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Not-too-expensive Basses in Scotland?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Martin Beer, Dec 4, 2004.


  1. Hi, this is my first post on here, though I've been lurking a bit. I'm playing a bassix EUB currently, but every time I've picked up a conventional DB, I find them much more satisfying to play than mine. I've been looking at basses at around £1000 or so, and there doesn't seem to be a huge choice. I've already figured out that the orange plywood jobs like Antoni etc. don't sound too nice and look scarily like they're about to fall apart. So far I've liked the Stentors best - either the Student II or Conservatoire models (I tried them at Mev Taylors in Edinburgh). I checked out a 50's german bass for £1500 at Stringers as well (laminated back & sides/carved top, horrible painted maple fingerboard) and really didn't like the sound or feel. I haven't managed to track down any of the Zeller basses to check out yet, though most places seem to be able to order them. Since there seem to be a few Scots and other UK residents on here, could you point me towards any obvious bass sources I should be checking out, or should I just take the plunge and pick up one of the Stentors instead? My playing, by the way, is mostly pizzicato, coming from assorted jazz and folky type stuff. I hope I'm not re-treading old ground to much by asking this sort of stuff....
     
  2. Hi, nice to meet another UK player! Stentors are ok, but don't dismiss the Schroetter 3/4's, they play just fine and at about £650, a hybrid bass with a solid carved spruce top, real ebony fingerboard and tail piece and laminated back and sides. Hard to find a bass at that price that plays pretty good for a student bass. My mate has one too as he was impressed by mine, so he shelled out the cash and got his own, been using it ever since to do semi-pro gigs. Carries the sound well, nice player and i get a nice bowed sound from mine esp as i have now put gut strings on. If you are only going to pizz though i'd recommend the Eurosonic lights.

    One other thing i should add, i've had my bass now for about a year, after a pro set up from a local luthier i've had no problems at all, the bass has been very reliable and i have had no complaints.
     
  3. Sounds promising, especially as the price compared to the Conservatoire would leave me enough for some nice strings. Who stocks the Schroetters?
    Oh, and are the eurosonics not meant to be quite gut-like in sound? My one experience with gut strings was with the old Kay I borrowed when I was starting out, which had wound gut strings and was really plunky sounding, and I like a certain amount of growl and sustain. I do some arco, but the ratio is about 90% pizz / 10% arco.
     
  4. living in scotland you're best bet may be to check out the violin shop in glasgow its always got great basses in, last time i was there, there was a lovely jazz bass going for about 1500 or so. it's really worth a look.


    N
     
  5. Here is the link for the shop in Bradford-

    http://www.woodwindexchange.com/

    Bear in mind they don't specialise in Basses, it a side line for one of the guys who works in the basement, i think he sells them as a side line thing, they are realy ok though. A nice student bass. Stuart is the guy to talk to, he is a sax man i believe.
     
  6. +1 Neil's right on the money there, the violin shop has a much wider range than either stringers or mev taylors, usually including zellers, stentors etc. they're lovely people too, who will be more than willing to dispense some excellent advice.
    good luck!
     
  7. Tom Hutton

    Tom Hutton

    Nov 22, 2004
    Indiana
    I'll chime in for the violin shop as well, great place - i bought a bass there when I lived across the street! I don't know if the guy who used to be the luthier there (he now has a shop on hyndland st. just off dumbarton rd) has a stock of basses but it's worth checking out...
     
  8. Hi Martin, I'm in Edinburgh as well. Send me a private message and I'll tell you about my very positive experience I had with a shop in Bruntsfield that might suit you very well too.
     
  9. I'll definitely check out the violin shop then, especially as I'm in Glasgow quite often. And I've sent you a PM, Doug, about the Bruntsfield place.
     
  10. How's the search going then, Martin? Seen anything yet?
     
  11. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    On the subject of england/scotland and basses, I want to add to my earlier reccomendation of the Stentor Conservatoire. Although I still love my bass, especially with the new endpin, since I've got more serious about bowing I have found that it has several wolf-tones. I don't know whether this would be common to the basses or specific to mine, but I've got an awful one on my A string, and a few small ones higher up the G string.
    I still think its a great bass for the money, though, espeically for pizz players.
     
  12. I've not had that much time to look since my last post, as I've been busy with a recording over the past few days, and working the rest of the time. I should hopefully get time to drop by the Violin Shop in glasgow at the weekend. Thanks for mentioning the wolf tones on your Conservatoire, Olie. I'll definitely take my bow along and check for that before buying anything. I think I may take my time with finding a bass, until I've found one I'm really happy with, as my EUB does the job in the meantime.
     
  13. for the record, neil baird (the luthier in quiestion) doesn't sell instruments generally, and doesn't make basses either (if you were looking in a slightly higher price bracket :p ) . he is still worth talking to though... :)
     
  14. I had a look at the violin shop, and they had the zeller and a stentor student II in my kind of price range, sadly neither of which was set up yet ( I think they'd just arrived). The Zeller looked really nice, obviously I can't comment on the sound. However, the guy in there pointed out how small the stentor was in comparison to most 3/4 basses, and indeed I'd noticed that I needed the spike all the way out to get to a comfortable height. I'm not sure if all the stentors are the same size, but I'm about 6'2", so a smaller bass might not be the wisest idea. I hadn't noticed that when checking them out in Mev Taylors, as I didn't see them next to any other basses, and every DB feels big-bodied after playing EUB. I sort of liked the brightness of the Stentors though. The Violin Shop also had a second-hand Czech laminated bass, which sounded pretty good to me, was comfortably set up and a bit cheaper (& uglier) than the others. So, presuming it's still there when I go back, I have to decide whether I can deal with a comparitively ugly plywood bass for the sake of spending a bit less and not worrying about cracks (since I liked the sound)....
     
  15. Hi Martin,

    Some of the brightness you're hearing might be down to the strings. I'm no string guru but I know there are some DB strings that are more like round wounds for bass guitar. More common for DB are the smooth flatwounds and they won't sound as bright. I would say in my short experience that it's the body you want to hear speak rather than the strings, in other words, you want to hear the fundamental of the note coming from the body more powerfully than any "wiriness" from the strings. The fundamental is what will cut through in a band situation, whereas the string noise will get drowned out.

    It's a good idea to have someone else play the bass while you listen at a distance. What you hear while playing is very different. Specifically it doesn't sound as loud to the player because the notes need space to develop. With some basses the way they do this is better than others, i.e their projection is better. If you're planning to play unamplified you might want to check this aspect out.

    Finally, the type of music you play will have a bearing. Lots of people say plywood basses have more attack (i.e. thump) than carved ones. The thump is an important rhythmic element in bluegrass and trad jazz for example, whereas for soloing or more modern jazz you might want an instrument with more sustain: more of a "singing" tone. And there are other characteristics for orchestral playing with a bow. It might be possible to get everything in one instrument, but maybe not at our end of the market!

    Your Ugly Joe Czech laminate might well do the biz for you and you won't worry about cracking it off door jambs if it's already got some dings on it. You've obviously got your price in mind, but I'd urge you to factor in some extra for getting it set up by a luthier, which can transform the sound of an instrument. In particular they'll make the sure the cracks won't cause you any problems. Maybe get them to put an adjustable bridge on too so that you can find a playing height that suits you. Haggle with the shop for a price that includes this.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
     
  16. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
     
  17. Yep, I'm being particularly indecisive at the moment because I'm doing some acoustic, folky kind of stuff (both with and without drummers) and some improv stuff. I know that an old school, less sustainy kind of bass sound works really well with the folkier band, and a while ago we did a completely unplugged gig in an old music hall where I borrowed an old, nameless laminated bass which myself and some people whose ears I trust in the audience thought it was a pretty good sound for that music. But on some of the other stuff, I wouldn't mind a more modern sound. Perhaps I should go with that ply bass or something of that sort, get it set up with some obligatos or similar, and keep the EUB for the improv and more modern sounding stuff (and bus travel). I'm still not going to decide anything 'til I've checked out that Zeller though....
     
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    If you do a search, you'll find a lot of threads and/or discussion about Zellers in England!! ;)
     
  19. As I know, everybody seems to hate them on this particular forum, but I'm saying nothing 'til I've played and heard one.
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Not exactly true or what I was saying really....I was just suggesting you could find a lot help and similar discussions, if you searched on "Zeller" .