RANT WARNING! A bass teacher in town is leaving town for a month-long sabbatical and asked me to take some of his students in preparation for solo-ensemble contest in March. I've seen three so far, and their school-issue basses are absolutely abhorrent: A Kay with a neck-block problem, making the strings unplayably high (the bridge is already carved down to the nub). A 13-year-old who (I kid you not) is 6'2'' arrives with a half-size bass ("that's all the school had for me") on which the top is caving in. The worst, a smelly, grody Fiberglas BSO with a hack-job neck shim painted with brown enamel. The neck weighed more than the entire bass: the thing was so top heavy, the kid could barely hold it up. All, of course, have decades-old strings and come with ancient, warped bows that I'm sure contain the original horsehair. No wonder most kids quit playing by the time they reach high school. I can't imagine the lessons being very productive because the poor kids are fighting just to play anything higher than 3rd position! I've talked to educators about it, who cite budget problems. Unless the neck is broken clean off, they're not going to mess with repairing it, and I'm sure they'd rather buy two or three new clarinets than spend the same dough on one decent bass. Okay, end of rant. Commiserate, please.