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Kiso Suzuki DB?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by stevejp, Apr 23, 2006.

  1. stevejp


    Mar 12, 2006
    Columbus, Kansas
    This my first post here, so of course it begins with a question:

    Has anyone here ever heard of, or played a Kiso Suzuki DB?

    Having decided to bite the bullet and dive into DB after 40 years of playing electric bass, I purchased a used DB. The label reads: Kiso Suziki, 4/4, Strad copy, #100, 1982. Looking the instrument over, I guessed that it might be a student model. The bass belonged to a gracious elderly woman who purchased it for her husband (now deceased) 20 years ago, used, from a music store in San Francisco. She said he was never able to learn to play it, so it had been sitting in the corner for years.

    The top is bookmatched spruce, laminated, I believe. The back is laminate with book-matched birds-eye maple. The back is rounded.The fingerboard is "ebonized" maple, as is the tailpiece, but thy are both well finished. The fingerboard is straight as a string. The neck is somewhat hefty but comfortable to me. There are some gouges here and there, but using a flashlight, and inspecting carefully, there were no cracks, no rattles, and everything appeared solid. However, the sound-post was out of it , and I didn't want to try and play the thing without it, of course. This bass feels a bit lighter than a Cremona I played a while back, and the detail work is much better than the Cremona.

    Long story short, I bought the bass without hearing or playing it. But judging from the quality of construction, I rolled the dice and purchased it. The price was, I thought, quite reasonable for a DB beginner. There is a luthier I can take it to for a reset of the soundpost. Until then, I can't report on the sound of the instrument. It might be Christmas, or halloween, or somewhere in between.

    If anyone has any experience or knowledge of the Kiso Suzuki
    Violin Co., especially he DBs, I would love to hear from you. Thanks.

    BTW, this is a wonderful site!
  2. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
  3. Welcome aboard, Steve. Good luck with your bass. Don't forget to ask the luthier to check the fit of the bridge, etc. The post is necessary, but so are the bridge feet, tailpiece, and so on. If the bridge doesn't have adjusters, I'd certainly recommend upgrading to one that does. I think you'd be much happier in the long run.
  4. stevejp


    Mar 12, 2006
    Columbus, Kansas
    Thank you you both for your answers. I have searched the net for Kiso Suzuki, and found only a few references such as the one you linked for me, EF. All I've learned is that Kiso (or his company) was building instruments in Japan in the '70's, and apparently into the '80's as well. Perhaps this is the company that became simply Suzuki and later moved production to Korea.

    Hopefully someone who knows the Kiso Suzuki history will answer this post.

    Thanks for the tips, Gomez. I do plan to order an adjustable bridge, and other upgrades as well, as time permits. There is only one luthier in my area, 30 miles away in Joplin, Mo., so I've learned to do a bit of work myself. But DB is a much different animal. I hope to get my bass in to him this week.
    Thanks again.
  5. I happen to have a Kiso Suzuki 3/4 double bass. My father inherited it and a set of vibes from a man who was the father of his best friend growing up when he died. It seems like a nice instrument, and I just put some new strings on it this past Christmas and it sounds pretty good. I am hoping to use it in the jazz band in high school next year. The sticker on the inside says it was made in 1969 and is number 4.
  6. Ben Rolston

    Ben Rolston Supporting Member

    Aug 30, 2006
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    I actually played one, when my group went to Japan a few years ago. I can't attest to it's playability, it wasn't set up very well, but the instrument itself seemed to be pretty solid.
  7. Aussie David

    Aussie David

    Jan 6, 2019
    I’m looking at buying a 1962 3/4 Suzuki DB. The fretboard has been sanded, so obviously it was previously painted. Generally good condition, but it’s $3,500. Am I in the right ball park for this instrument?? Thanks
  8. Jsn

    Jsn upright citizen

    Oct 15, 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Are those Australian dollars? It would help to clarify the bass’s potential value.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  9. Not even close even accounting for the AUD/USD exchange rate. The last Suzuki bass I saw sell at auction went for $300 on eBay in NYC.
  10. Aussie David

    Aussie David

    Jan 6, 2019
    Australian dollars, yes sorry...
  11. Jsn

    Jsn upright citizen

    Oct 15, 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area
    In that case, KfS is right. That’s about $2,500 US.

    You say “the fretboard [fingerboard] has been sanded, so obviously it was previously painted.” If the “it” in the case is the fingerboard, you’re not even buying an instrument with an ebony fingerboard, but an “ebonized” one. “Ebonized” = “painted black”.

    If that’s not the case, please clarify. But in any case, there’s no model of Suzuki that would seem to command such a price.
    oldNewbie likes this.
  12. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    There was no person named Kiso Suzuki, Kiso-Fukushima is a town in Nagano where the instruments were produced.

    The company was established as the Suzuki Violin Company in the late 1800's, during a time of great Westernization in Japan. Anyway, the factory was (and still is) in Nagoya. During the air raids of 1944, everyone was evacuated to Kisofukushima in Nagano, where things continued, using the Kiso Forestry School's wood shop. But mostly they were making wooden parts for gliders, it was the desperate days of the war, after all. In 1948, they returned to the Nagoya factory. But the Kiso factory continued. They went bankrupt in 1950, but came out of bankruptcy in 1951. This might have been when the 2 companies became separate entities, if I understand correctly, some conflicting information. In any case, the Kiso Suzuki company produced a whole lot of guitars which are all over Japan. They went bankrupt in 1985 and all their materials and machinery were sold to ESP. All of the Suzuki basses I've seen were student instruments, that's not to say that there might not be higher tiered instruments, but when you consider the era, 60s-70s, it seems expected that they'd be mostly student level basses.

    I don't know the exact location of the factory, but here's the town your bass was made in:
    Google Maps
    s0707 and marcox like this.
  13. Aussie David

    Aussie David

    Jan 6, 2019
    Thanks everyone, this reponse is amazing! Yes, I meant fingerboard (I play bass guitar and want to learn the DB, so I’m “teminology challenged” at this point. I think it has been “ebonyized” previously but now sanded smooth back to bare timber. I’m fast coming to the conclusion it may be over-priced, I do love it though....and there are not many DBs availaible in Australia... Photo attached...

    Attached Files:

  14. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)

    What part of Australia are you in? There are a few luthiers who may be able to find you something better for the same money. It won't help to recommend someone in Perth, though, if you live in Brisbane (what with the 4,000 miles in between).
    Jsn likes this.
  15. Aussie David

    Aussie David

    Jan 6, 2019
    Thank you eh train. Yes, based on the other responses ai contacted a Luthier to see how the repairs looked and he is helping me with the “right value” as well. I live in Melbourne. I really appreciate all of the resoonses.
  16. If you’re in Melbourne I would recommend Ben puglisi.
  17. Aussie David

    Aussie David

    Jan 6, 2019
    Thank you, it’s Ben that I contacted (blind luck).
  18. labravajazz

    labravajazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    Have to correct that misconception - there are heaps of DB available in Australia just check on Gumtree let alone at the bass specialists in every city!! ;)
  19. Aussie David

    Aussie David

    Jan 6, 2019
    Fair enough. I did buy the Suzuki DB, paid $1,000, probably $200 too much but I like the look (not pristine, seen a few gigs since 1967). Needs some work, but I fell in love with the look and the sound from that bowed back. Thanks for all of the feedback, it saved me a considerable amount of money!!

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