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should a college student buy an older bass..?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by groooooove, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    my DB teacher from the first school i went to loaned me a bass about a year ago. details here (and pictures)


    he recently asked me for his bass back. i said fine, and dropped it off that evening.

    so then i started shopping for basses. long story short, i decided to ask him to sell me that bass (since ive already gotten to know it, and all that.)

    he's asking $3500 witch i think is fine. im pretty sure he paid $3000 for it back in the early 80's.

    is there any reason i should overlook that bass and shop for something new? do old basses have issues? i control the humidity where the bass is stored.. had no issue the year i played her.

    if you were me, would you take this bass? my budget is less than $5k for a bass.

    thanks guys,

  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Take the bass to a bass luthier like Arnold Schnitzer (brewster), Jeff Bollbach (LI), Bill Merchant (NYC), all in your general area. They will be able to evaluate it for you and give you an idea of it's value if they were going to sell it. Don't buy any bass without a pro evaluation, there are too many potential pitfalls with these instruments.

    Then you can try as many basses as you can get your hands on to compare. If you like this bass and it's in good health and doesn't need anything, $3.5k is a great price, if it is all carved.
  3. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    good call.

    i'm not worried about being ripped off or anything, i'm close with the guy i'm buying it from. i'm just wondering if older basses can have issues more than newer ones.. or if a bass is heathy, its heathy and thats it?
  4. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    If you can reach Arnold.. I called him a while back and got voicemail 3 times and never got called back :confused:
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    It's not a matter of getting ripped off. The owner may not know exactly what is going on with it and an expert can flesh it out for you. All basses can have issues. Older basses that are in solid shape should be fine if well constructed and cared for. New basses can develop problems based on wood movement during the early years. Any bass, old or new should be luthier approved before buying, IMO. Since you live in the land of luthiers, you have no reason not to do this. Check out the new buyers sticky while you're at it.
  6. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    you're right, i am in the land of luthiers. jeff is 10 minutes from my house and koslstein is 15.

    i will call jeff later today. i'll also need him to install the a pickup on the bass, so i guess that'd be two birds and one stone.

    good call. the owner of the bass is in his mid 70's i believe, and hasent really been much of a player in a few decades, he just teaches. it would seem possible that he has no idea whats going on with the bass. then again he (the owner) is a very talented luthier himself, so maybe he does know.

    ill bring it up when i go to pick the bass up.

    thanks for the no-brainer advice

  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    My pleasure, let us know what happens.
  8. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    You cannot go wrong with Jeff.
  9. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    +100 to that.

    i got my shen from him years ago. he's the real deal.
  10. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    You have received great advice from some fantastic people on TB--you should take all of it! Regarding your question above, my personal view is this: all carved basses can have issues. Properly cared for, this bass can be as stable as a much newer instrument. This one has the added bonus of coming from your teacher, which is special. Personally, I love the look of an instrument from this vintage with many indications of prior use. It's a great-looking bass. If it feels and sounds like a bass you could love, go for it. Be sure to take all the advice you have here about luthiers, etc.

    I bought my carved bass in college; when I found it, it was in terrible shape. I saved up for years for a complete restoration and now it's a prized possession.


    P.S. Here's a link to a little photo book I made about my bass restoration. It's fun. http://www.mypublisher.com/?e=OHm3Q8zJl3RMBvLYo1ZB2m3t_RUAt5LExZknVGYbl18=
  11. Rocky Young

    Rocky Young

    Jan 28, 2013
    Marketing Exec,Rocky S Young
    A carved one is more stable or just looks more beatiful?
  12. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    If it's in good shape and he's willing to sell it to you for 500 more than he paid for it 30 years ago, he's in no way taking advantage. 3000 1980 dollars is roughly $8200 today. So even if he was only asking 50 cents on his dollar, he'd be asking $4100. But indeed, take it to a bass luthier. Take their word over mine.
    @ Rocky Young: A carved bass will tend to sing with a clearer voice. A ply bass will withstand far more abuse. If you're playing all over the place and putting it in and out of your car 4 or 5 times a week, there's something to be said for plywood, if it's your only bass. Back when I played, I kept one of each, The carved was for home and gigs that were important. The ply was for knocking about town.
  13. Rocky Young

    Rocky Young

    Jan 28, 2013
    Marketing Exec,Rocky S Young
    Carved means solid wood, am i right? If so, what kind of pattern would be more attractive..
  14. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    You can find comprehensive answers to your questions right here. :)
  15. A "carved bass" is made from solid pieces of wood, not plywood.

    They are more fragile, and generally sound better for most types of playing.

    The appearance of the bass really isn't an issue when making a general comparison between ply and carved basses. Most bass players are primarily concerned with the sound produced. A bass' appearance is a secondary issue.
  16. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    There is no reason a healthy old carved bass can't give many years of trouble free service given reasonable care. Manage humidity in the winter and don't drop it. Plywood basses break from abuse too. I recommend buying the bass that has the sound and feel you like and enjoy it.
    Basses are more durable than many people think and everything can be fixed.
  17. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Sure, but I think most would agree that carved basses generally are the ones that look better as well. IMO, nothing beats a beautifully finished spruce top and maple (walnut?) back and sides. :)
  18. There are some beautiful ply basses. My '30s Kay has a handsome flamed maple veneer and I recently saw a rough-grained American Standard that was simply stunning. It's in the eye of the beholder.

    But if I try a beautiful-looking bass, and the sound isn't there, I quickly lose interest.
  19. Right on. And don't forget, you can get insurance for it too, so if you do accidentally drive over it (god forbid) it will be covered. All you need is an appraisal. I have mine covered under inland marine professional use so it is covered at gigs too.
  20. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Buy the best sounding and playing bass you can afford and play it every day like it is your last day on the planet. Worry about repairs and such when the need comes.


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