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Should I Rent?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by ii7-V7, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    A dilemma!

    I want to start learning Double Bass, but have no instrument. I don't feel qualified to make a good purchasing decision at this point since I have no basis for judgement. I don't want to purchase a cheap plywood bass for $900 and spend another $500 to make it playable...but it will take several months at least before I can raise the money to buy a good bass. I think that I'd rather take the time to save $4000 or $5000 dollars to purchase an instrument that I won't outgrow than to sink $1500 into a bass that I'll hate in a year.

    So, do I rent in the meantime?
    If so what can I expect to pay?
    Where can I rent them from? Would most shops that sell basses also rent them? Will the rented bass be horrible? Will it be set up? Should there be a sticky or a link under the newbies thread for renting?

    *Edited section below*

    I guess what I'm saying here is that I have that I have three choices.

    1. Save money for several months to a year or more to buy a "real" carved bass.
    Pro - I'll have an instrument that will (hopefully) last a lifetime and that I won't outgrow in a year.
    Con - Thats a year that I won't be playing while I save money...and when I have the money I'll have no experience on which to decide if this is the right instrument for me.

    2. Buy a cheap plywood chinese made box.
    Pro - I'll be playing sooner and I can still save for a nicer bass down the road.
    Con - I know I'll have to get at least $400 dollars worth of work done to it just to get it playable...I have no desire to injure my hands. If the bass really sucks then I've invested alot of money into something that I hate.

    3. Rent.
    Pro - I'll be playing right away. I'll end up spending less money than if I bought a cheap bass, meaning I'll get a "real" bass sooner.
    Con - The bass will probably still suck. Will I be able to get it playable?

    Chad Dukes
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    yeah, I think that renting is a great idea. If you're new to the instrument then it'll help build some valuable skills fn when you go shopping for the real thing. I wish sometimes that I had done that initially instead of buying off the bat.

    Even if the money you spend on the rental doesn't get counted toward a purchase, I think it's still a worthwhile option. I'd probably rent for the first few months until you have some basic technique and to give your ears a chance to get stronger and hear the differences.

    Happy shopping!
  3. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I think that this dilemma is part of the reason why I initially thought about building a stick EUB. I'm pretty handy, but I also realize that DB and EUB are not the same thing. I wonder though, whats better to have an EUB that is playable, or a beastly cheapo DB?
  4. jlilley


    Aug 28, 2005
    Mill Creek, WA
    I took the path of renting, and I'd totally recommend it. I was able to get my chops together and when it came time to buy a bass I was able to make a good decision. The Chrissy plywood I rented was from the Bass Church in Seattle was well set up and sounded good. All of the rental fees from the first year would have applied to purchase if I had decided to buy from her.
    Also, if you have a teacher or know other more experienced player take advantage of their eyes and ears and have them check out any bass you are considering.
    Good Luck,
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    It would be foolish to buy before you even learned how to play a little. How could you make an informed choice?

    I think buying an upright bass is a different thing than an electric - amore personal. You need to trust yourself and what you want more than with an electric.
  6. I finally decided to take up double bass, after playing electric for 20+ years. I went the rental route because my local shop applies 100% of the rental fee ($50/month) toward the purchase of a bass if/when I decide to buy one. Seemed like a win/win situation to me.

  7. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    One of my fears about renting was that the basses would be horribly setup and that I wouldn't be able to make any changes to the instrument...since I don't own it.

    In another thread I asked about places to buy and shop for basses in my area. I'm now taking all the suggested shops from that thread and giving them a call. So, the calls are made. The results are in!

    Here are the results of my research!

    I called Bob's house of Basses, got no answer and left a message. Bob called back this afternoon. He stated that they rent basses, and they have a few different models to rent from Plywoods to Hybrids starting around $65/month. 75% of the price goes towards purchase. Bob stated that his cheap plywoods are so well set up that you couldn't tell them from the far more expensive instruments based on feel alone.....of course you'll be able to tell as soon as the bow hits the string, but as far as playability goes he claims to be top shelf!

    I called Shanks Strings and spoke to a very helpful lady. They rent for $300 for six months. She assured me that the basses were cheap but well setup.

    Brobst Violin Shop rents basses for $55 to $75 depending on the age and size of the instrument. The gentleman on the phone stated that they do all of there own set up work. I also checked out thier website where they state that they camber the fingerboard, and adjust bridge and soundpost to players needs and preferences.

    Potters Violin Shop rents basses for $360 for 6 months, but it seems that they struggle to keep the basses in the shop, so no telling if they will have one when you need it. I forgot to ask about set ups, but they are a full service luthiery so I expect that they do set them up.

    I called Chesapeake Bass but got no anwer. I left a message. *edit* The guy from the shop called me back in about 5 minutes. He said that he doesn't bother with renting instruments since he thinks that most of them are horrible instruments and are poorly setup. He asked me whether I played Electric Bass and then stated that he has several people a year who come to him to make that switch. He states that he usually sets them up with an Englehardt EM-1 that he hand picks and sets up himself. He throws out the old bridge and strings, planes the board, etc. He said that will run about $2100 with all the setup work, new strings, bridge, etc.

    I called Bluett Bros. Violins in York, PA. They do not rent Basses, but he has a few in the shop for sale including an old Juzek, some other German bass, and he carries the Eastman Basses. Good to know. There was absolutely no information regarding double basses on the website.

    I called J.R. Judd Violins. They have two basses for rental. A Sam Shen 80 plywood for $45/month and a Sam Shen 180 carved top for $75/month. Guys was informative and pleasant on the phone. But they are located an hour north of Penn State which would be nearly a 4 hour drive for me.

    I'm posting the results of my search here so that anyone else who is looking to rent inthe Balt/DC/Philly area will have head start. Perhaps others could do the same thing regarding there own experience such as the posters above have done.

    Chad Dukes
  8. GutOil


    Jun 3, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    I rented for a while before buying a double bass. When you finally decide to buy you could be in the market for awhile. Renting is the best decision you can make right now. Don't worry too much about the setup. The setup will be adequate for you. Many places that rent will also be willing to put your rent $ toward an in shop purchase when you are ready.

    Good luck,
  9. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Rent . . . .
  10. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    for rent. And get a teacher. Even if you're the world's greatest electric player, upright is a whole different ball game.
  11. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I agree with your post except for the comment regarding setup. I have seen some horrid set up jobs on basses in stores, school orchestra's, etc. I think that playability is probably one of the most crucial components of a begginers bass.

  12. allTimeFavorite


    Dec 2, 2005
    I am going throught the same process. I would like to rent, the same reasons you gave for renting. I live in Des Moines, IA. Only one shop in this area rents basses. the basses are plywood Christophers, and the rate is $110 per month. They apply all rental fees towards purchase, but their purchase prices are quite high. So, $50 to 60 a month sounds like a very good del to me.
  13. sejarus


    May 8, 2002
    I literally spent years trying to decide if I really had the time and motivation to learn to play upright. I finally decided to rent for a summer--A Shen SB 80 from a respected luthier. Rent did not apply against future purchase, but it was important to me to know I was getting a good quality instrument with a good setup. After 3 months of rental and lessons, I at least felt comfortable going to shops and trying out instruments. Now I'm the proud owner of a Shen SB 180. My only regret is that I waited so long to rent.
  14. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Wow, that's really expensive! I advocate renting but in that situation, it's probably just cheaper shopping for a used ply! The rent you pay in a year could've earned you an Englehardt - sans setup work. That's just too much methinks.
  15. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    when I started playing I wanted to rent a bass, knowing I was about to go traveling for 6 months I thought I could rent one til I left then buy one when I got back.
    It turned out much cheaper to buy a bass and then sell it back to the shop 3 months later. The rental would have been more than 2 the difference. Obviously prices etc are different in different countries, but you might want to find out what the return value on a cheap plywood bass would be and do the sums. I found that 3 months obsessive playing on a cheap, crappy chinese ply bass gave me enough chops to try basses out when I then bought the bass I'm still very happy with 2 years later.
  16. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Yes people, $110 per month is outrageous. The most expensive rental for a student bass in Dallas was $50 a couple of years ago. Look harder. You might try asking band / orchestra teachers at the local schools where to rent. Keep nosing around and you'll find something better.

    Good Luck . . .
  17. GutOil


    Jun 3, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    I agree that playabiliy is crucial (for all players).

    I guess I haven't seen this too much with reputal dealers.

  18. Demens


    Apr 23, 2005
    Waco, Texas

    I'm renting a Christopher bass right now... I like it. Go for it. Beats buying one... And I'm am finding out what I like about the sound of this bass and what to look for in other basses.
  19. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    The smartest thing you could do is wait, find a teacher first.

    I say this from firsthand experience, I bought a bass before I
    found my teacher, it turned out ok, but after I got the teacher
    I learned about a luthier i didnt know existed, I also had the
    chance to play a couple basses.

    Its the teacher that will be able to play whatever you might
    consider renting or buying and keep you from getting taken
    advantage of (of course this assumes its a good teacher,
    but thats the first task, not the bass).

    Good luck in your quest...