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roth fiberglass = total lost cause?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by sparklydevil, Nov 10, 2002.


  1. sparklydevil

    sparklydevil Guest

    Dec 17, 2001
    Detroit, MI
    hi all,

    i'm a lurker, first time post.

    so, i'm attempting to tackle the upright. i've been taking lessons for a little over a year, but have been unsuccessful in my search for a bass of my own.

    i've just come across a roth fiberglass for cheap cheap. i did some research on fiberglass basses, and with a few exeptions, found nothing but horrible reviews of the tone & sound quality.

    i've played this roth, and i actually think it sounds pretty decent. not fabulous, but certainly not a total wash. i'm no upright expert of course, but i brought along my experienced upright bass playing friend, and he agreed. it also comes from a very good luthier, who can do magic with crappy basses.

    thing is, i'm a rockabilly slap player, and the fingerboard on this sucker is fiberglass as well, so, when i slap the steel strings against the fingerboard, i get an exceptionally loud and rather unpleasant clack. i'm used to slapping pretty hard for the bass i play during lessons, so i tried going easier on the slapping, but it's still dang loud.

    i have a couple of options; i asked the guy to replace the strings with gut or nylon, which may reduce the clack. i also found a wooden fingerboard on ebay, and could replace the fiberglass one.

    he wants $500, which is so far the most affordable price i've found. i'm thinking this may be a good starter bass for me to learn on; i figure it will take me at least a year if not longer until i can get to the point where i can start playing shows with a band, and when that time comes i can always sell the fiberglass and trade up. i'm also attracted to the near indestructable nature of the fiberglass, and the fact that i can paint it a sassy screaming red with hot rod flames.

    is it possible for a roth to sound semi-decent with a good setup, or am i just completely clueless? does this sound like a good starter bass, or should i run like hell from the fiberglass monstrosity? the only thing i'm really worried about: if i train myself to slap lightly and then trade up to a better wooden bass and then need to slap harder - well, as i learned from teaching myself electric bass, bad playing habits are quite difficult to break.

    thank you for any input.

    -sarah
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    $500 is hard to beat. The eBay fingerboard would raise my suspicions. I believe the labor of having a good board far outweighs the cost of the wood. After all is said and done, you'll likely have as much in this thing as you would with a decent ply bass. Unless the gut string thing would fix the clack.

    You might try getting a hold of Gary Ritter. He's over north of Ann Arbor a bit, but he might be able to set you up with a decent bass and general advice. See if you can get the CrissCraft bass for a day and run it over there.
     
  3. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Also check with Rob Wilson at Wilson Violins in Birmingham.
    Rob is really getting known for his bass work.

    (He had a 1/4 size fiberglass bass in his shop a year ago, and I asked him why. He said "I'm going to make it into a boat".)
     
  4. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    sarah,

    ditto ray about the e-bay fingerboard. a luthier can look at a bunch of boards and tell the good from the bad (has a lot to do with the straightness of the grain i'm told), and a bad one won't play well for long enough to make it a bargain. i'd see a luthier about having one selected and put on.

    that aside, though, it sounds like you might have yourself a good deal on the line. $500 basses are hard to find and it sounds like the tone of this one is sufficient for your needs. the durability of fiberglass is a nice plus (esp. if you want to start practicing all manner of rockabilly bass tricks) and painting it (were you kidding here?) probably wouldn't dent the resale value too badly.

    if you wanna trade up in a couple of years that's great; if not, you've got a hell of a conversation piece!

    sean p
     
  5. jugband

    jugband

    Jan 16, 2001
    The real truth is that if you and your friend like the way it sounds, that should be about 85% of your decision.
    There's an old Roth advertising poster for auction on Ebay right now. You might find it of passing interest.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=920323679

    Actually, Scherl & Roth basses are still made, but apparently only in wood now (maybe that should tell you something...) They are listed at www.music123.com, though they don't have the prices posted.

    There is a 1950's Roth, already painted, on Ebay right now for $850. The auction doesn't end for another 4 days. (it will probably end at a higher price)
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=919870698

    You can get an ebony fingerboard for $150 to $250, and you'll have to see what a Luthier would charge you to install it (probably around $250), if the fiberglass board even CAN be replaced... it may have been "glassed on", or be integral with the neck.

    Assuming that you can do $500 worth of work to a $500 bass, you'll be in the same price-range as much for it as a low-level laminated wood bass, with an ebony or rosewood fingerboard already on it.

    Don't mess with maple or "ebonized hardwood" fingerboards. "Ebonized" means "painted black". Slapping will convert it to "Mostly Ebonized" in a matter of weeks.

    Laminated (non-Chinese) basses can be found in the $800-$1000 range if you just look around some locally, on the net, or on Ebay.

    http://www.music123.com/Item/?itemno=74808

    http://www.cutting-edgemusic.com/cuttingedge/products/product_detail.asp?Inventory=2764

    Given the fact that you want to paint it(that isn't likely to do anything good for the tone), you probably don't want to spend a lot of $$$ on one with extra-nice finish & tone.

    BTW, a lot of people gripe about the thickness of the finish on Engelhardts dulling the tone. If you got one and stripped, sanded & painted it, you probably wouldn't lose anything tone-wise over leaving the Engelhardt finish on.

    Tone isn't usually a major consideration for most Rockabilly players, since they're almost always plugged-in anyway, and the tone of the bass usually gets changed pretty much by the amplification.

    If you also play a quieter music, where you might want to mic the bass instead of using a pickup, that's where tone will take on more significance for you.

    If you can't be happy with the fingerboard that's on it, you'll probably be better off spending around $1000 on a wooden bass with an ebony fingerboard.

    Of course, I haven't heard this fiberglass fingerboard, but it's a little puzzling to me that you don't like it because it's too loud.

    Most Rockabilly players jump through all kinds of hoops to get the fingerboard slap heard well.

    Visit www.gollihur.com and check out the K&K Rockabilly Slap Special pickup system.

    Also, you might be interested in what you see at www.kingdoublebass.com

    http://www.kingdoublebass.com/instruments/roadking.html
     
  6. sparklydevil

    sparklydevil Guest

    Dec 17, 2001
    Detroit, MI
    you got that right. $2194.

    yowza.