Should I get a third bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Ed S, Mar 17, 2023.

  1. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    I've got 2 basses - a 2010-ish 3/4 Engle ply set up with guts for oldtime/bluegrass, and a 7/8 Upton hybrid strung with EP Weichs for arco/classical. I REALLY LIKE both of my basses, but wondered if I might consider either buying a 3d bass (which my wife would just LOVE!), or selling one of my current basses for a different one (which would involve a hassle my lazy ass would prefer to avoid.)

    I am basically a bluegrass/oldtime player. I'm in a 3-piece string band that plays at old peoples' homes and the occasional party, I participate in regular jams, and I occasionally fill in with other BG groups. IMO, my Engle is the perfect instrument for that. Sounds and plays GREAT IMO, and I don't care about it acquiring additional dings and scrapes. The Engle generally lives in its bag in a corner of my home office.

    When I commissioned my Upton, I wanted a BG cannon. But I realized the other day that I have never set it up as I would prefer for BG. Instead, in the time it was being built, I began playing with a classical ensemble/quartet. We play weekly, and very occasionally provide music during church services or at social gatherings, and I've periodically experimented with playing in a community orchestra. That bass travels little and spends most of its time on its stand in our music room.

    Like I said, I really like my Upton, but it is a very large bass - and at 62, I'm not getting any younger and more able to haul it around. In addition to the larger size/heavier weight, I've been wary of hauling it around too much - as opposed to the Engle. (Yeah, I know I shouldn't be "owned" by my possessions!) But, since it mostly lives in our music room, I don't need to haul it around much. Also, it is not set up strictly for arco. Instead, it is kinda set up "in between." I wondered if I might enjoy perhaps having a smaller bass - maybe a 3/4 or even a 5/8, that is set up solely for arco.

    So I could either put guts on my Upton and ask my wife to carve a new bridge for it to convert it to bluegrass, and just get used to hauling it around as my "beater." I could sell the Engle, and buy a sweet little classical bass.

    OR I could see how a new bridge and strings work on the Upton for arco.

    OR, I could sell the Upton, and replace it.

    OR I could buy a 3d bass...

    In reality, I don't relish the idea of actively shopping for another bass, so I'll probably continue making do with what I have. And my wife is great about keeping my basses in great shape, but I don't need to go out of my way to create unnecessary extra work for her. Heck, I'm not even one of you string junkies, who enjoys swapping out different strings. But I was sorta surprised that this thought popped into my head the other day, and thought I'd let you all tell me I'm crazy/help spend my money/sow discord between me and my wife... ;)
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  2. Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Is not compensated for endorsements. Does not sell for profit.
    The only reason to have a third at this point is because you play a different genre of music in which you require a different type of strings. Strings can’t be changed easily and some strings just don’t work well for other genres.

    A second beater bass makes sense but a third to play the same genre sell has no purpose. Upgrade or stay with what you have … honestly only you would notice the subtle difference when you play bass two vs three, since the other band members and the audience would not notice … that starts sounding like TB BG consumerism mentality of having more. A solution in search of a problem.
  3. BassFalcon


    Nov 18, 2020
    I do believe Upton has a very generous trade-in/trade-up policy, but I don’t know much about it. I looked into it briefly when commissioning my Upton build as my initial plan was to use that to springboard to a nicer bass down the line. I ultimately decided to sell most of my electric bass gear and a few other things and just go for the nicer bass to begin with though.
    I’d at least try setting it up as you initially intended though. See what happens.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
    groooooove and Hoyt5String like this.
  4. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Yeah - might be worth planning a roadtrip out there to really work through their offerings...
  5. Personally I hate switching between 3/4 and 7/8. (further my ply wood beater is an e flat neck and my classical is d neck )

    For this reason alone I'd trade my 7/8 d neck or both if a good deal presented itself.
  6. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Don’t stop at 3rd bass if you can make it to home plate.
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Depends on who's up next.
    Joshua, bassgrass and mjt0229 like this.
  8. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    As one who does own three basses (four if you count the Yamaha SLB100), I can relate to your quandary.

    In my opinion, two is a better number; one for Bluegrass/jazz/etc., and one for arco-centric music. With three, one of the basses inevitably serves as backup for the other two.
  9. mjt0229

    mjt0229 Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Bellingham, WA
    I own three - two nice carved instruments and a Shen SB-88.

    My general goal is to own two - in theory I'd like my fancy, highfalutin carved bass and then a decent hybrid as a backup that I could reasonably play in rehearsals or at "Bob's Country Bunker" sorts of gigs without worrying about it.

    Realistically, I'm hoping to sell the older carved bass and I'd keep the other, and then I'd flip the SB-88 for cheap and buy a Shen hybrid or similar. In a perfect world, I'd consider owning a solo bass too, but I'm not sure where I'd keep it.
    AGCurry likes this.
  10. As long as you have a string of shows indoors and you don't have any classical obligations, I's swap strings on your basses and see if a "nicer" instrument makes your BG shows more enjoyable. Even for that music, a hybrid is going to be easier on your body to play.
    You might want to get a decent Shen and save the Engel for outdoor work.
  11. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    It’s interesting because usually a person’s vintage American plywood bass is their bluegrass cannon and their arco/jazz bass more controlled instrument set up for clarity and physical ease. Personally I don’t think anyone needs a 7/8 unless you are a all-acoustic type person or in a section. They were all the rage 20 years ago but I think that trend fell out of favor. I’d look to trade the 7/8 for a 3/4 at Upton or just stick with what you’ve got. I have to tell you that cannons are fun to play (my American Standard was one for sure) but loud is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Tone and fitting in to any mix is more interesting to me than just being loud. My Italian, the only bass I have, and incidentally fly all over the world with, is really set up for soloistic playing these days because that’s what I practice but I’ve found ways to get just about any sound I need out of it. I’m aware that it’s not the all enveloping BOOM of a great festival bass but I enjoy pulling all the sound I can get out of it. Some guy at Wintergrass turned to me in a big acoustic session and said “man, that bass thumps!”. Little did he know I have solo strings, detuned, lowered close to the fingerboard to be bowable all the way to the end of the board. It was kind of my dirty little secret but I was happy to get the raw feedback in the session. Of course you can have your wife mess with moving the post further away from the bridge if you’re looking for more boom.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
  12. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    With my bass guitars, I have an approach where they need to earn their keep, or away they go. But I can be a bit loose with my criteria for that. Redundancy, rough duty, wall art... there are multiple ways for a bass guitar to justify an extended stay with me.
    With double basses, I need to be more strict, seeing as how they live with me in a small studio apartment that I can already barely get around in! Like you, I am struggling with what to do with a second larger/nicer one, a 4/4 solid top 5-string that doesn't have the best defined purpose at the moment.
    My thought is to keep trying to refine the misfit, and only entertain selling or trading as a last resort (or if someone made a really compelling offer). I'm starting with a new set of strings, some Corellis which should hopefully make both arco and bebop walking a little easier. I also just signed on for my second ever symphony concert - if that became more of a regular thing, that could easily justify a second DB set up more for classical.
    Switching necks & scale lengths doesn't seem to be that big of a problem for me. (I mix it up a lot with the guitar basses - and dabble on mandolin. YMMV.)
    If I had just a few more square feet, I'm pretty sure I could put three double basses to work: one with gut strings, one with steel and one for classical. Some of the symphony guys I've met have even more. If I were going solely on gig usage and had an actual music room, I would probably have more more double basses and fewer bass guitars.
    Does that help? :D
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  13. Another bass? If there's room and your wife won't divorce you, the answer is always yes :)
    Keith Rawlings and james condino like this.
  14. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    My wife is usually pretty understanding about musical instruments, but if I were to have another double bass in the house I'd need to put it on our couch which would mean I'd have to sleep on the floor :D .
  15. crd

    crd Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2022
    There is no reason why your "arco" bass can't be your bluegrass bass. Unless you are planning on doing some solo competitions or orchestra auditions buy a nice set of gamut gut strings for whatever bass you like playing most and call it a day. It's kind of a burden to have to play more than one instrument; why do that if you don't have to?
    sean_on_bass and Jason Sypher like this.
  16. For years I've said to set up your bass so it is a pleasure to practice. If you are practicing a ton, then whatever strings and set up you have will work on the gig. Someone recently said that the lower tension of gut takes pressure off the top and makes for a better fundamental. This could explain why both of us are able to pull a big pizz sound with downtuned solos - rather than pulling a big sound "despite" them. I have no idea if that all checks out.

  17. kickysam49

    kickysam49 World Heavyweight Champion Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2022
    I don't need to read the OP, the answer is yes.
  18. bulldean

    bulldean Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2015
    Only three?
    Jefenator likes this.
  19. Monabass


    Dec 29, 2015
    I dont think you've bonded with the Upton?
    IMHO you should consider selling it and getting good fit.
    If you have the cash, sure, why not have 3 basses while you wait for a good price?
    Jason Sypher likes this.
  20. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    If the bridge on the upton isn’t cut for full blown orchestral playing, thin it out, move the soundpost down a touch and put some different strings on it. It will prob be tge BG cannon you want. If not, the Uptons have the name recognition to move pretty quickly.
    Jason Sypher and Jefenator like this.