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Ignoramus trying to right that...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jayscheuerle, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. Glad I found this forum. Reminds me of the first time I bought a telescope. Lots of people steering you away from imported junk and more than willing to spend your money. :D

    I've been playing electric bass for two years with little instruction, completely as a hobby. My 14 yr. old daughter takes lessons and is better than me. The double bass, as a jazz instrument, has always been where my heart lies, not because I know the names of the musicians or even the names of the songs that they play. I just like the sound. I like the feel. The wandering groove...

    For the most part, I've played from tabs. There was some time spent with a Hal Leonard book learning the bass scale, but I'll need to revisit that.

    My dad passed away over the summer and he knew of my desire to play the upright, so as a parting gift, he said he wanted to buy me one, making it clear that he didn't want to get me a POS or alternately break the bank, but something in the middle. After doing some reading, I realize that he had NO IDEA how expensive these things can get.

    I'm more than fine with the idea that this is simply a hobby of mine that may or may not last, but if I'm spending his money, I want to be wise with it. My idea is to put this gift cash towards a combination of a good starter instrument and a year's worth of lessons. Even if it falls away as an area of interest of mine (I have many), it's probably something I'll look forward to picking up every once in a while (okay, not literally picking up) just for pleasure's sake. Besides, they look beautiful.

    I'm hoping to contact a local (Philadelphia, PA) upright bass player who's willing to teach a 45 yr. old from the bottom up and get his input as to a decent enough (not junk) starter instrument and a local luthier. I've already talked to a bassist I've heard play locally, but he lives too far away for lessons (he gave me the local's contact info). From these forums, I've found myself looking at some plywoods and hybrids from Upton, Thompson and Christopher. I had originally been thinking Engelhardt, but got the gist that they're on a lower level (please correct me if I'm wrong). Ideally, I'd like to get a set-up instrument (the specifics of the set-up are what I'm hoping an instructor can provide) shipped to me for under $2500, preferably around $2,200, and a year's worth of lessons for around $1,200, basing this on what my daughter's classes cost ($25/hr, though I'd probably aim for 2-1 hour classes/month).

    What am I off-base about and what else should I be considering?

    Thanks for any info, and yes, I did read all the newbie links, but when you're really just hopping into something, much of that information doesn't come across clearly. - Jay
  2. I think the Uptons are well respected. I have only played their hybrids and carved basses, but they are generally known for good quality and sound.

    I would look pretty thoroughly into the carved basses in the for sale section of this site. You might be able to get a very nice instrument used in the price range you like.

    Take your time and maybe take another player along with you so you can hear the various instruments.
  3. Rocky

    Rocky Banned

    Jul 21, 2000
    Los Angeles
    I have an Upton, and its a great bass. I'm sure they could even make something special in memory of your dad if ask them.
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's plenty of bassists in Philly, so you shouldn't have too much trouble running someone down. In addition to new instruments, you should also enlist your teacher's aid in checking out used instruments. Mike Shank has a shop nearby and he comes pretty highly recommended by folks I know. It's kind of a buyer's market right now, so I think that you can get a lotta bass for your buck. Maybe not like 20 years ago, but better than 4 or 5 years ago.
    As you say, other folks are more than happy to spend your money for you, but there have been a couple of basses on this site alone that have gone for the $6K range, that last year would have been $10K. So you are in a position to get a significantly better instrument if you can throw some more jack at it.

    But it's not ultimately about money. You seem to have an idea of the sound you want in your head already, that's a good thing. Buy a bass that you can afford that has as similar a sound to that as you can.
  5. The downside of not knowing what you're doing is not knowing what you're doing.. How do you find an instructor when you don't know where to look? Googling "double bass instructor" didn't help me much.

    A local bassist who teaches at Temple University, Madison Rast, was recommended to me, but I don't even know if the email address I had was valid. I'm in no hurry to get started, but time waits for no one. If not now, when?

    When you don't know what you're looking for, what's the best way to go about finding it? - jay
  6. +1

    I play an Engelhardt, and I'm very happy with it. Are there carved or hybrid basses that I would rather have? Definitely. But I think the Swingmaster was a good buy, and great fun to play.
  7. That's the thing about opinions...

    I thought the Swingmasters looked pretty cool, but when I mentioned Englehardts to a DB player, he said to look at some hybrid Shens instead.

    As a complete beginner, it doesn't seem to make sense to get a $3k+ instrument if I don't even know 1) how passionate I'll be about playing, or 2) that my untrained ear could tell the difference between a $1500 DB and a $10k DB.

    I just want something that's not junk and will take me five years into the future as one of my many interests.

    - j
  8. Thing is, a $3k instrument after two or three years is worth $3k. A $1500 instrument after tow or three years is worth not very much at all, unless you pour in a bunch of setup money... which makes it almost a $3k instrument.
  9. Mesa


    Mar 20, 2008
    Holly Springs NC
    Finding an instructor:

    Here's how I did it:

    Contact every university music department in your area (Philly has higher education, no?). Even just look at the websites. Note every instructor who plays bass. Email them. Tell them what you want and ask for recs if they can't take you.
    Look up every jazz festival or camp in the general area. Most have lists of instructors. Google the bass instructors, email, rinse, repeat. Do the same with every serious music shop.

    Those things should prime the pump. Keep in mind that good players don't always make good teachers. Also, there are a few ways to skin the cat. Despite my jazz motivation, my DB teacher worked me through Simandl for months. I know now why.

    Now we're on to jazz, and some extremely demanding weekly work, but I'm as happy as a clam.
  10. Zitch


    May 12, 2010
    Akron, Oh
    You may want to try renting one first take a few lessons and see how you actually feel about it. Then if its something you think is going to run in your veins, spend the cheddar and get something thats going to last the long haul.
  11. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I had an englehardt: it sounded fine and quickly paid for itself. But in my experience, the necks are too thin/small. I get hand pain from a small neck. It seems comfortable at first, coming from bass guitar, but for me it quickly became a problem. Your mileage might vary.

    Basically, a ply bass is more durable and needs less maintenance, but a carved bass or a hybrid will sound more complex, more open, and richer. A good ply bass can take you a long way. I have a sold wood bass that I really love, but it's needed some expensive repairs, which is fairly typical.
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Andrew, maybe you are talking about NZ dollars? In the states you can get a Shen SB80 well set up for around $1500.00. I think it would hold it's value pretty well.
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I can't spell Dave's last name. That's a sad state of affairs; I've typed Crackhousekey so often, I don't even remember.
    Anyway, search the MEMBERS listing for David Kazco and then a bunch more letters. If he isn't taking students, I'm sure he'll have a recommendation.
    And then there's the time honored method of going to hear folks play and , if you like the way they sound, asking them if they teach or who they studied with or who they'd recommend.

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