Is this double bass worth buying?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by SolaiBassist, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. SolaiBassist


    May 5, 2011
    I play electric bass and know nothing about double bass. I want to learn and have my eye on a used double bass with a bow and bag for $575. I know this might either be crap at this price or a really good deal. Please help me know if its worth buying. Thanks
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  2. Michal Herman

    Michal Herman

    May 31, 2013
    It's hard to say from pictures only.
    Best option will be to visit seller with someone who plays DB, so that person can do at least basic check of the instrument.
    If you don't have such a friend look for people giving DB lessons in your area - they are often willing to do such check for a reasonable price.
    SolaiBassist, jallenbass and dhergert like this.
  3. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    It's unlikely to be a "great deal". The range of quality for basses with mystery names assembled with yellow carpenter's glue, will run from "Good enough to hack around on if nothing better's available" to "run away before it falls completely apart".
    SolaiBassist likes this.
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    "Made for Meyer Music Co."

    From googling, it looks like this is a Michigan company specializing in renting instruments to K-12 students. Their website doesn't seem to have any useful descriptions. This bass is most probably a Chinese shop bass, little if any better than a Palatino. It may not be "crap at this price" but it's certainly not a "really good deal."

    IF it doesn't need repairs or setup, it's worth about $500 including bow and bag.

    How good does a bass have to be? Good enough to make you want to play it.
  5. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    $575 is about as cheap as you can buy any bass shaped object. Chances are it is either low quality, or the seller doesn't know what they have, or they simply want to get rid of it.

    A quick Google turns up Meyer Music as a school rental company in KC. Is that where you are located? So a good bet it is a student-level instrument. Coincidentally, I was playing last night w/ a guy who is the orchestra leader at a local HS. He said all of their basses are Kays and Englehardts. IMO pretty much any Kay or Englehardt would be worth $575 - barring structural issues.

    Didn't readily turn anything up about Giuseppe - the name seems to be used by many different people.

    Like MH said, try to get someone who knows ANYTHING about uprights to look at it with you. I'd think you might be better off if it is a plywood rather than a totally bottom-end carved. The pics aren't too clear, but I don't see any obvious purfling, so it might be ply.

    The main things you'll want to check for is that it is solid. Does it buzz when you play it? Tap around the edge of the top/back to hear any loose spots. Look for cracks or deformities of the top/back or around the endpin, or sound post bulges. Is the bridge straight? Do the tuners turn easily and hold? How does the neck feel? Many folk dislike narrow necks as on Kays, but some cheap basses have necks that feel fat and clunky to me.

    What info can you get from the seller? Where did they get it? How was it used? What kind of strings are on it? Was it ever setup by a professional? Also - where are you and the bass? In a decent-sized city, or in the boonies? How motivated is the seller? The fingerboard tape suggests it was used by an entry-level student.

    If you buy it, you'll probably want to take it in for a setup - which will cost you a couple hundred. Strings will likely be another couple hundred on top of that.

    If you took a bunch more pics of the scroll/tuners, bridge/tailpiece, and heel, etc., we might be able to do SLIGHTLY better than guessing in the dark. We always like to look at pictures! :D If it is not a total piece of crap, and if you are on a strict budget, you won't find much any cheaper. But if it IS a total piece of crap, it will just be a constant cause of frustration, which you will then have to try to unload.

    Good luck.
    SolaiBassist and Fretless55 like this.
  6. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Funny, there look to be Meyer Musics in both Mich and KC.

    Band & Orchestra Instrument Rentals & Lessons | Meyer Music
    - Meyer Music

    Your final line, however, is extremely true.
    SolaiBassist likes this.
  7. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    As far as ccb/bso’s go, one that’s been around a while is a much better bet than a new one, since some makers use green wood that warps in the first couple years. Other things to look for are the type of glue used, which judging by the drips in the label pic may actually be hide glue (which makes the instrument serviceable), and whether the fingerboard and tailpiece are real ebony or painted maple. Tailpiece whatever, but a painted fingerboard will turn your hands black and look really funny after the first planing. Don’t expect to flip that bass for profit, but it may actually be worth a shake depending on those factors and others previously mentioned.
    SolaiBassist, Fretless55 and eh_train like this.
  8. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    As someone new to the double bass you might not be aware of how expensive repairs and modifications on these things can be. Keep that in mind when looking at the price tag of the bass in question.
  9. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    Definitely go check it out with somebody who plays DB if you can. These student instruments are relatively rugged, and playable. If it has been hanging out in a basement for a few years, you want to make sure that the top is not bowed, cracked or sagging around the bridge and that the neck is straight and playable from bottom to top. Then check the seams all around to make sure nothing is loose or cracked - wear on the edges from being laid on the floor is normal and fine as long as it doesn't go to the seams. If a tuning machine is buzzing, that may be something you can fix yourself, but aside from that, accept no damage of any kind. As long as it is solid and requires NO REPAIRS, it is worth exactly $500.
    SolaiBassist likes this.
  10. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    Exactly right. I bought my first double bass when I lived in Portland, OR, paid $400 I believe with a crap bow and bag. The setup was terrible, the fingerboard was crap. I kept it around for about a decade, never wanted to play it. When I turned 40 and had a couple bucks saved up, and from listening to a lot of jazz, had a sound in my head, I decided to take another stab at it. I went to David Gage, bought a real bass, and it changed me forever. Better to rent a decent axe and see if you resonate with the instrument. It’s a big commitment but life-changing for many electric players. You just don’t have a shot at that with a poorly set-up and constructed instrument.
  11. SolaiBassist


    May 5, 2011
    Thanks for all the gr8 advice i have decided to save up some more and get a decent DB that will not frustrate. We have a local luthoer tjat specializes in DB and violins and his prices are quite high but he is honest and will explain pros and cons and whether its beginner or pro. The pro level DB was like 7 grand but it was an awesome instrument with a great tone
    AGCurry likes this.
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Fretless55 and AGCurry like this.
  13. At a budget of around $1200, with due diligence and patience you’ll find your huckleberry!

    You’re doing well already by asking questions, and again with due diligence, you may find some good advice on this site.

    Honestly, I’ve found very worthwhile (“used” ; to my mind almost always better than new) DBs in the sub 1k range.

    Patience is key.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    marcox and BarfanyShart like this.
  14. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Shen, Christopher, Eastman and Thompson (from String Emporium) are all brands supplying quality instruments. Lower end new and used $1-2K.
    Fretless55 and Michael Drost like this.
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