I just picked up my new Palatino VE-550 on Nov.5th. After setting it up I noodled around on it a bit and I was very pleased with the feel and playability. I've been a middle school orchestra director for 17 years and double bass (classical) was my major in college back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I plugged it in to a 1x12 combo amp and I was super unimpressed with the sound. The first thing I noticed was the insane amount of resonance and howling as if I someone were playing a piano with the sustain pedal down. Unacceptable... so I started doing my research and found that MANY Palatino 500 owners have done some pretty cool mods with a great degree of success. So, I did some modifications on mine and I'm exceptionally happy with the results. 1. There are no photos for this and it's not really a "mod", but the ebonized fingerboard was making my fingers all black. Some of it got smeared on the back of the neck. I grabbed my bottle of Dr. Ducks AxWax and put some on a folded up paper towel and began to rub up and down the surface of the fingerboard and on the edges. You would not believe how much of that ebonized stuff rubbed off! It didn't all come off, just the excess. I used several dry towels to wipe off the excess AxWax. The fingerboard still looks black and you can see only a hint of the wood beneath the surface. It looks great, AND... no more black fingers. 2. I realized how much resonance was coming from the tailpiece. When I was at WalMart I purchased a black hand towel. I folded it up and stuck it under the tailpiece and it worked great to reduce the resonance. I probably could have stopped there with that little fix, but it wasn't pretty and and I wanted to see how much more I could improve the sound. 3. I loosened my strings, removed the bridge and carefully pulled the pickup out of it's housing. I cut a piece of the non-adhesive drawer/shelf grip liner I purchased at WalMart to fit under the pickup. The roll of grip liner was a little over 5 bucks and I have a TON of that stuff left... I have no idea what to do with it. If anyone in the continental United States needs some for their mod, message me your address and I'll send you enough to do the job. I cut a slit in the center of the piece of grip liner to accommodate the wire from the pickup. 4. I traced the feet of the bridge on the grip liner and cut out a piece for each foot. I replaced the bridge and tuned up the strings. I immediately noticed the difference in sound and I didn't even plug into the amp yet. I don't know how to explain it exactly, but if felt more "acoustic" to me. I don't know if my mind was playing tricks on me, but the strings seemed a little more stiff under my fingers... maybe because there was a little less bite to each note I plucked? I don't know. But anyhow, I plugged in and I loved it! It sounded WAY more like I thought it should have sounded out of the box! The tone control seemed more usable too. Why isn't Palatino doing this in their shop??? The material is dirt cheap and a child could practically do this modification. The only disappointment came from playing in the upper register on the G string. I noodled around in thumb position and the notes decayed too fast for my taste and they lacked the punch that I'm used to on a real double bass. Other than that, I'm thrilled and I can't wait to take it on a gig. 5. I'm very comfortable playing double bass and I don't require any fingerboard markers, but I am an educator and many of my 6th and 7th grade students still use some form of fingerboard markers. I use automobile pinstripe tape that you can buy at any auto accessory store. It's easy to work with, it's relatively accurate and leaves behind very little residue when you remove it. I intend on using my Palatino bass in class/rehearsal with my students. I think it will be a great way to motivate and get them excited about playing. For this modification I decided on something relatively permanent. I purchased a white paint pen... it cost less than 3 dollars at a local hobby/craft shop. I tuned the instrument very carefully and marked the edge of the fingerboard with pencil. I checked and re-checked my marks and adjusted them as needed. Then I took my paint pen and slowly and carefully touched the tip to the wood. Less is more! You can always go back and add more, but it's a pain to remove too much. I kept a damp paper towel nearby just incase something went wrong. For my purposes, I marked all of the natural notes on the E string up to the octave E (F, G, A, B, C, D, and Octave E). I gave the octave 2 dots instead of one... it just seemed to make sense at the time. I wasn't happy with the alignment of the double dots so I did use the damp towel to quickly rub off the wet paint. It didn't come off easily, so if you do this step, be very careful and take your time! 6. I became increasingly unhappy with the appearance of the hand towel under the tailpiece. So I got a sponge that is designed for beginning violin/viola students as a shoulder rest and folded it in half. I wedged the shoulder rest under the tailpiece and it has the same dampening effect as the hand towel, but I think it looks a lot better. Other Stuff: I have a really nice leather bow quiver by Reunion Blues and I would love to find a way to fasten that to my Palatino. I would like to be able to attach and remove the quiver quickly and easily so I will have to think on it for a little while. If any of you have some ideas, please let me know. I want to thank whomever came up with the idea to cushion the pickup on both sides with grip liner. That was a genius idea! I hope my post helps someone else like that grate idea has helped me. PS. I did send a message to Palatino and asked them what the difference is between the VE-500 and VE-550. I mentioned the TalkBass and spoke of the modifications people have done. I'm just waiting to hear back from them. I'll let you guys know when I hear back from them.