Shen basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by FourSidedSquare, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. FourSidedSquare


    Sep 23, 2017
    Hello, I've been playing the bass for about 4 months now. I'm looking at a new bass because the one I was renting was way overpriced, a cheap used laminate that wasn't that great for $3000. I'm looking for something in that price point, around $3000. I'm deciding between one of the Shen basses at the Bass Violin Shop.

    What would be the difference between a "cheap" one like an SB80 (laminate) versus something like an SB150 or SB180 (hybrid) or a carved one like the SB200 Willow (carved)? SB190 seems pretty nice too, but it's a little pricey. If it's way better then i'll consider it.

    How much more maintenance would a carved bass need than a hybrid? The shop is a couple hours away from where I live, would prefer not to have to go there extremely often.

    For the SB150, what's the difference between the oil finish and the lacquer finish?

    And what is that mid-century german 3/4 bass?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017
  2. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'll preface this by saying that the search function here on TalkBass is very useful for finding answers to questions such as yours.

    Beginners Guide to Buying a Double Bass |
    Beginners Guide to Buying a Double Bass |

    Also, some very good insight here: AES Fine Instruments

    Not quite sure, but I think it might just be a matter of looks (other TB'ers care to chime in?).
  3. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    A general principle you'll hear is "buy the best bass you can afford"; i.e., without locking yourself into long-term debt or straining your marriage. So if you can afford an SB200, I would at least consider it. But get your hands on some different basses and see what you like. And read more of those "Beginner's Guides" like those linked above.
  4. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    Aweiss96 likes this.
  5. jumpjibe


    Aug 10, 2010
    The folks at the Bass Violin Shop will take very good care of you. (This may be a biased opinion, based on my own purchases over the years of two lovely DBs from Bob.) Definitely worth the trip!!

    In my view, you really need to play all the basses you're considering there, with a bit less concern initially about the potential distinictions in acoustical impressions as between hybrid vs. solid construction and types of finish. But take as long as you need for the audition. (There's even a small private space for auditioning basses there, if you don't want to play out in the open.) I predict that you will know, if and when you play "your" next bass. It helps, too, to have someone play each bass for you, so that you can evaluate projection and the like.

    For me, I wouldn't want to handle the string length on that mid-century German; but it might feel okay under your hands. Both the SB190 Rogeri and the SB200 Willow are on consignment, so the prices are quite favorable. You may or may not hear a difference between the first (hybrid) and the second (solid) of those two.

    Happy hunting.
  6. klem.gote


    Jan 18, 2009
    New England
    Bass Player
    Hi. I've owned a Shen Willow for about 6 years now, very happy with it. And I live in New England where the weather can do lots of different things and the bass has held up very well, no issues at all. When my luthier looked at it his first words were "looks like a sturdy bass", and it is. Good luck!!
  7. My travel bass is a Shen hybrid, I am had it for a year in New England with no issues. New carved basses like Shens tend to be pretty sturdy. Older carved basses will need care in their life times, but it is certainly not a constant if you pick well. My 80 year old European bass has had a few issues in the 20+ years I've owned it but far less problem than a good car, to put it in perspective. Get the carved or hybrid, there is no reason to fight with plywood bass in the 21st century.
    Fretless55 likes this.
  8. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Bob Beerman's shop, The Bass Violin Shop, is a tremendous resource in that area. His service level is very high and he has been a solid source of well set up and maintained new and used Shen instruments over the years.
    damonsmith likes this.
  9. FourSidedSquare


    Sep 23, 2017
    Thank you all for your responses. Looks like the SB200 might be a good choice because it's carved. Will try all of them. The Upton bass seems nice too. Might choose the SB190 too for the durability and (according to some people) very close to carved bass sound.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  10. I have been hanging out with my hybrid Shen for the last few days, and it is perfectly adequate. Still, for your only bass a fully carved bass is going to last you possibly the rest of your life. All these basses are durable if you are just basically careful, so I'd stop using that as any sort of qualifier. Remember the slight price difference vs. buying a whole new bass later is what you are up against.
  11. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    If you have a teacher, consulting them can be a good idea too.
    Scott Lynch and Phil Rowan like this.
  12. I've been using a Shen SB180 hybrid these past three years and it certainly serves me well. It's a solid bass and has developed a wonderful tone. I haven't had much maintenance problems with this bass.
    damonsmith likes this.
  13. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    +1. I was shopping for a bass not long ago (put on hold because my wife and I are expecting our 1st any day now), and found it invaluable having a good friend and great bass player along to lend a 2nd set of ears, to allow me to hear basses from out front, and to discuss matters re: the basses I/we tried out. Of course, a teacher would also be good to bring along.

    I would also say, take your time and play through a lot of basses. IME, asking for opinions on TB is all well and good (and there is some value there), but nothing really replaces the shopping experience. IMHO, this is what really helps the buyer zero in on just what they're looking for (the search helps shape exactly what you're looking for).. it might make the search take a while, but I imagine it's well worth it once one finds *the* bass that matches their all their needs/tastes.
  14. Mazel! I have three. You're in for quite a ride!
    Phil Rowan likes this.
  15. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thank you, and so I've heard! I must say, the sense of anticipation is beyond palpable. Midwife visited last night and I got to groove some bass lines along to his heartbeat. :bassist:
    Lee Moses and KUNGfuSHERIFF like this.
  16. My daughter used to kick like crazy when she'd hear my bass on nights wifey tagged along to gigs, because chicken wings.
    Phil Rowan likes this.
  17. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Sep 18, 2021

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