Thompson bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by banjoboy, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. banjoboy


    Nov 1, 2009
    I finally bought my own bass last weekend. I am still relatively new to bass playing, and have been playing since October. I took over the bass spot in our band when our old bass player moved away. I had been borrowing his Kay. When I had the chance, I tried other player's basses, including Englehardt, Cremona, Palatino, Kay, and Shen....and I also tried out a slew of basses at our local shop, Hamm & Ashley (ranging from $3000.00 to $10,000.00). I decided that I didn't want a cheap Chinese bass, so Cremona and Palitino were crossed off the list. Not alot of Kay basses are available, and not all Kay or Englehardt basses I tried were good, though some were pretty nice. I'd been reading about other basses that are offered by Upton and other vendors. I was most intrigued by the basses offered by Steve at String Emporium. After having several conversations with Steve, I decided to purchase a hybrid Thompson (Chinese made). I felt that for the money, that it might be the best that I could get. It arrived last Sunday....OMG!!!! This bass is awesome. The set up was great, the sound perfect, it's beautiful. No doubt that I will never need another bass. Several of my bass playing friends have played this bass during this last week (I was really excited to show it off). They have all given it their stamp of approval, citing that it is one of the best basses they've every played. I just wanted to sing praises for String Emporium. I've noticed that a lot of postings have been made about other vendors, but not as much about String Emporium. Steve is extremely helpful and I think that anyone who is considering buying a bass, especially with a budget, should consider contacting Steve.
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC

    But still: No pics, no bass.
  3. GMTE


    Mar 14, 2010
    I just received my new Thompson hybrid bass last Thursday. I agree with everything banjoboy posted, although I won't go so far as to say it's the best bass I ever played (I've played some very nice solid wood European basses), or that I'll never need another bass. Guitar players know how that works.

    I wrote a review with photos here:

    Thompson Bass

  4. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Hey Kent--

    Congrats on finding your bass! You were wise to bypass the cheapo Chinese basses. By the way, it's Hammond Ashley.

    So, what made you choose the Thompson over Shen and Upton? How would you compare the sound and playability of your Thompson hybrid to that of a Shen hybrid and an Upton hybrid?

    Perfect sound, never need another bass, one of the best basses your bass-playing friends have ever played? Ah, the opinions of newbies! :) Did your friends play any of those $10,000 basses at Hammond Ashley? I was intrigued by your statement here :

    I would definately put this bass up against anything I've tried in the past.

    Given that would include the $10,000 basses you played at Hammond Ashley, would you tell us which basses those were and why and how, in your opinion, a $2-3k Chinese hybrid rivals them?
  5. This should be fun, because I Don't dig that Hamm & Ashley neither, 'specially them $10,000.00 ones. :rollno:

    EDIT: One post a piece......... I smell a rat.
  6. banjoboy


    Nov 1, 2009
    Frankly, I can't tell you the names of the basses that I tried at that store. But there is a room in the back that has something like twelve or so basses. Yes, I might be a newbie, but I've been playing bluegrass for 32 years and know what a good bass is supposed to sound like. To my ear, there isn't that big a difference between my $2000.00 bass and the more expensive basses at H&A. The Thompson is beautiful to look at, the set up is very good, it sounds wonderful and is easy to play. My Thompson bass was a every bit as good, if not better, than the $3000.00 Shen Hybrid.

    Funny, I play mandolin as well, and the same arguments are made on the Mandolin Cafe..."Is a more expensive mandolin (i.e. Gilchrist, Gibson MM, etc. that much better than less expensive mandolins, such as Weber?" I am sure that the same may hold true for basses. Certainly a fully carved bass is going to sound awesome, or at least it should sound good. But I don't think that you can write off Thompson basses or nice Shens as cheap basses that could not provide a lifetime of satisfaction for a serious musician.

    I am sure that you are aware that it is possible that a lower priced instrument can sound as good as other instruments that are more expensive. I've seen this time and again throughout the years with regard to mandolins, banjos, basses, and guitars. Sometimes you run across instruments that look like garbage, but because of one reason or another, they sound awesome.

    I guess that I'm trying to say that I could not be happier with my choice. This is a quality instrument that will most likely last me the rest of my musical life....but I do have my eye on a new mando.
  7. tomshepp

    tomshepp Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Maynard MA
    There must be a big difference in the sound of a more expensive bass. It's what players look for first. A person who plays classical or jazz will look for something different than someone else. Everything that goes into building instruments effects the sound. Playing styles and sonic needs vary from person to person. If in fact, there isn't "that big a difference", we should be seeing more Thompson basses in orchestral and jazz settings as time goes by.

    I spoke with Steve at ME when I was looking for a bass. He was great. Ultimately, I didn't buy from him do to location.

    Congrats on your new bass! Let's see the pics.
  8. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    First of all, I want to say again that I am happy that you found an instrument that you really like. It seems that you got a fine deal. Yes, as one who has been at this a while, I am well aware that price and quality are not, necessarily, positively correlated. No one can argue with your opinion or your preferences. I am simply trying to gauge what you are saying.

    Given that there is no magic and that Hammond Ashley is a reputable dealer, when you say that, to your ear, there wasn't much of a difference between your Chinese hybrid and the more expensive basses at H.A., the likelihood is that that is indicative of the differences between your ear and preferences and those of more experienced players. At the same time, you offer that "a fully carved bass is going to sound awesome, or at least it should sound good." Weren't those $10,000 basses fully carved? Then again, maybe they were $10,000 basses that most of us would agree were pretty poor values. I doubt it, though.

    I am not writing off the Thompson at all. It might just be a wonderful deal. Of course, it could provide "a lifetime of satisfaction for a serious musician." It's simply that I find it difficult to accept that, among most experienced players, it would be judged to be the rival of a $10k fully-carved bass from a reputable dealer. For you, it just may be that way.

    Indeed, please post pics. ;)
  9. banjoboy


    Nov 1, 2009
    Ok, so now I'm gonna back-track a little as I feel I've been painted into a corner:

    1. I'm not saying that the Thompson is better than all basses. To my ear, which bass-wise may be a "newbie", I feel that the bass plays and sounds up there with the basses that I've tried. There were no other basses at the store in question that gave me that "wow" feeling. I've had this feeling when I've played great mandolins, banjos, and guitars. I'm not saying the basses were bad, but certainly nothing special in my humble opinion. But perhaps they would grab someone else as being "the one".

    2. On the String Emporium website, it notes that others have felt that the Thompson is as good a bass as others that cost thousands more, and I am buying into that sentiment. I know for sure that it plays better than some of the $3000.00 I looked at.

    3. Anyone who is considering purchasing a bass with a limited amount to spend should consider theses basses. I had $4000.00 to spend, but I think that I made the right choice. No, I'll never play in an orchestra or in a jazz club. But for "grass", this bass has everything I'll ever need.

    I'm still working on posting pictures. The money I saved on the bass needs to spent on a tutor to help me figure out how to use my computer.
  10. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Thanks for your clarification. I never suggested that you were saying that you thought the Thompson was "better than all basses." What struck me was that you found it to rival what were presumably fully-carved basses costing up to $10k or so and I was simply trying to understand the basis of that judgment-- not argue with it. It doesn't surprise me that the Thompson web site reflects that "others" judge the basses the equal of others costing thousands more. I've also encountered new basses that I thought were worth thousands more than their asking price but rarely have I found a bass from a reputable dealer (and I include String Emporium in that group) that I felt was worth 3-5x its asking price. Your experience apparently differs and, thanks to your patience, I think I understand why.

    Looking forward to the pics! :)
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    As well as ear - you have to consider that some players can get more out of a bass than others..?

    So I have been to Jazz Summerschool each year for the last 10-12 years and what is interesting is how you get to see and hear maybe a dozen other student bass players and 2-3 Tutors who are Jazz pros.

    Many times I have seen a student struggling to get any volume or tone out of a bass, only for the teacher to pick up that same bass and it shifts some serious air!! :eek:

    It's great to hear one of the Jazz pros play my bass and hear what its true potential is really like!! ;)
  12. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Good point! I guess I was tacitly assuming that banjoboy listened to others playing those basses as well. Thinking back, it took years before the sound I could make was anything approaching what my teachers could. Of course, a consummate pro will still produce a sound on my bass that I can't but the difference sure isn't as embarrassing as it used to be. :) Thanks for adding this dimension to the discussion.
  13. PostBop


    Mar 19, 2011
    I'd love to hear how you guys feel about the Thompson now that you've had time to digest it.

    I've been looking for a reasonably priced bass and have decided on the Thompson Hybrid. Would love to hear more stories on it.
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