiting and trying to sell off some gear so I an afford to RENT to own a bass. It requires $800 down, but all of that goes towards the purchase of my bass. I too read the FAQ etc threads. I think what people like myself and the OP could use is possibly some sort of list of "what to avoid" and " might work if your teacher / luthier approves" and "worth the $$" etc.
  11. If you didn't get the message already, DON'T BUY THE EBAY BASS!!! You've probably already heard this, but if you have any orchestral aspirations, you really should learn to play upright bass right handed.

    If you were looking for a right hand bass, I'd say without question, try renting. I suppose it can't hurt to look for a left handed rental bass, but I think they might be rare....

    Some ideas that come to mind are Engelhardt or Bob Gollihur's Bulgarian basses, see here, since I know these are available as lefties. Another entry level option is the Thompson bass from stringemporium.com , but I don't know if that comes as a leftie. Good luck in your search!
  12. the piece of "real" ebony they claim the fingerboard to be would generally run almost the same price they're selling the bass for. i'm pretty sure it's not a 4/4, and if it were, you probably wouldn't want it. there is no such thing as a neck that "will not break"... basically, the seller is full of ****. it's depressing how much of this stuff is out there. it sounds like you know better than to buy this bass though. if you really really want it, offer 25 bucks and see what happens. if nothing else, you could score a cheap shipping crate.
  13. uprightbass.com


    Jul 28, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Is not compensated for endorsements. Does not sell for profit.
    +1 on string emporium. Steve Koscica (owner) is a fantastic, highly seasoned, professional player and is very helpful to beginners still. His Thompson basses I'd recommend for an entry level if you want to save to buy. If you're going to do a rental with credit to purchase, pretty much every shop does Englehardts which are consistently decent.
  14. HA! Good one.
    I really can't imagine a place that has lefts to rent; I talked to Upton, but I had to live in CT. to do it. I figure just standing with one of these things and plunking away for 20 seconds on upside down strings will tell one everything they need to know; I know it did for me about 12 years ago; too bad I waited so long.
    BTW, I went with a Engel EM-1. so far, so good.
  15. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    Cool, thanks for the responses. I won't be getting this bass. And to the guy who suggests learning right handed- you must have missed the bit where I said I'm left handed:rollno:

    Seriously, I appreciate the advice guys (except for the play righty crap:meh:), thanks.

  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    As people have mentioned, this exact question does seem to come up very regularly - weekly, maybe!?

    And the same answers come up every time - the only thing is, they are not the answers the OP wants! :meh:

    I'm glad to see you have heeded the advice though, Matt - well done!

    A friend of mine did rent a bass and was very pleased with this service and it then helped him select a good bass at a reasonable price, when he was ready and had the money!:)
  17. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    Ha, this is so true. I have noticed that people don't listen to what they don't want to hear (this is true for life in general, not just internet forums).

    What the OP really wants to hear is something like this:

    "Hey Matt! It sounds like you're very enthusiastic, and just want to get your hands on a bass and learn to play. Just go for it, buy the e-bay bass!! It's really cheap, what have you got to lose? Better to play something than nothing right? Maybe when you're ready to upgrade you can sell it and recover some of your money. And if it needs a couple minor repairs and a set-up, no problem! Just do-it-yourself and learn some basic luthiery."

    This has been a pretty good thread, I especially enjoyed Baldy McBalder's tale of despair.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I especially enjoyed that phrase quoted above - which should be on a sticky or preserved for posterity! ;)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    If you are serious about playing the Double Bass, and maybe even playing it professionally at one point I would learn it right handed. Wether you are right handed or left handed... The fact is, there simply aren't that many Double Basses out there that are left handed. You can't simply switch the strings around. You would likely find it VERY difficult to find a good carved bass set up for left handed playing unless you had one specifically made for you.
  20. Phil Michelson, the golfer, is right-handed; the only thing he does lefty is play golf. His brother is left-handed; the only thing he does righty is play golf. Some teachers think it's best to have your dominant hand be the leading hand in golf.

    I suppose that after playing the BG left-handed for 23 years you're reluctant to even consider a change to DB righty. But while playing righty your left hand does more intricate stuff anyway--requiring strength and agility. Maybe being left-handed would be an advantage. . . . And DB is such a different animal to learn anyway. . . . And you'd have a wider selection of instruments. . . . And you could travel without your bass and borrow or rent one more easily.

    I'm not sure why seemingly all stringed instruments are designed so that the left hand does the most intricate work. Anybody know? Somebody suggested to me that the dominant hand is better at rhythm, but the opposite is clearly true in my case. Hell, maybe I should have set up my strange instrument lefty while I was at it!
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    Primary TB Assistant

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    Dec 3, 2020

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