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Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by JazZ-A-LoT, Jan 26, 2003.

  1. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    How much do upright basses usualy cost like the cheapest and average and most pricey??
  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Most pricey-$250,000
  3. Your not cool unless you have a pricey one :cool:
  4. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    my god a pricey one is more than my house car and current setup combined. I'd be living in a cardboard box.. Are the cheap ones really bad???
  5. When you move into the cardboard box, be sure to get a $2500 bass trunk first...

    If you still have the money, get two bass trunks, one for the bass and one for yourself. The extra trunk will more than pay for itself in replacement cardboard, over the years. ;)
  6. No, the cheap ones aren't really bad... they aren't bad at all, depending on your definitions of "Cheap" and "Bad".

    It's pretty easy to find a CCB (Cheap Chinese Bass) on Ebay for $500 delivered, and THOSE cheap ones range from "Not Too Good" to "Swindle".

    Often those basses, (Cremonas, Palatinos, etc.) can be made to play well enough, and sound acceptable (depending on your definition of "acceptable") with about $500-$700 of attention from a luthier. They often arrive needing $500 worth of fingerboard and neck work, and have a nasty reputation for the necks, backs or tops coming off for no apparent reason during their first year of life. Some do, and some don't.

    Additionally, no amount of luthier work will make them sound quite as good as an $1100 Engelhardt, or similar (which is not considered to be the pinacle of great sound), so you'd have to say that basses in the $500 range ARE "really bad" unless you get fairly lucky.

    Spending $500(bass) + $600(Luthier) to get a bass that plays as well, but doesn't last well or sound as good as an $1100 bass, fits my personal definition of "really bad", just by itself, before you start talking about volume, tone, and playability.

    Lots of good music is made on basses that sell new for $1500-$4500.

    The average bass that I see around, in Jazz, Bluegrass, and Rockabilly music, is typically purchased new or used for somehwere in the $1500-$3000 price range.

    Then again, some people feel that anything less than 100 years old, or not fully-carved, or less than $10,000 just isn't acceptable. It gets back to your personal definition of "bad".

    You can get a perfectly good all-laminated Blonde DiVacenza bass from Barrie Kolstein for $1900, with a complete Kolstein set-up already done on it, including high-quality strings, an adjustable bridge, and a fancy endpin. It's a "European" bass, probably Czech or Romanian. Of course you can add $150-$250 shipping to that price...

    That bass is all laminated, which would immediately make it un-acceptable in some people's estimations. Plywoods are more percussive in their sound than carved basses, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what kind of music you play.

    www.uptonbass.com sells a Birkhamshaw Extra, including a $600 Upton setup for $1900. That one is laminated, and probably Korean. I don't know whether it is or not, but if Upton says it will be a good bass, that's good enough for me.

    Some people wouldn't touch a laminated bass.

    However, Kays, Kings, American Standards, and any number of plywood (laminated) basses have been prized instruments by a lot of people for the last 70 years or so. A 1930's King Moretone on the market usually fetches a fair price and sells quickly.

    It depends on what your requirements are. Those are determined by the kinds of musics you play, and by your personal preferences.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

  8. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA

    i would personally like to thank you for that thorough reply. I am new to DB - just bought a 1956 Kay about a month ago - and that kind of information is exactly what I needed.

    even though i already have a bass - your description is still helpful.

    I think it should be included in the 'newbie links' section.

  9. Check here for a wide range of basses and prices:
    This "December 2002 inventory" pretty much shows the highest prices and the lowest prices one can reasonably expect (from $900 to $122,500), and you can quickly surmise an "typical price" from this list.

    You may ask,
    "What determines the value of a string instrument?"
    1. Label and maker/ name/ vintage
    2. Quality of materials
    3. State of repair
    4. Certificate/appraisals

    #s 1 and 2 go back and forth - there are many fairly expensive basses that are not labelled but are clearly of excellent quality - then there are those of medium quality that are priced high because they have a famous name attached (legit or not).
  10. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    To those that responded to this thread with such eloquent information, I commend you. However, I wish to inform you that you are not in step with proper TB curmugeonly attitude. The locked newbie threads are there for a reason. One, to provide those aspiring bassists with inquiring minds a means of finding out a wealth of bass information. Secondly, the locked newbie threads are an excellent tool for blugeoning those with neither the wit or the patience to read through them. I say you have failed in this latter regard during the course of this thread.
  11. well, I guess I'm so curmudgeonly as to bludgeon the curmudgeons!
  12. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    Heay man I asked a simple question, is that so wrong???
  13. If you're talking about Bollbach's comment:
    However, I wish to inform you that you are not in step with proper TB curmugeonly attitude.

    which is telling mostly ME that I should not have simply answered your question, you may notice that *HE* also answered it, somewhat, and probably at the same time I was composing my own reply.

    That makes HIM one of those he's referring to as not having enough "curmugeonly attitude".

    That was apparently an attempt at dry humor, and sometimes it puts off Newbies, because it isn't always as easily recognizable as humor as this instance.

    You DO need to check out the newbie links, though. There is good info there, and many questions can be answered by reading through them.

    You can get a good plywood bass for $1100-$2000. That will probably suit your needs for a couple of years (maybe forever, depending on your needs) and you can re-sell it later to get a better one if you want.

    As for how pricey a bass gets, well YoYo Ma left his Stradivarius cello in a taxi, and that's when I found out he had one, AND it was valued at over a million dollars. Stradivari also made basses... If you could find one of those in great condition, THAT would probably be the top of the price range.

    You can get a CCB if you just want to get something to see whether or not you will be able to learn. It will get to your doorstep for $500.

    If it doesn't work out, then it cost you about $600 (you will need strings, $100% sure) to find out that you can't learn URB, because you will have a hard time selling it at ANY price.

    If it DOES work out, and the CCB doesn't lose it's neck or come apart at the seams during the first year, you'll want a better bass after about 6-8 months, or the first time you hear yours next to someone else's, whichever comes first.

    If you get a better bass, like an Engelhardt, or a DiVacenza from www.kolstein.com, it might be the only bass you'll ever want.

    Many plywood basses made before WW-II are still being played, and are sought-after.

    If it's NOT the only bass you'll ever want, you have a hope of getting most or all of your money back out of it, instead of dropping it in a dumpster to get it out of your way.

    If you plan to play orchestrally, you'll probably want a fully-carved bass. Those start at about $3000 new, and go up from there, sometimes WAY up, even on new ones.

    You can get fully-carved Cremonas & Palatinos(CCB's) for $800-$900, and I don't know if they are as crappy & valueless as their plywood models, but probably they ARE as crappy & valueless.
  14. Not all Kays and Engleharts are over $1000.
    The Cincinnati Bass Cellar has/had a Kay "in fair condition" for $900. That's all you need in a Kay, they're resilient basses.

    But you won't find Cremonas or Palatinos at a good bass shop.
  15. Would you care to elaborate where you got that information?
  16. From the stringed-instrument curator at The Witte Museum, here in San Antonio.

    Several years back, a friend's grandfather died, and we found a Stradivarius violin in one of his closets. We called The Witte, and eventually got passed around to this curator.

    He said that all but two of the violins, cellos, and basses that Stradivarius had ever built were either known to be destroyed or it was known where they were, but we might as well bring it to him, because you just never know.

    We took the violin down there, where he said it was a 3/4 size German copy, probably made in the very late 1800's, there were a ton of them made around that time, complete with Stradivari label, and it had more value as a player, or a Treasured Heirloom than anything else.

    Now, 20 years later, my friend has become a father, and his 23-yr-old son still plays it.
  17. I'm not going to say your curator doesn't know what he is talking about, but if he is saying that Stradivarius made a double bass, it is a fact not mentioned anywhere in the 20 or so books I've read on the great master. In fact, most say flatly that he did not make any double basses.

    Duane Rosengard (author of Contrabassi Cremonesi Cremonese Double Basses) says in his book that there were no drawings or forms for a DB in the relics of the Stradavarius workshop. There was a drawing for one instrument that resembled the shape of a DB, but it is in fact for a viola da gamba, only 69cm in length.

    This business about knowing where all of the Strad instruments (that he had ever built) are or accounted for is an old wives tale. We may know where all of the known Strad instruments are or were, but even the best Strad experts can't tell you exactly how many he made. It is commonly thought that he made around 900 instruments but no records have ever been found with an exact count.
  18. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    did yo-yo ma get his cello back?
  19. washtub_bass


    Aug 10, 2005
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Hmm.. that guy has a kind of "unhinged" smile - sort of - "the lunatics have taken over the asylum"!! :p