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It is becoming too expensive to play the bass? (DB forum thread)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by MenoSalsa, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. MenoSalsa


    Oct 16, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    I have a discussion group on my Facebook page about being a double bassist. One follower commented about how he loves his electric, but has to keep food in his children before considering purchasing an acoustic. Is this the case with a lot of potential players? What are some ways people with lower income can obtain a bass?
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Decent DBs are probably cheaper now because of Asia than they ever have been.
  3. MrBassman17


    Dec 30, 2011
    Brewster, NY
    I have found some great deals for separate parts of instruments (6 string electric as well as bass) on eBay. I have either built or re-united necks with bodies, and, with a medium amount of effort and certainly less money than retail, I have built a collection of basses as well as 6 stringers! Just put a P-Bass together for under $500 - 80's vintage body that already had DiMarzio humbuckers loaded in; new neck from a factory second that is perfect and just had to add tuners bridge and strings! A little restoration on the body (buffing out scratches) and I have a sweet P-Bass I set up myself! This can be done if you know what you are looking for and what prices should be!
  4. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    I was thinking about the cost of entering the world of double bass the other day, actually. Or any instrument that's typically more expensive than, say, a beginners electric guitar or bass.

    Most younger players would start on a hire bass or one that belonged to a school. But the condition there is that they go to a school that can afford such an instrument, or that they/their parents can afford the hire fees. This is why I'm a big believer in funding, both public and private, for music programs in disadvantaged areas and schools. Equality of opportunity and all that...

    Those without access to a hire program or a school (lots of adults, for example) would need to borrow or pay for their own instrument. If you can borrow, great! But it's still a lot of money to get your own. I would not think it unreasonable to suggest that $1500 is the lower limit for a playable entry-level double bass. I suppose that cost could be a big barrier for a lot of aspiring double bassists.

    I was lucky. I didn't have my own instrument in high school, but I was fortunate enough to go to one of the few public schools in the area with a well-funded, well-staffed music program. I initially got into to university through an audition (B.Mus) and received a big enough scholarship to cover the cost of a bass that would get me through the music program. If it were not for that support, I doubt I would have my own double bass - I couldn't afford it then, and I couldn't afford it now.

    So, I think entry-level double basses are getting cheaper, but I don't think they're cheap enough to say price is not a barrier.

    EDIT: As far as obtaining one goes, I suppose good planning, avoidance of debt, and patience are general rules of thumb I use when I want to/need to purchase something expensive. Other than that, hire schemes, borrowing instruments from friends, approaching a school for a hire instrument (even if you're not a student), and community orchestras are all sometimes good options.
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Did you actually read the Original Post or just start typing stuff about yourself and assume that it would be relevant and interesting to other people?

    OP, for me, I could barely get work as an electric bassist and though a lot of them are crap gigs, I can stay very busy on DB. If it's hobby for your friend, then, yeah, it's an expensive one. If he's working, he may find that it's a good investment. Of course HMMV.
  6. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Sorry, much like the poster above I stumbled into the DB section from the front page (hi guys!) But my question is; is a DB much more expensive than a cello or violin or something? I'm guessing maybe just because of the sheer size of it it could be pricer, but violin costs have shocked me in the past...

    Anyways, I do think you upright guys have an edge, in that (from what I know) its not that common for folks to have more than one upright. Us bass guitar folks though... yeesh. That can get pretty pricey too.
  7. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    My 'college level' bass was $5500, but most of my peers had instruments that were $9k and up. For an entry level bass that is actually playable (think SX, Squier Affinity, etc. in the electric bass world), you are looking at about $1500. Unlike electric basses, you usually always get what you pay for (e.g. you don't get situations such as "My $160 SX sounds and plays better than my $1000 Fender!"). But I think you're right about collections. Some guys might have a couple of double basses if they play a few different styles, and collectors might have more, but your bog-standard double bassist probably only has 'the one'.

    As for comparisons with cellos and violins, in my experience the price differences are most noticeable at the lower levels - a beginners cello is cheaper than a beginners double bass. On the other hand, at the other end of the scale there are million dollar violins, but I don't think I've heard of a million dollar double bass (but there's certainly a number of professionals with basses that cost as much as a house).

    My 0.02c :)
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    On the other hand
    Some choose to buy a sh!tbox
    To drive a fine bass
  9. theretheyare


    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification
    IME, while i can set up my own bass guitars, with a DB I need a good builder/repairperson. A good setup with a new set of quality strings will do wonders for any DB, but it sets me back several hundred.
  10. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    My local store has a couple of DB's with adjustable bridges and they are going for $800 and $900 dollars so I don't think it's hard to get started. Moving up is the question. There are many basses to be had in the $1200-$3000 range and also decent basses in the 6k, 7k range.
  11. I found it very tough to get into. I wasent exposed to much music in school. And my schools sure didnt have a upright or other instruments some would think were common. My passion for bass started at 25 with my fist electric bass. I enjoyed electric but always wanted an upright. But being a husband and father of 3 with house and cars and life it just wasent happing.

    So at 26 i traded for a old 5/8 Framus. And soon after had to get rid of it ;( I went another year dreaming of upright. And last week my dream came true again! I bought a upright from a respectable luither.

    Entry level instruments at $1500 is a big hit for working folk. And i could find no one in my area that rented basses. I would love to see more shops rent basses! My little girl is learning violin. The shop were we rent her violin has 2 options. $15 a month for the violin or $19 a month for the violin and a escrow account. And with the second options 9 dollars of the 19 goes towards your instrument! So as you rent your instrument you are also setting up a savings acount for buying your first instrument. I would love to see something like that for bass players!
  12. bobalew


    May 21, 2005
    Aledo, TX
    Writing in haiku
    Sam reminds us once again
    The Big Picture counts
  13. bobalew


    May 21, 2005
    Aledo, TX
    There hasn't been much said about bows here. An entry level bow can cost as much as a serviceable electric bass. And strings! If the bass needs to be restrung you can tack on another $150 or more.

    Markets are always in flux, but I think an aspiring double bassist needs to budget $2,000 for bass/bow/case and another $1,000 for first year lessons and books. Then try to beat those budget numbers. And remember, whatever is saved on the instrument can be applied to more lessons!
  14. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    And the elephant in the room is.... transport? Just curious, I've always driven coupes and hatchbacks and don't think I could stuff a DB in any of them. My buddies drumkit fit in ok, but that of course was broken down..
  15. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    I can fit my DB in a smaller sedan if I pull down the passenger seat and run it from the back right to the front. Takes a fair bit of manoeuvring though. I've actually always found hatchbacks easier than sedans, so long as you can put the back seats down and have it positioned so that the scroll is sitting between the driver and passenger seats; straight up the guts of the car. But forget trying to fit a larger amp if you're playing amplified. I don't know where some rockabilly guys find space to fit a DB, and SVT, and an 8x10. I suppose a big station wagon would be the ideal vehicle.
  16. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    My bass fits easily into my Honda Fit.
  17. oerk


    Oct 16, 2009
    Small station wagons work, if you find the right one.

    I can fit a DB, two electrics, large combo amp, and the band PA plus some suitcases easily. Replace PA with full drum kit if you want - been there, done that.

    My wife's small hatchback works also, but after DB and amp, there isn't much room left.

    Sorry for OT.
  18. 3/4 Kay fits in the passenger seat of my Kia spectra.
  20. I used to transport all my gear in a VW Jetta, and my bass is huge.

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