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Picking a bass in spite of factory set up

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MrPeel, Aug 28, 2012.


  1. MrPeel

    MrPeel

    Aug 21, 2012
    Hi guys,

    I'm researching buying my first bass (moving from EUB)
    I want a quality instrument that I can grow into... max like $3000.
    I've played some of the entry level basses (mostly stentor) and I've hated them because the action is often stupid high!
    How can you tell if the bass is worth buying and taking to a luthier to be setup... not fully knowing if the sound will be good after?
    It's something that has been pushing me to online shopping(which I'd like to avoid), but online I can buy an Upton entry level bass (or a shen setup by Upton) and I will know the setup is quality... it might not be my ideal bass, having not been able to play it prior, but I will know it is having much of its potential expressed... how can I tell the same from some barely playable factory student bass in the average local shop?

    Apologies if this is in the wrong sub forum... I couldn't fine the noob forum on my app so I went here

    Also, I do live close-ish to some quality string stores in Toronto... will they setup the basses better than a place like Long and McQuades or will they leave them at factory setting?

    Cheers guys... thanks for baring through my long winded question!
     
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I think the Beginner's Guide would be very helpful to you. Among the advice you'll find there: Buy a bass from a real bass shop that will set up the bass properly. The value of a good setup cannot be overestimated.
     
  3. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Heinl's in Toronto is spoken of pretty highly here. I would check them out. You have to name the string shops near you if you want anyone with knowledge of them to chime in. In any case, you have to talk with them and play basses at those shops. Any reputable quality shop should set up a bass you buy from them to your satisfaction as part of the purchase price, unless it is a consignment instrument. In that case, you have to find out how much repairs or alterations will cost. +1 on DRURB's advice.
     
  4. RSBBass

    RSBBass

    Jun 11, 2011
    NYC
    I have heard many good things about Upton here so I would like to think my experience is an exception. That said my position as a beginner having a bass shipped was enough like yours to give a word of caution.

    The people at Upton where very nice to deal with but the setup on my Shen SB 80 was sub par. The finger board needed to be dressed to get rid of a bad buzz at the F# and G on the E string and a lesser one at the Eb on the D string. The video they include to tell you how to set your bridge shows the demo instrument with everything laid out with low tac masking tape. Mine had some post it notes all but two of which had fallen of.

    The bow I purchased had been cambered from tip to tip, including the frog end. This made it difficult to adjust the tennsion on the hair.

    The bass and bow where a gift and I was a total newbie when this happened and didn't know better. I don't know how they would have reacted if I brought these problems to their attention at the time. They may well have fixed everything. That said they still shouldn't have happened.
     
  5. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Really sorry to hear your experience with us was sub par! Always strikes me strange too when I hear it here first, rather than contacting us on the front end. Although we "get it right" the greater majority of the time...we can make it right after the fact too. Customer support after the sale is key...but we have to be given the opportunity. No shop is immune to it either. I've been doing this long enough to see the best and worst out of every shop out there...but I am always quick to urge customers to give the shop they dealt with the opportunity to make good on something before I redo or correct it. 'Nuff said about that...

    I do need to redo that video...that's not even how we ship anymore, but it's close enough to get the point, and it's a private video we only send to people who have bought a bass from us. We stopped using masking tape as we had a few residue complaints. The post it notes leave no residue and usually enough of them stay put to do the job for the end user. Couple that with the bridge positioning stick we make now for every bass we setup and getting the feet in the right location is fairly easy.

    The bow camber issue...it's extremely difficult to get a Chinese shop to fully understand the nuance of a bow. At the price point and with the law of averages, I would think a survey of bow cambers like you experienced would be the norm...or at least would result in a bell curve showing the norm. Most are subtle, but it sounds like yours wasn't. We do offer a satisfaction guarantee on that bow...if you had contacted me about it I could have re-cambered or replaced it for you. Still could...you just have to ask...hint, hint...nudge, nudge...

    Fingerboards...sometimes the entry level basses fingerboards warp after the fact. I know location can be a factor, but we do free adjustments on all basses we sell for 6 months, and after that at 1/2 off for the life that you own the bass. This usually can off set the travel expense. I've recommended luthiers in the area to people as well when something doesn't meet approval and made arrangements with those shops to address the issue so that it costs you nothing but time.

    Again, hard to make good on a promise though when I read it here after the fact. This goes for us or any shop you choose to deal with.
     
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Well said Eric. It always amazes me that people choose to kvetch on line rather than make a call to the person they dealt with.

    Especially here in the bass world where pretty much everybody's doing it for love and sustenance - ain't nobody getting rich building and repairing double basses! :D
     
  7. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    It's always better to have your setups done by a qualified local luthier who can work with you in person to address your specific needs.
     
  8. iiipopes

    iiipopes

    May 4, 2009
    Word.
     
  9. HughFosterWood

    HughFosterWood

    Nov 23, 2007
    New York
    Yeah, good to have a local luthier but ya seem to be suggesting that ordering from a shop like Upton is second best. Sure is not, IMO!!! They do great setups and almost any new bass is likely gonna have to have the fingerboard tweaked after a time. So, good idea to order from Upton, have a nice relationship with yer local luthier guy and then have him do any adjustments if you can't get back to the Upton boys.
     
  10. gottliver

    gottliver

    Dec 20, 2004
    With a shop like david gage in nyc, who have competitive prices and great service, i would buy local. Oh, thats right, I DID!!!!
     
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Competitive prices? Not that I've seen. Great service? Well, if you mean luthiery, I've been underwhelmed. Frankly, I consider any bass shop within a two- to three-hour driving time to be local. Starting in NYC, just think of the shops you could hit in that time.
     
  12. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    I consider a shop within half a day's drive local enough to consider. The point was that it's better to have face-to-face servicing rather than depending on phone calls or emails. You can get sort of close that way, but there is nothing like watching and hearing the way a customer plays in person to make good decisions about mechanics and instrument choice.
     
  13. jb27

    jb27

    Aug 9, 2012
    SW PA
    Mr Peel

    I was somewhat in the same situation as you but without the availability of a good local shop. After a lot of reading online, I ended up ordering a Shen SB80 from Upton. Just received it Monday. I'm also new to the DB (transitioning from EB/guitar). My experience with Upton has been nothing short of perfect. They were very helpful answering any questions I had before buying the bass and maintained excellent communication throughout the entire purchasing process. When I received the bass, I did not have any problems with it. Basically, I just had to tune it and slightly adjust the bridge using the adjusting stick they provided. Adjusting the bridge may sound scary but if you check youtube you should be able to find a video showing you how to do it (which they included a link to in the email they sent when bass shipped). It is actually quite simple. The setup is perfect. No buzzing, the action is very playable. I'm actually quite surprised how easy it is to play.

    Overall, I'm very happy that I decided to purchase my bass from Upton. I have no reservations recommending them based on my experience.
     
  14. HughFosterWood

    HughFosterWood

    Nov 23, 2007
    New York
    Yup, better to have that face to face. Since yer raggin' on the guy's Upton purchase let's just get it out there. You can go to Upton and get yourself face to face service... always the best way to do it. I think the Upton boys would tell ya that themselves. But like I said, you can always get one long distance and have your local luthier guy take care of any little changes. Then you got your face to face. No problem. Pretty rare to live near a bass specialty shop. How many people do? Better to buy a nice bass from real bass people and get it adjusted if it needs than buy a bass thats not so good just so you can have the same guy adjust it who sold it. On that score, better to buy a bass from a bass shop than from a guitar shop. Thats pretty clear. ...and speakin of bass mechanics and choice you sure cant change the mechanics all that much on a Shen or any other brand bass... ya sure can when your the guys makin' 'em. Oh and since RSBBass lives in NYC, and you call local a half-day drive, guess he bought local after all. Geez, Id like to go back to lurking now but some stuff just hits me in the face and I gotta post.
     
  15. RSBBass

    RSBBass

    Jun 11, 2011
    NYC
    I had hoped I made it clear that at the time, as a newbie and as it was a gift, I did not recognize the problems for what they were when I got the bass. I thought I made it clear I had no reason to say that you would not have made everything good if I had contacted you in a timely manner.

    To give some more balance, I did buy a bow case from you that was a superior product at a great price.

    My takeaway is that if you buy a bass that is shipped to you, have a pro take a look at it soon after you get it and know what the return, repair policies are before you buy. Sounds like Upton's are good.
     
  16. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    HughFosterWood,

    My comments about finding a somewhat local luthier are meant to be ancouragement for bass players all around the United States or any other country who don't think that they have good resources in their own area. While most large shops have talented on-site DB luthiers, the majority of professional doublebass luthiers are independents and don't do much or any selling. They can have a small shop in a couple of rooms in their home or a converted garage. They may not grandstand with a big flashy website, in fact they may not even have one. They just quietly go about the business of repairing instruments and doing personalized setups at a professional level.

    Getting someone connected with their local luthier resource is really what this thread is about, isn't it? The original poster is looking to find someone local who will take care of the mechanics of his instrument not only now, but regularly in the future. Looking over the course of this thread, I don't see anybody "ragging" on Upton or anyone else. I'd be surprised if there weren't two or three good qualified independent DB luthiers in or around a large city like Toronto. Who would those men/ women be? Let's get MrPeel hooked up with one of them. That's the kind of community resource that Talkbass is.
     
  17. HughFosterWood

    HughFosterWood

    Nov 23, 2007
    New York
    What a binch o horsehockey. So ya think theres talented luthiers hiding from plain site that are to be discovered. Don't even pass the laugh test, Steve.

    Let me see... who could ya be talkin' about? Grandstanding with a flashy web site. Well, in my time on this planet I noticed that if ya grandstand and can't back it up, then you don't last long. Those people you don't have the guts to name seem to be doin fine. Now, Mr. De Villiers... he had a high-road high-class response. You just had to poke your finger in guys eyes. Now you've outed yourself with your comments so all can see whats behind em.

    Didn't see he was asking for any help. Even so, good idea for him to find someone AS I SAID.

    Then open your eyes and read yer own posts. Grandstanding... flashy website... better to buy local. People here aint fools.
     
  18. gottliver

    gottliver

    Dec 20, 2004
    Ben gave me hours of great service, i came back 3 times before choosing a bass, he educated me on DB construction, techniques, even gave me a quick lesson or 2 whle we were tying instruments. He had nothing but good things to say about buying from upton, gave me good advice on the usee instruments that i found locally. In the end, given the choice i made with the features i got, it was hundreds less than elsewhere. When i bought a realist, he installed it for free. Their string prices are non competitive but that is nyc rent for ya. Thats my experience, and that is all i am reffering.
     
  19. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Anyone who can't find a 5 or 6 good independent doublebass in New York City just hasn't given it the old college try yet. Gage's shop isn't for everybody, but they have a very long list of very satisfied repeat customers for good reason.
     
  20. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I have gotten fine service from them as well and I should have made that clear. They have a well-deserved reputation along those lines. I was referring only to some of the luthiery. As for their prices on instruments, well, I find those reflective of NYC as well. It's quite understandable. As far as other shops go, I was thinking of quite a few besides Upton that one could visit if a two- to three-hour drive were the limit. Honestly, I'm happy for you that you found a bass with which you're happy no matter where you got it.
     

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