The life of a plywood top...maple vs. spruce?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by HotRatz, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. HotRatz

    HotRatz Guest

    Mar 13, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Hello all. This is my first-ever post to the double bass forum.

    I am a bass player in need of an ultra-affordable, yet serviceable upright. I am getting enough gigs these days to where it's time to stop borrowing my friend's every time I play. As I work in a music shop with access to Cremona instruments from the Saga company, this is what I have to choose from: the SB-2 (maple plywood top, back, and sides) and the SB-3 (spruce top, maple back and sides, and much more handsome). We have one of each in the store right now.

    Here is my initial comparison:
    The SB-2 is set up much lower and slinkier than the -3. It feels more lightweight, and has a decent (for cheap) tone, though moderate volume.
    The SB-3 has currently a higher setup, so it plays rather more stiffly, but seems to have a better projection but more stuffy tone. It is significantly louder.
    The price difference is negligible for me, as I am getting whichever instrument I choose for cost.

    My question is basically, what would you guys do? I believe the SB-3 is likely to be a more rugged instrument down the road of gigging reality abuse. It also is much nicer-looking, though I am treating that as a nonfactor. The SB-2 sounds decidedly better as they sit. I am wondering, will the spruce top open up tonally at all, or will it remain pretty static, being plywood? I am thinking the lighter weight of the maple SB-2 top is making it sound better out of the box? If the SB-3 has a tonal future, then I think it would be the better choice. I can have the action lowered and better strings can be obtained, if the stuffiness/wolfiness can be played out of it. :meh:

    I need to decide within the next few days though, so the one I don't pick can go on the sales floor.

    Any experience/opinions/advice for a student bassist on a budget? Thank you very much, and thanks for maintaining what I consider to be a reference-quality forum!
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The ideal scenario for you is to 1)convince your employer to stop carrying these basses and 2)contact the Shen or Christopher or Englehardt wholesale rep. The Cremona basses are good for about 1-2 years, then they start imploding and falling apart. They look good on the rack, but aren't worth the hassle in the long run.
  3. I have to concur with the comments about the Cremona basses, I know 2 people who have them and after a couple of years they both had to have extensive work done, seams coming apart, lots of problems. They spent WAY more on these repairs compared to the real value of the instrument. Not a good deal,, run away, look for a good quality used bass in the same price range..?