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Recommendations on luthiers for fingered C extensions

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Mar 13, 2003.

  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I live in Ottawa, Canada and I'm looking for recommendations of luthiers that do fingered C extensions with capos for each note.

    Mario Lamarre in Montreal is one option and probably the closest to me. Then there are a number of luthiers in the US for which I would have to drive a good eight hours or so twice (dropoff and pickup) and the price rises considerably over the border (crappy Canadian dollar doesn't help). I know I could ship it but would rather not.

    I like Bill Merchant's extension with the wheel on the top but I'm not sure about the thumb rest although he says he can leave that off. I know Arnold Schnitzer does them and I am guessing that Jeff Bollbach does them although there's nothing specific on his web site. I am not sure what Gage and Kolstein charge but I'm sure it's a lot.

    I've seen Mario Lamarre's extensions and people I know that have them are very happy. Problem is that he wants the bass for two to three weeks whereas most others say a week which is easier to deal with. The other good thing about Bill for me is that he has a location upstate which is a little closer to me.

  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Though I haven't actually seen any of Mario's work I have it on reliable reference that his work is very fine. An extension needs to be created by an anal retentive [or a luthier in that mode]. This is not an area where price or proximity should figure largely.
  3. Baron von Basso

    Baron von Basso

    Nov 3, 2002
    I am also looking for extensions. I've always used the Horst keyed one but that isn't an option anymore. I do know about Gage and Kolstein as I've contacted both of them. I haven't seen Gage's, but he said that the price is $1400US (!!) for just an extension with the one closure. Additional "fingers" for the other notes are $200 EACH. I've heard NOTHING but great things about David and his shop and have always felt good dealing with him but he is quite expensive. I guess the location and rent are causes but you do get what you pay for. He does good work from all accounts that I've heard.

    Kolstein's intrigues me. It has one closure on the E and one that is on a slider and he told me about $800. I'm a little unsure of the extra wood up on top to make the track for the slider. I don't know what that may do to the overall sound or balance of the bass. I've also heard that the sliding finger sometimes loosens and the one person that I've talked to that knew somebody with one didn't speak very highly of it. I plan on trying one at his shop when I get up there. Until I can get a feel for it to decide otherwise, it is one of the 2 or 3 that I'm considering.

    The other two are from Shank's Strings and Andy Stetson at the Cincinatti Bass Cellar. They seem affordable and I'd trust Mike Shank with any work on any bass. I've heard that Stetson's are supposed to be good.

    The prices seem to have skyrocketed recently. I think that $1000 for an overgrown popsicle stick on the top of your bass is way too much money. Maybe with all of the fixins, but for one that only closes at a low E you should be able to find a good one for not too much.
  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    It's a lot of money without a doubt. My vote so far is for Bill Merchant. I've chatted quite a bit with him about it on e-mail. His price is round about $1500 for an extension with all the capos. And yes everyone else in NY of note is a fair bit more. I particularly like Bill's use of maple and ebony and the roller at the top.

    Mario Lamarre is somewhere around CAD 1700 for an extension with all the capos so his price is a fair bit lower than the NY luthiers (he's in Montreal) but you have to book about six or seven months ahead and he needs the bass for two or three weeks.


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