Roth Bass; Can someone advise?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by all_grown_up, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. :confused: I have a question that perhaps you could help me with.

    I am now learning string bass (I played primarily fretless electric). I have been renting a bass from my teacher who is willing to sell it to me.

    The bass is a Roth. I think it is 100 years old. He wants $3500 for it which he bases on the advice he has received.

    I really like it. I have found moving to double bass from electric relatively painless. It is easy to play and sounds great. This is pure instinct on my part as I have played no other string basses for more than 30 seconds.

    I could shop for months and perhaps I should

    It is not exactly in great shape cosmetically but is structurally sound. It is probably fine for its age.

    I don't know enough to make a judgment. If someone were to say ("I have a 1962 Fender Jazz in great shape for $3500" it would be easy.

    Advice would be most appreciated. :hyper:
  2. Thanks for the suggestion. Here are the pics. I understand it is a carved top plywood back and sides. Note the painted "flames" on the back and side. Separate end and bridge pins on bottom. I will add some posts with more pics.
  3. Pictures of Roth

    Attached Files:

  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The Flames on that Bass look a little to perfect to be Carved from that period. It almost looks as if it is plywood. Especially the condition without any visible rib cracks and top cracks.. Look at the edges of the top and back, especially where the back is chipped.. see if there are layers of wood.. Plywood...

    If so, I would date this Bass from around the 50s or 60s..

    If I am wrong, and that is a carved Bass 50-100 years old in THAT condition with that wood.. Grab It!!........ If not, work on the price a little.. Get your bass teacher to help you valuate it for what it actually is......

    Correction/addition.. I just re-read your initial post and it IS Plywood Back and sides.. this changes everything.. Yes.. this is NOT 100 years old but maybe around 50 years or so.. Make sure the top IS actually carved.. The Bass looks beautiful.. Sound and Playability is key PLUS the cost to get it into tip-top shape..
  5. You are right. It is not 100 years old but more like 50. Carved top and "painted" plywood.
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    This variety of bass (carved top, plywood sides) is someties referred to as a hybrid bass. They can be very dependable, and get a really nice tone. If you can get the instrument to a repairperson, or reputable dealer, have them give it an overall inspection. The pictures are helpful, but there is a lot more that can be seen in person.

    Good luck!
  7. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Roth - and some other makers - produced some plywoods with "faux" flame, and as mentioned, it looks like this is one of 'em. Those tiger stripes in the maple are painted/shaded. The ones like this I've seen or heard of have all been from the ~ 60's.
  8. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    I have a Roth. In fact, mine looks just like this one. Mine is an Ernest Heinrich Roth (there are many variations of names involving Roth basses, currently they are Sherl and Roth I believe). Anyway, mine is a carved top with ply back and sides, the date on the label is 1966. Sounds pretty good. I paid $2500 for it about 10 years ago, I've been offered $3500 and told it was possibly worth more. Mine looks in about the same condition, though mine has had the scroll cracked off and the neck separated from the body at one point before I had it. Repairs have been checked and considered to be done well by my luthier. I've had no problems.

    I use it semi-professionally, gigging 1-2 times a week in jazz groups. No one ever complained about my sound, many folks have said they like it - but I am looking for my next bass. :cool:

    Hope that helps. I'll post pics if I can figure out how.
  9. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Here's some pics...

    I think mine was re-laquered (spelling?) at some point; the color of this one is darker, but I can see a lighter color in places where it is scratched that resembles the other Roth above.
  10. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    And the label...
  11. Thank you Larry,

    Mine has exactly the same lable with a 1959 manufacture date.

    This was very helpful. It is the right bass for me at this time. It is a pleasure to play. :bassist:
  12. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    What kind of strings does it have on, or what do plan to put on?

    Spiros gave me great growl and sustain, but lately I've been digging the Obligatos. They bow better and have more punch in the attack for pizz. I think the Obligatos make it sound more natural when amplified.

    Good luck and congrats on the new bass.
  13. Per my teacher, it has Helicore Hybrid Light Gauge but he was thinking about putting on Thomastik Spirocore Weich, Strings are a topic for next lesson.

  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Hey..... what do I win.. I guessed the age without seeing the Bass in person or even a Label...

    Door #1?.. Door #2?.. or.. Just show me the door?
  15. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I nearly bought one of those Roths a few years ago. I called it a BBQ bass because the "flames" look like they'd just come off the grill at Burger King. I understand that they were acid etched rather than painted. sometimes the flaming process caused the finish to raise and get kind of ugly.

    That said, these hybrids sound nice. Just don't look too closely :meh:
  16. The pywood bass I played in High School had faux flame on neck with super thick high gloss finish, as well as on the back and sides. The faux flame looked better than the examples above though. It was German although I don't no the maker. It did not sound very good but it was nicely made.

  17. Boy, this thread brings back some memories! :crying: My first bass was a Roth ($1400 in 1982 :smug: ) But it served me well. The first strings I ever used on it were the spirocore weichs, but knowing what I know now, I would reccomend correlli mediums. They are thin like the weichs, but they bow much easier and less scratch,