Looking for "The" bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by CBFinet, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. CBFinet


    Nov 11, 2002
    Phoenix, AZ
    I've been thinking about upgrading to a different instrument lately. My current bass is a 3/4 flatback German bass bade by Xavier Wagner in 1823 and it's nice, but I don't hink it's what I'm looking for tonally. I'm playing gigging about 5 nights a week with various jazz groups, but I also play in school orchestras and chamber groups as well as a couple local symphony orchestras.
    I know it's asking a lot that one bass fit into all situations, but I's like to find a bass no more than $15k that would be suitable for all the playing I'm doing. My bass now is worth about $10k, so it's not the monetary value that concerns me as much as the tonal characteristics. My current bass sounds great; very clear and warm, but lacks some of the depth to the sound that I'm looking for both pizz and arco. I'd like to find a bass that will speak clearly, but also have the warmth and projection of other basses I've heard.
    I've had a few chances to play Steve Millhouse's bass which he just got a year ago from Rufus Reid. Steve's a local player in Phoenix and the bass that he got from Rufus is the one he was playing on that masterclass/concert with Michael Moore at the Bass Collective and it's just incredible. Let me know any suggestions you might have for old or new basses. Thanks in advance,
    Chris Finet
  2. cgratham

    cgratham Guest

    Sep 22, 2004
    Hi Chris,
    Being in Arizona, you must already know about Steve Koscica and the String Emporium. I just bought a bass from him and have nothing but good things to say about the experience. I know that he currently has at least a few basses that you might be interested in.

    I wish I had $15K to spend!

    Best regards,
    Chris Gratham
    North Vancouver, BC
  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    "Looking for the Perfect Bass" = looking for the Holy Grail...
  4. CBFinet


    Nov 11, 2002
    Phoenix, AZ
    I got the bass I have now from Steve Koscica around 3 years ago. Another player in the studio at my school just got a Wan Bernadel bass from him and to be honest, I'm not knocked out with this particular bass. The workmanship seems great, but the tone is somewhat lacking... maybe it's just that bass. Anyways, I've been meaning to pay him a visit to see what he has in. I've seen a few Morelli and Tournier bass basses listed in Cincinnati for around that price, as well as some nice Juzeks for a few thousand less.

    What do you guys think of the Morelli basses? I know Ken Smith has one that he's doing a lot of restoration on, but I haven't heard a whole lot. I was also wondering if for that price range I could be looking at a nice older french or english bass or even an Italian of some type if I got a steal. Thanks again.
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Well , let's see where to start....

    Up to 15K will get you in the modern (new to 50-100 or so years) Bass range for German and some American makers and plenty of Chinese. Older French Basses of ant merit start closer to the 20K range. English of any merit, about 40K and up. Italian up to 100 years or so depending on the quality, sound and maker, 20-60k.

    The Reason that I am putting so much into the Morelli is because i want a good "gigging" Bass for Orchestra with an Extension and be able to leave my Gilkes or Martini at home with the exception of special occasions.

    Please remember that all these Post WWI Basses labelled Juzek, Morelli, Pfretzschner, Roth etc were made in shops and of various qualities..If I had known more about the Morelli I have before taking it in as a partial trade, I would have offered less.

    I believe my Morelli labelled Bass was made in the Pfretzschner shop and not Herrmann. It was machined carved and hand scraped. The Bass bar is integral (part of the top!). The Blocks do not fit well at top and bottom partially due to design, craftsmanship and previous repairs.

    The Back is 14mm thick in some areas and the wood kills tools as it's so SO hard. The top is also in need of clean up within the Graduation.

    All of this extra work was unforseen when I got the Bass and only noticed as the Bass was taken apart and work began. I gave Arnold the 'OK' to make a good Bass out of this old wood. The body and neck is way too long by todays standards and the back and rib area by the neck block is damaged and very poorly repaired.

    I let Arnold do a slight 'Cut' on the Bass to repair it and make it a playable Bass. We both believe this Bass is worth 'Re-building' as the wood seems to be excellent and about 75-100 years old if you want to count the age of the wood from when it was cut. There are NO major cracks in the top or Back. I have seen Basses crack around the sound post and or Bass bar within their first 10 years TOO often for comfort.

    When buying an older German Bass, remember how they might have been made. You can expect to spend 5k and up to get it right if you are as picky as me.

    I am currently looking at 5-strings now and like you, shopping within a budget. You are young now and you do not know how you will mature as a player. Your tastes will most definetly change as you get older and more experienced.

    I am looking into a Shen 5-string like the 800 model I currently own but with Willow for the Back and sides and a round back. This will be a custom order for them.

    Why am 'I' buying 'New'? Because it's just a trial into a 5-string and I don't want to spend 18-22K for the Basses I have looked at and WE all know now from my eariler statments how much an early 20th century German type Bass can cost to repair and correct. By buying new, I get the Bass without all the old mistakes and dimention problems.

    Your Budget will not allow you to get into the fine Older, "my Last Bass Ever" class in these days..... Get a good healthy Bass that you can also 'get out of' when you decide to trade up..

    I suggest you talk to both Arnold and John at Shen about your decision for a new bass. they can save you money and put you in a great new Bass untill you can afford an older, healthy vintage bass.......Arnold also deals with alot of older Basses as well and can give good advice in that area too... Good Luck..
  6. CBFinet


    Nov 11, 2002
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. At this point I havve a nice instrument ($10k 180 y.o. German bass) but I'm looking for something that will be closer to the sound i'm hearing in my head, being a little more even, clear, and full with good projection. I've seen what look to be some nice basses of various origin advertised in the $12k - $15k price range. I'm wondering if anyone has some suggestions for some makers to check into, old or new, that have basses on the market in tha range. As I mentioned before I need an instrument that will work for jazz gigs several nights a week, but also fit into orchestral situations with some solo playing as well. I know it's asking a lot, but if anyone has some ideas, let me know. Thanks,
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Your Bass is a hand made 180 year old German. What are you NOT getting from it? Can I please see some pics and dimentions of this Bass?

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    What are the dimensions of your bass. A bass with deeper ribs in many cases is going to have a deeper sound. Volume is dependant on so many different things. I have found "the bass" for me. It is a 7/8ths German/Czech Flatback made turn of the century. I have always liked the way flatbacks sounded. I know you can find great basses made both ways, but in my experience flatbacks always projected better. I also like bigger basses. No matter what people say, I think you get a deeper sound with a larger instrument. The best thing to do is to just play as many bass as you can get your hands on.

    Are you playing with an amp for jazz gigs? That can be a big factor tone wise as well.