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I want to play the double bass but have low budget. Should I get EUB first?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by TastyCarcass, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. TastyCarcass


    Nov 28, 2011
    I could spend either £400 on a cheap ebay double bass or on an reliable electric upright bass to get me started.

    I do ultimately want to play the double bass for blues, funk and jazz, but do bands/artists like having EUB players? Would I have trouble finding gigs? Is it common for people to have an EUB to practice on but rent DBs for performances?

    Also if anyone has any recommendations on beginner low budget brands or deals it'd be greatly appreciated :)
  2. Your best bet at getting a double bass at that price is buying a used bass.

    I'm no expert on the subject, but my brief encounters with EUB is that they're not 'really' a substitute for a DB. The feel is different between the two. If your goal is to play DB, I would not consider an EUB as being a 'transition' instrument building up to playing DB.

    IMHO, whatever instrument you 'learn on' and/or practice is the instrument you should probably be using for gigs, as it'll be the instrument that you're comfortable playing.
  3. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    I would agree, EUB is NOT db. It has been my experience that anyone looking for a db player is looking for db, not a simulated db. It does not seem logical to me to rent a db for performances. The db can be a very personal instrument. Each one is different and it takes time to develop a "relationship" with an instrument. Unless you are very accomplished you will not be able to grab just any db and make it sound good. Working at it on a specific instrument will allow you to learn the finer points of making good sounds.

    You will undoubtedly get tons of "get a teacher" advice, and it is good sound advice. Running in and blazing away will not only prove very wasteful of your time re-inventing what has been learned and is being passed on by instruction, but can cause serious long-term injury. This is an entirely different instrument than the bg.

    All that said, I would say save up some $$ and get the best db you can find. Good deals can be found on used instruments if you know what you are looking at. There are some solid "entry level" instruments available for under $2,500 but I would suggest avoiding the eBay "bargains". If they do not self-destruct short-term, they will likely cost you between $600-$2000 to get playable and up to mediocre quality.

    If you don't know a double bassist get out and network. Frequent string shops that specialize in violin family instruments, and specifically double bass. Do not ask for guidance from a guitar tech, they usually have little to no understanding of the db, and what they "do know" is often mistaken.

    I hope this helps. Good luck to you.
  4. Agree.
  5. Hi Tast Carcass
    I take it you live in the UK as your budget was in £ sterling.
    If you are really keen to go the DB bass path I'd advise you to save a little bit more. While it is possible to get something playable 2nd hand in your price range bargains don't come around that often. If you check out Basschat.co.uk there are quite a few endorsements of the Thomann plywood basses. While I know nothing of them I do know of some pro players that have positive experience of them. check the threads and contact the players and pester them for info. ie Do not rush into any decision. Also Tom Barrett an american luthier based in Galway (pm me for a tel number) also deals in Shen Basses so he may have something in the lower range.
  6. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    As a generalization, EUBs are not cheaper than student model DBs. See if you can rent or look for a deal. Don't buy something unplayable on eBay. Do a search, it's been covered...to death.

    Nothing wrong with playing EUB if that's what you want to play, but not as a stepping stone or to save money. Wrong direction.
  7. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    I hate to say it but you don't play DB on a low budget.

    I was in the exact same place, wanting to play DB, but not wanting to spend too much on something that might not pan out.

    The cheaper models in the $1000 US range sucked bad. Not even playable.

    I borrowed an old Kay for a few weeks. It was intriguing, but that was enough time to figure out that DB is a whole different ball game. The learning curve was going to substantial. The investment as well.

    If you could borrow or rent a student model, while taking lessons from a good instructor, that's how I would go at it. I'd spend the money that way, and see if it's even going to work for you.

    Getting a cheap or worn out DB will only lead to the repair shop.

    That said, keeping your eyes on the classifeds in your local area might turn up a deal. Make sure you can take it to a honest dealer for inspection, just like buying a used car.

    When I looked into buying used, I found that shipping, packing and insuring a DB for shipment also involves lots of time and money. Hunt local area.

    And you need a large vehicle to transport a valuable and fragile DB.

    I gave it up and bought a six string electric for less.

    I never really looked at the EUB, no bluesy or rockabilly vibe band is going to buy that.
  8. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    +1. I'm not sure what age you are or if you're still in school or not, but some music stores rent out band instruments to students with a discount for later purchase should they decide to go that route. But don't waste your money on a cheap upright.
  9. Electric is certainly cheaper. But it's not the same.

    Probably true if you are talking new. Certainly true, true, true where I am.

    True, but worth it, for me at least. Some guys say they got a double bass after years on electric and were wonderful players in a few hours. That has not been my experience. But again, worth it.

    I transport my upright, an electric, my amp, a vocal PA and all associated cables and stands in a Toyota Corolla hatchback. And there's still a seat for my wife :) The amp is a Roland Cube CB100 and the PA is a Yamaha Stagepass 300, so they are physically small. Admittedly I do that with my cheap bass. Would not do it with the good one, though it would probably be ok.
  10. Huh? The guy on your hompage has an eub. Is that you?
  11. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    Oops, sorry, that home page hasn't been updated in a while.

    It's 4Mal's gig now, and yes, he does the Barker Bass thing. To good effect with that band. I'm surprised I didn't think of that example. That was the band that had me looking into DB.

    I still play in the Blues style, and while a DB would work for the style, my present band is LOUD, not a great setting for DB. P bass tone is the ticket for the current gig.

    When I think of an EUB, in the sense that EUBs are electric versions of a full scale DB, I think the BSX line, a bass that can be bowed as well as plucked or slapped.


    Not exactly the rockabilly look.

    I'd be looking more toward the King doublebasses for attitude and authentic DB for slapping. http://www.myspace.com/kingdoublebass/photos/18287142#{"ImageId":18287142}

    The Barker basses are super cool. The Barker basses use a regular scale fretted neck, or fretless if that's your flavor of choice. These are something new in the market.

    Barker Vertical Bass - incredible tone from an easy to play upright electric bass

    The Barker basses style can pull off a blues rockabilly thing, IMHO, and Mal gets good use out of his. I've played a few models at local TB GTG's. Lee Barker is a very nice guy, TB member, and well worth checking out for more info. If you are tired of that strap weighing your shoulder down for hours at a time, the Barkers are a cool idea.

    The BSX style of EUB is more often found in a Jazz setting, though Passingwind can take it into uncharted waters with massive effects and attitude. Nothing like bowed bass into full overdrive.

    The OP isn't going to get into either for his budget. The new Chinese DB's on offer at local stores were almost unplayable. I gave it an "almost" because I could play most of three strings. When I did find decent playing DB's the price was in well into the thousands, and things started getting really sweet around 10 grand. There was a huge range of possibilities, but they all involved some serious coin.

    I backed off because I didn't need another project, and my take was that the DB was going to take a good bit of getting used to before I'd be ready to play it out, and the gear is another factor. Pickups and amps to get a DB sounding right without feedback, well just take a gander at the DB side of Talkbass. Even the Kay I borrowed was old enough and beat enough to be in need of several hundred dollars of repair just in getting the fingerboard back to unrutted. The old girl was fifty if she was a day, and had seen hundreds of school kid's worth of abuse.

    I certainly didn't mean to discourage anyone! If the right deal popped up, I'd jump in again and have another go.

    I only wanted to share my experience to date with DB.
  12. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    The BSX basses are truly wonderful EUBs, but are well out of the OP's price range. I've never personally played a Barker, but every soundbite I've heard did not impress me. Looks cool, but sounds nothing like an upright, IMO.
  13. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Brings up a question that I have some times. When you see an upright oriented bass shaped object, be it a $10k double bass, an upright electric, a cheap eBay bass or something servicable like an Englehardt in a band setting where it needs to and has been made to sound more PBass like, because of the volume, mix or just whatever. I wonder what the point is. I know what that bassist went through to make that happen and I know it would have been cheaper, easier, safer, better on a Mexican P-Bass. So, why did they put themselves through it? Just for the visual? That doesn't seem like an artistically valid reason to me.

    If the player's primary instrument is DB and this is just their set up for that gig, okay. If they need to play arco, okay. There are reasons, but I see a lot of things where I don't think they apply.
  14. No
  15. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    I play Upright Bass and Bass Guitar but every EUB that I've tried just felt sterile and completely foriegn to me. They're probably cool on their own merits, but not as a substitute for either instrument.

    If you don't have the money for an Upright right now you might want to find a place that does a rent to own kind of thing. That's how I got mine while I was going to college.
  16. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I'd recommend a Rental from a reputable shop as well, instead of buying an extremely low end double bass.

    The only EUB/travel basses that I have played that felt anything like a REAL DB are: Czech Ease and the Eminence EUB. I've tried the NS bass, an Azola (the straight stick ones), and I think it was the Dean Pace Bass. However, none of those basses (minus the Dean?) fall into the lower end of the price realm.

    If you want to play DB, find a way to rent/borrow a DB while you save up for your own. I think you should save up for something that you can play a long time, instead of just buying something to get by.

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