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Sell or donate?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Axtman, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Long story short.

    I'm new to double bass and bought a very cheap Chinese Cremona SB-1 upright of Craigslist for $550. So far I have spend $900 on repairs, new strings, bridge, etc. The recent luthier I took it to, David Goad (David Goad Violins), said not to dump any more money into it and get a better bass. I am on the hunt for a better bass but am curious about what I should do with the one I have. It has obvious repairs and still needs work so I would feel badly about taking much money for the bass. On the other hand a friend is a music teacher at a school and she might welcome the instrument donation.

    What would you do? Thanks!
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Donate it. It's probably not the easiest playable instrument and will self-destruct sooner than later, but maybe a kid will be inspired to pick up the double bass.
  3. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Having donated several higher end instruments over the past few years, I would also say donate. Ask your luthier for and informal evaluation of the instrument ($900) and you can use that for tax purposes, where's you'd probably sell it for half. BUT... MORE IMPORTANT.... the satisfaction I've gotten seeing instruments used in youth orchestras and college programs that really needed them - and gave young musicians a chance to play a quality instrument was (as they say on TV) priceless.

    This instrument, in a middle school orchestra etc, will make a huge difference to some student
  4. Detonate and post video.

    Ok, seriously...what Louis said, to the letter.
  5. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Yeah I am leaning towards donating it. My friend works for a Catholic school and does the music program for K thru 8. I'm sure some 7th or 8th grader would love to get his/her paws on an actual upright bass. The bass sound okay though cosmetically it looks like a dog chew toy. The action is a bit low and has a fixed bridge. This will probably make it easier for a beginner to learn.
  6. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    With a donation you get a receipt that you can write straight off the top at tax time, with the value that you choose. I've done that in the past a couple of times. It's a great way to recoup the value of an instrument that you might have a hard time selling. (Not much use if you're not itemizing, but there you go.)
  7. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    The K-8 music program sounds like a great idea. If you think it looks like a chew toy now, come back in a year. There was a luthier/bass maker that I met in Berlin several years ago who makes copies of very high basses for (mostly orchestra/soloists etc); when he has the bass in the white or maybe the first layers of finish, he loans it to his grand kids' school for a few months, and they come back "antiqued"!!
    Roger Davis likes this.
  8. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    If the neck is still good, consider having it removed and making your own electric upright from it, if you have the skills. Keep the endpin and toss the rest of it.
  9. Ortsom

    Ortsom Banned

    Mar 23, 2016
    $550 + $900 repairs, parts & strings: sorry to hear your bad experience. Indeed best not dump more money into it. Commercially these things remain a bad choice if you have to pay someone to do the work.

    Emotionally & tax-wise it seems attractive to donate, but you can consider to keep your new strings; they will also fit your new bass. For selling, a BSO that looks like a dog chew toy will probably not fetch much, but you can try. The economics depend on your tax situation, and how much you could sell it for.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The issue is, if it is that bad, do you want a new musician struggling with it? Donating it if it is a piece of $%&*% isn't much of a service.

    Ask your friend if she could use it, and get a receipt. If not, put it on CL cheap - someone might even use it for a decoration. I also like the idea of saving the neck if it is any good - build a Franken-doghouse.
  11. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    If you donate it, I wouldn't donate it to a school unless it was a music school with someone who teaches bass. My school has 4 uprights that have been collecting dust for 2 decades now.

    It would be much better to donate it to some kid who really wants to learn to play, also - as opposed to a school.

    And my final thought, when people pay for things they often respect them more than if they were given to them. Giving things away is great, but IMO only when there's truly a need for what's being given away. Giving something away to someone because it might come in handy one day I feel is as good as throwing it away. I think instruments should go to a place where they will be most likely to create music.
  12. Ortsom

    Ortsom Banned

    Mar 23, 2016
    The two reviews found about this specific instrument model (and the only ones I found so far) are quite positive. But it does appear to be an all 'maple' ply instrument with ebonised fittings, in the lowermost price range. As such, investments (as in: work by a luthier) are rarely commercially justified, as your luthier said. What's wrong with it?
  13. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Here is what I had two professional luthiers do to the bass:
    Replaced the warped bridge with new non-adjustable.
    Replace the old gut strings with new set of steel strings.
    Replace old nut and cut a new nut.
    Plane and dye the whitewood fingerboard.
    Reglue open seams on the body.
    Replace the endpin tip. (He might have even put a new endpin assembly in)
    Reglue some of the loose internal bracings especially at the bottom.
    Clean and lubricate the tuning keys.
    I think that is it.
    The bass plays okay but the action is really low (good for learning students). The tone is rather dull and thuddy.
  14. Ortsom

    Ortsom Banned

    Mar 23, 2016
    Thanks for listing the things done in the past, but I was more after what's wrong with it now. I guess it's the last lines: the string height is really low, and the tone is rather dull and thuddy. While it is possible to improve these things, David Goad is right and has advised you honestly: better not dump more money into it, you will never see that come back to you. And it sounds you're due for an upgrade.

    I'm sorry I can't really advise you what to do in your situation. The economics depend on your (personal) tax situation, how you perceive the benefits of a donation, how much you could sell it for, and maybe the trade-in value in an upgrade (don't expect much there).
  15. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Forget the economics - you're only talking a few hundred at best. Find a good cause. When I bought my current bass I had a perfectly nice 60's Czech bass to dispose of and I got so bored with people promising to come and try it then never showing, or showing up and expecting a brand new perfect instrument for £300 that I ended up donating it to the Kampala Music School (yes Kampala Uganda) and it went off to a new life along with dozens of violins and violas and even a few pianos. There are places all over the world that need the stuff we think is not good enough. Please donate it
  16. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington

    My friend, the music teacher, did not want my upright bass because she can't play it or teach it. She would rather have guitars, keyboards or ukuleles for her students. So on to Plan B.

    There is a combined campus middle / high school near my house. "Combined campus" means there are two separate classroom school buildings that share common areas (library, kitchen, cafeteria, gym, auditorium, music rooms, etc.) I looked on line and school has an orchestra program for middle school and high school kids. Also a few different levels of community orchestras meet in their music room at night.

    I contacted the orchestra director and made an appointment to donate the bass. He was happy to take the donation. He said it will probably go to a student to take home to practice. He mentioned that violins/violas are reasonable to rent but cellos and basses get expensive for students.

    I am very happy about getting my old bass in the hands of some eager music student. Though if that student gets really good and starts stealing my jazz gigs I will not be so happy! :-(
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  17. BD Jones

    BD Jones

    Jul 22, 2016
    Thank you for donating your bass to a school orchestra program. As a band director in a Title 1 school (80% economically disadvantaged), I can't begin to tell you how much that instrument will mean to a student who truly wants to be a part of a music program and wants music to be a part of their life. Your $1,450 investment may just change a kids life.
    Axtman and Neil Pye like this.

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