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Shen Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by JonnyY, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. JonnyY


    Dec 28, 2005
    So everybody says Shens are better than Wilfers. Anyway, has anybody played the 7/8 basses? How do they sound, feel, etc. Compare to the Wilfer Gentleman Jazz if possible.


    Jonny Y. :help:
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    JONI, WHY - where you at? I'm sure people could be more helpful if they knew what part of the world you were looking to buy a bass in.

    "everybody says Shens are better than Wilfers" - no, everybody doesn't. what SOME have said is that the WILFERS they played sounded less like what they wanted to hear than some SHENS that they played. I get the feeling that you are reading "blah blah blah WILFER balh blah blah SHEN" when what you SHOULD be reading is " I played BLAH which sounded thin and nasal to me as opposed to playing BLAH which was really more what I wanted.

    You're looking to buy an instrument that sounds the way you want it to, not a name brand. There are differences in the way basses form the same maker sound, even if they are all hand carved. GO PLAY BASSES, LOTS AND LOTS OF BASSES. Don't ask who made them, where they were made, when they were made, what they are made of. If you haven't been playing long, take a teacher or a bassist of your acquaintance who has been playing for a long time so that you can hear the bass, not the limits of your technique. This will also help you hear the bass from other standpoints other than right over the top of it.

    You'll want to make sure that the bass you buy is healthy or that it is being sold to you at a price that insures that you can make it healthy within it's "healthy" market value. It may be that you DON'T buy a new bass at all. It may be that you buy a new bass that comes from some little Hungarian shop. It may be that you buy a Wilfer Gentleman Jazz because that bass sounds like the bass you hear in you head when you play it.

    Stop thinking about brand names and start playing and listening. If you have to travel to do so, believe me, it will be well worth the investment to get a bass that you will have trouble putting down so you can get some sleep.
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The 7/8 Shen I have is probably one of the best they made. I think the Violin shaped Rogeri looks more expensive and sells better so they discontinued the Gamba 7/8 carved maple 800 model. It is the same quality Bass in and out but with Gamba corners. A Gamba cornered Bass can vibrate more freely and also, your don't WACK the Corners with the Bow like you do with a Violin cornered instrument. I have played several of the newer Wilfers and think the high end Shens are at least as good if not better tone wise and playability.

    If I didn't have the old Basses that I have I would probably be playing the Shen in the Orchestra. It cuts and plays as easy as a Solo Bass over the sloped shoulders. I prefer this model to the Rogeri but that's just me.
  4. bassist14


    Oct 17, 2005
    dear ken,

    can you please explain that?

    thank you
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    ARNOLD??????? HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP.....lol .. He can explain it alot better than I can but here's my scoop on it;

    As you make more curves and bends to the Corners this cuts down on the size of the plate area virbating. Most old German Basses are Gamba shaped and almost all before 1850 with only a few made in the Tyrol above Italy using the occassional violin form. Even the Italians into the 20th century made Gamba shapes and the French went both ways. ALL the Vienese Basses I have seen are Gamba and most of the Czech and Bohemian especially before 1850 are Gamba shaped. I think many of the Violin shapes are made for the look and not the tone. The Northern English are almost all Gamba shapes with London doing more Gamba b4 1800. After Dragonetti, Forster and Fendt in London, most English turned to the Violin model for appeal and style.

    I have two Gamba Basses in restoration now. One is the Mystery Olde English and the other a Prescott. I can't wait to get them in my hands and play them in Orchestra. It feels so much easier to play without a Corner stabbing your thigh or the Tip or Frog of your Bow hitting a Corner in a heated moment.

    I think the Shen move from the 800 Gamba 7/8 was to save the finer Maple for the Rogeri models.
  6. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    No, this doesn't quite explain it. It seems to assume that the corners are cut from what would have been "filled" by the gamba shape. What if one starts with a gamba shape and adds area to make the corners? In any case, it is difficult to imagine that this is a generalizable physical effect. Perhaps Arnold can enlighten us.
  7. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I can't comment on the violin corner thing lessening vibrations, all that's way past my understanding. But I'm lucky to have had the chance to play a bunch of the Shen basses, in his factory, then later in his showroom/shop in Shanghai. I played the Rogeris and the flatback gambas and enjoyed them both very much. But something about the Willow flatback basses just made it for me, they give up something that's almost intangable. Maybe a bit deeper sounding for jazz than the Rogeris. Like Ken said, it's very easy to play in the high range of the bass too. Sam had Rogeri in Willow, a special model that I don't think he is currently exporting that a friend of mine there wound up buying, it's a great bass, but I came to find that the Willow 3/4 Flatback (gamba shaped) is more me. I'm really a bit too small a person to deal with one of the 7/8 sized basses, or else I'd been tempted to go for one. But even with the 3/4, I play standing with the end-pin almost all the way in!
  8. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    i'll say that i'm real happy with my shen willow SB200 (3/4 Gamba), once i find my string that doesn't growl so much then it will be great.
    so yeah, i'm happy with my shen, no i haven't played a wilfer or juzek.

    as far as gamba VS. violin corners.....i would GUESS (and this is only a guess) that the surface area of the top plate normally ends up to be greater so it acts looser.....or it could have something do with the actual extra curve around the sides on the violin corner bass adding extra stiffness (it most likely would have more arch too)....it's hard to explain, perhaps that the radius of the curve around the side of the bass always ends up larger on a gamba bass so the top plate acts looser.

    EDIT: i must admit violin corners (like those found on the LaScala) are drop dead sexayyyyyy :D
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Jonnyy- gamba, violin corner, whatever... this has very little to do with your question. If at all possible, go to a few shops and play a Shen, a Wilfer, a Christopher, an Eastman, etc. A proper setup is going to make a bigger difference than anything else. There are some consistencies with brand names and workmanship, but it comes down to how it feels in your hands and sounds in your ear.
  10. Or, you can just order one from Nick sight-unseen, as I have, and hope for the best.
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Wilfer's and Peosolds are pretty available here and I've played a number of each either in the shop or at a session. I once played a Wilfer (Model 10 I think) that was a few years old and sounded AMAZING. It had Helicore orchestral strings on it and they sustained like something much more pizz oriented. In the same shop on the same day, there was a Paesold with the same strings that had the short sustain you would expect.

    So, that was a special bass. I've occasionally regreted not buying it. I wouldn't assume that buying a different Wilfer model 10 would give me that experience.

    Which is to the point that the make and model is not specific enough criteria. If you're particular about what you end up with, you've got to play several and see what you connect with in your price range.

    Just my 2/100ths of a $
  12. JonnyY


    Dec 28, 2005
    i hear good things about the shen willow 7/8. also the shen store is much closer to me than going to lemur to try the wilfer 7/8 model. If anyone has any input about the shen please tell me. thanks
  13. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think that input is, go play it and let us know how you liked it.
  14. JonnyY


    Dec 28, 2005
    i would but it's a 3 hour drive to the shens and a 6 hour plane to lemur so thats why i want other people;s input.
  15. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    This is the best wisdom. Play anything in your price range til you fall in lust.

    Where are you located Jon?
  16. JonnyY


    Dec 28, 2005
    i live about an hour from toronto
  17. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Rochester is not that far from you. I mean its a hike no doubt about that. When I have more extra $ around I'd like to make a trip. I should have made a stop when I went to House of Guitars on a bit of a pilgrimage with my brother in law. More for him than me.

  18. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    So, personally, I wouldn't fly 6 hours to play the Wilfer. It's a factory bass and whether you like it or you don't, they will be factory basses and you can find one closer to you.

    I probably would drive 3 hours to play the Shen if I was interested in it and was concerned about the purchase. Plus you could drive it home with you in theory which is a lot more difficult than flying with one.

    I might fly across the country to try a vintage bass.

    It's hard to believe, though that there is not a closer Wilfer to Toronto than LA. They're not uncommon basses. And it's hard to believe that there is not a shop in Toronto or at least Ontario with a dozen or so basses that you could play.

    Does anyone on the list live that way and know?

  19. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Long and McQuade in downtown TO had a couple of DB last time I was there. DB is a new world for me but I had to suppress a choke when the the sales person said that they had a lower end bass priced at $8000 CDN. I do know that can be peanuts in the DB world.

    There was another thread just recently asking about DB stores in Toronto.

    EDIT: I just searched and found your thread on Wilfer basses. Sorry I couldn't add to the discussion. I couldn't find the other thread on DB stores.

    Regarding your other thread, if LM have 12 basses in stock it sounds like a great place to go and try a bunch of basses and get a better idea of what sound you are looking for as per others more experienced advice earlier in the thread.
  20. JonnyY


    Dec 28, 2005
    lemur music is the only shop with the bass i was interested. i'm pretty mad that it is exclusive to their shop. i heard from pat collins that the LM basses are set up poorly and would definitely not buy an $8000 bass from them.