So green behind the ears it ain't funny!

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by gpnhs, Feb 16, 2003.

  1. gpnhs


    Feb 16, 2003
    los angeles,
    hello all.
    i've been playing electric bass for give or take 15 years now. all the bands i've been in were loud heavy rock a la sabbath etc. very seventies oriented music. i've always liked jazz (coltrane, dolphy, hutcherson etc) but only recently have i considered playing a stand up bass and to be honest i have no idea what am i up against. i've been to the faq portion of the site but i think i need more details: shall i get a full double bass or those electric ones? how much shall i spend ie what's a good beginners price? once i get into it i have the feeling that i'm really going to enjoy it. so, i think you get the idea: i am so clueless! any help would be most appreciated. you can email me directly at
    thanks for taking the time.
  2. Seppie


    Aug 14, 2002
    Austria, Vienna
    good to see that you want to the dark side...

    so for the first...what i´m writing is only my opinion and yeah...all have the right to comment that :bag:

    hmm first get a good teacher...that´s the best advice i can give you...a good teacher will help you in alot of where to get a bass, whether it´s good or not...and so on!
    the next one: i would recommend to get (if you really want to play) a real db! they are a bit clumsy :bawl: but hey it´s a real bass! and i think that´s what you want!
    but as i said...a good teacher will guide you through the first steps of development to a db player!

    gruesze sebastian
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
  4. You can get a good laminated bass for $1000-$1500, and that is what you should do.

    You can get an Electric Upright Bass(EUB) in that same price range, but there are only a few that feel and sound like a Real Bass, and they start at around $2000. A lot of these under-$2000 EUB models are 34-inch-scale rigs that are little more than a fretless bass guitar held vertically.

    A 3/4 bass has a 41.5 inch length-of-scale. If an EUB isn't the same, it's going to be a vertical BG, and probably cost around $1200.

    You can get a new laminated (aka "plywood") Engelhardt or Strunal at or for about $1100 plus shipping, which usually runs $150-$250.

    Check out the Strunal A504, for $1110 plus shipping. They quoted me $150 shipping to Texas a few months ago.

    Or, Bob Gollihur can get you an Engelhardt EM-1 for just a shade over $1100(shipping included), depending on where you live, or an ES-9 for around $1500. The EM-1 has a rosewood fingerboard, instead of ebony, which may be a plus or a minus, depending on your preference. Rosewood is not as durable, but is prettier, and a lot of people say that it makes the bass sound a little warmer than ebony.

    I don't like the look of most Engelhardt finishes much, except for the ES9, but I understand that Engelhardt is in the process of completely re-vamping their finishes right now.

    Bob's Engelhardts are drop-shipped directly from Engelhardt, and he says that they come out of the crate playable (depending on your expectations), but also can all benefit from some setup work.

    For instance, you'd want new strings, and probably a new bridge on ANY production-line bass you get, which is going to be virtually everything that is under $1500 + shipping.

    At .absolute minimum for the setup, you can figure $Free-$40 to adjust the soundpost, about $30 to contour the bridge-feet exactly to the face of the bass, and around $100 for new strings (if you put them on yourself).

    There are a lot of other things that you might want done, such as adjusting the string-height at the nut, replacing soundpost, bridge, or endpin, or even planing the fingerboard if you don't like it's shape.

    Initial setup cost can get pretty expensive, if you get carried away.

    You can get:

    Plywood Bass
    Hybrid Bass
    Fully-Carved Bass

    Bob G. sells a nice fully-carved bass made in Bulgaria, which is hard to beat, if you want to go the carved route. They are about $2200, delivered, and mine came with a high-quality bridge and good strings. It needed only a minor adjustment of the soundpost, to suit me. That was actually done for free, in the process of getting the adjustable bridge installed which I got also from

    The luthier said that I got a nice bridge with it. He said "You want to replace THAT??? Why?". However I wanted and adjustable bridge, and I could get one from Bob, with adjusters already in it for less than I could have adjusters put into an existing bridge.

    A carved bass will be louder, in general, and sound better, in general, than a plywood.

    I say "in general" because a given plywood bass may sound better than a given carved bass, depending on how they were set-up, on construction of the specific basses, and on your personal preference.

    Plywoods have a more percussive sound than carved, and some people prefer that. Lots of good Jazz is played on ply basses, by lots of big-time bassists who could easily afford any amount they chose to spend on a bass.
  5. Shlomobaruch


    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    And there's also nothing saying that you need to get a *new* plywood or carved. Being in L.A., I doubt finding a used one would be difficult. I started on a used American Standard that I got for $750 from a violin repair shop.

    Local music colleges are a good source of people for lessons and general information about what's available to you, as well as what to look for in an instrument.
  6. No, but used Engelhardts sell in approximately the same price range as new ones, while coming with no warranty. Same with Strunal, and most other name-brand plywoods.

    Someone shopping for his first DB isn't going to be a fit judge of whether repairs were made correctly, or might be needed, or whether a bass is way over-priced. When you talk about Kay basses, it isn't hard to find a C-1 priced at around $2000, when a new EC-1 can be had for $1100. That may or may not be over-pricing, depending on anyone's particular opinion of Kay basses.

    When you talk about carved basses... well my son said "Dad, did you get a new bass, or a used one. My reply was "Son, I had to get it brand new. I couldn't afford a used one."

    If you buy used from a reputable luthier or repair shop, you're generally okay. They generally have basses that are not bargains, or an especially bad deal either. They know what basses are worth, and sell them pretty much for those amounts. They will tell you if a bass is crap, why it's crap, and will have it priced accordingly.

    If you find a used one at a pawn shop, or estate-sale, or from mister "My Wife's Making Me Sell It" in the newspaper, where most of the real bargains surface, then you need the expertise that "gpnhs" is not likely to have, because that's also where a lot of rip-offs surface. People tend to have inflated opinions of the bass value, or in some cases are trying to get their money back out of what they know for sure is a real dog.

    I really think that unless a Newbie has a VERY experienced DB player (or his prospective new bass teacher) helping him shop, he's usually best off getting a new bass.
  7. Wow--loads of good advice has been given. I would just add my voice to the " get a teacher" corner, and just to check what kind of music your prospective teacher specializes in.
    There are some exellent classical teachers, who will be great for building your technique, but won't be much help in choosing a bass for amplifying. It's not that they are stupid or incompetent, but on choosing a budget priced instrument, will have different priorities. Similarly, if your prospective teacher never bows, then his prioritites will be different again.
    Without being too paranoid about it ,and not to put you off, because everryone has to buy instruments ,just be aware that it really can be a minefield choosing an instrument.
    Dealers, however principaled ,helpful, whatever... are in the business of making money. If a bass is available,it is because it has not been bought by someone else.
    There are a lot of dogs out there, new or secondhand,there are also some good basses.
    Everyone is looking for a good instrument ,so make sure there is a good reason why the instrument you are contemplating spending your hard earned money on has not been bought.
    Get as much help and advice and opinions from as many souces as possible and practical, and then its up to you.
  8. gpnhs


    Feb 16, 2003
    los angeles,
    wow! i had no idea getting into this instrument would be so intricate. nonetheless this makes it so much more interesting. thank you all so very much for the feedback. it is very much appreciated.
  9. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Wait 'til you start playing it! But that's the good part about DB; you can play it your whole life and never even begin to exhaust all the possiblilities.
  10. I was lucky enough to hear about a shop called Student Strings in my area. I was able to rent a Shen bass, brand new, with a bag and "killer jazz strings" for 40 bucks a month. The rent can be applied to the purchase of ANY bass (up to 12 months), and they really worked with me as to what I needed/wanted.

    This way, if I don't like it, I can swap to another one.

    I love it, and my teacher can't believe what a great bass it is.
  11. i think its slightly unfair to suggest that any EUB under 41.5" scale is an upright BG. The EUB i'm getting is a mo clifton mini at 36" scale, this employs a bridge very similar to a authentic double bass with a piezo p'up under one of the bridge foots, adding to the effect. I tried the steinberger (magneticless) EUB at 41.5" and felt that it sounded a lot more "upright fretless" then the Clifton! so i think theres a lot more to it then scale length.