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Planning some upgrades to my Shen - Input/advice please!

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Scott Lynch, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    I am considering some upgrades to my Shen Rogeri. It's my only DB and is used for jazz, classical and occasionally other types of music. I have been enamored with the deep, full sound of this bass since I first played it and plan on keeping it for a while, maybe for life. In the spirit on improvement I'm curious to see if I can get a little more out of the sound and playability of my bass, if possible, and would love to hear your recommendations on what to look for (or avoid/reconsider) in this department.

    Currently the bass has all stock hardware except the Full Circle I had installed on it. Here is what I've been thinking of upgrading:

    Tuners - I am not a fan of the stock tuners. If I had to upgrade only one thing it would be these. I'm looking for the highest quality here and also light weight as I'm considering a C extension down the road, and have considered the aluminum shaft Sloanes over the brass for weight reduction. Do Sloanes still reign supreme in the world of tuners or are there other ones worth considering? I've noticed offers by New Harmony and Jed Kriegel but have not been able to find much information on them.

    Pickup - Of the variety of pickups I've tried I have found the Full Circle the best option sonically for this bass. Aesthetically, however, it's not my favorite. I am thinking of having a single element Yamahiko installed. I like the options of cable placement on the pickup as well as removal, which would be nice for unamplified/classical gigs. Thoughts on the Yamahiko vs. FC? I have tried the Realist Lifeline and did not find it to my taste - too dark.

    Endpin - I've read that the lighter weight of a carbon fiber endpin can help improve the sound and resonance of some basses. Thoughts? Also, what brands of CF endpins should I consider? New Harmony seems like popular choice. Are there any others worth considering?

    Tailpiece - I am on the fence about considering a compensated tailpiece. One thing I'd like to improve a bit on my bass is the response of the low strings with the bow. If this might help, I'd consider it.

    Is there anything else worth looking at besides these things?
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  2. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    You’ve been reading the electric bass forums a bit too much I see ;)
    Just kidding. Subbed for opinions.
  3. I have a hollow carbon fiber endpin in my Shen SB 180 hybrid. It really helped open up the bass! I personally don’t know the brand but can vouch for a carbon fiber endpin for a Shen.
  4. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    How do? Does it avoid the resonances you sometimes get with the endpin?
  5. Mgaisbacher

    Mgaisbacher Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    As far as tuners go, unless there is actually a problem with your current ones I would say don't worry about this until/ if there is a problem. I have a similar feeling about the turners on my new standard, not in love with the way they look and if I had a bunch of $$ I would probably get different ones. But that being said they function well, don't rattle, don't squeak, and turn smoothly. So I have decided time and time again that they just aren't worth the most likely roughly $1000 job to just change something that isn't broken. You didn't mention any issues with your current ones, if they aren't having issues I would save your $$ for the time being, but if there are issues Rubner, Sloanes, and Kriegel's are all good options depending on how much you want to spend. I've never personally seen the new harmony ones but I have experience/ have seen all the others.

    As far as endpins, I have never experimented myself but i saw these the other day and I know a few folks with basses that have very similar endpins (maybe a different version of this company) N-Pin - Endpins That Work - Durable and Easy to Use for Bass and Cello They are a little pricy but if they are anything like the ones on the basses I've used they work super well and feel more solid than a steel endpin.
    Jeremy Darrow likes this.
  6. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Depending on what kind of strings you use and what kind of tone you`re after of course, but with all the resonance boosting a wingless, or otherwise low mass bridge might suit the plan really well.
  7. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Consider a bow upgrade. It made a huge difference for me.
  8. From the Unintended Consquences Dept: If you have Sloanes and an extension on the top end with a lightweight endpin, the bass might see-saw when laid on its side, with the scroll touching the floor. Probably not a big deal, but just something to be aware of.
  9. Stock Shen machines are terrible. The endpins are adequate. I’m not getting into a bridge debate.

    If it were me, I’d have a set of $100 Rubners fitted to the bass and otherwise leave it alone.

    I put Sloanes on my Solano and they’re great until you decide (or need) to change strings.

    Crank crank crank crank crank crank crank...
  10. Dabndug


    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    The NHM pins are great, but I believe the difference in tone would take a better ear than mine to detect. I bought one because the stock pin's rubber foot disintegrated and I couldn't source a direct replacement. The stock fitting was also incompatible with any wheels I could get in Sydney, so it was a no-brainer in the end.

    I'm in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" camp. After decades of tinkering with EBGs, I've realised it's usually a waste of time and money unless you have a major issue (such as a dead pickup or seized tuners), or you can get upgrade parts at throw-out prices. If the bass becomes inadequate as your playing or musical needs change, it's probably better to trade up than modify.
    Inky13 likes this.
  11. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    Agreed - I have! I upgraded from an inexpensive brazilwood bow to a Metropolitan a few months ago and am really glad I did.
  12. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    I've heard of this issue before with basses that have extensions. Are Sloanes on the heavy side as far as tuners go? Even the aluminum shaft ones?
  13. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    I agree about the tuners. @Mgaisbacher , though I didn't mention it, the tuners are creaky and just, well, crappy feeling.

    Do you recommend any particular set of Rubners? There are quite a few listed on Thomann. I would like something that matched my bass stylistically... Hat pegs on an Italian copy seem like they'd be out of place. Stripes and plaid? :laugh:
  14. Mgaisbacher

    Mgaisbacher Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    I would agree with @KUNGfuSHERIFF in the regard that even the cheapest rubners would be an upgrade. So really whatever your budget allows and whatever you think looks good for your bass.
  15. My Shen is a really light bass and I’ve found that light gauge strings and taking off any unnecessary weight on the body benefits my bass the best. The hollow carbon fiber endpin really helped open up the low end on my bass. I don’t have an extension on mine so I can’t comment on the possibility of the bass see-sawing while laying down.
  16. Is the last line your biographical profile, KfS? :smug:
  17. It’s been suggested once or twice.
  18. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    Hey Scott,

    The tuners below might look nice on an "Italian" bass. These were made by Cremonasia, a company that is probably defunct. Kolstein was still selling their left over stock a couple of years ago. Not sure whether they still have any.



    Scott Lynch likes this.
  19. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Is the theory that the endpin damps the vibrations of the bass? Adding mass lowers the vibration frequency of an object. Vibrations are damped by things that transform the vibrational energy into another form like heat from friction, sound etc.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  20. Yes that’s the theory.

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