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Old or New Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Leco reis, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. Leco reis

    Leco reis

    Sep 2, 2004
    Astoria, NY
    Anyone have any tips on that?
    Can a new bass be as good as an old?
    I have being trying to buy a bass (professional)for a while now and can't find anything that I like in the reasonable price range.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If you ask ten different people this question, you'll get ten different answers. I prefer new basses myself, as I'm not crazy about the fragility of many of the older ones. Please fill out your profile so we can know a little more about you, especially where you live and where you are looking at basses to buy. If you're anywhere near someone else here, they may be able to help you find something.
  3. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Maybe it's because I live on the wrong coast, but when I started looking seriously for a good old bass in California for $12-15,000.00, I couldn't find anything nice that didn't have a lot of awful repairs that would have to be undone. It could be that, like my favorite old martin D-18 guitars from the 1930s, basses weren't worth much cash for a long time and people didn't invest much in good professional repair. My first really good bass was an $18,000.00 custom from Canada. I loved it, but I had to sell it a couple of years ago because the dotcom implosion killed my business and my marriage!

    There are a lot of good new basses being made out there. I play on gut strings, so I need a very light old stye bass for better response. It's harder to find this particular quality in a new bass because most builders these days go for a more robust style to take the extra tension of steel strings. I prefer the lightness and responsiveness of many of the older basses that I've been lucky enough to try. My favorite shop for old basses in California is World of Strings in Long Beach. I may have John Petersen build one for me when I graduate from college next spring.

    Steve Swan
  4. Leco reis

    Leco reis

    Sep 2, 2004
    Astoria, NY
    Yes see,
    I am in NY and I have tried every bass around, I have 10K to spend but can't find an old bass for that price that I really like and the ones I like they look like they are going to fall apart.
    I played today in one of those standard basses from Arnold Schinitzer and I liked the way they play. HE has one that is all carved for 7K but I am not sure because I am looking for that old dark sound ( no boing boing)could they sound like that?Dark and big, maybe just ordering one and playing

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I think you will find with an older bass you get a more mellow tone. Of course you can find wonderful sounding new basses, but they won't have the complex tone of an older mature instrument. If you keep searching you will find one. Just this summer I found my current bass...turn of the century 7/8 Czech. I haven't played anything that has the volume, eveness, and projection that this bass has.
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Hi Leco, Let me give you my two cents. Most people out here know I prefer the old pedigree type Basses over the newer un-matured ones. Now that that's out of the way let me give you last nights re-cap at warm-up.

    The Hall was empty with just me and my Two sons. Jon 17 and Michael 13. Michael is now using my 7/8 Shen 800, cream of the litter of 2001. I asked Jon to pick up my Martini (Italy,1919) and play is so I can compare them out in the hall while it's still empty. The Shen Filled the house and sounded very deep and full sounding. The Martini sounded deeper and Punchier but not as full. The Martini will only get better with age and join the ranks of the Testori's and the likes in the next 100-200 years!

    When the house filled out and the Orchestra played, The Bass that 'punched' thru the section of 5 Basses and the Orchestra was the 'Martini'. The others did not have the power to cut thru the music or bodies filling the Hall.

    The main difference between Basses should always include performance. When you play or try a Bass by yourself in an empty room, it is never quite the same as a room filled with people and other players. I think the Shen has a little 'newness' in the sound and not 'pure' tone yet. This will change as it ages and mellows. If a Bass is made well, it will get better with age. If a Bass is not made well, it will only get 'older' with age!!

    In NYC, did you go to see Paul Biase on 42nd. st. He has lots of beautiful Basses to see and some in your range as well. He was also a pro player and can advise you as well.......
  7. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    You can also go for a new-ish bass. You can get a bass in good physical condition that has been played in and somewhat matured. Often, the value of a new bass will dip slightly for the first few years. If the instrument if good quality, it's value should increase after that. It won't sound like a 200yo Italian bass, but it won't cost as much either.

    FWIW, I recently purchased a 6yo Kolstein that I am very please with the sound and value.
  8. Leco reis

    Leco reis

    Sep 2, 2004
    Astoria, NY
    Hey Ken I am with you but sadly I only have around 10K this time.
    Maybe I'll take a 50K loan in a few years to buy a 200 year old bass.
    I do want that sound but can't afford that right now.
    I play mostly jazz and Brasilian Jazz but love classical, and I would love to get something with dark sound and good sustain that bowes well.
    Does anyone know the address of Paul Biase?
    Thanks for the reply
  9. I wonder if the gradual tonal "maturity" also applies to plywood basses? Mine is an unknown German plywood, and has been pretty beat up by previous owners. Or is this strictly fully-carved bass' luxury?
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Leco, Don Z. has a Shen just like mine. I don't know if he has it set-up yet but I think he may be selling it. It is a beautiful 7/8 about 42"sl and easy to play up to the bridge. Has a good Pizz and sounds big and full in an orchestra section. It's a fully carved higher end newer Bass.

    Was that you who called me yesterday at my office? If so, I didn't put 2n2 together but remember now that you had mentioned 10k.
  11. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I too had the same experience shopping for basses in this price range for several months. What was on my mind was: sound(for jazz and classical), playability, withstanding the climate, and resale value. I went to the ISB conference after going through several basses in Cincinnati and not finding anything. Checked out several older instruments and couldn't find one that I liked that didn't look like a glued-together jigsaw puzzle. Next I went into the newer makers areas to see what they had. I kept going back to the Kolstein booth and playing the Grand Panormo. It was at the top of price range that I was shopping in but had the sound, shape, projection, and versatility I was looking for and didn't sound like a new instrument like the several others I'd tried. I "commissioned" one and 10 weeks later it came to my door. 3 1/2 years later it has played in nicely and continues to give me what I need with no problems.

  12. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Ken what do you think of Strunal basses. I own a Hybrid 5/20, and it sounds pretty good, but to me it still sounds NEW. It's about two years old
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Don't have any experience with them at all that I can recall.. sry
  14. Leco reis

    Leco reis

    Sep 2, 2004
    Astoria, NY
    Ike thanks for the info I will look into the Kolstein Panormo.

    Ken I did not called you but I sent a Email asking for prices in those Basses in your page.
    I know they must be a fortune but I would like to know what are they going for.
    thanks for all the info guys.
  15. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Leco, to be fair and within the rules here, I can't post prices of my Basses as the actual selling Price but I will say this as far as similar appraised values goes;

    The Martini is an early 20th century Italian pedigree Bass. Other Italian Basses like this sell for 40-60k depending on the Bass. Occassionally 30-40k but condition of the Bass and the sellers needs to get cash can also affect the price.

    On the Gilkes, a similar looking Bass by the son William Gilkes was recently for sale in England for the equivalent sum of 80K/$. I was told that mine was in better condition and sounded better. There are different opinions on which makers work is of higher merit. All the books say the father Samuel, but they are mostly referring to his Violins and Cellos. William was best at Basses within the Vilolin Family instruments but there are very few Basses made by the Father. Mine was made as a large Chamber Bass with pegs instead of gears like a Cello and was not converted till after 1850-1870. I have been told it's value is at least 60-70K as-is and not a penny less. This Bass may be a one of a kind as the top does not yet have a belly crack in it. The Back is just as good. Only the ribs have cracks.The Scroll and Neck are still original as one piece with a pitched Ebony shim under the fingerboard to change the angel from the Baroque pitch to the modern Orchestra bridge height.

    I think it's sort of priceless and historical but in the real world, it's just another old Bass.

    The Shen is being used by my younger son and not for sale at this time. Don Z. has a similar Shen/model you may be able to buy and it would be in your range.

    Of the other Basses, 1 is sold, 1 is out on trial in Europe and 2 are in restoration so that leaves only the 2 Basses mentioned above. The Mystery Bass is another that will have a modest value when completed as it too is a very nice, 'very' old Bass too!