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Upgrading orchestra bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jazbass, Oct 24, 2000.

  1. jazbass


    Oct 24, 2000
    I recently found this forum and must comment that every post and reply was courteous and intelligent. It was a pleasure to look through. I hope I can be of help to someone down the line as well.

    I realize that this subject has been beaten to death...and I apologize, however; I desperately need to upgrade my orchestra bass and have begun the search. Reading online, I've found a few things to check out, but am trying to avoid wasting time. What are your thoughts (I haven't played any of these yet) on the following basses?

    1. Kolstein (in general)
    2. Gagnon (Amati copy) by Eldie Urbano in the Philippines. Sounds suspect, but I truly don't know.
    3. Grunert (new)
    4. Jacquet (1860)
    5. Any other easily found basses you love? + or - $15,000

    Thanks in advance for your time in responding. As an afterthought, any experience with the new carbon-fiber bows? Especially from Glasser...better quality from other companies? Thanks again.

  2. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Seems like every time I check out a for sale ad in International Musician (Amer. Fed. of Musicians) or the ISB Mainline (Int. Soc. of Bassists), the sellers are in California. You should be surrounded by basses. If you know what you're looking at, you'll do better dealing directly with the seller. Basses sold through a shop generally have a commission added on, frequently 15%, and I've seen 20%.
    As for your questions:
    1) The basses Kolstein makes in the $14K + range are generally quite good. I've seen copies he's made of people's old basses that were extraordinary.
    3)I've played a 5 year old Grunert that was worth the $18K that it sold for.
    4)Depends on the specific instrument; Jacquet, Claudot, etc. sometimes are priced too high just because of the name. They can be really sweet. You should be allowed to take it out for a week on trial (as with all basses in this range).
    5)Gee, how did you know I have 2 basses for sale at 16.5 and 18? And that one was owned by the principal of a major NY orchestra? ;)

  3. 1. Kolstein (in general)
    2. Gagnon (Amati copy) by Eldie Urbano in the Philippines. Sounds suspect, but I truly don't know.


    1. I have a bass Barrie Kolstein made there in the shop. I love it, and I consistently receive compliments. My teacher even loves it, he generally doesn't like much.

    2. I don't know about Urbano, but when I was I Kolstein's
    checking out basses there was another bass from the Philippines. It was rather nice.
  4. Yeah, I've been pretty happy with my Kolstein, it was definitely worth the $8--- that the Army paid for it (Heh heh)But seriously, it has a really nice orchestral tone for a medium price Bass. Sounds good Pizz, also.
    But those Grunerts, I wanted one so bad until I actually played one,(The Testore copy) and then I didn't want one anymore. It wasn't a Bad Bass, it just didn't do it for me,ya know? At Least, not for $18,000.
    My favorite, though, is still my 1923 Juzek. What a sound!
    And I asked that same question about the carbon fiber bows before, But I didn't get an answer.
  5. The Gagnon might be okay. My old buddy Jim Creegan (Barenaked Ladies) bought his when he started university (probably around '88 or '89) and it's been his main bass ever since. It's been all over the world many times over and he hasn't had any real problems with it apart from the usual. It seems to be made fairly well, has a good rubust arco tone and speaks easily. The only downside to his was that the varnish seemed to chip very easily but maybe the varnish he's using has improved over the years.

    Jacuqes Gagnon shop has produced a lot of interesting products over the years. I have a very nice bow case and a very thick bass bag from his shop. BTW he used to live in Montreal to start with before moving to the Philipines.
  6. jazbass


    Oct 24, 2000
    Thanks everyone that has replied so far!!! Great info. You guys are wonderful. The search continues.

    Just a comment - I played a Bryant "Lott" today ($8500) and was pretty impressed with the sound orchestrally speaking. Big and open yet not too loud. Could be a little bright, but not much and maybe Pirastros would do the trick (instead of the D'Addarios). I am still looking for an older bass but am curious what your favorite new or near new orchestra bass may be up to $15,000 or a little more if necessary.
  7. I guess you might try and track down Peter Elias who now lives in Switzerland (although he's Canadian). I play one of his basses and it's a very imprseeive sounding and looking instrument. I'm quite sure I'll probably play it the rest of my career and don't feel any need to switch to an old Italian master bass. I'm not sure his instruments are still in your price range though. That's what you'd have to check out, plus you'll probabaly have to have one shipped over from Europe. I think his price probably is quite close to $15000 US but may be slightly more (mine was less but I didn't buy mine directly from him and it's a 6 year old bass - I had heard that his price has gone up).

    I'm not even sure how to contact him myself, but I think Bob Golihur's site has links to different makers and shops. I thought I saw an Elias bass listed somewhere on those pages.
  8. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    I have a Kolstein Nardelli copy and I'm extremely happy with it. It opens quite well. It's a deceiving little design because the upper bout is narrow and the string length is short (41 inches), which is perfect for me. But the body is taller and wider at the bottom, which may explain why the big sound. My teacher, who is the principal bassist of the Columbus symphony, took a look at it before he bought it and recommended it. I belive Kolstein is selling another one for $8500, so it may be a good buy.
  9. See my comments above about my bass. The only difference between my Fendt copy and Kolstein's Master Copy basses is that I did not commission my bass and he had a little help from a couple of apprentices due to time constraints. My bass was the prototype made for the other Fendt copies now produced and was exhibited at the 1999 ISB convention. I didn't pay the 17k he gets for a Master Copy, but that would've been a fair price for what I got.

    My bass is very loud, the tone is deep, the response is even in all registers. Being new it was a little on the bright side, but that was quickly remedied with the Oliv strings I'm using.
  10. Does which part make sense? The part about you being in Philly in the ealry '90's makes no sense at all. The part about Dave Rizzo makes sense, but I never heard of the cat.


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