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Looking for new bass - have read Newbies

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by FidgetStone, Aug 17, 2003.


  1. FidgetStone

    FidgetStone

    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    BASS HUNT 2003: First let me say what a great resource TalkBass forums have been in my UB education. I have read the Newbie links and have taken much of the advice already.

    My musical background is that I played rhythm guitar for about 20 years then switched primarily to electric bass three years ago to play in an amateur band at my church. I play on a regular basis and love it.

    I rented a UB about three weeks ago to make sure that I was ready for the plunge. It's a student level model (all plywood) with a finger-abusing, dead-string set-up for sure, but being able to play and listen to the tone has reinforced my desire to go upright and helped me in my search tremendously.

    My goal is to have the sweetest sounding & playing bass possible for under $2K including a good set-up and a bag. The sound I'm looking for is the long sustain jazz sound. Spending much beyond $2K would likely marry me to the bass and divorce me from my wife.

    I am playing everything I can get my hands on in the Dallas, Texas area. As many of you have discovered, however, there are very few places where you can walk in the door and put your hands on a UB.

    I will have the opportunity to play a couple of newly arrived Strunals at Brook Mays Music next week. One is the 5/35 hybrid that, on paper, seems to fit my ideal quite closely.

    I know that the proof is in the pudding and that I will have to let my ears be my guide and my wallet be my throttle, but I would appreciate any and all feedback from anyone who has conducted a similar bass search.

    Let me know about your learning experience, when preconceived notions were blown away or reinforced, etc.. Be sure and mention the specific bass models. Also, give me the "had you known then what you know now" scoop.

    I will relay my experiences back to the forum as I go along.

    Thanks everyone . . . Jim Watkins - Allen, TX
     
  2. Darth_Linux

    Darth_Linux

    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    I recently played a newely acquired Strunal 5/20 that was had for about $1500 and I thought it was quite a good bass for the money. The local luthier in town here did the setup and confessed he didn't need to do much to it at all aside from new strings and an adjustable bridge. He was very pleased and thought it should have sold for 3 or 4 K . . . I'm getting a 5/20 myself in late September and am pretty excited. Hope you like the 5/30!
     
  3. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Have you been to Graham's Violin Shop in Arlington (817-861-2518)? David is a bass player and stocks some well set up Christophers in your price range. Also, call Jay Rury (214-941-5681)and see if he has anything in stock. Another good resource is Ed Garcia, who runs Trax City karaoke shop in Irving (972-252-7827). He often has a few basses around and will work a good deal. If you can drive down to Austin, Violins Etc. (1-800-561-5820) is another place with some basses to play, and they also have some Christophers. The manager Mark Rubin is a very good bass player

    I would stay away from stores like Brook Mays. Most of these big music stores have no idea how to set up an instrument and will cost you too much in the long run trying to get it playable.

    Take your time and buy right the first time.

    Monte
     
  4. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I second Monte's post. I had quite a conversation with David Graham and when i get to a point where I can see him, I'm taking both of my basses to him just to see if he can improve the tone/volume. Jay Rury - while not unkind or unpleasant - didn't seem to have much time to help me purchase a bass or set mine up after i purchased one else where so the trip through dallass isn't worth it to me.
     
  5. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Is that the same Mark Rubin of the Bad Livers?
     
  6. FidgetStone

    FidgetStone

    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Thanks so far folks.

    Monte & tsolo: I talked to David Graham on the phone last week and he seemed genuinely interested and enthusiastic. He currently has some used basses that have had work done on them. I am confident that he would not sell me anything that would come back to haunt him. He asked me if I was open to the idea before he even suggested I might consider it. I'll have to make time to get to Arlington.

    I also talked to Jay Rury who was also nice. He only occasionally has a bass on consignment and is more focused on repair. He said that he could do the set up work for me if I had to resort to the internet for purchase.

    Darth: Are you getting your Strunal locally or via the internet?

    Thanks again . . . Jim W.
     
  7. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    one in the same. Great player and a heckuva nice cat.

    Monte
     
  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I was wondering what he was up to since the other half of the Bad Livers (name???) moved to Portland. Danny something...
    I heard them play with a middle school chamber group at a biergarten during SXSW, in Austin, about 5 years ago. It was wonderful. Mark went on a big rant (usual) about how bad Celine Dion was/is, and how great the soundtrack to "The Newton Boys" was/is. (Mark and Danny produced that soundtrack) D'ya know Kevin Smith (the upright bassist, not the filmmaker) makes a quick cameo in that movie?

    Does anybody know/care what the hell I'm babbling about?

    (Sorry for highjackin' the thread, fellers...)
     
  9. Darth_Linux

    Darth_Linux

    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    I'm ordering over the phone from Shar Music. The one I played recently was from a student of mine who did the same, so i feel ok about doing it that way, especially after hearing from the folks at Lundin's who did the setup on it and had no complaints at all about the bass.


    good luck!
     
  10. FidgetStone

    FidgetStone

    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Hey Darth,
    Thanks for the Shar Music tip. I went to their site and there was no listing for Strunal so I sent them an e-mail. How much are they asking for the 5/20?

    . . . Jim W.
     
  11. FidgetStone

    FidgetStone

    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I got a first-hand lesson in the value of a good set-up today. I was on a sales call in Denton, TX today and found a shop called Sky Guitar where the proprietor, Erik Anderson, makes electric basses and does work on UBs and virtually anything with strings. Super nice guy!

    Anyway, he had a Cremona SB2 on hand that he had done the set-up on. (Don't bother dissin' the Cremona, I'm not buying it) The bottom line is that it played great even with the crummy strings he had not changed out yet. If not for all the negative posts on Cremona I would have been seduced by the playability. It was nice. The tone was nice as well. A real luthier can do great things.

    As a side note, there were two electric basses there that Erik made himself that were beautiful. A four-string fretless and a six-string fretted. This guy is talented.

    FYI . . Sky Guitars - Denton, TX 940-387-2671
     
  12. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS


    This is actually the danger of Cremona; when they are set up well they sound decent enough, but their construction and thin tops lead to an implosion sooner or later.

    Monte
     
  13. John Greenan

    John Greenan

    Mar 10, 2002
    I'm from Dallas. I bought a Strunal 5/20 on Ebay (great deal--$950, but it ended up costing me $300 to ship it) and had it set up by Jay Rury.

    I don't play, it was for my son (for his 17th birthday). Jay was very nice and not very expensive. But I think you really need to know what you want done for him to set it up. He doesn't want to take the initiative in telling you what needs doing. After his first work on it, the bass wasn't playable (neither my son nor I had any idea what to tell him).

    The second time my son got specific instructions from his teacher (John Adams) and now the bass seems to play well.

    Anyway, I'd recommend that you have someone with experience help with directing the set up. I think Jay Rury is just so nice that he doesn't feel comfortable telling you what to do. Even though he knows what's needed.

    I hope that's helpful.

    IMHO. FWIW.
     
  14. FidgetStone

    FidgetStone

    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    John:
    Thanks for the info. It is helpful. Let me know if your son's teacher, John Adams, is into jazz. If so I'd like his contact information.

    Darth:
    Shar Music told me that they don't sell Strunal at all. Also as an FYI . . they never responded to my e-mail or my voicemail. I had to wait on hold for about 5 minutes for a person that knew nothing about basses to tell me that basses were expensive to ship and the only reason they sold the 3 or 4 models they have was to "be competitive" and have a full line.

    . . . Jim Watkins
     
  15. Darth_Linux

    Darth_Linux

    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    that's just crazy . . .their last two catalogs have featured Strunal basses on the front cover. Obviously the phone help isn't too informed about what marketing is doing . . . sheesh.