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Seeking advice

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Mike Goodbar, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. So here’s the deal:

    I'm a semi-pro player (4-8 nights per month) playing mostly straight-ahead jazz. Right now I’m playing an old Englehardt mostly with an Underwood pickup and GK amp. I guess it plays pretty well for a plywood bass, but I’d be happier with a carved bass. However, due to lack of funds (wife, kids, mortgage, car payments, bills, etc). I don’t see myself sinking any money into an even modestly priced carved instrument.

    I do, however, possess an old SLAB (1966 Fender Jazz, custom color) that is supposedly worth quite a bit of jing (I’ve had armchair appraisers tell me its worth upwards of $5000.) I’ve spoken to my friends who’ve said I’d be nuts to sell it, and to be honest, I’d feel like a sh*t for getting rid of it. After all, my dad bought it for me when I was 17, and its practically a family heirloom for chrissakes.

    But the thing really just sits in the corner, as I’m playing upright nearly exclusively. If I sell the Fender for what they’re telling me its worth, I could get into a decent carved bass and have enough left over for a cheap-o slab if I should get a call.

    Do I sell the Fender and buy a carved bass? Do I soup up the Englehardt (ebony fingerboard, new pickup, amp) since I play mostly amplified? Do I just keep playing the Englehardt until I hit the lottery? Do I sell my house and live in an Airstream trailer?

    They say asking for advice is just looking for confirmation of the answer you already know. So, somebody, please confirm my answer so that I can get on with my life!
  2. rablack


    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, Texas
    If it's really worth that much (seems a bit rich), is just sitting in the corner, and you can get over the heirloom thing... I'd sell it in a flash. If you sell/trade the Englehardt as well you can upgrade even more and have enough for a decent slab and some change for string experiments.

    I'd want a firm slab buyer before going too much further down this road though. I'd also want to find the dream DB that I couldn't live without so there would be no regrets. One good point - if the '66 slab is such a collector's piece it probably won't go down in value. You have time to work through this one.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I would say dump a little cash in the plywood. The Slab is irreplaceable. A wood bass is a labor of love. They are a lot more high-maintenance and your expectations are high -- especially high after selling your particular Fender to get it -- and for $4-$5,000 you'll find yourself in the low-mid level wood bass (unless you're lucky) that probably wouldn't outshine your ply by much, especially once you get it through the amp. For my money, plys usually amplify better than wood basses anyhow -- as they can often actually sound better through the amp than acoustically. Wood basses really shine when you're playing sans amp, and with the Stick'O Pain. Steve Gillmore, who has played with Phil Woods since before baseball was invented, prefers plywoods and plays them exclusively. His hobby is to grab good deals on plys and strip the factory finish off them and put on real varnish, which he says opens ply basses up tremendously.

    Another thought is to check into a carved-top plywood bass. You might be able to swing this without losing the Fender. This'll get you a little more wood in your sound without having to leave your price range. Or, sink the money into the Englehart and play it until you trip across an incredible deal. This can be done with some diligence in watching the estate-sale listings in the papers and the like. There is a bass player in my home town who is famous for just that. He's always (well, maybe two or three in ten years) getting these old carved basses for hundreds of dollars! His last score was a Tyrolean from the mid-late 1800's that he got for less or near $1,000 - an incredible bass...

    Another thought that I had while giving your post a final look-see, is that a wood bass played only 4-8 nights a week will almost never likely sound up to its potential. It'll be asleep all the time. The Juzek that I had, even at 70 years old, would sound like hell for the first hour or so if I hadn't played it for a few days. My old plywood always sounded consistent, even after being ignored for long periods of time (weeks). My current bass, probably because she's a baby (a bit over a year right now) is all stuffed up every day when I get her out of the bag for the first hour or so.

    That's my 2 pence.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I have several pieces of equipment that I feel this way about, although none as potentially valuable as yours. As you said, this is going to be a gut-level call, and no one can make it but you.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of variables here which you haven't begun to deal with yet. Have you actually gotten out there and TRIED any lower end carved basses yet? Because having a specific idea of what you might be able to get in your price range would be valuable info when it comes time to make the decision. Also, getting an actual appraisal from a potential buyer or consignment-seller of the slab would be an important link in the chain. When you have more of the pieces in place, the true weight of the sentimental value will become more apparent, and then the decision will hopefully seem more clear.

    But if it was me and I was unhappy with the Englehardt, I'd probably sell the plank and buy something that I would actually PLAY and be happy with.

    BTW, what does your wife think about all of this? If you overlook that angle of the problem, you are a far braver soul than I. :D
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Okay here it goes:

    If you can get 5,000 for the Fender Jazz, sell it, sell the Englehardt, sell the amp, and buy a carved bass, a new EBG and a new amp and take your wife out to dinner.
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Make an informed choice. Check what stupid prices stores are asking for old J-Basses on www.gbase.com and see what humans are actually obtaining for them on EBay.

    A perfect fantasy deal is to find a dealer who moves both uprights and planks and trade the Jazz & Eng.
  7. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Don't forget prices are higher here in the NYC area. He will get more bass for the money than you and I will.
  8. Hi Mike,
    I would not sell the Jazz.
    1966 custom color is rare. Dots or square inlays ?
    Depending on condition and color etc 5000USD
    maybe even more is reasonable.

    I would suggest the following.
    Learn all you can about DB´s. Search the papers
    and make a find. It´s possible ! Fully possible.

    After all the Jazz is a present from your father.

  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'd heard the opposite on that, short of pricing Gage's basses, due to the glut of instruments here. Just hearsay, though.
  10. Thanks, all, for your thoughtful replies.

    I've got some research to do: a real appraisal for my Fender and some playing of low-mid carved basses.

    As Ray advised, I suspect that the amount of carved bass I'd be able to get in the price range allowed by the worth of my Fender, the difference may not be appreciable.

    I've never really got any complaints from anyone about my tone (althought its really not what I'm "hearing").

    Considering the amount and kind of playing I do, right now, I'm inclined to keep the Fender and try to make at least a polyesther purse out of a sow's ear. Who knows? An ebony fingerboard, some new strings, and a nice K&K set up from (all hail) Bob Gollihur, and I just might have something that I can stand to play. I'll also take Ed's advice and look into some hybrids.

    In this particular case, Chris, she's given me free rein. I'm thinking I should act quick before she changes her mind.

    Dots. Bound fingerboard, Shoreline gold (many chips), original hardware.

    Maybe I should just put it in a vault and get it out when it's time for my kids to go to college!

    I played a Christopher at the Midwest Clinic and was quite impressed. (I wasn't aware that Christopher also makes the body for the Eminence.) I don't know if I could get a grand for the Anglefahrt, though.

    Thanks again, gentlemen, for your advice.
  11. Hi Mike !

    If you change your mind I will give you this bass
    for the Fender !

    But you have to pick it up here in Stockholm Sweden ;-))

  12. Include round-trip air fare and its a deal!:D
  13. In case anybody's interested:

    After much deliberation, I finally broke down and bought a Christopher hybrid bass (model 300). I chose a 7/8 Busetto from the variety of half-dozen plywood, hybrid and fully carved basses the dealer had there for me to choose from.

    The Christopher I picked out sounded great and immediately felt comfortable to play; a big, dark sound even with the factory strings and setup. For the price, it certainly more than exceeds my expectations. I liked the sound even better than the 20K Pollman he had in his shop.

    I think 7/8 hybrid was the smart way to go for the kind of playing I do (90% jazz, 10% classical). Sounds good with the bow, and I figure it's about 2/3 less likely to crack!

    The flame on the back on the particular bass I chose isn't as pronounced as it was on the other Christophers there, and there were just a couple of cosmetic issues having to do with the varnish (which the luthier promises to fix) that would cause me to rate the workmanship at "very good" rather than "excellent." But, hey, for the price...

    The good news is that thanks to a terrific deal (including pro setup and upgrade tuners), I was able to buy it without having to sell the Fender. Plus, I was able to keep my Engelhardt to use as a second bass, storage unit or decorative planter.
  14. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Welcome to the Exaulted Order of Cristopher Bass Owners, EOOCBO!

  15. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Good goin', Mike. I'm glad you didn't have to part with the J. As much as I'm obsessed with DB, I'd really miss my Fender if it weren't there. Enjoy the Christopher.

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