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Renting in the SW - The String Shop of AZ or The Bass Cafe?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Jason Sypher, Dec 8, 2011.


  1. Fellow bassists. I don't post here anymore but I feel that this information is important to the community of professional bassists. For those that don't know me I am a professional bassist who travels about one fifth of the year touring. Over the years I have found that renting is the best option and as many of the places I play are in or near large cities I usually have no problem finding a good shop to help me out. In fact, I have never been denied a rental in the past five years or so, even in as far flung locales as Budapest. Bass players are, in my opinion, a special breed of musician and we share an understanding of the difficulties of our chosen profession. With travel restrictions tightening and oversized baggage fees skyrocketing it is, in my opinion, vital that pro bass shops provide some kind of rental option for the traveling professional. I have had no difficulties in this regard until my recent trip to Arizona. Steve Koscica is the owner of a shop that has established itself in the Phoenix area, here is Steve with his fine Italian bass String Emporium, About Us. Many may have heard of Steve here on these forums, he has been the subject of some debate in the past, mainly for using the forums to promote his business but also regarding some discontent with his business practices. I have been to Steve's house and played his basses and he seems like a nice enough guy to me, I even went so far as to defend him here on the boards.
    I recently contacted Steve about renting a bass and he told me that he doesn't rent due to 'insurance' concerns. Fair enough. I wrote him a few times suggesting ways we might get around his concerns (i.e. me paying for the bass up front on my VISA) but, in the end I didn't even get a response from Steve to my inquiries. I had hoped to appeal to the 'bass player' in Steve as, in my experience, there is a kind of bass player brotherhood among us who choose this difficult profession. Well, Steve, true to some of the character analysis on these boards, didn't come through for me. I ended up having to rent a Czech Ease bass here in NY and drag it all over the country which cost me over $500 in baggage fees. It's important to note that Czech-Eaze is a little bit of a misnomer at this point. Continental and Delta charged $25 but US Airways charged $200 each time I boarded a plane. I understand this is really just 'my problem' (we could say that about most things in life if we choose to be cynical) but man, would life have been much easier if Steve could have found a way to help me out. My two gigs I needed the bass for were local and at very fine musical theaters (be sure to check out the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix which is a world class hall on par with the small hall at Carnegie). Luckily, I didn't have to play the boxy little Czech-Eaze at the MIM thanks to The String Shop of Tempe. The String Shop of Arizona - Musical Instruments | Facebook They have a limited web presence which is why I hadn't heard of them but Terry at the Shop provided me with a very fine Chinese instrument for the MIM performance, perfectly set up, with pick up, delivered, for a very reasonable cost. The difference in service and attitude from the Bass Cafe could not be more striking and my faith in the brotherhood of bass had been immediately restored. Please make a note when thinking of traveling to the area to check out the String Shop of AZ as your go-to professional bass shop in the area.
     
  2. THE SAW

    THE SAW

    Sep 14, 2006
    Traveling with a bass on the airlines has become an exercise in masochism. In fact, traveling WITHOUT a bass is bad too.

    I don't know Steve, but if he is a businessman he WILL want to rent to you. The only thing standing in the way is the possibility that his equipment will be destroyed by those XXXX-XXX XXX-XXXXs who throw bass trunks around. He probably figured the risks were too great. Insurance is great, but still a PIA if you have to collect.

    Also, while claiming Steve used this site to promote his business (I have not seen, nor looked for any of his posts) you go ahead a promote some other business in some back door fashion.

    Look, I don't really GAS, just know that we all understand that at the end of the day, it is those GD airlines who are really to blame.

    SAW, out.
     
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yep, cause Jason's relating both a positive AND a negative customer experience. That's different than "promoting a business". And despite your assurances as to what you THINK might happen ("if he is a businessman he WILL want to rent to you"), Jason is relating what ACTUALLY happened.
    Also, don't skim. Jason wasn't trying to rent a bass to FLY with (he could have done that with his own bass), he was looking to rent a bass in ARIZONA to play in ARIZONA and one of the gigs was in the same city as String Emporium.
     
  4. Reading is a skill.

    In short, Steve Koscina doesn't rent basses, no matter if he knows you, no matter if you've met in person, no matter if you pay for the bass up front, no matter if the venue is world class and a 30 minutes drive from you business. That is useful information for the traveling professional. Conversely, The String Shop of AZ DOES rent basses and provides professional level services and is the same distance from the Musical Instrument Museum, where some of you may end up performing someday if you are lucky.

    It should be noted that, if I remember correctly, Steve provided me and my wife a hotel to stay at nearby, years ago when I was looking to buy a bass from him so Steve is not just an all around bad guy. I didn't buy a bass from him but some esteemed members of the TB community have purchased basses from him with some success.

    I personally wished Steve could have been more gracious and helped me out, his lack of services costs me $575 and a lot of lugging of a bass I only had to use once, but that is his prerogative. I wished he had stayed present in the email conversation and written me back or followed up on helping me find someone who would rent me a bass. He didn't and that shows me something of his business character. But, again, those are his choices and he has a right to run his business any way he chooses. Unfortunately, business fall under more scrutiny these days and are more often held accountable due to the fact that we are all more connected and have the ability to discuss such practices openly online. (Wait till the good people at US AIRWAYS see the complete hi-def video I took of the way their ticket counter people handled the charges levied me to board with my Czech-Ease bass...charging me before even weighing or measuring the cargo).

    I should also add that Continental and Delta both charged me only $25 for the Czech-Ease though I highly recommend anyone who is interested in purchasing one of these opting for the feather-light case as the one I had tipped the scales at 51lbs. therefore garnering me more attention that I had hoped for)

    Regarding "Promoting Businesses" I believe the TB rules are that you cannot promote your OWN business on TB (unless you are legally using the TB Bazaar). I'm not affiliated with The String Shop of Arizona so I am not in violation of TB rules.
     

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