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Jim Laabs Music Superstore upright basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by RS, Jul 15, 2001.

  1. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    There is this ad in BP mag on page 105 for cheap uprights. It is called a Vienna String bass Hamburg model. It's only $1277 and it has a carved top. That sounds like a good deal, no?
    Has anyone have played one of these?
  2. i haven't played this particular upright but i know you can pick up an engelhardt or cheap strunal for around the same money. try asking over in the double bass section, maybe someone there has heard and played these basses..
  3. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    jim laabs is only a few hours from where i live, and one of my friends went there to try basses one day.

    they didn't have more than 3 instock, all sh!tsters.

    i suppose if you wanted them to order you one, they'd do it, just don't drive there expecting to try-and-buy.

  4. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    My local Sam Assh has those Strunal uprights. I don't know if it is the setup, but they sound like crap. The action is sky high. They are so quiet and the tone sucks, even taking into account on my total lack of upright playing skills.
  5. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    RS...then the question becomes "what bass have you played that sounded good?". Take into account that the basses mentioned in this thread are bottom of the line as upright basses go. If what sounds good to you was a $10,000+ carved bass, then I doubt that you'll find any plywood bass that costs less than $2K to your liking...especially without a good setup.

    Also, without some instruction from a qualified teacher, it's doubtful you'll get anything decent out of any upright. This is widely accepted fact around here, and I can add my name to the growing list of players who can attest to it. My tone improves after every lesson.
  6. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    btw i got my englehardt for under 2k, with case, bow, strings, pickup, reprofiling/sanding of the neck, and a full setup. it's VERY close to the $7k carved bass i played on before it. it's all in the setup, IMO.

  7. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    >>If what sounds good to you was a $10,000+ carved bass, then I doubt that you'll find any plywood bass that costs less than $2K to your liking...especially without a good setup.

    >>Also, without some instruction from a qualified teacher, it's doubtful you'll get anything decent out of any upright. This is widely accepted fact around here, and I can add my name to the growing list of players who can attest to it. My tone improves after every lesson.

    Maybe I wasn't clear. What I am essentially asking is are there any good basses in a reasonable price range, which for me is $1-2.5 thousand? Can a good set up improve the sound of a lower end bass tremendously, or does it really just help the playability?

    I concede that I'm not an upright player, but I'd like to think I know what a good bass sounds like. I
    have been playing electric for awhile, and I've had listened to some local upright players. If I worked on it, I have no doubt my tone would improve, but is the same on an electric. If you are just starting and the bass you have is hard to play and/or sounds terrible, you're not like to want to practice and improve.
  8. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    To answer your question, proper setup by a qualified bass repairman is critical to the quality of the sound. The aggregate effect of many subtle settings is huge.
    The setup on music store basses is usually criminal.
  9. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    A carved top is much better for tone and volume than a laminated top, no?
  10. Hankie


    May 19, 2001
    Lemur Music sells that same bass that bass Jim labb sells. it is made in Korea. its solid carved bass. Lemer sells it for like $600. more than JL. they are Ok basses for the money but you have to watch out for the wood spitting due to the wood not being fully dried... I think that if you are new to the upright bass world and want a good bass for your money I would get a Engelhardt M-1 , S-1 or the Swingmaster. These bass are really well made. they are ply but with the right set-up they sound great. also they have the most comfortable neck design , great for jazz. Strunals are not much better than the Korean bass, the necks on the Strunals are super fat and hard on your left hand. Do some reserch and play as many basses that you can before you buy.
    Good luck on whatever you decide.
  11. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I agree on the "do your research". However, I guess different things can be decided so make your own decision. When I was recently researching this very subject, I was steered towards the Strunals (all laminated) by several experienced players. Check the 2XBASSLIST archives on this....there's a link from (all hail!) Bob Gollihur's site. The neck is fat, that's correct, but some players (myself included) don't care for skinny little necks on either URB or electric bass. I ultimately ordered a Strunal after having played several Engelhardts. Just felt more substantial to me and I could get ebony fittings instead of rosewood.
  12. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    The ES1 and ES9 (Supreme and Swingmaster) both have ebony fingerboards and are of nicer woods than the EM1 Maestro, which has rosewood fittings. I wouldn't compare the newest Engelhardts to most of the older ones- they were very hit or miss there for a long time but are doing great work these days. I've sold a bunch of them recently and everyone has been happy.
  13. >>A carved top is much better for tone and volume than a laminated top, no?<<

    I had an opportunity to talk to David Gage and asked him this same question, and I was surprised by his answer.

    He recommended that a plywood bass might be better for some situations than a carved bass, as plywood instruments have more of what he called "front end" volume.

    I recently played my plywood Englehardt in an onstage band for a musical that featured the music of Patsy Cline. It was in a 400 seat theater, and I didn't use an amp. None of the musicians I know who came to saw the show said they had any problem hearing me--in fact a couple of them said I could have "turned down" a little.
  14. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Hi guys, I have two Vienna String basses, Hamburg model and Munich model, they are very good, I guess I was lucky with these, I have changed few things but for the price I thought that they are a great deal, I've had guys the own Morelli, Pollman, old Kays, and Juzek play my basses and they loved it, by the way the Hamburg and Munich models are not hybrids, they are fully carved, I think the site doens't explain it, I took it to my luthier and he told me they were fully carved, I always get complement on my sound, and lately I've been playing a lot of gigs with no amplification, yes they are loud, at first a little stiff but after a year more or less they really open up, I hope this helps, and again I don't know how consistent they are, maybe I just got lucky.
  15. kurkomat


    Aug 28, 2001
    Austin, TX
    another vote here for the munich model. I purchased the munich from jim laabs a few years ago and love it. I immediately took it to a good luthier and watched him do my setup. He ended up re-setting the soundpost, filed the nut and the tailpiece as well as doing a lot of shaving down of the neck in various places. The result is excellent- I've had several other bassists comment on the sound and playability. It's a great bass for $1800 (or whatever I paid.) Definitely invest in a good setup-job. The guy I went to was Jeff Sahs in Sacramento in case anyone lives in the area. Overall I've been very happy with the bass itself.
  16. I guess it was 6 or 7 years ago, I bought one of the Hamburg models from Laabs as my first foray into the world of uprights. It was 800 bucks including shipping and i used it for 2 years before donating it to a local community orchestra.
    These are solid wood but not carved,at least mine wasn`t. The top is bent (molded?), as is the back. The neck was thick, which I like, and very solid. Cheap plastic endpin and tuners.
    It was a very loud and surprisingly decent sounding instrument after a few basic set-up details, and it got me on the road to becoming an actual acoustic bassist, but by the time i got rid of it had many developing structural problems. In fact the community orchestra had to do top off repairs shortly after they got it, and I`ve since learned that they have abandoned the bass due to the expense of maintaining it.
    A very inexpensive way to get started, if you aren`t sure, but definitely not an heirloom. An Engelhardt for a little more money would still be playable for another ___ years.
  17. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    As a rule I try not to slam any one else product, but I'm going to tell you my experience.
    I purchased from Labb a Hamburg model with a top crack. This would be about 8-10 years ago. It had a bass bar about the size of a cello bar, and I thought the top and back looked like they were pressed into shape. Maybe I'm wrong, but that would go a long way in explaining how they can sell "fully carved" instruments that cheap. Even the Chinese can't do that. They also told me a local guy made them for them, and as a maker I can't see how any American could make money hand carving basses that retail for that price! I can't even buy the wood for that price.
  18. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    The Laabs basses are made in Korea. I think I tried the same basses at Southwest Strings in Tucson, AZ. They sell a fully carved Korean bass fairly cheap. I tried one out and it sounded pretty good. When I asked if the top was actually carved I was not given a straight answer. I believe by what I could see in the ff holes that the top was pressed into shape just like some of the older Gibson/Epiphone guitars. I think the Korean factory does the same thing as some of the other factories, crank out basses and label then for whoever is buying. I did not buy a Southwest Strings bass because of the non-answer given and I have a dislike for wood putty :eek: You pays your money and you takes your chances.

  19. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    One of the chances you take is service after the sale. Jim Laabs has a bad reputation for service, (check out their ebay feedback - wow!) little to no stock of accessories or parts, (your choice of ONE brand of strings) and according to the clerk I spoke with, no in-store luthier. Like any gamble, you may come up a winner. Or not.
  20. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    It sounds like someone is selling a "solid" top instrument as a "carved top". I know the difference, and that this kind of thing is more and more common but how do you tell one from another in a store situation?

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