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Questions re: buying, selling and trading DB's

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Wilbyman, Jul 24, 2004.

  1. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV

    I went to a shop in NC this weekend where they're in the process of restoring a beautiful Pollman, really gorgeous. It's kind of hard to say how it will sound when done, but this luthier does such good work -- he just took a Czech bass which was in shambles and did a pretty miraculous restoration on it -- that I'm anticipating trying to purchase it when the restoration is finished in a few months.

    Right now I have a real nice German factory bass that's probably appraising at about 9k, but I live in a pretty weak DB market (WV/E. OH/NC) and doubt I'll have any success trying to sell it on my own. That being said, the NC shop will probably offer me a trade-in value on my bass, but I have little idea what that will be. To their benefit, they've maintained my bass and won't have to restore it to any extent if I trade it their. However, I still don't know how the numbers will work out.

    What's typically the best thing to do in this situation? Do I try to come up with the money and purchase the Pollman (if that's what I decide to do...) outright and consign my instrument there or at a larger shop, or do I trade up and take whatever hit that might entail? I just bought a new Suby wagon a year ago and didn't trade in my old one -- thinking I would do better selling it on my own -- but ended up selling it a few months later for the trade in value the dealer offered me. Pretty dumb!

    Anyway, any advice y'all can offer me here would be great. It might be a moot point, as I haven' heard or played the Pollman in question...but it's really, really beautiful and I'm confident this luthier will make it happening.


    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Well you could always put your bass on consignment. Some of the bigger shops(ie/ Gage) can sell it pretty quick since so many people come through there. That is probably what I would do.

    You have to play these basses before buying them. Pollmanns look amazing, especially the highly decorated basses with Busetto corners and carvings. However, not all of them sound great. There is only so much you can get out of a bass by improving. It either has the sound or it doesn't. If you are absolutely set on buying a new bass, find out what kind of trade in value you can get, or how much you can get for consigning(you will be without a bass unless you have a backup though). I wouldn't put a dime on a bass being restored unless it was just to hold it to give me first shot at it, or I know it already sounds great.

    I have gone through a lot of basses already looking for the one, and it really pays to play as many different instruments as possible. The bass I am playing now isn't that pretty. I have had much nicer looking instruments. However I haven't owned a bass that can even touch this one in sound quality and volume.
  3. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I bought a new bass about two years ago at Lemur Music and consigned my beginner bass there. To be fair, it was a beginner bass and not a very popular finish color, but Lemur does sell some beginner types of basses.

    After about 9 months and no sale at Lemur, I got busy finding other ways to sell this. Fortunately, I found this bass dealer, not associated with any store, through the guy who had done repair work on this bass. The bass dealer found a buyer at the right price within a few months. He is getting out of the bass business, so I couldn't be of any help to you there, and he would not even be in your area, but I was fortunate to find him when I did. Maybe you can find some other contacts through the luthier or other luthiers. They might know someone who works on their own buying and selling basses.
  4. The only way you can sell a bass pretty quick is to not charge enough for it. A bass can easily sit unsold for a year or two. In addition, you pay a shop a commission for getting your bass sold. Even though there's alot of traffic at Gage or Kolstein, there's no reason to expect a buyer to pay more than "market" price (whatever that is).
    Members of ISB get to advertise their basses in the Mainline. Members of AFof M advertise for a reasonable amount.
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I would wait untill the Pollmann is completed before making an offer.
    Pollmann is not far from a German Factory Bass in it's design and performance. There are many qualities produced in Germany in the last 100 years or so which is the range of production of both Basses in question I believe.

    The Pollmann will need a few years of 'playing-in' after the restoration till it settles and the tone is back to where it should be. A bass will sound it's best in the condition it's been for the longest time. After it is repaired, all the new wood and repair work need to settle and mature.

    I would pay only the value difference between the two Basses. I have seen a few Pollmann Basses for sale in the last few years and they do not move that quickly. The Pollmann still has that German type sound to my ears.

    They make a few different models and there are several generations of Pollmanns. If you are going to upgrade, make the experience worth while and get a Bass that does 'everything' better.
  6. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    This all sounds like good advice.

    I know that the Pollman may not end up being as nice as I hope, such that it will be worth getting in a tizzy about. Right now, I'm just imagining that it will be good and envisioning the possible acquisition and logistics. Trust me, I plan on checking it out extensively and weighing the value of what I've got and could have in the Pollman.

    I've also heard great Pollmans and bad ones. There is a 5 string in at the same shop right now that sounds pretty dead -- very very beautiful, but not that much sound coming out. On the other hand, I heard two in college -- one a busetta and the other a gamba -- that were absolute cannons.

    C'est la vie. I'll keep y'all updated and appreciate and more opinions.

  7. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I expect newly restored basses in my shop to sound good the day I finish the work. Granted, playing-in may improve the tone and response a bit, but a good repairperson never uses the excuse that the new wood has to settle in. If a newly-repaired bass does not sound as it should from the get-go, then the repair is somewhat of a failure, in my opinion.
  8. ...

    A lot of people have knocked the sound of Poellmans. They all sound pretty good to me - of course I play one. Mine is one of the loud ones even though it is one the low end conservatory models designed to compete with Wilfer (basses like mine are sometimes passed off as restored Italian basses to players who don't know the difference since they look Italian and don't have the Poellman brand on the button). It has a huge low end and a dark midrange, but doesn't have the sweet cello tone on the upper string like the higher end ones. One thing I have noticed though, is that Poellmans respond very differently to different types of strings. The new flexicors that are standard on new poellmans do not work well with these basses in jazz pizz mode, but work very well indead with the bow. Vice verse with spirocores which can make a Poellman very thin sounding with a bow. One thing which is different on these basses than many is that the top is fairly thick in the middle but gets thin at the edges. This produces a different sound than many new basses. I think it also helps keep the tops from cracking at the bass bar although Poellman's wood is all well seasoned.
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Arnold, Whenever I had basses restored in the past including restorations done by myself, the Basses always seemed a bit stiff when first strung up after completion. Yes, you can hear the difference how the repairs have improved the Bass but the Bass was just taken apart and it needs to settle 'till it has acceped the repairs and sounds like a single piece of vibrating wood once again.

    This is how I hear it and in no way reflects on the repairer if the Bass needs to settle and break in. My old Italian Bass sounded beautiful when I got it but needed a major restoration. It took years after the restoration untill that old relaxed sound was back. I'm talking about a top steamed out, a breast patch under the new Bass bar, etc.

    Mellowness takes time even with sucessful operations.