New Shen

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Paul New, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Paul New

    Paul New Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2004
    deepest alabama
    Just bought a new Willow 3/4 from Nick Lloyd. I know that the correct way to buy a bass isn`t to have an unseen one shipped to you, but bass shops are few and far between down around these here parts, and my schedule is extremely busy. So, after reading many reviews and considering Nick`s reputation, I thought it would be a pretty good risk. Price was also a factor as my budget and skill level dictate that i stay below 5K.

    Right out of the box I was a little disappointed in the sound I was able to out of it, but it seems to be playing in very quickly, and Nick`s setup up work spoiled me too badly to go back to the old Kay anyway. The Shen responds to a more subtle technique than my usual wildass yanking, probably a good thing. Is it usual for a new bass to change noticably with only one week playing time, or is that more likely attributable to pyschological factors ? It even has a nice slap tone, and yes, that is possible.

    Anyway, Nick set it up for me with plain gut tops and Helicore orchestra E and A, a pretty good tonal match which will probably get better as the Helicores warm up, and a much lower string height than I`m accustomed to. He actually tried several strings trying to find the best match, including dominants. I may end up with a synthetic on the bottom eventually.

    The bridge he cut is not just fitted to the table, it is part of the table. Very impressive work, especially on such an economical instrument.

    I compared it to a friend`s laminated Cleveland, and found the Cleveland to be warmer, but not as loud and with less of the Shen`s immediate low end punch. The Cleveland did show better attention to construction detail, and for those that haven`t seen one, is just a hellaciously nice bass. Tonally, probaly not a perfect comparison due to completely different setups. His Cleveland had a set of older Obligatos very low on the board and mine with guts and more string clearance.

    So, I`m very pleased with the transaction, and though he doesn`t need them from a south Alabama hack, kudos to Nick.
  2. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    It is pretty typical of a bass to undergo a sort metamorphasis in the first week. As my teacher likes to put, it takes about a week for you to teach it that its a bass and not a fancy box.
  3. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO

    Nice score man. I really love the shape of Shens, but haven't had the opportunity to play one yet. Best of luck breaking it in- I'm sure it will be good to you!
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Glad you finally worked out what you wanted to do, Paul. That Shen is a beauty and sounds great! Sure gave me the jones to go gut. Just when I thought my DB gas was cured...Thanks (I think)! :cool:
  5. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    got any pics?
    i know most of us have seen one of these before but you should still post some.
    that bass will sound real good after it has been played a bit.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not really psychological, but you are sort of teaching yourself how to get the sound you want out of the bass.
  7. philly


    Nov 20, 2004
    hi paul...

    I'm wondering how the shen is working out for you. I've been considering one of these for myself, and would appreciate any feedback you could throw out now that you've had it awhile.


  8. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I have a Shen Willow and love it. It did take a little while to find the right strings and play in a little but whenever I play my old bass (a german plywood) I wonder how I managed. The Shen speaks so easily. You can hear some samples on my website. The first two tunes are on the Shen Willow with Obligatos.
  9. Paul New

    Paul New Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2004
    deepest alabama
    I like it. Sounds better than a month ago, it`s breaking in quickly.

    It has a good deep bottom, along with plenty of focus, and is very punchy and loud. You can get a very abrupt attack if you want, or a nice smooth one, it`s very responsive. Looks great too.

    I think that if you are a young jazz player, you could buy one of these and never buy another bass.

    That said, I`m about to trade it on a Cleveland. I intended to use the Shen indoors only, and play my Kay outside, but that idea isn`t working. I just can`t swap between basses like that. So, I need a laminated bass. The Willow is pretty sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, too much so to use outdoors in the deep south.
  10. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR

    Any reason you're not considering a laminated Shen? I'm very happy with my SB-90. Just curious.

  11. Paul New

    Paul New Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2004
    deepest alabama
    Well, i already have a pretty good laminate bass. I`m really looking for a laminate that sounds like a carved bass, especially with a better E string. Haven`t seen the laminate Shens, but I have played a Cleveland and it`s been bugging me ever since.
  12. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Note to John Sprague: I hope you don't mind the SB90 moniker - it seems to have stuck! :ninja:
  13. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    FWIW, my 180 hybrid sounds at least as good as most of the common variety factory carved basses you run across.

    I drag it all over creation with no real issues. With steel strings, it seems to behave most anywhere.

    I've had one tiny issue with a seam, but it was good as new after some luthiary love.

    Not to knock the Clevelands. I've never played one, but it seems they are worth the accolades.
  14. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    i'm real happy with my shen willow sb200.
    it is pretty good as far as reliability. it does have one little bity stress fracture on a lower rib (it sat on a fedex freight truck for like a week, coming from massachusetts to texas) so that is to be expected, the luthier glued it up no problem....cracks will happen.
    there is a seam that seems to be a little loose and it looks like it was glued up sloppily, it doesn't bother me too much and i hope that is hide glue oozing out of the seam....
    BUT, once i got it in a stable environment and am now able to monitor the environments it sees it is not bad........but still, if you need laminated type reliability then you are best to go with the best sounding laminate you can get, you need a newstandard cleveland.
  15. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    Oops. I hope I haven't let the cat out of the bag. ;o}

    Actually, Brent. The label on mine says SB-100 but I got the impression from John that subsequent to mine (mine was from the first shipment), they would be an SB-90 model. It is easier to refer to it as a 90 rather than typing out "SB-100 blonde".

    Upton is calling them SB-90s, too, so I guess its catching on.

  16. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    ;) Yeah, the labels on the ones I've had through here also carried the 100 designation. When first listing them on the site, I was unaware of any 'official' designation, and settled on "90" since the model takes fetures from both the 80 and 100...

    (Sorry to hijack!)
  17. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    "SB90 Blonde" is how the model designation appears on my dealer net price list. It should prove to be a very popular model in the long run!

    Steve Swan
  18. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    Yeah, you have to go with one you've played. I'll just say that I went with a Shen laminate for the sound. I first played a hybrid and was blown away. In side by side comparisons it was much better than many carveds I played. When I got a chance to play a couple Shen laminates, I found I was getting that same good "Shen sound" that I had remembered with the hybrid. So considering it was a substatial savings and the fact I would have the duriblity of a laminate, that was the deciding factor. When I could get it in a blonde, my heart was hers.

    Of course, there is a chance I might be moving in a classical direction within the next year so I've already got my greedy little GAS eyes on a Willow. But in my case it would probably be a "too" not an "instead of". That is if the wife doesn't kill me first.

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