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Thompson Double Bass from String Emporium - review

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by mikesuej, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. mikesuej


    Sep 23, 2008
    About 3 weeks ago, we received our Thompson upright double bass and wanted to now, after having played it for a while, share our impressions of the bass.

    We bought the Thompson bass from String Emporium for my 13-year old son. He was playing an upright electric, but really wanted a “real” upright bass and since he’s been enjoying playing upright bass with a passion for more than a year, my wife and I decided we wanted to get him a bass that would be a top-notch instrument that he could play with pride for years. In other words, we were after something a bit more than a “student bass.” Frankly, though, we didn’t think we could afford one and considered ebay. We had been around town and looked at various basses from Englehart, Shen, Kay (used) and a couple other brands that were way more money than we wanted to spend. I looked at his instructor’s bass, a Shen SB100, in detail. I do believe this Thompson is superior in construction quality and fit and finish to anything we looked at. For example, the F-hole edges are nicely sanded and finished whereas the other plywood basses we looked at had rougher F-hole cut outs. The neck is solid – SOLID – and smooth as . . . well . . . fill in your own metaphor. The ebony fingerboard is just beautiful and consistent in the grain pattern. And the tuners are very nice with a very positive feel and no slop or loose winders to buzz. There’s no sloppy glue, no gaps in the joints, no filler that I can see, and even looking at the inside you can see the superior construction. The plywood is really beautiful with no flaws that we could see and the finish is a beautiful medium, though rich brown. Most importantly, the bass sings! It has a beautiful growl to it for jazz and pop. I guess we’ll at some point consider a pickup and amp for rock. The adjustable bridge with the delrin adjustment knobs works 10 times better than the one on his electric Palantino. Of course my son couldn’t resist bowing Iron Man right away and the bass sounds wonderful bowed as well.

    Steve Koscica of String Emporium was very helpful during the buying process and spent a lot of time answering questions over the e-mail. What I liked about him was his honesty about competing brands. He didn’t down talk them. Rather, he convinced me that this Thompson would be every bit as good, but less expensive than any other plywood bass on the market. I haven’t looked at “every other bass” on the market, but of those I’ve seen and heard, this Thompson is superior.

    After we placed the order, he called and spoke with my son for about 20 minutes so he could get the setup right. He actually switched the stock strings out for a better set after speaking with my son. He then e-mailed us tracking and pickup information with helpful tips about what to do at the shipping terminal to make the process of getting the bass home very easy. Then he e-mailed us after the bass arrived to see how things were going. I think his biggest problem is the price of this bass. I believe he would sell more if he priced the bass at $1700 because I think people are too skeptical of $1250 for a plywood bass.

    My son's instructor, who plays a Shen SB100, was envious. In fact, she compared the bass favorably to the newer SB100 that she had her eye on to buy, but didn't have the money at the moment.

    Anyway, I wanted to post because, like me, at $1250 I was very reluctant thinking this might be another temporary bass that my son would outgrow in a couple years. Hell no! this is a beautifully made and superb sounding bass that will last him a lifetime. So impressed was I with the build quality, finish, and sound that we sprung for a deluxe Mooradian bag to protect it. Those go online for about $400, so you can see that I believe this bass is worth way more than $1250, otherwise why invest in such a bag worth 1/3 of the instrument?

    Don’t walk, run. . . .. . .
    johnny_bolt likes this.
  2. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    That seems like a very competitive price for a well made instrument. You should post some pictures if you can.

    Kudos to you for incouraging your son's musical aspirations, instead of dismissing them as frivolity like many parents do.
  3. dchan


    Nov 19, 2005
    Bethlehem, PA
    I'm glad somebody made the plunge on one of these, because I really wanted to know how good they actually were. I know a bassist who has one of the more expensive Wan Bernadel basses, and it's an incredibly well made and pretty good sounding bass. Steve has a great but still growing reputation on these boards, so I'm not surprised that the Thompson bass is of great quality as well.

    And you raise an interesting point on the $1250-only price point, and whether it would sell better at a higher, more premium-looking price. The problem, of course, is that there's so much crap at around that price, from those eBay basses to those overpriced Sam Ash basses, that it's sometimes hard to tell what's good and what's horrible.

    I think the hardest part of making a durable, nice quality bass at these prices is how to make it sound good. I've encountered plenty of German-made Glaesels and the lot that are rented by music stores that are absolute tanks in terms of durability durability, but sound like you're playing a tank with strings strung on top. So I'm glad to hear your son's bass sounds great.
  4. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Congrats! Seems you found the right bass for you and your son. Please do post pictures. As for the price, I trust Steve has thought about where the bass should be priced. Buyers who do their homework are not turned off by a particular price-point. Assuming it is all you say it is, then $1250 is a fine deal. $1700? Well, that would place it at a price-point where it would face some pretty stiff competition with other fine plywood basses. Again, Steve, being right in the marketplace has, no doubt, considered all this.
  5. Those are nice looking plywood basses. I'd love to see some pictures
  6. frankdvnprt


    Aug 2, 2009
    I am new to this forum and want to tell my story on the Thompson bass I just received from The String Emporium. I just bought a bass from Ebay that I paid $709.00 including shipping. I took it to a local luthier to set it up, even though it said "setup in the USA" and the fingerboard was separated from the neck enough that you can slip a credit card between them. I contacted thge people I bought it from and they said "no problem, we will replace it. They say another one is on a truck headed this way and I should get in a day or two. Meanwhile, knowing I would never be happy with the Ebay bass, even without the damage, I ordered Thompson RM100 bass from the String Emporium. After reading up on them and talking to Steve I was convinced he sells quality. And does he ever. I was pleasantly surprised when I picked it up at the airport Saturday. It was still in tune and absolutely perfect.

    johnny_bolt likes this.
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Welcome to TalkBass, Mike and Frank. Thanks for the reviews.
  8. Chris Newark DE

    Chris Newark DE

    Jan 9, 2010
    I purchased a Thompson upright from Steve Koscica back in Sept. 09 and I am very satisfied with the instrument.

    I have been playing guitar for over 25 years and wanted to take up the double bass. Being well acquainted with the challenges of learning an instrument, I know that it nearly impossible to learn on a poor instrument. The Thompson was perfect for me. The set up was beautiful, low action, very easy to get around. The sound is great. (I did get the pickup as well) It's worth every penny. If you're skeptical, give Steve a call and see what he can do for you. I definitely recommend the Thompson upright and String Emporium.
    Reply With Quote
    johnny_bolt likes this.
  9. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Thanks for the review. Was wondering what folks thought of these basses.
  10. IdealWay


    Oct 18, 2006
    Asheville, NC
    Thanks for the reviews guys! I'm seriously considering buying one of these, or the Upton Standard which is tempting as well, although it would be more expensive. I'm curious how the neck profile is (thick/thin?), as I've tried playing uprights with thicker necks and they don't work for me. The old Kay at my school has a nice thin neck which is something I would look for when buying my first upright. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks
  11. basshole27


    Apr 3, 2010
    I have also boughten one of Steve's plywood basses. It is amazing! I have gone around and several basses for sale in the Greater Phoenix area and this bass outplayed all of them! Even some that were up to $8000. The finish on my bass is beautiful and I always receive complements about it wherever i play. I had bought this bass about two years ago with a Finale carbon fiber bow, which is the perfect combination. I ened up putting the Realist pickup on it, which is an incredible pickup, but it can sound a little too bassy if you are standing too close to the amp. The only downside to this bass is the case, which is a little thin in my opinion, but is much better than many cases out there. And it seems to fit awkwardly on the bass, but you can always purchase another case for it. I am going to be buying the G.B. Rogeri bass from the String Emporium soon, not because the Thompson is bad, but because i am starting to get very serious about my playing and i think that it could take me one step higher. Overall, this is an amazing bass and i wont get rid of mine for a long time. Steve Kosica was very helpful in the buying process and did check to make sure the bass still worked for me after a couple of weeks.
  12. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I've always enjoyed working with Steve -- he's old school: he isn't satisfied until the customer is satisfied.

    Here's a fun link to a section of his website where Steve and some of his friends have recorded audio clips of music played on various of the basses that he offers -- pretty good stuff!:

  13. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed, that link has been discussed a number of times in these threads. We are fortunate to have a variety of luthiers who display the characteristics you say Steve does. I can't imagine a real bass shop could be successful by being otherwise. Those luthiers include Arnold, Upton, Nick Lloyd, Jake D., and a host of others who are spoken about highly in these threads.
  14. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I wish I had the luxury of being able to read every thread; having read only this one, and not having seen a link in it to the recordings from Steve's site, I wanted to make sure that those following this thread were aware of it.

    And, lest it be thought otherwise, my praise of Steve's business practices was not intended as an adverse comment about anyone else.
  15. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    I never considered that your intention was to be anything other than helpful. :)
  16. jaff


    Jun 7, 2006
    OK...I have to weigh in here. I picked up my Thompson 'G.B. Rogeri' bass from Steve Koscica about 3 weeks ago. I LOVE it!
    I've only been playing for 7 yrs. and I started 'late' in life. I now keep my Englehardt E-1 at the office and my 'Rogeri' at home.
    This bass is just a delight to play. There is an excellent recording of Steve doing a solo on it on his site.
    Steve threw in a nice case that is a copy of the Mooradian Deluxe, a set of 'Passiones' 4 Dampits, (yes, I know the controversy) some rosin and was very good to deal with throughout the whole process. Plus, he is a really fine bassist. I am completely satisfied.
  17. Rob Thompson

    Rob Thompson Supporting Member

    Not to go OT here, but how is it that they can sell a copy of a Moo without getting in trouble with Mooradian?
  18. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    I suspect because they don't officially call it a copy of a Moo. There'd probably be no problem even if they did.
  19. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Crow, It looks like he carries his own cases (Tuff-bags) and the Bobelocks.
  20. Rob Thompson

    Rob Thompson Supporting Member

    I see now. The tuffbag looks like what is being referred to as a copy of the MOo, though perhaps not an *exact* copy.

    My opinion: if you like Mooradian, buy Mooradian, not a copy. They're USA made and worth the extra $$ since you'll have the bag for probably 10+ years....

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