Really cheap ebay basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by pontz, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. pontz


    Oct 31, 2003
    So I'd love to try upright bass (I play EB). But I can't see the day, in the next few years anyway, where I'll be able to spend $1500, which I assume is entry level, on a bass. Some guy on ebay is selling no-name Chinese uprights for under $500, shipped.

    I wouldn't expect much from the bass, but would it be worth having something to learn on?


  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Cheap Basses are like Cheap Cars or Cheap Food...

    Cheap cars don't run too well if at all and Cheap Food will make you sick if You Live to tell about it.

    There are very few Bargains out there for the average buyer. If you want to learn Bass, Get one that you Know is good and works..
  3. lownotes02


    Jan 19, 2005
    Melbourne, Fl
    DONT do it!
    I got suckered into a Palatino that I paid extra for to have an ebony (instead of "ebonized") fingerboard, and that upgrade plus shipping ran me 1000 bucks. The first one I recieved was cracked, the seller was cooperative, he sent me another. The first problem (although minor) was that I noticed black crud on my fingers after only playing it for a few minutes. I called the seller and he said it was ebony, but they still "ebonized" (spray-painted) this one to make the whole fingerboard a uniform color. I never heard of this before, I bought a Carvin EB about 12 years ago that had an ebony neck, and they didnt have to "ebonize" it. So, Im guessing it was low-grade ebony (which I think has brown streaks in it) and the whole idea of spray-painting the fingerboard was to cover up the fact the wood was cheap.
    The problem with this is that I paid extra to have Thomastic Spirocores put on this bass, (the seller talked me into them)
    but this black crud basically ruined them immediately, since no matter how often I took the strings off, cleaned them, then cleaned the fingerboard, it took almost 3 months of playing/cleaning to get this crap off my bass. Needless to say, my upgraded strings were ruined pretty quickly.
    Ive heard on both DB and EB you dont really want to use a whole lot of liquids or cleaners on the fingerboard, since one of the reasons older instruments sound better is because the wood is DRY. I must have a quart of simple green/goo gone/linseed oil on that board trying to remove that stuff. Im no authority on this, guys like Ken and the other luthiers here know this stuff better than I do, but I know from playing EB that dirt/gunk will kill bass strings rather quickly.
    I only wish it ended there........
    I always heard about how hard it was to play DB, how demanding it was. Its that much harder on a cheap piece of junk that isnt set up correctly. The strings had "grand canyon" action and I found out why. I took it to a luthier and he took a straightedge to the fingerboard. There was a hump on the board just past the octave. He planed the fingeboard, cut the bridge, and I must say, did an excellent job...and charged me a ridiculously low price. (The only good thing that came out of this is I found an excellent repair guy)
    Then, the wooden piece that protects the corner where the steel cable runs from the endpin to the tailpiece popped out. I tried to epoxy it myself, and it popped out again. I took it back to my luthier and he told me about hide glue vs epoxy, etc. I felt like an idiot while he undid what I did, fixed it correctly, and I was on my way....or so I thought.
    The piece that he fixed popped out again, and he fixed it again, for free. I wanted to pay him since he only charged me 35 bucks to fix it the first time, but he wouldnt take my money. Most guys wont even polish/restring an EB for that, so, again, I was lucky to find this guy.
    This piece popped out a 3rd time (which I guess is a charm, as the old saying goes) but at this point, it didnt matter, since the top is cracking and the thing is caving in, and Ive only had it about a year. I called my repair guy back, and he couldnt have said it better...."you can only polish a turd so many times, but regardless, its still gonna stink." In other words, go get another bass......

    I have about 1200 dollars sunk into a worthless piece of crap that I cant even sell since it looks/plays/sounds like garbage. Sorry about my long-winded post, but listen to what these guys have to say. And, above all, consider yourself EXTREMELY lucky you didnt pull the trigger before you found this forum, like I did. Ive only been here about a month and everything everybody says about these lousy basses is true. I know firsthand.

    Beg, borrow, steal, rob a bank, moonlight at Wal-Mart stocking shelves, do what you gotta do to scrape together another 1000 bucks or so and buy a 1500-2000 dollar bass. You wont give up on the instrument, you will have something you can re-sell when you decide to upgrade, and you wont have a bonfire in your backyard like Im going to do when I cremate this stupid thing while celebrating the purchase of my New Standard or whatever it is that I decide Im going to eventually buy. Also, the guy I bought it from originally said it was "personally inspected, professionally setup, he was an ex-symphony player and recommended them to his students...yadda yadda, blah blah blah"
    But, hey, Im not bitter! ;)

    Just kidding....I believe we all pay for an education one way or another, but I also think we can learn from other's mistakes. Learn from mine and buy a good bass.

    Hope this helps
  4. cabin dweller

    cabin dweller Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Ridgeland, WI
    I bought a $600 runner (no name china) off ebay 3years ago.
    Not such a bad thing, because it really made me appreciate my american made Em-1 when I bought it this winter.... I will miss my china bass for holding up my tent at the bluegrass fests( HA!).

    cabin dweller
  5. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Hey lownotes - are you talking about Sol?
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    If you just want to "try" ub, perhaps renting, or getting involved @ a college where there are decent instruments availale is the best bet..If you do not have this option then, yes, you are looking at a BIG decision..
    I was lucky enough to get good advice 25 years ago, and the bass I purchased for $3K delivered and set-up is now selling for $6-$7k today!!A decent instrument today will be even more 'decent' next year!!A piece of crap today will be a piece of crap forever!! This is no big deal, but a smart investment now will be a smart investment later....
  7. Eric_J

    Eric_J Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Flower Mound, TX. USA
    Go to your local music store that specializes in Band/Orchestra instruments, rent a student grade bass and find a teacher. Work with it until you're sure you want to continue.

    I did the same, although I had played bass 25 years earlier, I was concerned that carple-tunnel maybe a problem. After playing for 4 months with out any problems, I purchased a better bass and turned the rental in.

    Most Band/Orchestra oriented music stores will let you apply the rental to a better instrument.

    The key is Find a Teacher.
  8. Ditto EJ.....Rent, find a teacher, then decide. Don't buy without seeing and playing. Bring your teacher with when you shop.
    Also, I don't know what it is with some of you seem paranoid about giving any info on your profile. If we knew where you were, we might be able to suggest some places in your area to shop and get a teacher.
  9. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Lownotes02's testimony is exemplary, and belongs to top of the list in Newbie Threads.
  10. lownotes02


    Jan 19, 2005
    Melbourne, Fl
    Larry, his name is Wayne, he owns GoldenTone Banjos in Titusville. I discoverd him by a fluke. I was in his old store buying EB strings (Strings and Things) and he had some no-name cheapo bass in there that played like butter, the action was killer on it. I thought it was the bass....he said it was the setup, and he said he could make any bass play like that. (He certainly rose to the challenge on my Palatino. ;) )
    I dont know what the average luthier charges, but to plane the hump out of the fingerboard (it must have been about a half-inch high), cut a non-adjustable bridge to where I had really low string action with no buzzing notes (it played great until the top started to give way) he charged me 125 bucks. To replace the broken saddle (I think thats what its called) he charged me 35 bucks. When the saddle broke in two, he hand carved me a new one out of some harder wood and reinstalled it, and charged me 25 dollars. To repair the cracked tailpiece, 30 bucks. (This was 4 trips total to the repair shop.)
    Im a noob, granted, but his prices seem really cheap to me, and his work is excellent. I think I read a decent setup alone on a cheap bass could run about 250, and Im assuming that doesnt include the host of problems that Ive had. I wish I could find an auto-mechanic who was as reasonable and meticulous as he is!
    Have you ever heard of Wayne? Also, is your guy Sol in Orlando?
  11. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I got a no-name china off of e-bay about 4 years ago. yeah... its a p.o.s.... but not that bad. when i got it it really really really needed setup. i've had to repair it about once every winter but the winters up here are pretty harsh. It has a solid top which is nice. I've mostly had neck type problems. the top block cracked then the neck joint came loose there was also a problem with the back seperating up near the button due to these problems. the finger board was "Ebonized" but after they planed it during the setup that was all gone. they had put black paint on it, but i dont know why. Most of that has worn off. I'm using D'addario Med Arco Helicores and I have a Glasser Carbon bow with Salt and Pepper hair and I use Pops rosin. Despite that I've had to put some money into it for repairs and upgrades (strings, bridge) it actually is an alright bass. It sounds better than any of the laminated top basses i've heard. the neck was kind of carved with a twist in it? :rolleyes: and it has a knot in it too but it plays fine. So maybe i sort of lucked out but i definatly would have been better off to have waited untill i had some more money and bought a better bass. It would have worked out money wise because of the work i had to put into the cheap one. So buyer beware. I recomend against buying an istrument that you haven't played. And i mean that specific instrument, not just that model. live and learn

  12. fallon


    Jul 6, 2003
    for a reasonably good bass,without the price tag,let's say I don't know one from another and I had an open cheque book,I would empty my account if I went on price alone.Brand names would help me in Scotland people!
  13. Tom Hutton

    Tom Hutton

    Nov 22, 2004
  14. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    Well this is a kind of old thread but...

    I bought a korean bass ($800 or there about) close to 5 years ago from ebay (wow, time flys). It was solid wood with a thick ebony fingerboard and tailpiece. The neck was real thick, I had to have a little work done there but after that and after I had it setup and it was a pretty good bass. I think it will develop a good sound over the years, it was really openning up by the time I sold it. The peg and tuners were real crap if I remember right. All in all it was a fine for the money. Better than a lot of other entry level bass I have seen.

    There are exceptions to every rule.
  15. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    I just found out that the bass I was speaking about in the above post just developed a crack in the back (???) underneath the sound post. Apparently they’ll have to take off the top to fix it. I feel terrible, but it was fine when I sold it to the new owner.

    Maybe it’s better to get a cheap plywood bass than a cheap solid one.
  16. mpoppitt


    Mar 28, 2005
    Austin Texas
    I bought one of these cheap chinese basses almost 6 years ago, and I will share my experience. I knew nothing about upright, I was playing a washtub in a hillbilly/jug band, but as we got better, it became obvious I was gonna have to step up to the plate, and get a proper bass.

    I bought one of those no-name plywood chinese basses, because that's all I could afford. The action was SO high, that I couldn't learn to properly slap on it. Replacement strings didn't fit into the slots, and had to be dremmeled. the ebonized maple board had a knot in the grain right where the neck met the body, and a small crack developed there. After continued playing the crack got bigger, and the whole bottom half of the board broke off in the middle of a gig! My nickname to this day is snaggletooth because of the way it looked. I put in the shop and had a proper ebony board, new nut, bridge, and the action completly set up, to the tune of around $400. I thought I was in heaven, though, as it played excellent.

    Within the last year however, someone bumped in to me while I was carrying the bass in it's soft case, and put 2 huge cracks in the side towards the bottom. I put duct tape on it, and it hasn't spread yet. BUT, within the last 6 months I noticed a small crack under one of the "feet" of the bridge. Even worse, 2 gigs ago, I noticed a crack along the top-right edge wher the top attaches to the body. The whole top is coming off! I can pull on it, and see right in. Eventually the crack will continue around the edge, the top will get looser, and the sound post will just fall.

    Now this bass now sounds terrible, as you might imagine. but I think it's gonna cost more to fix then it's worth, and even then, what will be next to break? In my 6 years of upright experience, I have played many other basses, and if I had to do it again, I would have definitly just bought a nicer one. Although I genuinely do like the sound of this bass (at least before the front started to come off), it has been a constant source of frustration since I got it. Now I have to do something, and quick! But that will be another thread.
  17. Alot of what you say are "Cracks" is prolly Open Seams or Laminates separating.This is a plywood bass ,Correct?
    If you got all that work done for $400.00 including an Ebony fingerboard ,you got one hell of a deal.The crack under the bridge foot [G side?] could be your fault if the soundpost is tight,it may be pushing the whole bass open because it is to long.I have a Spanking Machine in my shop for Client's like you...
  18. I was just gonna say....if you got all that work done including an ebony board, you have the cheapest luthier in the world! What's the work like?