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Thinking of "downgrading" to laminated

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Jazzman, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I am fed up with the maintenance and lack of durability associated with my carved bass. It seems like a couple times a year, the bass has to undergo repairs. The latest is a crack in the top, which has prompted me to seriously start considering a laminated bass instead of this carved one.

    I know everyone here is in love with the New Standard basses, and I am considering them. But I am also wondering if there are any other high quality laminated basses out there?

    I am not a fan of the Kay/Engelhardt neck either - I like something substantial, not thin. My first bass was an EM-1 and I don't miss it one bit. ;)

    And lastly, do you guys have any idea how I would go about figuring out what my bass is worth? It is a few years old, and I know what I paid for it, but am not sure how much depreciation is associated with a double bass.

    Thanks a lot for your assistance.

    [BTW, I do humidify & have a room humidifier...I do all I can, I just live in a climate that changes VERY dramatically from month to month.]
  2. You probably need an appraisal from a qualified luthier to start.I noticed on your profile your bass is a flatback.These basses sometimes are more sensitive to seasonal changes.How often do you have your soundpost checked?Could be part on your repair problem.
    Secondly, having a laminated bass this time of year in New England can be a blessing.Arnolds New Standards are excellent basses and would serve you well.Other basses to consider would be the higher end chinese like Shen or Christopher or Eastman.If these are set-up properly you may even enjoy playing one of these more than your carved.
  3. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks a lot for the input. I don't have my soundpost checked - I did not know this can be a problem. Now that you say it, it makes total sense. Although, the post loves to fall over when the instrument is being worked on, so I can't imagine it is on the tight side.

    I do love the flatback design - and have an inquiry into New Standard about their lead time and pricing on the flatback version of the La Scala.

    When I am at my Luthier's shop on Tuesday, I will ask him about the soundpost causing some of my problems. I will also see if he can do an appraisal (I am sure he is more than qualified).
  4. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Also, does anyone have experience with the laminated bas that Upton Bass makes? I know they love them, but of course, they are selling them. ;)
  5. I have one of Arnold's laminated "conversions" (new fingerboard, more wood one the neck, better tailpiece assembly, etc.) of an old american bass. He did this in 1995 before his basses came out. Let me say that his work on any instrument he touch's with his magic skills is going to be great. When I need a second instrument, I will probably only need to go to one shop. I kind of smile when people start asking about the "vintage" of my bass and I give them the "plywood" answer. Being in New England, you're able to make the drive, it will be well worth it. Peace. ASG
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Please tell us in a little more detail about your current Carved Bass. You say it is a newer Bass. If it is cracking, then it was not made with aged materials and/or not made to well for that matter either.

    I recently Visited my 1966 W.Wilfer now owned by the person I sold it to around 1974 or so. Having an old Italian Bass and a few others, I didn't need it any more. I bought it new in 1971. It have been sitting in the storage room at Metropolitan/Juzek since I was in High School. It never cracked for the few years I owned it. In the last 10 years, it did crack up the top in a couple of places and was sucessfully repaired by Jeff Bolbach. I also own an English Bass completed in 1811 and does not have any Top cracks at all.... Why?.. Good wood, aged and well made & cared for.

    The problem might be with your Bass and NOT with the fact that it is carved. Where you store the Bass and how you care for it is also important. I now have 2 new Shen highest-end Carved Basses. One from 1997 and one from 2001. They sre both in perfect condition.. Why.. Aged woods, well made and well cared for......

    Arnolds Standard model Bass may easily be better than a 'poorly made' carved Bass any day. But, please don't blame it all on the fact that it is carved....

    If you have a poorly made carved Bass and you get Arnolds Standard, then you are "Up-Grading", not down grading IMO.
  7. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    The bass is a 3/4 size flatback with violin corners made in the workshop of Calin Wultur (Reign, Romania). I was told, when purchasing the instrument, that it is made of aged woods.

    Most of the issues I have had were a couple popped seams. But there was also a small gap in the bass-bar that buzzed in the winter time. I also had an issue with the end pin that Upton Bass puts on all of their basses - but I replaced it with the Kolstein Panormo version, and couldn't be happier.

    It has one crack in the top that extends from the bottom of the bass side F-hole, to the purfing at the C bout. My Luthier suspects that is may not totally be weather related (because of the position), as it may be the result of a physical impact. Although he has not inspected it first hand yet.
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    When the Top cracks up the Wing sides of the FF holes it is usually do to Back movement. Either the Ribs must crack, the Bar must come loose, the Back must crack, the top must crack OR, everything slightly moves together like a Dance. That happens with many better Basses or after time with others. You do notice the action is lower in the winter and higher in the summer, right? That is because the 'hardwood' Back (maple, poplar, pearwood, willow,etc.) has shrunk or expanded. This diminishes in time but never really goes away.

    You are lucky the Bass cracked where it did rather up the Bass Bar or Sound Post. I Think it is a cross between having a real good luthier re-doing your Bass or Getting the Standard and trading or selling what you have. If the Bass was not as well aged or put together as it should, it will mature in time and move less..hopefully...
  9. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Jazzman, I agree with Ken and I would recommend that you really look into this seriously before you consider downgrading. That said, a New Standard may be a better bass than what you have now. A bass that is not made of aged wood and that has not been constructed in the environment where it is kept, may have problems like you describe. Sometimes, even when a bass is made of good aged wood, the top table is removed when it is shipped to another location where the climate is different. Many, many people have carved basses and never, ever have cracks, popped seams, etc. Where I live, the weather ranges from -25 F and dry winter conditions to 100 F and extreme humidity. However I take great pain to ensure the impact on the bass is minimised.
  10. philly


    Nov 20, 2004
    i played the upton laminated bass last week...I think it was selling for $1500. They had a hybrid for $2500.

    I no expert, being relatively new to double bass...but I have played stringed instruments for 35 years and it seem like it would be worth your while to check it out.... nicely made, sounds good and played better than anything I've come across for the money. Again I'm new to the DB, but it looked, sounded and felt like a nice instrument, again especially for the money.

    Incidentally, I dont think they actually make it, but import it from poland.
  11. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed, the Upton Bass laminates are from Poland. I have played a number of them. They are an excellent value-- well worth checking out. The hybrids they sell (also from Poland) may be an even better deal.