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need a double bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Johnboch, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Johnboch


    May 7, 2010
    I'm searching for a double bass exclusively for jazz, but the price can't exceed 1200 dollars. Any suggestions?
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I suggest that you read the newbie links very carefully. They contain a wealth of information. Then c'mon back with specific questions. You might also wish to look over the 3,457 threads beginning with essentially the same question that we've seen over the past six months or so. :)
  3. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    $1200 is not much to work with when you're talking double basses. For that money, a used plywood bass is about your best bet. What kind of a sound are you looking for? Get a sense of that sound in your head. Then, head out to a few bass shops and check out the inventory. If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, find a "bass shopping buddy" to go with you. Dig up some bass players at your school or at nearby colleges, or some teachers. They often know what's available in your area. Don't get hung up on "brands" - they don't mean much, particularly at the lower price levels. It's the sound that counts, and the set-up.
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I see the utility of considering "brands" in just the opposite manner. That is, they are meaningful at the low price-points and not the high ones. Whether it's Shen, Upton, Thompson, Christopher, Engelhardt, etc. one very much can rely on uniformity of their entry-level ply basses. It's at the upper end, when we're into fully-carved (and hybrid) basses that one would not buy on the basis of brand because of the substantial, expected, appropriate, and understandable variations among individual instruments from the same builder. IMO, no one in his/her right mind would choose an instrument based on brand alone (without playing the individual bass) when dropping $20k, $10k, or even $5k on a bass. This is not to say that entry-level ply basses of the same model don't differ at all. It's always best to play the individual instrument that you're considering buying. I think, however, that it's far less critical at the low price-points.
  5. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I would suggest you save more money.
  6. He already said that $1,200 was his budget... Why say "I suggest you save more money"...? Not everyone has more money. Jeesh... :eyebrow:
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    $1200 is the absolute rock-bottom amount that will allow one to buy a decent new instrument with a good setup. Just enough to get you past the dreaded CCBs. To do it for that amount would be difficult and would require some lucky alignment of the planets but it can be done. Increase that to $1500 and the possibilities open up a bit more so that one has more options that include slightly better instruments. At those prices, you usually won't get a workable bow or bag. So, I understand sevenyearsdown's advice. My advice to anyone with a budget limited to $1200 would be to look for a good used bass or save up a bit more.
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    This was the appropriate, first response. This question gets asked every week here and we have answered and then debated off topic among ourselves and spun down the rabbit hole of opinions hundreds and hundreds of times. In 1/2 an hour of searching and reading posts vs a week of another pointless discussion amongst ourselves, he could get all the same information and more.

    Then he could decide for himself.
  9. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    To the OP; its great that you want to buy a double bass for jazz. That's good news. Welcome here!

    As others have said, unfortunately, the budget for a double bass, plus bag, plus pickup, plus strings, plus luthiery is likely to take you above your stated budget. You might want a bow, too, even though you just want to play jazz.

    While $1200 would buy a fair amount of bass guitar, it doesn't do much for you in double bass land. So, my advice would be about reconsidering the budget, as my erstwhile associates have suggested.

    The hard part is that if one tries to scrimp too much, it just ends up costing more anyway, the beast is a drag to play, then you lose money IF you can manage to sell it. There really is no free lunch. In double-bass-world, "too cheap" ends up somehow being "more expensive" by the time you are done.

    So, one might reconsider how one's funds are being allocated. Perhaps skip going out for coffee and pizza, drinks, buying whatever, other disposable luxuries. Having a cool bass is worth a lot. It is sort of tough to do for $1200.

    I would look hard at a Shen, setup by a good, local, bass luthier. In my limited experience, they offer ideal bang for buck. Welcome here; I hope that this helps!
  10. Also to the OP. Don't let the 'dark side' crankiness dissuade you... this is a helpful - if impatient - bunch...

    And, check out this site: http://www.gollihur.com/
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
  12. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Because he asked for suggestions on an open forum and I felt like offering one.

    Based on my own experience $1200 would be tough to get a nice bass for a guy who looks like he is in serious music study and aspiring to establish himself as a good jazz double bassist. Again just my experience, but the particular violin shop I frequent generally starts the ready to play ply's at around $1500.

    So I guess a more appropriate answer would have been:

    A. I suggest you save more money.


    B. Be very patient and try to score good used.
  13. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    This right here should be a sticky itself! Many of us have said this many times but Eric boiled it down nicely into three sentences. Nice going! :)
  14. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Good thought. I would only amend "B" with something like:

    "B. Be very patient and try to score good used. Then be prepared to spend some money with a luthier on setup and/or repairs, and some money on strings."

    My first DB was a hybrid German bass that I bought for $500 (in 1976), got strings for, did routine maintenance, and played the heck out of for many years of student, professional, and amateur music-making. I don't know what $500 in 1976 dollars would be in 2010 dollars. I would have to pull out my Managerial Finance book to do the calculations...but I would guess that we are back to the $1500....:)
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    According to this site, it's $1945. :)

    Other sources I checked give approximately the same value.
  16. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Thanks, Drurb. Wish I had known about that site during crunch time in my Finance classes...

    All I remember, is that in 1976, it took me about a year to get the money together, as a teenager...
  17. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    Another point to consider. Cheaply bought, cheaply made. Cheap string instruments do not appreciate in value. A $2,000 Strunal in 1999 can't fetch more than $1,000 today assuming it's still in good condition.

    A good instrument is an investment. You might throw down some serious money now, but if times get tough you can usually get your money back. A finely hand-made instrument bought today will appreciate substantially in value over your lifetime. If the instrument was poorly designed with sloppy construction, it becomes virtually worthless as it inevitably self destructs.
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    True enough, but I think we'd be taking the OP WAY over $1200. :)
  19. I just sold a very nice Eastman S80 right here in the classifieds for less than $1200. Beautifully setup by Luthier Lisa Gass of LA Bassworks and ready to go. So it can be done if you're patient. Now, if only all the used Kays and American Standards weren't 3000 miles away from me . . .
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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