Shopping for a new bass in London

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Haderian, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. Hey brothers and sisters! I´m going on a business trip to London in a few weeks. 20 years ago I found a street in Soho where there were all these wonderful guitar shops lined up all along the street, with lots of second-hand basses at decent prices. I think it was called Denmark Street or Denmark Place. Is this paradise still there? Are prices still good? If not, where in London should I be looking? Very thankful for any advice.
  2. VellaBass


    Aug 29, 2003
    London, UK

    Denmark Street is best avoided, especially the Bass Cellar.

    If you just want to play lots, the big Virgin Store at Tottenham Court road has a big guitar shop in the basement, but its overpriced.
  3. The bass Gallery in my opinion the best shop in London but the bass centre is a close second.

    Apart from these two the rest are also rans. Avoid Denmark street especially the Bass Cellar.

    Have a great trip

  4. Hello my friend, do you have the street addresses for the Bass Gallery and the Bass Centre? Thanks!
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the Bass Centre has more of the sort of basses you want to buy (I bought my last 3 there!!) and the Gallery is better for more specialist stuff and custom, of course.

    The Bass Centre is near to Liverpool Street Station, which is easy to get to - it's much much better than the Bass Cellar in Denmark Street - although this road is good for sheet music and videos - plus Ray's Jazz shop is just over the road in Foyles which is worth a visit! ;)
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Overwater are about as far from London as you could get and still be in the same country!!! :eek:

    5 hours drive at the shortest!!
  7. The addresses are on their respective websites with a view of what they have on offer

    They might evern have directions which will be a lot better than what I could tell you.

    Both are good, as Bruce says the Bass Gallery is probably a little more of a specialist shop.


  8. Haderian,

    Check out this TB thread ~ gives some experiences of London bass retailers ~

    Personally I'd go to The Gallery (Camden Town underground station is only about 10 minutes walk away) and talk to Martin or Alex.

    Happy hunting,

  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Liverpool St. Station is much more central and the Bass Centre is only a short walk from there - 5 mins.

    Camden is in the North of London and I got lost every time I have visited the gallery!
  10. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    What the other guys said - The Gallery or the Bass Centre. If you decide to go to the Gallery, look it up on a map first. As was said, it's only about 10 minutes walk from the tube, but you have to know exactly which way to walk otherwise you can get really lost. If you've got a map, you'll be much better off. Also, try and avoid Saturday, as that's when the markets are on, and the whole area becomes incredibly chaotic and confusing.

    As for Denmark St, it's a good place to go if you want to pay the highest price for things! Having said that, if you have something specific in mind, ring a few of the shops first. Amazingly, the Bass Cellar had the best price on a Gallien Krueger MB150 I wanted, and I ended up buying it there. Also - NEVER leave anything on consignment there. I did, and it took me over a year to get my money! One interesting thing about Denmark St. is that there are some well stocked vintage dealers there - Andy's, Vintage and Rare, Musicground, and I think News Kings Road Guitars have a shop there as well. The prices are outrageous (especially Andy's), but there's always some nice stuff to look at.

    And as Bruce said, the best thing about Denmark St. is that Foyles is just across the road! If you like books, Foyles is an absolute must-visit!
  11. I'd head for the Gallery first, Martin/Alex have greatly increased the size of their stock and IMHO they probably have more basses (certainly higher end ones) than the Bass Centre (now the House of Guitars) who seem to be increasing their range of g*****s (forgive the bad language) with basses now consigned to half of the basement.

    The Gallery has got some Sadowskys, Ritters, Alembics and quite a few Fenders and Sei's

    Best to do both, if you have time, its about a £10/15 min taxi ride between the two or about half an hour on the tube + 10 minutes walk from Camdem Town Station
  12. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I happen to be in London this week on business as well. I have to say - you'd be best off saving your cash, flying to the states and buying there. The stuff here is WAY overpriced in comparison to the states, the exchange rate for Pound Sterling isn't favorable at the moment to many currencies (not sure about Swedish Kroner, the green back and the Euro are pretty low aginst it though) but the dollar is way low right now... If you are based over here it would be a good time to buy in the states in other words. If we are talking a high end bass, I suspect you could pay for the trip ...
    Then all you need is time.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I tend to agree - the £ is very strong at the moment, making everything very expensive - but there's nothing to stop Haderian trying and playing loads of basses while here!! ;)
  14. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    no doubt about that. In fact as a result of this thread ... see ya there! Actually this evening I'm planning a trip to the 12 bar on Denmark Street. Any advice on that outing ? Any tb'er playing elsewhere in London this evening ? My hotel is about in the shadow of St Pauls so the Tube is right close by.
  15. Hey brothers (and sisters?), thanx for all the help! I´ve always said bassists are the best kind of people around.

    Nope, not looking for anything expensive -- my playing really sucks anyway so that would be a waste of a fine instrument. I actually had an Epiphone EB-1 in mind. It´s a violin-shaped copy of Gibson´s first electric bass if I´m correctly informed. The thing probably sucks, but it would look right in my band since I play mostly upright and the other guys use weird old-style instruments (washboard, Transsylvanian horn violin etc). And Epiphone discontinued the model in 2001. I though London would be the right place to find a used one for next to nothing.

    Anyways, thanks again, I love you guys.
  16. steviecsg


    Aug 16, 2002
    i was up in london last summer and had a terrible experience in one of the shops at denmark street. After making a purchase of some hardware, I casually asked if I could try the sterling on the wall and the storekeeper tersely replied "not if you are going to buy it". and he wasn't kidding. Actually at that point in time, he was negotiating a sale with a kid who was interested in an ashbury or something like that but even so, it was very rude and unacceptable of him to have turned me down in that manner.

    Can't remember the name of the shop except it was dedicated to basses only and the shop to the left was dedicated to guitars.
  17. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    well in my pattering about London this weekend I found my way to Bass Centre. That passes as a decent shop. the youngster I chatted with was nice enough and seemed fairly knowledgable. I didn't want to waste much of his time so I didn't get into any meaningless haggle ... I was suprised at the emphasis on 'heads' and not pre & power amp setups. I was also impressed with the amount of nice wood on the wall. OK so most of it was new. The vintage inventory was pretty thin but he had some pretty good looking basses there.

    I didn't want to pimp the guy so I passed on asking about the new Yammy BB2004 hanging on the wall. That looks like a really nice instrument to me. If the body wood had been more clear it would have been see through!

    Late Saturday evening I headed for the 12 Bar on Denmark St to catch a guitar player who hangs out at the TDPRI occaisionally. While walking the neighborhood I was amazed at the eye-candy available, no the basses, the guitars, I'm too busy for a mid-life crisis right now - or to quote Lawrence Fishburne - Is she really worth half of what you own ?

    There is some reall neat stuff hanging in the shops over there. There wasn't one of the shops that looked like a place that I'd want to do business with but it was fun scoping none the less! As it was late, the shops were all closed so I had to make due with a copy of Future Music from Borders.

    I have to say that the Euro music magazines are a lot more fun and a lot more expensive than the US based ones. You gotta love a mag with a 650mb cd of drum and bass samples!

    I'll be acidizing my laptop battery(s) to nothing and driving my seatmate crazy no doubt on the flight home Wednesday - say you wouldn't happen to know the key for 'The Inner Mounting Flame' would you ? .... well it was a long shot - Stewardis(h) more wine at 6c please! ...

    Thanks to you all for providing the tips in this thread!
    Hadrian - you really should call Willies in St Paul Minnesota - you want wierd and old - they probably have it ... They advertise in The Vintage Guitar, probably have a web site. They know the UPS and Fedex guys real well! for old and vintage I've done OK there twice. Reasonable pricing for what I was looking for. I was there and able to evaluate one guitar in person, decided to buy it after I got home to Washington State, the other was site unseen and was as desribed.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's undoubtedly the Bass Cellar and it sounds typical!! :meh:

    In a way it's not their fault, as being so close to the west end, they are plagued by timewasters - it's partly down to a poor location.

    Buet even so - they put me off buying anything there for good with behaviour like this - even if I saw a really good deal I wouldn't buy anything there and would take my custom to the Bass Centre or Gallery and I have bought stuff mail order from Overwater.

    So - I was really interested in the new Yamaha TRB5Ps and was very tempted to buy one - I tried a couple in the Bass Cellar as they had a couple of nice examples that I hadn't seen elsewhere - but they cut me off as well - saying something like "Time's Up!!"

    Seems I cut into the shops assistant's own playing time!! :rolleyes: So - many times I have been in there and there are two or three assistants just playing basses, with no interest in helping you or selling gear!! On once occasion they were blocking the door and wouldn't move until I asked quite firmly!!
  19. you're unlikely to find one in a shop.
    Rose-Morris sold off Epiphones including the EB1 around 2000/2001 cheap,
    try Andy's on Denmark St. or Macari's on Charing Cross Rd. for 2nd-hand basses.

    your best bet is looking in free ads paper Loot.