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Looking to upgrade

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Peter Berquist, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. I just found this forum the other day -- what a great resource!

    Here's my situation: I've been playing on a no-name German bass probably made in the 70s (this according to Dave at the Chesapeake Bass Viol Shop).

    It has been great considering I paid $5k for it 10 years ago.

    It is realtively small and lightweight with a decent tone - works well for both classical and jazz. Also, it has a 41" string length -- good for me since I have small hands and am 5'9".

    So now I feel the need for an upgrade - something with a big sound and a C extension that I can use on symphony gigs (I plan on keeping my current bass for a backup and for jazz gigs).

    My plan is to hit the road this summer and try out as many basses as possible. I'm hoping to find something under $15k, but will go higher if necessary.

    Any comments or suggestions would be welcome.
  2. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I just heard today that there's a killer Arvi bass at Mike Shank's shop in PA (no, not mine, which is not for sale).

    You might want to check out the Shankstrings website.
  3. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US

    Where did you hear that? Last I heard.. it isn't for sale because I'm purchasing it. :ninja:

    It's a very nice bass and speaks very quick.

    However, I can say that there is an old french bass that Mike Shank had (its jacquet-school.. no label.. big restoration done) that I would probably have gone for if not for two things:

    1) I have to take auditions.. it's got big french shoulders, and while it was very playable, it did take some work, even with my long arms.

    2) I have to take auditions.. it didn't speak quite as fast as the Arvi, but I think that a heavier stick might help (I play on a Morizot fr. bow that weighs just about 138 g).

    The tone color on the old bass was, in my opinion, more sophisticated and mellowed. I call it the fine wine effect.

    I think that one is going for 15 or 14 firm.
  4. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I got an email from Kai about it this morning. Maybe it's a different bass? I don't have the number.

    What's the number on your bass?
  5. ispider6


    Jan 30, 2005
    Hey Peter,

    In order to find your "gotta have it" bass, you really do need to try out as many as you can. I know it's not a new idea in any sense but it is a good one. I'm on the east coast so if you're going to be in the area I would recommend visiting David Gage in NYC, Mike Shank in PA, Schnitzer in upstate NY and Kolstein out in Long Island. Ask to try out basses in your price range (you will find there are many) and even some above and below your price range. It's great to get a feel for what's ideal by playing a higher quality instrument. That way you don't go out and buy the first thing you try that just happens to sound decent and be in your price range. For some people it can take months to find the right instrument and for others it can take a couple weeks. The important thing to remember is to keep a cool head and not get too excited about one bass in particular until you've had a chance to really get a feel for what's out there. I'm sure a lot of what I'm telling you is cliche and not new to you but hey, you asked and I answered. :) Good luck with the search!
  6. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    I think its #85 or something. I haven't received it yet, we're holding off shipping it until I'm able to pick it up from a warehouse near my parent's back in in NY (dock to dock shipping saves some $$).
  7. Thanks for the good advice, ispider. Even though some of what you said may be cliche, it is still good to hear it again, especially since this involves a big decision and lots of money.

    Another question I have is, how much of an issue is string length? Ideally I would like to keep it at 41" since that is what I have now.

    Suppose the bridge were to be moved on a bass with a 42" string length, and the soundpost is reset, would this have a major impact on the sound of the bass?
  8. ispider6


    Jan 30, 2005
    That sounds like a question for one of the luthiers but as far as I know, a lot of basses can have their string length adjusted. I'm not sure if it involves moving the bridge necessarily but I know that you can alter it by around a 1/2 inch just by increasing the length of the nut. So, if you find a bass that you just have to get and it's 42 inch string length, I'm pretty sure you could get it down to at least 41.5. Arnold? Any comments here?
  9. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Unless you're of small stature or have small hands, a 42" mensure is pretty manageable, and it may help you get a bigger sound. The Arvi basses are 42" basses. What may matter more is the shape of the shoulders. Kai's basses, as noted above, have sloping shoulders that permit good access to the upper register, notwithstanding the string length.
  10. Thanks, ispider and Pete G for responding. It didn't occur to me that the string length could help make a bigger sound.
  11. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    It would really be ideal, though, for you to find another bass with the same string length. You say that you intend to keep your current one and use it to play jazz... switching between instruments will be considerably easier if the mensure is the same.

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