I've been wanting an inexpensive second bass for a while. Although 90% of my playing is classical music, I enjoy Americana, Dixieland, and old-timey stuff. Every time I think about bringing my Arvi out to a bar to play a show, though, I have visions of the Blues Brothers at Bob's Country Bunker. Recently, I noticed a crack developing on the top of the Arvi. With a couple of gigs coming up, I couldn't really be without a bass. My old Wultur finally sold (that's a long story, don't get me started), so I decided to put some of the consignment towards the purchase of a laminate bass that I could use for rehearsals and that I wouldn't feel bad about lugging around town or hauling into the local dives to thunk out a few tunes. I tried a couple of basses last weekend and ended up bringing home a Shen SB80 - the cheapest of the lot, but still a surprisingly fun bass to play. It's very easy to bow and the smaller string length makes it a nimble player. It's also a rather loud bass - I can easily get plenty of volume, even if the tone is a little uninteresting. I think it probably needs a little setup work (the strings feel a touch close together and the bridge fit doesn't look spectacular). It came with D'Addario Helicores (not sure which flavor), which I don't love, but I haven't decided what strings I want to try yet. I'd need a good hybrid string, but I really dislike a lot of the standard choices for hybrid strings. My biggest complaint, actually, is that the varnish looks very cheap - it's sort of an ugly plasticy reddish color that's not particularly natural. Maybe there's a way that I can take out the shine a bit and not stand out so much in an orchestral setting.