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speaking for the ebay bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by tbassist4, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. haha this will sound quite funny to some of you more experienced players, but buying a bass on ebay isnt such a bad idea, here's my story.

    Well i found one of those deals "$548 great 4/4 bass with free bow and strings!!!! BUY ME NOW!!!" and of course, being an electric bassist, i said hey awesome! So yes i bought it, it came, i tuned the already attached strings and set the bridge up, and i could tell it wasnt quality. So after fighting with luthiers i found one who would take my bass.

    They fixed it all up, (resurfaced fingerboard, made bridge adjustable, fixed endpin, fixed steel cable which held the tailpiece in place and i think soundpost adjusted.) and put new spirocores on her. It sounds amazing. They even commented in the shop of how surprisingly nice of a tone it has.

    haha and this is even better. My school purchased a 3/4 size bass for me to use there, and I tried it out before I got my bass fixed and compared the two. The schools one sounded a ton better. Then after mine was fixed, it blew the school's one away.

    Comparing prices is the real kicker.
    3/4 school bass: $2000 give or take (with bow and case)
    4/4 My bass (fixed): $548 + $300 for repairs give or take some, ending out to be maybe around $900 after everything.

    So as you can see, my bass after all the repairs, sounds better, is cheaper, and bigger. Now im sure you'll say the strings or size of the instrument attribute to the better sound. Yes, I've taken all of this into account, and I do know a thing or two about acoustics, I like to read. lol. but mostly I like to listen. After the comparison the ebay bass comes out on top.

    Now of course my bass wouldnt compare to a new standard, or some 3k carved bass. But if you need a bass and you're in a squeeze for cash and have a decent luthier nearby who will take your bass in, then go for this. Well there's my two cents, any comments?
  2. mpoppitt


    Mar 28, 2005
    Austin Texas
    It's all fun & games until neck block cracks, or the seams start to seperate.

    I followed a course very similar to yours; struggling with learning on it with no set-up, and then growing to like it when it was setup right. It's now 5 years later, and it is literally falling apart.

    They are what they are. The only good things I can say about 'em is:

    1- I probably wouldn't have started on upright had it not been for the CCB. $2000 was an unimaginable amount of money to me then, and the $400 I spent on the CCB was literally all I could afford (I have really bad credit, so a rental was out of the questions).It's better to have something rather than nothing. People should just know what they are getting into.

    2- I actually liked the way it sounded before the seams started to seperate, but then again I'm just playin' swing, bluegrass, and slappin' rockabilly.

    My Shen does play and sound a lot nicer, though.
  3. yeah ive heard about that, and im sure mine will take its course, although the luthiers said it had a really good solid body, which was surprising. I think i just got a fluke bass, gift from God maybe, haha. But well see, and in 5 years, i'll have saved enough up for a decent carved bass.
  4. Interesting Story. How long have you had the bass? I generally still would not trust one of those, but I do understand being on a budget.

    But there is also some wisdom in saving and investing. You gave an example, here are my personal examples:

    As a teen I worked in a non-unionized southern grocery store for $1.60 an hour. I saved up my afterschool earnings and bought a 1973 Fender Precision for $200. A year later with more saved earnings I bought a used 1969 Gibson SG Standard for $100. I still play those instruments and have not needed to buy any "upgrades" except replacing one original pickup that was missing when I got the SG. Even though a DB is something in a different price category, most of us make a lot more than $1.60 an hour now, so relatively these were major investments that I made at that time. Unless it is totally out of your budget (meaning you manage a McBurgerChic and support the old lady in the shoe), one should at least try to make a musical instrument an investment rather than an expense or a "consumer" purchase. There are many reasons to approach purchasing this way, but the main one with musical instruments such as double basses is that even the cheapo instrument costs enough that it needs to return its value. If you can pay for it quickly with gigs and make positive cash flow quickly, that is one thing. The bass falls apart and you just expense it and buy another disposable bass. Or you could buy a better bass and see it appreciate several hundred percent after delivering a lifetime of positive cash flow.

    To each his own strategy in business management.

    By the way, you seem to have discovered something essential in your experiences:- that set-up makes a huge difference on instuments of any quality level. What can I say, I like the bigger basses, too. Louder usually, more sustain and growl. What is the string length and dimensions on your e-bass?
  5. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    Well, seems an unfair comparison. What would be the outcome if the school's bass received similar treatment from a qualified luthier? I know where I'd place my bet! As SS (and many others, including myself) pointed out, setup is a huge factor.
  6. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    Man, ok. It's over 30 years old. I'll do ya a favor and give ya what you paid for it. Deal? ;)
  7. he'd be looking for
    ...so I'll offer $600.
  8. True, and I guess I failed to explain this. Yes, it's true that my bass did recieve special treatment, but not for setup, for repairs. The school's bass came perfectly set up and ready. It had the luxury of a normal flat fingerboard (not bumpy like mine was before they fixed it), working endpin, properly set up tail piece, and actually perfect bridge height. They don't just send those things to schools unprepared, and since I attend a private school that has some cash to spend, i'm sure that a letdown is not acceptable in the company. Even if that's not the case, i'll still fall back on my argument that the companies that sell these instruments to schools make sure they are in good working and sounding order before they are sent out.

    There are also certain qualities an instrument will have no matter what type of set up, that is, the instruments "character" if you will, a certain tone color that just happens in one degree or another no matter what. The schools bass seems very dull, it's not because of the strings, I can tell that, my bass did sound very different after the strings, but the tone color was not affected. I beleive it's just the way the instrument was made. Also the size may have a factor in this, in fact I'm sure it does. A small instrument cannot resonate as well as a larger one. But as I said before, something in the tone character of the instrument made the bass I purchased out class the other one. I don't know, just a little insight.
  9. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I just met a guy a few weeks ago, he plays in the same band as I do. He bought a "Cremona" DB from eBay and the thing is loud as all hell. It's also sort of a pain in the butt to play, but the amount of noise that it produces is startling.

    (Having said that, my S&D bass with Dominants on it still has more punch)
  10. What's your reasoning behind this assumption?
    Methinks you'll find this isn't correct.
  11. oh i think i phrased that wrong. I was referencing more to the fact that a larger instrument can resonate more fully due to its size and will have more of a deep full tone. I've heard this most dramatically in acoustic guitars, such in the case of a small bodied electric acoustic versus a dreadnought. Violas, I'd assume, are also larger than violins because they need to have more of a full tone to accommadate the lower range and make it sound better. I'd also assume the same would carry over for bass. A bigger bass can support a low tone better than a smaller bass, that is, it would sound more full. Although, smaller basses might be preferable for soloing, not just because they are easier to handle, but because, due to their smaller size, they have more of a treble orientation than a larger bass, making notes more crisp and clear.

    Thats my insight I guess. Although I'm sure a 120k 3/4 bass would sound much more full than my 1k 4/4, just because of the contruction.

    In relation to the schools bass. It doesnt resonate well, you can tell something is dulling it down, and it seems to be just the soundboard in general, not that there's anything wrong with the intstrument. It's just a smaller instrument in the same class as mine, which would imply that it would not resonate as well. Which leads me to another point. Although I said that 120k 3/4 bass would blow mine out of the water in terms of resonation and full tone, a 4/4 bass in that class would defeat that one.

    Again just some insight, any comments?
  12. Unfortunately (for you, that is :p ), it will not be on the market any time soon. The longer I play it the better my investment becomes. And since it plays like a dream and sounds even better, the real value is being able to still grow with a very old friend. I was offered $750 in 1984 by a Clark Music employee. I recently saw a 1972 like it but in worse condition at Guitar Center for $2200. Personally, I don't believe that electric instruments show an equal degree of refinement with aging that acoustic instruments do. I've played very good sounding recent P bass models that can be had for much less money. Even so there is no question that mine blows nine out of ten new basses totally out of the water. It is also extremely stable for an all wood instrument. The intonation settings at the bridge haven't been changed since 1979. The truss rod needs about a half turn twice a year.

    So, I think the illustration is valid. If you buy more less often you will have better equipment during your career. I would say this is even more true with a doublebass than with an EBG.

    Be careful about saying a bigger corpus resonates better. You can safely say that a larger air cavity has a lower Helmholtz frequency that may give more bottom to the low notes. Anyway, I think that is what you mean. Also I have noticed that some instruments that are not so loud when plucked can be quite sonorous when bowed. Do you get the same impression with the basses compared bowing?

    Also, the larger cavity can drive more air in and out, but will only if enough string mass is plying the bridge, and only if the body is flexible enough. More things come to the equation than just the size. That was why I was asking about the string length, etc.
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Lets understand one thing. I do not think you have a 4/4 Bass. Maybe a 7/8 or larger 3/4 but a 4/4 would often have a 44-46" string length unless it's an older modified Bass. A 4/4 would be hard to play in tune unless you have HUGE hands. Larger Basses with 42-44" String lengths are classified as 7/8. I own and have owned several of them and they are always referred to as 7/8. One Bass I bought recently was so big I was sure it was a 4/4 but my Luthier in NYC said is was still a 7/8.

    Now the sound is another thing. My loudest deepest sounding Bass barely has 7 1/2" rib Depth but has a long body. The String length is only 41 1/2". I have played small 3/4 Basses with huge volume and 7/8 sized Basses with alot less sound. All things being equal you would think the bigger Bass is better but that is not always the case. If a larger Bass speaks too slow, the smaller will carry more and project clearer. There are no set rules with size vs. sound but the one rule most go by is 'it must be playable'! A big Bass does no good if you can't get around its size.
  14. Beware of the size argument, Ken. Imported basses from many countries that have 42.5-43" stroings are marketed as 4/4 basses. With there never being a well documented historic standard of what that is exactly in inches, centimeters, pounds, gallons, or acres, the much larger 4/4 beast of which you speak is nearly mythological.

    However it is very easy to see what instruments are regarded as 4/4 by their makers. The one I got from Kazanlak, Bulgaria has dimensions that are in rough agreement with 4/4 instruments marketed by Wilfer, Poellmann, and other European makers of today. While we have reports by members playing instruments with strings in excess of 46 inches, 43" strings with body dimensions that you would call 7/8 are sold as 4/4 instruments. To claim that this a false or erroneous claim is useless. You are arguing over meaningless fractions of an unknown whole. Why not just measure the @#**!$ bass with a ruler and be done with it? :confused:
  15. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    There's so much missing here and so many unjustified assumptions, it's hard to know where to start. Who knows about the sound-post placement, etc. of the school bass? I'm not willing to assume that it was "perfectly set up."

    Now, let's suppose you are correct and let's assume for the sake of argument that your ebay special does, indeed, sound better than the school bass. This could be because:

    1) The school bass is of poor quality

    2) Your ebay special (for the time being) has a particulalrly nice sound.

    3) Both of the above.

    None of this supports a recommendation for buying crapola basses on ebay. They generally do not sound all that good and they certainly are made very poorly. It is likely to fall apart in your hands.
  16. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    It's just a crapshoot. I play on this friend's eBay bass about once a week and the sound impresses me every time. Strung with spiros, through an underwood pickup and into a GK MB150 combo amp, it sounds pretty darn good. Of course the neck might as well be a telephone pole... but that's an issue of playability (which is somewhat lacking).

    Don't speak in absolutes -- it is possible to get your money's worth buying one of these instruments. You just have no guarantee.
  17. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    Well, I didn't speak in absolutes. I said they generally don't sound very good and they are made poorly. The latter evaluation sounds pretty absolute but I believe it to be true. The $545 ebay basses are not well-constructed instruments. Sorry, in my opinion, unless extreme circumstances apply, purchasing one of these basses is ill-advised and a poor use of the $$$ in the long run. Just my opinion.
  18. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Don't take me wrong I would never buy one again. But they are so, so cheap that I begin to wonder how much of a waste of money they really are. And the thing is... a lot that I have seen, though they may not be built "well", are built like tanks.
  19. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001

    This is where the rub is. Usually they are NOT built like tanks. I did some research a few weeks back on the cheapo basses, and the overwhelming story seems to be that when purchased, they looked good and some even sounded ok, but that they tend to need extensive setup (board shaping, new bridge, etc) and they self destructed in relatively few years. And when they start falling appart, they aren't worth repairing so you have to buy another bass.

    It's probably the near the bottom of "quality" basses worth buying, and many would dispute even that, but at least with my Englehardt ec1 I know that is sturdy enough to last a long time, and if I upgrade, I can sell it. It's really worth it to spend 3-400 bucks more on an Englehardt or other established quality brand (shen, etc) that you can resell and upgrade from, than on a cheapo ebay doghouse that is likely to die and leave you with a closet full of bass shaped plywood.

    If it's all you can afford, then rent, if you can't rent, then buy used, and if that fails, then buy the ebay bass, but don't expect it to last very long.
  20. Huh?!? Man, durability is what these are all not about in the least way. I have seen some of the DB's priced around $1300- $1600 that were already giving up at the seams. What's a tough thought is that you can get a good servicable bass at those prices. That makes tossing $500+ on a BSO particularly unwise in my book.

    Now if you really want built like a tank, you get one of these carved Bulgarian's like mine. This baby survived a major fall sliding down the side of my car where I should be shot at dawn for propping it there in the first place;- with just a bruise. OK it was also in the "Panzer" bass bag from Reunion Blues, but most basses would be in at least two pieces and this one was barely out of tune. That's built like a tank, now. A particularly good sounding tank, also. About 4x the money of an e-bass, but well worth every penny.

    I also think the Kays and Englehardts do hold up very well in terms of durability compared to many other inexpensive ply basses. There are so many decent instruments out there at good price points that it is very difficult for me to see the e-basses as anything but a total waste of money.

    I'm not speaking from the perspective of a bass snob;- quite the opposite really. I sort of think about it like;- just burn the money. You will be out less time and trouble. I've never been in a position where I had money to burn so it is a necessity that I buy things that will last and return at least cost.

    I guess if you are comparing these basses to "school" basses that could be an indicator that you haven't really had to make things count yet. It's never too soon to make your purchases count.