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Mid-level bass for jazz - carved of hybrid?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Michal Herman, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. Michal Herman

    Michal Herman

    May 31, 2013
    I am now using Strunal hybrid, which I purchased for €1600 (~$1800).
    It's an ok instrument, but for the entry-level player. As I am now getting more serious in DB playing (switch from bass guitar) in some future I would like to change for the more serious instrument.
    I think I will set a budget in about €4000-4500 ($4500-5000) range. The instrument will be used mainly for jazz playing with pickup but also with some orchestral gigs (tango orchestra, rather nothing strictly classical) so I would like to have some acoustic volume and projection from it. In both setups I will play almost only in the lower register, rarely going to thumb position.
    And now I am wondering: should I rather seek for a hybrid or a carved instrument? I know, that carved instruments tend to have more "rich" sound. But in other hand hybrids are more robust to temperature and humidity changes (and requires less luthier maintenance work because of that). Also with my budget carved instrument will not be any of the "master" build.
    Any tips in the following matter appreciated.
  2. If you have thoughts about carved bass, then you do not need compromises. There are different opinions (there are many discussions here), but carved bass will allow you to stop thinking about your instrument and focus on your skill.

    I am amazed to talk about the unreliability of carved bass. I live in the north by the sea, we have huge temperature and humidity drops. In winter, the sea is covered with ice and arctic winds blow. Snow completely covers cars and low buildings. In the summer, it rains and the sun burns. I have been doing a double bass for about twenty years and did not notice that the wood was weaker than plywood in these conditions. I was not in the tropics, but I constantly carry a double bass down the street in winter and summer and sometimes transfer to other climatic zones.
    Michal Herman likes this.
  3. For that kind of money, get a stable well made older carved bass and take excellent care of it.
    Dabndug and lurk like this.
  4. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Play as many basses in your price range as possible (and some slightky above or below) and pick the one that sounds best and you are most comfortable with.
  5. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I think in that price range the decision should be based on how the individual instrument plays, rather than construction method. If your budget were $1800, fully carved instruments at that price are generally pretty poor quality or poor condition. If you were going to play in a serious classical orchestra and had a budget of $20,000, you would only be considering fully carved. But for $4000 you can get a really nice hybrid or a fairly nice fully carved.
    Dabndug and AGCurry like this.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Find the bass you love the sound and feel of and don't worry about the construction as long as the top is carved. I think I paid about $6K for the LaScala hybrid in 2005 and now I have a lifetime bass. It replaced a lesser carved bass. Go fall in love!
    TroyK, Joshua, AGCurry and 1 other person like this.
  7. rickwolff

    rickwolff Certified Gear Junkie, Amateur Adjunct Professor Supporting Member

    I really like my Shen SB300 7/8 Flatback Gemunder - fully 'carved'. Right about $5000.

    I have been playing it for about 7 years now and it NEVER needed any attention from the luthier. Never so much as an open seam. I haven't tried the 3/4 size but that would be a bit easier to cart around - probably at the expense of giving up some of the big low end I enjoy with my bass.

    I agree that you should try as many basses as you can and find one that 'speaks to you'.

    One additional piece of advice: You really need to try the bass when it's wearing the type of strings you wish to play on. My bass was in the shop wearing 'orchestra' strings, it wasn't till I had the luthier put on the Spiros that I could really hear what the bass was capable of.
    AGCurry and Michal Herman like this.
  8. Silevesq


    Oct 2, 2010
    How well is your current bass set up?

    What if by getting an amazing set up, change of string and maybe other stuff, you could get more time out of it and could maybe even end up getting more money when you decided to sell it? If that is part of the plan?

    Just don't rush your search for the right bass, and don't be scare to go out of your way to find it. Plus maybe you'll find a place that does renting before buying that way you can ask other what they think about it.
    Dabndug likes this.
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Try to get friends and/or teachers who know your playing to look at anything you're seriously considering.
    Dabndug likes this.
  10. By your name, are you Czech? What I would do: 100 yo carved basses are out there, can be had for very little, then you spare some 1000-1500E for renovation, and you can have a master instrument. Hard to find the bass, good luthiers are easier. Best way would be asking your teacher - sometimes the basses are offered to consevatory teachers, or the teachers have friends around the country. Count with ca one year duration of this bass obtaining process.

    The old basses were all made for orchestral playing and some say that for jazz you need something less boomy, for rockabilly something more indestructible. I guess this might initiate the love for plywood or hybrids, they might well be easier to pickup/mic, making them more practical for everyday use. I have this old Czech bass I describe above and though it's not ideally built for the jazz I play, I wouldn't change it. After some years, you grow with what your bass whispers to you, and I came to believe that old bass simply whispers more things.
    Eric Hochberg and Michal Herman like this.

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