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Is there such a thing as a "high end laminate bass?"

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Chef, Sep 8, 2004.

  1. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I've been following the "new american standard" thread, and was wondering if there are any other db's that would be considered "high end laminates?"
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I have a Juzek (not sure of vintage) which I think qualifies. It sounds better than a number of carved basses I have A/Bed it against and the guy I bought it from thought it was carved (neither he nor I were aware that Juzek ever sold laminated basses). In terms of overall construction it's far superior to the old Kays.
  3. I don't know about high end, but I had a plywood bass labeled as an 'Eberle' that with some really excellent setup work was a great instrument. Maybe it was just that particular bass happened to be great, but I loved it. Looked horrible though... about 1/4" of polyurethane over a nice orange stain... :eyebrow:
  4. Boyardee:
    Before more fur flies, maybe you could say what your definition of "high end " laminate is.
    A few years back, Arnold had a '30's King that has been used in NYC studios for decades. Every time it went on the market, somebody grabbed it.
    Just as all Juzeks don't sound the same, all laminates don't sound the same. Out of four, I've had two beauts.
  5. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Boyardee is me?...:)

    I've heard of Shens, Christophers and some others spoken well of here, and certainly Arnold's New American Standard seems to fit the definition of high end laminate in terms of quality and esteem by those here who've laid hands on one.

    I guess by high end laminates I mean something (and don't y'all take this the wrong way) but something that folks here might hold as being an "actually good instrument." I know probably a lot of folks here look at my King and sorta scoff,
    and that's ok. If it weren't messed up I'd be fine with keeping it. Sounds good, plays good, "has issues."

    Some guys think Kays and Engelhardts are pretty decent basses, some guys are always going to hold them in a certain amount of disregard. That's cool, it takes Fender guys and Zon guys to make the planet go 'round.

    I figure a high end laminate to be something that was maybe hand crafted, something that one would play and listen to and say "hey, that's pretty dang nice" as opposed to "that's acceptable for a plywood bass I guess."
  6. As in Chef Boyardee.
    Would you expect a company that could invent Spaghetti-O's to spell the name "Boiardi"?
    OK, folks; weigh in.
  7. greene


    Dec 19, 2003
    New York City
    Ideal Music
    If I knew how to post a picture on here I have a Wilfer laminate that's beautiful and sounds incredible.
  8. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    My old American Standard (that I recently sold) was (is) a great sounding bass. Just last year both Jim Cammack (Ahmad Jamal Trio) and Dennis Erwin (Vanguard Big Band) chose to use it on their performances here at the university - among their options were two quite good carved basses, but they liked the sound of the Standard ply for what they were trying to do. I thought it had a wonderful "old school" sound, but the sound I hear in my mind's ear is a more focused "modern" sound, which in my experience is the domain of carved basses. But the bottom line is, what kind of sound are YOU hearing for what YOU want to do? If it's a sound that is easily gotten on a laminate, then it wouldn't make sense to get a carved bass on the advice of someone who automatically (and snobbishly, IMO) thinks that all carved basses are "better". Follow your ear
  10. These are carbon fiber, a promising composite as a substitute for traditional tonewood.

    I am making plywood plates for archtop jazz guitars. I use very thin plywood with no voids from Finland. There is a BIG difference in plywoods. Some of the cores are really crappy wood with knots and wide grain that WILL warp. All that tension when it warps will have an effect on the tone. Especially if the top is warping and the bass bar is holding it with tension in place.

    I have been debating about the next bass I build being made from laminated wood. I am thinking about using carbon fiber in the sides and back. It could be really thin and light yet still be stable and strong. It is not easy to work with the material though and it is expensive as tonewood. I am leaning towards good old wood though. :meh:
  11. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Yes I know, and the term for working with carbon fiber [or fiberglass, or andy other cloth] and resigns is laminating; infact someone who works with fiberglass, carbon fiber ect is called a laminator. Actually the way these basses are laminated is base on a lot on boat building designs [whether or not they will admit it]; which is to add a soft core [coring] between the inside and outside lay-ups of a haul, deck, bulkhead ect.

    The actual laminating work isn't that hard, it's the mold-making, prep and setup that takes all your time; a good mold will take you two to three times that of the actual part. To me the extra hassle is only worth it if the bass will sound better than if you use wood. Although it would look very cool, kind of cyborgish.
  12. BluesBass


    Apr 14, 2004
    Spokane, Wa
    I have a Samual Eastman from Eastman Strings. I set a new adjustable bridge on it and everyone tells me it's a great sounding bass. Both of my instructors (pizz & arco) really like the way it sounds and looks. Even though it's a LOW end plywood bass ($1800) the build quality seems very good,(made in China). The finish on it is a light brown that allows the wood grain to show through, not the opaque shellac look!
    Good Luck,
  13. Tumbao


    Nov 10, 2001
    Info request Bump! for the highest quality laminated Basses.
  14. From the Quintus website:

    Do we really want basses that "cut through" the orchestra? Don't we get enough of that from the bass trombone player as it is? :rollno:
  15. DHoss


    Nov 23, 2005
    Quote: "Maybe Wil can come up here once in a while and give some insight as he is responsible for the materials from Germany and the Varnishing which he does by himself. Bravo Wil.."

    I'm budgeting for a Cleveland and am really interested in Wil's insight on material selection and varnishing technique: not only will his ideas broaden my knowledge of the genesis of my future instrument but they'll offer temporary relief to my gas pains!
  16. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    As I cannot seem to go back and edit my previous posts, I'd like to apologise to Wil and Arnold for erroneously referring to thier fine product by the name of it's forebearer, and not the correct name, New Standard.
    I think they have a fine product, I hope to own one someday, and I'm sorry for any confusion or trouble I might have caused...
  17. camCARV03


    Apr 23, 2006
    memphis, TN
    two words for you. Upton Hawk
  18. I don't know the excact specs for a 'High-end' laminate, but my Hawk(es) sounds better all the time. I know it's basically a factory bass, but the set-up is so good, it plays and sounds like a more expensive bass, IMHO. I would probably classify Ahnold & Wil's NS to be at the high-end of currently made plys. I did lust after it, but my budget just wouldn't allow it.

  19. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    I have had mine for about 5 months, and been able to side by side compare laminates, hybrids, and carved with my Cleveland and not found any that I like better, or even as well. The ease of playing it, combined with the even pleasant tone and volume, should qualify the New Standard as a high end laminate.
  20. kipmartin


    Aug 22, 2004
    nashville, TN
    endorsing artist: intellitouch tuners, sansamp, uptonbass
    two things:

    ken said:

    >Arnold and his partner Wil de Sola have the best project I have seen for a Laminated Bass. They are not made like the Plywoods or Yesteryear.<

    except the early real american standards and kings (pre WWII). they are VERY well made instruments and with all due respect to Arnold Schniter and his hard work and excellent product, i believe--along with MANY professionals--the older Standards and Kings are the best of that family of basses.

    secondly, EVERYONE likes their bass. when someone says "Everyone tells me my [brandname] bass sounds great." ive played borrowed pieces of firewood, and someone ivariably comes up and syas "Hey thats a great sounding bass...what is it?"

    i have a friend who is an award winning guitarist (David Grier) and when he does a workshop or solo gig, he pulls out a $85 Harmony guitar from the 60s and plays a song on it. of course, it sounds great. the lesson is, get the best bass you can afford, but dont sweat the little stuff. learn to play it well and it will sound great. if you are auditioning for a major symphony orchestra, it will make a difference, but if you are a serious weekend warrior, a well set up old kay will work. or a $6000 used Juzek.

    i know thats not a poopular opinion among gearheads, but i wish i had a dollar for every bassist ive taught who thought that a nice bass was a shortcut. nice basses can be had for a lot less than you think. there are no shortcuts to good sound.