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"Roth"? Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Michael Nickerson, Apr 24, 2003.

  1. Fully-carved tone superiority overcomes tlc maintenance

    4 vote(s)
  2. well-made laminate stands the test of time compared to the fully-carved

    2 vote(s)
  1. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
    I've been playing bass for awhile, but still consider myself a novice. I've also had the use of a plywood Kaye for the past few years but, sadly, have had to return it to its owner. I'm now going through withdrawal and am searching for a "new" upright. I've enjoyed the insight offered by this forum on various issues and hope that someone out there might help keep me grounded in my quest. I have a chance to "audition" a purported Roth bass, and I'm unable to find out anything substantial about this maker. Bass player friends have touted the virtues of carved basses (and I'm leaning in that direction) and this bass is admittedly a laminated bass. How do I properly tell a carved bass from a well-made laminated bass? Am I asking for too much tlc trouble with a carved bass? How much sound quality will I sacrifice with a laminated bass v a carved bass? The bass with which I'm interested is at http://www.colby.edu/~bknelson/doublebass/ . Any feedback is GREATLY appreciated.
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    In this price range, don't concern yourself, so much, with the brand name. Joe German factory, 1950s.

    A professional condition, good sounding carved bass w/setup for $2400? That could be a deal. Why is the seller selling? What repairs has it had done to it? Can you get a teacher's opinion, or better yet, a luthier's? (in person, of course...)

    Well made plywoods (i.e. old kays, american standards, new shens or christophers), can provide a lifetime of service, with minimal tlc. A properly setup plywood can kick ass, with fewer headaches. What kind of playing are you/will you be doing?

    Buy whatever instrument because it sounds good, not because it might "sound better later".
  3. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    To determine ply from carved, look at the edge of the top and the back, you'll see the grain wrap around on carved and you'll see the ply layers on a plywood. Look at both, since the top may be carved with a plywood back and ribs (a hybrid).

    That back does look like flamed maple ply to me, but I can't really tell for sure from here. :)
  4. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
    Thank you, Nick, Ken, and John! Your thoughts are very helpful. The "owner" is a mother who is selling a bass for which her son is no longer interested. She has indicated to me that the bass is indeed plywood and has lowered the asking price. I would be playing the bass in primarily pizz mode (my first love is jazz), but I do practice with bow. The only "repairs" appear to have been a little finger board planing and a new bridge. I appreciate the tip on spotting carved from plywood, John. It makes sense. If I like its feel and sound, I'm going to try to arrange to have a local luthier look at it. I guess I also wanted to get others' opinions of the pros & cons of carved v ply. Thanks!!
  5. Business must be good.;)
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  7. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
    Thanks, Chris. Those threads were VERY helpful!! I'm getting the message loud and clear: "Try as many different basses as you can and go with the one that best reproduces the sound you have in your head, all while staying within budget. Be prepared to live with the "trade-offs" of different construction types for whichever bass you finally choose."

    Still wondering (out of curiosity) if anyone can offer any insight / background to Roth basses.
  8. In the USA, Roth labeled basses were and are now wholesaled by the Scherl & Roth Violin Company of Cleveland Ohio. The company was formed by Henrich Roth and Max Scherl in the 1930's. Scherl & Roth traditionally sold a line of better grade student violin family instruments. Up until the last decade or so, Scherl & Roth basses were made in Germany and were generally considered to be top of the line factory (cottage industry) instruments. The best instruments are labeled (and stamped into the back) Ernst Henrich Roth and many of the these are truely fine instruments. Many of the Roth basses are distinguished by having both an endpin and a separate peg for the tailpeiece wire. The Scherl & Roth company was sold some time ago to one of the big music corporations and now most of their instruments are being made in South Korea. The Korean made Roth instrument have been very trouble prone and in my opinion are not much better than the cheap Chinese BSO's although they appear to the uneducated eye to be much be finished. It's sad to see this once fine instrument company brought down to this level.
  9. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
    Thank you, Bob!
  10. Bob;

    Are the Roth Basses that are made in Korea clearly labeled that way inside?

    Were the German made ones labeled that way?


  11. Yes to both questions.

  12. Yeah, but gasoline was less than 25-cents a gallon most places back then, too.

    The price of that Juzek would have bought about 600 gallons of gas!

    When I got home from Vietnam, in 1972, I was shocked and astounded to see that gasoline had somehow gotten all the way up to 32.9 cents a gallon while I'd been gone.

    Of course, if you could get a Juzek for the price of 600 gallons of gas today, even at today's prices, that would be a pretty good deal.
  13. Thanks for the answer Bob.
  14. cfl


    Apr 20, 2002
    Hi, This is my first note on the board. We had Roth laminated basses in High School in Lincoln, NE in the early to mid 1970's. I liked using the Roth over my own Meisal that I got in 1964-65. So much so that I almost did a switcheroo with the school bass when I graduated in 1975. Luckily I didn't. I still own the Meisal which was expertly set up by Bob Popek of Dietze Music in Lincoln 1991. He dressed the fingerboard which was a revelation to me at the time, took away an irritating G string buzz that developed in the early 80's. I like my Meisal but would have like the Roth better had it been mine. I gotta add this, after looking at basses on the internet over the past few months just today I sent the final payment for a Bulgarian bass to Bob Gollihur. Quite a step up for this player.

    Just for the record I've strictly been an upright classical player w/ some pit orchestra time thrown in. Only been paid for playing classical for about two years. Oh yeah, did the National Guard band thing for 10 years. Concert band music on the String Bass.
  15. cfl


    Apr 20, 2002
    Just looked at my bass label.

    G. Meisel (or D. Meisel...german script)
    Geigen bass und cellobau
    9005 3/4 Stradivarious
    Made in West Germany

    Came with a student brazilwood bow that I can remember flipping the pages of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with the tip of the bow in a concert in 1976 thinking I was one of the 3 musketeers ;)

    My Boston Bull terrier mut used to piss in the scroll when I had it at home while in Junior and Senior High, gives it a kind of panache.

    Chuck Lavaty
    Madison, WI
  16. I'm playing a gig at a local high school (pit band for "A Chorus Line") and their band room is stocked with about 8 old, beat up carved-top Roths (all with the seperate tailpiece peg).

    Naturally, I tried them all. The set ups weren't bad for high-school instruments, and the tone on a couple of them was gorgeous, probably due a couple decades worth of daily "play in."

    They have so many--think they'll miss one?
  17. Link


    Jul 6, 2002
    Latrobe, PA
    We have two at our school, one is compeltely totaled [top is completely collapsed and parts are missing], the other is just in serious disrepair. When they were new [my dad has played them for some musicals back in the day] they were not all too good, mainly because they had never been set up, but even then. The Roth we use at school does not project sound and it hurts to play. If they had been set up, and had been taken care of, i'm sure they would have been much better... but our Roths are not good at all... Until that last few years, they had hardly been played and they have never been maintained... it's going to be quite sometime before they replace those two basses [if at all...]... it's actually quite sad... i shake my fist at them...