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Step up from Shen Willow

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Dave Irwin, Apr 18, 2010.


  1. What does it take to beat an SB200? It might be a long time before I can get a better bass but I need something to look forward to.

    If you've upgraded from a Willow, what did you go to and what does it do better?

    Thanks,
    Dave
     
  2. wdnewman

    wdnewman

    Apr 13, 2009
    Better a Shen 200 Willow?
    Nah.
    But in theory....
    There is always the SB1000, or below that the SB200 Rogeri. Gee, there are so many great basses out there, and so many good guys selling them that the available choices are vast.
    But I have found that finding the perfect bass for you alone is a fun search, and the more time you take, and the more choices you sample, the less likely your are to make a mistake. It is much easier to read about what to look for and what to avoid than to go through the pain, agony and time involved making wrong choices.
    But I plan to hold on to my Willow for years. At my age, that might just do it.
     
  3. Maybe I'm setting my goal too high. I figured there must be something south in price of say a Prescott or something like that.
    How about a smaller body/or easier to get around up high without sacrificing sound?

    Thanks for the response,
    Dave
     
  4. Andrew Hamilton

    Andrew Hamilton Guest

    Apr 18, 2010
    I"m a university bass player and I was looking for a bass that was capable of taking me through graduate school and through my first auditions. Due to scholarships I decided I could spend as much as 50 for a complete new setup, although I would have preferred to spend around 20-30 for the bass.

    Many people advised me to look at handmade modern instruments as older instruments that are in good condition and have a good sound would be above my price range.

    I imagine that it's easy to find a modern instrument with a smaller profile that's easier to get around. Modern makers have the benefit of making instruments for their cliental so a bass can really do whatever you want it to do.

    As far as sound goes, I'm not sure if too many modern instruments can match the power and sweetness of a good older instrument, but if you play lots of instruments it's impossible not to find something you like.

    Most Prescott basses sell for +-30? For anywhere around 10-20 I'm sure you can find a good instrument. Kolstein Fendt basses go for 10k and I've played some nice ones (although they do seem to be hit or miss). For a little bit more than that you can get a Sirleto although I've heard they can have problems if they haven't been rebuilt on the inside. Albert Jakstadt makes a nice bass for around 18 I believe.

    When I was looking for a bass I played over 300 basses. I considered maybe 10 out of 300. It was really kind of a disheartening process to play all of these instruments that I just didn't fall in love with. I'm sure I just typed a lot of things that you already knew as you're obviously an educated buyer, but I think it's really imperative to play things below and above you price range. I know that I feel no buyers remorse and it's only because I purchased as an educated buyer.
     
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    South of a Prescott? There's two for sale at the Basscellar, 38k and 47k. I think there are a lot of good basses south of that out there. Start playing basses, that's the only way to determine what you like more than what you have. Do what wd says.
     
  6. Andrew Hamilton

    Andrew Hamilton Guest

    Apr 18, 2010
    I didn't know Prescott's were that steep now. If that's the case I have to throw Scaramelli, Gruenert, and Guy Cole (the maker of my bass) into the mix! All make a great modern instrument...from my perspective as a player. I'm not a luthier so I can't speak in terms of longevity.
     
  7. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    IMO, there's a vast territory of "step-up" basses between the price of the Shen SB200 and that of a Prescott.
     
  8. LeslieD

    LeslieD

    Jul 25, 2006
    Pennsylvania
    It would be interesting to know "where" other bass players "went" from the spot you're in right now (playing a Shen SB200). I've got a Shen SB200W (willow Rogeri) and have wondered if this is the bass I'll just hold on to from here on out. I saw rooms and rooms full of great basses last June at the ISB, but most seemed to be a steep jump up in price from what I've got now. One bass that I really liked (a 1940s Otto Rubner) was a good 10k more than my Shen willow bass.

    Of course it all sort of relates to where you are in life. The 5th decade of my life is looming in front of me, and as a non-professional bassist it's a good guess that [sadly] my best bass-playing days are behind me. Is there a chart or diagram for this Drurb? I'd guess that people who have an SB200 in their 20s are more likely to be moving on to something else at some point.
     
  9. Glad to see I'm not alone. The Prescott reference was kind of a joke although it would be something to be able to own one.
    I haven't played a bass that I found significantly better than my Shen, and that includes basses up to $15k. So it's not as simple as looking at price points above the Shen.
    No ISB for me next year since it's in San Fran but next time it's closer in my area of the country, I'll be there. Hopefully I can plan a trip to the east coast sometime soon as well.

    Thanks,
    Dave
     
  10. Anti_Wish

    Anti_Wish

    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    I know Upton bass in boston has a Prescott for way less than 38...
     
  11. Andrew Hamilton

    Andrew Hamilton Guest

    Apr 18, 2010
    My understanding is that the price can really run the gamut based on how sweet the sound is and how powerful the low end is. I read on a blog that most Prescott's have a darker, muddled sound, and the price depends on the condition and bouquet of colors the bass has.
    I've played 2 Prescott's. One was for sale in the 30's and the other in the 50's. I could definitely tell a difference, I've go to say. The bass in the 50's (to me) competes with basses that are selling for twice the price. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
     
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    It has a new back. Some people will pay more for all original.
     
  13. I'm not at the point you are at yet, but to me, to properly examine questions like this, one needs to ask questions about the music we'd be playing, the conditions we'd be playing in, and the sound needed for that role. Then we can go about finding an instrument to best fit that role.

    questions like: what repertoire of music? Primarily arco style? Primarily pizz style? 100% acoustic always? Acoustic sound but amplified with a microphone system? Almost always amplified with a piezo pickup? Original music with evolving sense of sound? Established music with strict expectations of sound? Recorded tone more important that live performance tone? In what context is the sound needed to blend with others?


    For example, it seems to me that the ideal bass for current performances of late Romantic symphonic work is not really the same ideal bass for current "Early Music" practices of Baroque music. The same goes for other styles like Tango, Jazz, Folk, Latin or other names we put on the different sounds that exist today.

    So Music first, and then find the instrument and setup to suite the needs that this particular music requires.

    The game has to be defined before we can start declaring winners.
     
  14. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    Spend your $ on lessons. Really. I have a Willow and it is a great bass. Have a played better. Sure. But in the end my head and hands need to improve before I'd ever consider spending the $ on another bass. My 2 cents.
     
  15. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Interesting idea...I'm in the latter part of my 5th decade and just got a fully carved bass after playing an American Standard for the past 25+ years.

    Is the new bass going to make me a better player? Probably not. But I think it will let me make the most of my modest skills. And the new bass is a better fit to where my playing has gone...a transition from blues to chamber orchestra and musical theater.

    Will there be yet another bass someday? Probably not...but never say never :meh:
     
  16. LeslieD

    LeslieD

    Jul 25, 2006
    Pennsylvania
    Definitely. My willow Rogeri works nicely as a section bass for classical music. It blends nicely and has a moderately powerful darkish sound. I don't play this bass with my folk and bluegrass groups; and I don't play Jazz.

    Yes, I WISH my hands could improve. They are going the other way (a nice case of arthritis). In my case it doesn't make sense to shell out big bucks for an amazing bass.

    It's hard to isolate all the variables being discussed here!
     
  17. I'ts not a question of whether I should or shouldn't uprade. I'm interested in finding out what measures up to or exceeds the Shen in what it does well and then offers more like upper register facility. I think it's a tall order because IMO, my Shen cost only a 3rd or 4th what it should have from a sound perspective. I've gotten some good recommendations that I'll plan to look into when I can travel and I hope they keep coming. I still haven't heard from anyone that upgraded from a Shen:)
     
  18. LeslieD

    LeslieD

    Jul 25, 2006
    Pennsylvania
    Oops, sorry I was off topic there and stealing your thread! My apologies. (But thanks for letting me have that little diversion there--it was a nice way of avoiding stuff in my offline life). :)

    Yes, would love to hear from former Shen Willow owners.
     
  19. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I'm not sure what the question is. Every bass is different. I have a Shen Willow and am really happy. That said I have played other basses that I'd be happy with too. Different price points. My decision was also influenced by the fact that I load my bass in and out of the car in all weather almost everyday. I decided on a good bass that wouldn't break the bank. Bottom line is a bass is just a tool to get what's inside out.
     
  20. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, if you're the one upgrading, then it's your opinion that counts. No one can argue with your opinion. If you judge your Shen to equal or better basses costing four times as much, then it's not clear what YOU would need to buy to upgrade. Having said this, I'm fairly confident that many, if not most, here would prefer quite a number of $16k basses to the $4-5k Shen SB200. So what you consider to be an upgrade and what others consider to be an upgrade may very well differ. I'd be curious to know what your thoughts are after you play a slew of other basses.
     

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