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thoughts on Prima bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by robgator, Nov 17, 2004.


  1. robgator

    robgator Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2004
    Urbana, Illinois
    A friend has asked me about an upright he's spied on ebay. It's a Prima 98, priced at about $700 (with retail listed as $1295). It's being sold by Freedom Guitar in San Diego, a pretty good guitar shop (just not sure about uprights). The listing describes the Prima bass as being "a step up from our popular P-80 bass and features finer woods and a solid Sandal wood fingerboard".

    This friend is a beginner, looking for his first upright. I've never heard of these before and have offered the advice that the price seems too good to be true for a decent instrument, however, I wanted to offer this to the masses, just in case someone has hands-on experience with one of these pups.

    Any and all comments are welcomed.

    What I know about Prima usually starts with the name Louie.

    Thanks!
     
  2. I would stay away from any DB that features " Finer woods and a solid sandal wood fingerboard "
     
  3. robgator

    robgator Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2004
    Urbana, Illinois
    On the sandal wood...my "danger Will Robinson" sensor was really ringing. A line from Firesign Theater...sandalwood incense, made out of my own sandals. Enough of this, I'll keep steering my buddy towards something worthy of his investment.
    RobK
     
  4. kingbrutis

    kingbrutis

    Aug 10, 2003
    Phoenix AZ
    I don't know much about prima but have read some very positive feedback for thier basses on another site. I am considering buying one. I am pretty poor and want to learn to play. Just search the net for feedback on them. Good luck Joe
     
  5. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    It seems Prima is emerging as the "less chancy" of the CCBs. Where you can almost be guaranteed a crappy bass with a Cremona, Merano, DeVilli, etc., from all accounts it appears that you at least have a CHANCE at obtaining a reasonable Prima, "reasonable" being a very subjective word. A *chance* at getting a bass that won't fall apart within its first year ain't nowhere good enough for me.

    I'm not sure if it's Freedom, but there's at least one big guitar shop out there who advertises Cremona basses as "out of the box, the best-sounding basses we have ever heard." It's a shame, methinks... should be a crime. :eyebrow:
     
  6. kingbrutis

    kingbrutis

    Aug 10, 2003
    Phoenix AZ
    Well you do get what you pay for. Eveyone who buys one is usually a beginer or student that is broke but loves bass. I am in that position. I really want an upright but with all the usuall payments(house, cars ect...), and a 3 month old I just dont have $2000 to spend. I need something that is serviceable to learn on. Plus I want to play rockabilly stuff. That doesn't take much practice, does it? Mabey santa will bring me some gut strings. Later Joe
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Read the NEWBIE stickies. The thing that you DON'T get for $700 is a pro set up (good soundpost, proper setting, good bridge with adjusters, fingerboard in good plane, good strings, good tail piece wire, etc.) That can get you to $300+ real easy. All these music store guys do is take it out of the box, push the bridge into the approximate position they think it should go and put the soundpost back upright if it has fallen in shipment. Check (All Hail)Bob Gollihur's website for luthiers or string shops near you, go check out a bunch of basses that are alread set up for playing by people who do that for a living.
     
  8. robgator

    robgator Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2004
    Urbana, Illinois
    OK, thanks to everyone who offered a comment. The short story here is that the Prima bass is no longer being considered. Our friend has actually picked up a used upright. Thanks again for all of the input. RobK
     
  9. Bass

    Bass

    Nov 10, 2003
    Canada
    Really? A friend of mine bought the same one, Prima from Freedom, and it's still a cheap piece of crap.
     
  10. JtheJazzMan

    JtheJazzMan

    Apr 10, 2006
    Australia
    Prima definitely qualifies as a maker of BSO's (Bass Shaped Objects).
     
  11. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Huh? Who couldn't play it? :confused:
     
  12. Bass

    Bass

    Nov 10, 2003
    Canada
    Drurb, Chuck is insulting my friend's playing because I insulted his son's bass.

    Chuck, give your head a shake! You think a Prima is the best Cheap Chinese Bass a person can buy? So what. The best of the worst is still the worst. It sucks. It is a waste of money.

    Your bass came with an adequate set-up? You are either miraculously lucky or mistaken. My friend's bass came with a terrible set-up, terrible bridge, terrible tailpiece, it was barely playable and sounds like crap. The bridge, nut and soundpost needed to be worked over by a luthier. And it still sounds terrible

    And the finish is checked, chipped and cracked and the seams are coming apart (3 years later).

    She plays it well enough. The bass sucks.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. JtheJazzMan

    JtheJazzMan

    Apr 10, 2006
    Australia
    I agree, friends dont let friends own BSO's.
     
  14. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    That's what I figured but it seemed so silly, especially because you said nothing about your friend having any difficulty playing. I figured I missed something. Hmm...childish.

    FWIW, I agree with you. The best of the CCB/BSOs still is nothing very good and, as many of us know, they actually represent poor economy.
     
  15. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    They are two different concepts. I'll explain. The point was that buying the best of the worst is still a bad deal. The reason, IMO, is because CCB/BSOs represent a "poor economy" in terms of decision-making. (I was not referring to the local or global state of world markets.) Often, people will buy these instruments in an effort to save money and/or because they simply cannot afford more. Very often, that decision turns out to actually cost more in terms of cash and, even more often, in terms of aggravation and disappointment.

    One can buy one of these things for $700 and then realize that, in order to make it at least easily playable (or as as easily playable as it can get), several hundred more dollars in set-up expenses are required. At that point, one is left with a decently set-up, poorly-built and poorly-designed instrument that may not last more than a few years. For just a bit more, one could have had a decently designed, built, and serviceable instrument.

    One of the ironies in all this is that it is students who often end up with these products. Those are just the players who are least able to overcome the shortcomings of the instrument. Keep in mind that no matter how well one of these instruments is set up, one cannot overcome a poor neck profile, low overstand, low projection, etc. Students supplied with such BSOs often never experience the joy of playing a better designed instrument.

    Now, just to be clear, I am not saying that one should, necessarily, equip a beginner with a fine carved bass. There are now several well-designed, well-built ply basses that serve beginners quite well. I usually tell folks to consider $1500 as a minimum budget. One way or another, you're almost certain to pay that much.

    So, choosing a CCB/BSO represents poor economy.

    Q.E.D.
     
  16. kurt ratering

    kurt ratering

    Dec 2, 2008
    waltham, mass.
    bass luthier, johnson string inst.
    bass, is your friends bass there in the pic a true lefty or just re-strung?
     
  17. Bass

    Bass

    Nov 10, 2003
    Canada
    Kurt, her bass is a true lefty, which is one reason she decided to purchase the Prima. They have legitimate left-hand models. And just as Drurb says, a few hundred dollars later she was wishing she would have bought a better bass for the same money.

    Did I mention that when the Prima lays on its side, the headstock sinks to the ground!? Do real basses do this?

    Chuck, are you recommending that a beginner on a budget purchase a Prima?

    I wouldn't recommend a beginner purchase a Prima or any other CCB. A few more dollars buys a much better bass.
     
  18. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Before anybody gives Bass any &*%$, it was just a typo. He meant to say "scroll," not "headstock." ;)
     
  19. I owned two of these (the first one split at the end block and had to be returned), so I guess I'm qualified to comment. Mine sounded good for a low-end laminated bass, but was very sloppily built and finished, and you can do better for the same money (In the UK at least - I'm not familiar with some of the basses available in the US). And yes, they are scroll-heavy when laid on the side, but that never really bothered me.
    I'm so much happier with the old German bass I'm playing now!
     
  20. LeslieD

    LeslieD

    Jul 25, 2006
    Pennsylvania
    I had an Eastman 305 French bass that tipped and rested on the scroll. It didn't do it at first, but probably the wood in the body dried out a bit (and with the sloped shoulders the neck & scroll were already closer to the floor). Was it a REAL bass? Maybe...but it was definitely one of the reasons why I traded it for a Shen. I just thought it looked silly with the scroll touching the floor, but I don't think it was actually hurting anything.