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Juzek Carved as Orchestral Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Ron Plichta, May 27, 2012.


  1. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I did some looking through the archives for Juzek basses and I can gather the following:

    1) Most were shop basses made by Wilfer or possibly some other shop for Juzek.

    2) They seem to be decent basses, but maybe not the last word.

    Given that, a local luthier has an early 20th century carved Juzek on consignment in his shop. I didn't notice any big issues with it and my instructor has seen and played it. She has high regards for it and is surprised it's still sitting around. The asking price is $5,500 with French bow (don't know the maker) and bag.

    The consignor used it at a local conservatory and some orchestral work. I don't know why it's up for sale now.

    I have a Shen SB-180 that I had set up more for jazz work and restrung with Obligatos when I started moving to classical. I won't rule out jazz in the future, though. My instructor suggested that I could get the Juzek once I'm comfortable with arco and use the Shen as a backup/jazz bass.

    So with that in mind, what is the opinion here of using a Juzek for amateur-level orchestral work? I'm starting to save up for a carved bass and exploring options with a budget of up to $10k. I'll certainly play others before making any final decisions, I'm simply looking to see if this bass should be a consideration.
     
  2. Schoolhouse

    Schoolhouse Thomas Andres- Bass Makers

    Dec 7, 2006
    Northern Virginia
    If it's healthy, a Juzek makes a very good classical bass. The bridge and fingerboard may need re-shaping.
     
  3. I would play other basses but there is nothing wrong with a Juzek. Plenty of people use them for university studies and amateur orchestras.
     
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    The question for you is, does this Juzek have the sound you are after?
     
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    More wisdom from Eric, the wise sage. That's precisely the question.
     
  6. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    The luthier has suggested I could take it out on trial. I think that could help settle that question.

    I attended a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performance last night and noticed that the basses appeared to be of the Italian/English style. I didn't know if that style had an advantage over the Juzek design.
     
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Get the measurements of basses used in pro orchestras. That will tell you something comparing to the Juzek's size. There are many orchestra basses with measurements shown here. There are different size Juzeks, too. Measure the one you are considering, as in the link. For orchestra playing, a deep sound with plenty of power is desired. Large bodied basses can be good at this.
     
  8. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    Thanks. That's some good information to have.
     
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Does not compute. :) A $5500 Juzek is not likely to hold a candle to many of the basses used for professional orchestra work. To me, the comparison makes no sense. You plan to use this bass for amateur classical work. IMO, the bass to seek, given you have another available, is one that has a decent arco "orchestra voice" and: 1) speaks to you; 2) is within your budget.

    No one would expect you to show up with a bass that is akin to fine old "Italian/English" basses found in professional orchestras.

    You mentioned that your budget is up to $10k or so. Personally, with a budget like that, a Juzek would not be my first thought. That's not to say that one would not be a fine choice. I think you have many options available. Perhaps it would be better to defer this decision until you are "more comfortable with arco" and have a better idea of what you prefer.
     
    RSBBass likes this.
  10. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    I was using my Juzek with my community orchestra. I have a hybrid New Standard La Scala on order right now. I'm not sure what I will be using for the next season.
     
  11. eerbrev

    eerbrev

    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    I used an un-named german carved bass from the 1st half of the 20th century (from what I understand, a Juzek in all but label) for a few years. "George" as the previous owner had named him was a great little bass with a good bowed sound, but the body was a little small for the support of low end.

    I ended up trading upwards last summer, but I have many fond memories of George for my first few years of university. Would he have made a pro orchestral bass? Probably not, but for the community orchestra and school orchestras I have been playing with, he was sure a lot of fun to use.

    eerbrev
     
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Since you're not as of yet comfortable with arco I'm not sure you're even in a position yourself to determine if the bass has the sound you want or need, a more advanced player i.e. the person you're studying with would be a better judge.
     
  13. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    ive been shopping for basses lately. i stopped in local shop with 20+ basses. he had a carved juzek that was by far the nicest bass, at the same asking price as yours, 5.5k. i would happily play that particular one in an orchestra- they're nice basses.
     
  14. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    Agree on the first part. I'm not running out to purchase anything right away since I want to develop my skills more and i don't have the money saved yet. I'm simply checking to see if it is worth a consideration. My instructor has played and said it's a good bass. so that got my interest piqued.
     
  15. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I would say then you have all the information you need before starting this thread. You can't get a valid second opinion from people that haven't put their hand on the bass and have heard it. If you're instructor thinks it's a better bass than what you have and is in a better position to make that assessment, your question has been answered.
     
  16. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    I played the Juzek last week and it's a comfortable bass. I found it to be satisfactory sonically and actually better than some 6-9k basses in another shop I visited.

    That said, I'm still exploring a few more options before I make a final decision. There's no need to rush.

    The price I was quoted includes an Ary French bow (about $900 @ Lemur) and bag. The seller won't separate the bow, though. That's too bad, because I liked the bow. And I'm sure there's some wiggle room in the price.
     
  17. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    If the next bass you buy has to satisfy you for the rest of your life, you probably should wait. If, not the better question is "Is $5,500 a good price for this bass?" If you have reasonable expectation for appreciation in value, you can buy it, enjoy the upgrade, and leverage it for a future upgrade.
    There is a wide range in quality among Juzeks. About 15-20 years ago, I looked at a Juzek set up for pizz that was around $10,000. In 60 years of playing, I've only heard a couple that could match this one for projection.
    It boils down to what Eric said.
     
  18. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    Your first sentence raises a good point, Don. I don't necessarily have to keep it the rest of my life. Sonically and ergonomically, I like it over my Shen SB 180. I could use it as I develop and then move up later on if I feel the urge.

    Or not.
     
  19. jdepriest

    jdepriest

    Sep 20, 2005
    Waynesburg, Pa
    I played a university owned Juzek 7/8 all 4 years of college that was a fantastic instrument arco or pizz. I tried to buy it when I graduated because it was better than anything I could find in my price range. If your teacher thinks its a good instrument for the price and you like the sound and feel go for it.
     
  20. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    Thanks for all your input. I've been giving this some more thought and I was probably getting ahead of myself when thinking about orchestras since my skills are very basic right now and it will be years before I can hold my own onstage. I was considering several bass options, but I think at this stage I should lower my sights a bit.

    Having said that, the Juzek IMO is more comfortable to play and sounds better, so I'm going to make an offer on it and see what happens.
     

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