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Student model or Step-up

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Hotblack, Jun 13, 2002.

  1. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    Hi all. I've been looking through the Double Bass forum here at Talkbass for about a month, becuase the idea of picking up a Double Bass has been kicking around in my head more and more. I began by looking at EUB's, but finally realized, "Hey, I'm just going to be trying to replicate the sound of an acoustic... Why not get an acoustic URB?"

    I've read through the "NEWBIE" links, searched through The Good Mr. Bob Gollihur's site (great site), and done a fair bit of web-searching for information.

    Here's the main question:
    This will be my first URB. Should I purchase a "cheap" URB to begin with? -or- Should I take that one step up?

    Further information:
    This desire for an URB has spawned from compositions that I've created that seem to yearn for that sound. Therefore, whatever bass I get, I will probably end up recording and gigging with at some point and time.
    I've got to get a 5-string. Low 'B' is my best friend and we will never part ways.

    Cost issues:
    I can justify a few grand for a Bass. The $10,000 models are not happening at this point and time.

    The Gollihur Bulgarians have caught my eye. I was also looking at the Azola Acoustic Mini Baby Bass for a little while.

    More background:
    As a kid, my mother bought a piano for me to learn with, the infamous Baldwin Spinnet. While it served well for its time, when it began to die, it died hard. The action went out the window, the
    response was weak, etc.. etc... etc...
    This is what has spawned this question. So, as you can tell, I'm leaning towards the step up, but if anyone can tell me some good reasons why not... any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Other dribblings:
    Fully-Carved vs. Hybrid? I don't know yet.
    Amplification? I'll deal with that later. Clarus seems to fit the bill, but that's a second step.
    Transportation? I drive a pickup.

    Once again: Thanks for any help, advice, opinions, etc... I'll be checking this often.
    Also, any other manufacturer or retail recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
  2. If money is an issue, a hybrid might be the best way to go.

    This was the case for me. I bought a 7/8 hybrid bass and feel like I got a lotta bass for a little money.

    BTW: Between the hybrid basses I tried, I found that there was quite a noticeable difference in tone and volume between 3/4 and 7/8 sizes.
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You might have to. 5 string URBs are much rarer than 5 string EBGs.
  4. I would go with the hybrid, I have a 3/4 Strunal hybrid and it plays and sounds great. It has gotten better over the year and a half I've owned it. As far as set-up is concerned some luthiers sell basses like these already set-up for a few dollars more than if it isn't set-up. As for 5 strings, all I can say is that the ones I have seen are all kind of pricey.
    Good luck,
  5. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Trust me, you don't need it. My 1930 Juzek is a 5 string that was converted to a 4 string, and for now I see no reason to change it back. Here is something to keep in mind, low B strings tend to be over $70 alone!! I use gut, and the price on a low B Eudoxa or Oliv was enough to be happy with it the way it is. The only time I really miss those notes is orchestral work which often goes below E.

    By the way, I play a 5 string electric, so I know the advantages to the low B on electric. Unless played arco, all you really get is a thud on URB.

  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Check out our New Standard basses at WWW.AESBASS.COM I think you should forget about a 5-string. The strengthening needed for the extra string tends to kill the bottom end. Acoustically, the instrument is just too small for those frequencies, unless it's 4/4 or 5/4 size. The closest I've heard anyone come to the right balance between strength and tone on a 5-string is Horst Gruenert. You'll lay out about $18 grand for one of those.
  7. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    EL CHEAPO musical instruments are hard to learn to play on. You have to fight the bass to get it to respond, there will be woof notes, and you will spend a ton of money getting it fixed and you will still have an EL CHEAPO POS!

    You don't have to spend $10k to get a good bass. Get some one who plays to go with you while you interview new bass' and get a feel for the person selling the bass. If the sales person seems like a jerk most likely he/she is a jerk and can't be trusted with what they are telling you.

    Find a teacher and then find a upper end student grade bass.

  8. Since you are totally new to playing uprights, you should look for an instrument that you can get your money out of if you end up not liking it.
    It is a very demanding instrument.

    I have a Gollihur bass and would recomend it. You should be able to easily get your money back provided you are within the vicinity of a sizable college since there are students looking for instruments each fall.

    Ply's are good too as long as you don't pay too much.

    For the reason's above, I wouldn't opt for the hybrid.
    Your paying more for the carved top but perspective buyers may very well be turned off by the fact that it is not fully carved.

    I would also avoid the 5 string. The pool of perspective buyers for a 5 string would be much smaller than a 4.
    Having said that I have a Gollihur 5 string and I love it but students will take they're teachers advice and those teachers will probably not like the idea of a 5 string.

    Whatever you do, try to avoid the internet cheap stuff. Decent Ply's will be at least 1000-1500
    and the Gollihur bass is exceptional in that it goes for around 2000.00

    Good Luck,
  9. My Strunal is actually a quite nice bass for the money. I got it set up at David Gage and it has served me well. I don't really know what people on this board think of Strunal, but I am happy.
    Not that it will sour me on my bass, but what would you say about a Strunal Joe? I just wanna know.
  10. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Never seen a Strunal I have no opinion about them. If you like you bass and it sounds good to you and you can play it GREAT.

    El Cheapos are the $500 POS that fake ebony fingerboards that have been painted black. And, come with bad glue joints and tuners.

    If I learned to play on a Kay in public school It had been studentized for years before I had it. And, I have owned a Kay that was a POS it howled like a pack of dogs after a clouder of cats. I never could get it right. The bow was worth more than the bass.

    I would guess that a $500 bass would require at least $500 worth of fixing before it would be playable, perhaps more. For $1500 you can get a good starter bass and get your money back when you are ready to get something better.

    Having said the above if I played where there was a near riot going on I would be the first one in line to buy an El Cheapo.

    It is easier to play a good instrument than a bad one. As an example I thought I needed to learn to play guitar so I got a $65 guitar I never made much progress then one day I had some money and I purchased a $1000 guitar. What a diffrence the good guitar almost played itself. I'm sure if I took my $65 guitar to a luthier and spent a wad of money on it it would play better but then I would still have a $65 guitar. Bass' are the same. A bass that need setup will be hard to play, it wont sound ritght, have woof notes, and delay your learning process.

    Same for cheap strings and cheap bows.

    I have seen some nice bass that don't cost a lot of money that are ok. I have seen some high dollar basses that were not any better. I chose the bass that I have over over one that cost $1000 more because it sounded better to me. After all it is my bass and it has to sound good to me. Sure I would like a 200 year old bass that plays like a dream but I don't have all the money to pay for it and I don't play good enough to rate a super delux instrument.

  11. I know what you mean, my first DB was a $600.00 Chinese bass (after one year I'm still washing the paint from the fingerboard off!) I had it for 6 months. Then I came across some cash and got the Strunal, it was $1500.00 then about $400.00 for the set-up. It's been worth it.
  12. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    Thank you all for your advice and suggestions.

    I guess I'll just be trying out a number of basses.

    As per getting a 4-string: If the upright 5 sounds like a dog, or is just too expensive, I'll just have to forget about the URB altogether. Nevertheless, your experienced advice is appreciated.

    Thanks again.
  13. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I suggest we put that one in the same category as the

    "I don't have a DB because they are too tough to get in the UK"

  14. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    Hey... you can also throw in people who don't want to play 76 -or- 61 note pianos and keyboards.


    If it ain't got the range you want... what's the point?
  15. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    You’re lucky I answer you before Ed shows up.

    My point is that there is already a bunch of valid reasons for not playing DB: it's bulky, it's hard and long to learn, it's not cheap, etc. and we advise you that with some commitment these difficulties can be circumvented. Now you can be pickier and say you don’t wanna play if it ain’t a five-stringer, but people here consider that it’s not a very good argument, period. I am telling you it’s not the number of strings that’s going to limit your range, but your own learning curve.

    And the argument that DB are tough to find in the UK must sound funny to Joon from Manila.

    Keyboards belong to the off-topic section.

    Good luck.
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Not really. The analogy you are trying to use is more akin to why someone might not want to buy a 3 string bass. 88 keys are the norm for pianos, and 4 strings are the norm for Double basses. There are 5 string basses out there, but the bottom string does NOT behave like the same string on a BG, especially pizz. If you really must have 5 strings, you'll have more luck with a Fudgesicle.

    And if anybody told me that they really wanted to play piano, but would only do so if they could play a Bosendorfer Imperial grand (which has 9 extra keys on the bottom end), I'd just assume they didn't really want to play the piano that badly. Which is what I'm assuming about you and the Double Bass at the moment. If it's about the range, get a Fudgesicle, or just keep playing slab. If it's about the sound and what you can do with it, then you're in DB territory.
  17. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    Maybe this is a strange question:
    What does my learning curve have to do with a bass' ability to reach a low 'C'?
  18. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    As you may have guessed, I'm of the opinion, "If you can't live without the 9 extra keys, get yourself a Bosendorfer."


    Many thanks for everyone's input. I'll let you know what happens... if anything.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Point taken. But a Bosendorfer Imperial will run you about $80,000 new. And the title of this thread is.....?
  20. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    GOSH! I guess I've cause one heck of a row! Oh well...

    Thanks again. I'm sure I'll have more questions in the future.

    "SPAWNIE AND BIBLE BLACK" : That's cute.