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Shen or Hoffman?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by VitaminC, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. VitaminC


    Oct 4, 2008
    I am a college student looking for a functional beginner bass. the one I am using right now is a Kay with warped f-holes, whacked out action, bent bridge, and a scroll held on by two dry-wall screws. This is the school's bass so i imagine it has seen hell.
    The two basses I am currently looking for are:

    The Upton Bass Shen SB80.
    I like that it is from Upton. They do great work and are extremely helpful. Their Shens are also altered to be better basses with triple AAA ebony, new tuners, and more. They seem to be the best ply-woods around.

    I did see a local Franz Hoffman bass for sale though. I do not know muh about Hoffman basses, but I do not think the follow into the CCB spectrum (do they?). It has gamab sides, which doesn't mean a lot to me, though I am a violin corner sides kind of guy.The owner is asking $1200 or best offer. It comes with a case, but I do not know which kind.

    I am on the fence either way. I am just curious on all the TBDB community's input.

    Thank you, Vitamin C

    P.S. Also, the upton with bow, case, rosin, and all will be about $1780. (including shiping)
  2. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Inactive

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    Hey, I play on a school Kay with similar problems to yours. The main difference is they are decking screws holding the neck on.
  3. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Shen+upgrades+reputable luthier=good deal. IMHO, of course.


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
  5. Are you going to be playing jazz or classical?
  6. VitaminC


    Oct 4, 2008
    I will mainly be doing classical, but having the option to do jazz would be nice, but not life or death.
  7. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Where are you physically located; as in, what state or city? Your profile lacks any specifics. Are you close to Upton in CT or Boston?

    A Shen, set up by a good luthier is about as sure a thing as one might find in double basses. A used bass, without inspection by a luthier, bought from a private party, with no refund policy or follow up care, is an invitation to spend lots of money, potentially. On the other hand, it is possible that the used bass is a gem; we cannot know from here.

    Whatever shop you might buy a Shen from, ask them if you can take one out on trial first, for a week or so. Or, perhaps rent a well set-up Shen for a month, with your rental fee going toward the purchase of a new bass. Actually playing one, day after day, is a much better way of getting to know a bass than playing one for half an hour while a salesperson listens and watches.

    I know that at The Bass Shop, in Waltham, offers such a trial option. They also apply any and all rental fees toward any bass' purchase price. Perhaps Upton makes similar provisions. Gives you a chance to get to know the size, feel, character, and general quality of a maker's work, before you make the final commitment.
  8. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    While I agree in principle with Eric, IMO, the importance of following the path he suggests is (just about) proportional to the price/quality of the bass. There are precious few quality ply basses in the price-range you named. Shen is one of them. At that price-point, I believe that buying on reputation works very well although I don't think one can argue with the value of laying hands on the instrument first. Now, if you were spending multiple thousands, that doesn't apply.
  9. If you could swing it, I'd recommend getting the SB150 if you're doing a lot of work with the bow. I think the extra cost would be worth it.

    You're on the right track with Shen. They're making good basses right now.
  10. wdnewman


    Apr 13, 2009
    ole Jason is perfectly correct. If you can possibly swing it go with the Shen SB150 for classical/bowed work. The entire Shen line is top notch, but be sure to buy from a reputable dealer/luthier who does professional set up work. Your prior post say that you are in the Nashville area. I would pay a visit to Williams Violin, he is a Shen dealer I believe, and does great setups. Nick Lloyd is in Cincinnati just a few hours north of you and is nationally known and respected. There would be no shipping involved in either case.



    Good luck!
  11. 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.

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