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Newbie wonders...what about this bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by RSalvador, Dec 19, 2005.


  1. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    I’ve been reading everything I can about DB’s trying to follow all the advice in the newbie threads, learning all I can, taking my time to get my first DB. I’m still trying to find a teacher, haven’t been able to get anyone to call me back yet, but that’s another post.

    What’s got me going now is a bass that’s sitting in a music store. It’s a new old stock Christopher, 2004 model DB401T, Gamba shape, flat back, beveled ebony fingerboard, brown matte finish (like the fully carved Hawkes @ Upton), strung with Helicores. According to everything I can find about Christopher’s and the salesman it is a fully carved bass. It sounds good to me but I’ve not heard many basses live at all. It’s been in the store all this time and they’ve let it get pretty beat up, it has a bunch of scratches, nicks and dings, and one pretty bad scratch on the bottom, deep but nothing is cracked. And you have to look for the blemishes; the matte finish hides them well. It has a price tag of $2798.00 but they said I could probably get it for around 2k which includes a bag and bow.

    It was setup by someone in the store, and I asked if I could take the bass to the string shop here in town, which I will do this weekend if I can work it out. I’m still checking out the string shop, he said that his shop setup is different than what the guy in the store would do but he does all stringed instruments, not just doublebass, I’m not sure he’s actually a luthier. His name is Jacob Bowles, and said that a shop setup on a new bass would run about $100. He mentioned leveling the fingerboard if needed, setting the string height and checking the sound post I think, I can’t remember. He’d never heard of Christopher basses plus he wouldn’t be doing all the upgrades and top notch work that Upton and Nick Lloyd offer on the basses they sell.

    Anyway, my budget is $2400, and that has to include the bass, bag, stand an Upton $99 bow, and hopefully some Superflexibles and a Revolution Solo pickup. I’m looking hard at Shen SB100 and SB150’s on the web, but the idea that I could get a fully carved bass for $2000, maybe less. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me plus it’s the shape and finish I want. No one seems to have any real cons against Christopher’s, in fact there hybrids seem to be regarded pretty highly on this forum.

    But, I don’t even have a teacher yet, and I’m not finished learning about basses, I’ve only played two others (an Englehardt ES1 and ES9; not for me) cause I’ll have to drive 3-4 hours to KC or St. Louis to find a real string shop with a lot of basses to try out.

    So (sorry for the long post) should I just slow down and continue trying to get a teacher and try to get to some more places that have basses, or should I grab this deal while the getting is good? I know you can’t tell me what to do but I’ve learned so much from reading everyone’s posts, I’d really appreciate your input now.

    Thank you for this site and everyone’s posts, and thanks in advance for your input.

    Rick
     
  2. Hi, I have the same model Christopher. I am pleased with it.

    some things from my experience:

    1) Don't worry about a stand. I bought one with my bass too. It was trouble to set up and did not hold the bass securely. Now I just lean it against the corner in my room.

    2) I recommend upgrading the strings to a 'warmer' sounding string. My bass loves Velvet Animas, and i've sold a couple of (much better) other players on them as well.

    3) The revolution solo sounds excellent.

    4) Definitely get it set up properly. Get the strings and the Revolution Solo put on at the same time.

    5) Get a teacher!
     
  3. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Correct me if I am wrong :

    You play electric and wasnt to learn DB ?

    Might i suggest that you rent something to start with ? Once you get a teacher she or he will usually be an asset in helping you find the bass that is right for you in your price range.
     
  4. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    If you are going to get a stand go for the Ingles bass stand. It is very secure. Leaning a bass in a corner scares me.
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I am at it for over 40 years and still learning. There is no end. Every Bass is different and every piece of wood is different.
     
  6. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    You are right, I will be a beginner on DB. You're indicating that I probably need to slow down and consult with a teacher and your probably right. Getting GAS over a piece of gear can cause a guy to wish he'd done otherwise. I just don't want to miss a deal that shouldn't be passed up if that's what this is.

    I've been having to look at almost all laminated basses in my price range. To me, having the best possible sound is most important starting a new instrument. Everyone says, hybirds and carved basses sound better than ply's. That's what I'm thinking.

    I'll have to wait till schools out to get a rental they are all rented. This town is a small town when it comes to DBs.

    Teachers around here are not exaclty advertised. The guy the store recommends, qualifications go like this:

    Instruction in Brass, Saxophone, Bass and Jazz Theory. Ned Wilkinson has a degree from the Berklee College of Music and performs locally with Nick, Ruell, & Ned the Band. It seems he can play any song in any key on any instrument...thus 'Ned the Band.' He has studied under Herb Pomeroy and Bob Freedman.

    He plays DB in what I would call a novelty band doing comedy and covers. He hasn't returned my calls for me to talk to him yet.

    I've got the names of the players in the Symphony but haven't tracked down how to contact them yet.

    Thanks for the reply,
    Rick
     
  7. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    Good point. I guess I really meant, I haven't seen as many basses, talked to any knowledgable people face to face and been to any reputable string shops as I'd planned to before making a decision.

    Thanks for the reply,
    Rick
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Study from ONLY a professional Symphony Bassist. If not, you will develope bad habits that could take years to correct. Go to the Symphony and see them play. Ask on stage at the break if any of them teach beginners. You may get one of their students but that is ok. At least they were trained correctly. This is the only worthwhile way to learn correctly.
     
  9. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    Exactly what I was hoping for, I just didn't know if Ned any classical training or not on DB.

    In this land of the Ozarks, I'm amazed how people wear their badge of "I done taught myself" with such pride. After a few minutes of trying to play the DB in the stores and reading this forum, I'm convinced I want someone to teach me properly.

    Good idea on trying to get back stage, I'll look and see when they are playing next.

    Thanks,
    Rick
     
  10. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Rick-

    You have my symapthies. I'm about the same age and live in a "centrally located" town. (As in three hours from everywhere.) Went through the same process in getting my first DB last year. I'm not sure how relevant my experience is to your situation, but here goes. I wound up with a Christopher 200 laminate (my choices were limitied because I'm a lefty). I got a good setup and some upgrades (better strings and adjusters) from Bob Beerman in Greensboro (yes, three hours away). I'm very pleased with the playability of my bass and satisfied with the sound. The Chrissie doesn't sound out of place next to my teacher's carved German shop bass. A $4,000 bass would improve my sound, but not as much as 400 hours of practice.

    As far as teachers, have you contacted people at "nearby" universities? Even someone in Columbia may have a former student who is in your neck of the woods. I wound up with a student of Alan Weinstein the bass/cello professor here at Virginia Tech.
     
  11. dbgal

    dbgal

    Nov 28, 2005
    Idaho
    Hi Rick- I am also in the middle of nowhere- in my quest for a teacher I contacted the music departments for all of the universities and colleges near the towns I usually go to shop in (between 150 & 300 miles away), and also contacted the "local" Symphonies. I fully expected to find a "starving student" to help me- like Ken suggested, I knew they'd be properly trained and would certainly know enough to get me going again. Most of my emails were ignored, and my phone calls weren't returned (to heck with them if they don't want my money!). But, I finally lucked out with the Principal of the Symphony only 150 miles away. I only get up to see him every 4-6 weeks, but I can't imagine not working with him. When playing the DB it is very easy to pick up bad habits that will either limit your abilities later on, or worse, result in long-term joint/muscular problems. So, be persistant- it'll be worth it. Also, keep in mind that most music teachers know nothing about playing bass- you need to find someone who is trained on double bass.

    Good Luck!
     
  12. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    That seems a bit strong.

    You should evaluate what type of music you see yourself playing. Then find a bassplayer you admire who plays that style. Go see shows, find out who the big dogs are in your area. Most playing pros also teach.
    It seems that every genre emphasizes different playing skills. The symphony player is the king of arco perfection. If you want rhythmic pizz chops go see a jazz master. If you want to play in a classical ensemble by all means work with the classical teacher but I can’t see studying with a symphony guy for 40 years if you want to be a bluegrass player.
    And I would not diss Ned Wilkinson he sounds like a working pro; you don’t even own a bass. Go see him play evaluate for your self.
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Quote "The symphony player is the king of arco perfection."
    Only...

    Sorry, the Symphony player is the King of 'left hand fingering'. If you don't believe me, then sit on one night (if you can get close enough to the section with your exhisting chops!) with a Symphony playing a Major works. Then you will see what I am talking about. I cannot stress this enough. The Bass is the Bass. Note choices and Rhythms can be learned but the left hand MUST be Trained. The Bow just makes it a little stronger and a little faster.. Did I say Little?.. LOL.. ALOT!!
     
  14. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    I certainly didn't mean to dis Ned, he is definitely a working pro. I don't know how he teaches cause I haven't talked to him yet. I do know from my own experience that being self taught does not work for me, nor is it something I would be proud of. Fourtunately, I've made up for a lot of that with my study of theory, but I still have a lot of bad habits on EB and guitar.

    I feel it's important for me to begin DB with classical training. I want to start out learning and using formal technique, at some point when I have some skill and knowledge of playing I will then choose where to go from there. As beginner I want make sure I have a foundation based on good habits and technique.

    Thanks for the reply FredH,
    Rick
     
  15. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    When I first got my bass and was looking for teachers a local working pro generously agreed to come by and give me a few pointers. He plays bluegrass, celtic, and jazz. He has a few students, but is pretty busy. He essentially refused to take me on and insisted I start with a "legit" teacher (his term). He said basically the same thing that Ken says - the big advantage is the way learning arco strengthens the technique in your left hand. The notes sustain longer so (1) you have to hold them longer and (2) you can more accurately hear the pitch. The difference in what you can "get away with" in terms of pitch control is huge. So even if you regard it as more a means than and end, there is a lot to be said for classical technique.
     
  16. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    I think technique is technique and that's it. Weather you're playing classical, jazz, bluegrass, C&W, rockabilly, blues, etc. you need a good technique to get the best possible sound out of your bass. Remember this: when jazz was being born out of the mixture of rags, blues, "black" music, etc. and it didn't even have a name, there were no "jazz teachers", players were trained the classical way. What they chose to do with their knowledge and chops is another story.

    I don't think I'll ever be in a synphonic but I study with a classical teacher and a classical method. It gives me a lot of practice in sight reading which I wouldn't get much if i studied "jazz" since most jazz standards are read out of the real book and the bass line is not written.

    Anyway... that's just my opinion.
     
  17. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    I’m all for correct technique, and I will admit that I have studied with classical players/teachers. And there are probably 50 people in my hood that will attest to my performing longbow exercises across all keys and all modes at least twice a week. In fact I’m sure they are gathering a petition to have me stopped.
    But devoting 100% of yourself to classical training when you might not be interested in classical music sounds soul crushing. Personally I’m into moderation, yea sure get your technique dialed in but don’t totally ignore the voice inside. You can work on your technique for 40 years and still feel you need to work on it, where does it end? When are you good enough to move on to the music you love?
    Get two teachers, one a classical technique guy and someone who plays something your interested in, hell I’ve got two jazz bass teachers and I’m looking for a piano teacher. Of course I might be completely out of line and you see yourself as an orchestral musician in which case I withdraw my comments.

    One of my past jazz teachers is an absolute technique-nazi (they are out there) and I learned a lot from him, although I don’t follow all of his teachings, my bad.
     
  18. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    I must admit that I'm mostly into jazz and hope to someday be able to play DB in a standards trio, but I would be absolutely thrilled to be able to cut it in a seat with a community orchestra.

    So your comments are appreciated.

    But anyway, what does everyone think of that Chrissy? Would you rather have a fully carved Christopher or a hybrid Shen or Upton?


    Thanks,
    Rick
     
  19. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    i would have to play each one before i could make a decision....i don't think you would go wrong with any of them....and being a newbie you would most likely not be able to tell the differences that a more experienced player would.

    as far as teachers, i had one that played jazz and classical both, also directed the orchestras at my university. so i was, like all newbies should be, very intimate with many of the fingering/scale/technique exercises.
     
  20. RSalvador

    RSalvador

    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    Just got a hold of a teacher. She is the assitant principal in the Springfield Symphony. She is willing to take on an adult beginner. Method? Simandl of course. She is a German bow convert. Says the orchestra principal gave her one and took her French bow and now she won't go back. I always thought French bow would be more natural for me.

    She is not familiar with Shen or Christopher. Forgot to ask her what she plays but she did mentioned it was a hybrid. She sends all her students to KC Strings in Kansas City and says they come back with great sounding basses. And for the 2K the local music store is asking for the Chrissy, she thinks they can do better for somewhere below $2500.

    The String shop guy here says they import no name Chinese basses and work them over and do setup on them in their shop. I'll call them tomorrow.

    I guess I'm "going to Kansas City...Kansas City here I come." Seriously, I'll talk to them on the phone first. If I'm going to have to make a road trip, Cincinnati is a day's drive away so that opens up a whole lot of choices.

    Rick