Upton Bass Polish Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Hector Wolff, Jun 15, 2003.

  1. I have been studying for two years, using one of my teachers basses (an 80 year old, Tyrolean), and am now looking for my first bass.

    Because my budget is around $2000, and I expect to bring my bass to lessons and to orchestra rehearsals, I am looking at only laminated basses. (I know I will never be able to afford a bass that sounds as good for arco,as that Tyrolean.)

    I have seen a line of Polish made basses on the Upton Bass site (Connecticut). They have both a laminated and a hybrid, that have beautiful proportions, good color and a nice finish, for a reasonable price. Gary Upton was very pleasant and helpful; he felt that the Polish laminated bass has a better sound then the Engelhardts.

    Has anyone ever seen and played one of these new Upton Polish basses?

    Also has anyone bought any bass with the Upton setup? Do you feel they do a good job?

    Lastly, has anyone actually played one of the new Sam Shen, SB100, laminated basses (with the new violin corner body). I am told these are very well made, and they certainly look good.

    Thanks for any information you can provide.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I'm not sure of the model #, but I've played several of the laminated Shen basses up at TRUCKLLOAD's* Shop in Cincy, and they were really nice. One of my students bought one, and another of my combo students over at the university bought one last year. Both sound great, and I can recommend them without reservation based on what I've seen. I can't imagine it would be too difficult in the NY area to get to where you could get your hands on one and see for yourself.

    Good luck, and welcome to TB. :)

    * (Translation: Nick "Lex" Lloyd, Talkbass member and Lluthier)
  3. Thanks, Chris and dlearner.

    I checked out the link and the comments made there, it was encouraging.

    I have found out that Upton is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from here, while the nearest Shen dealer is about 1 3/4 hours away. I hope to get to visit both.

    I am also collecting some leads to actual customers for both basses.

    Thanks for your help. I'll let you all know how it works out.
  4. Thanks for kind offer, Douglas.

    I expect to go out there some time in July, myself.

    I am very interested in the UB Jazz/Bluegrass laminated bass made in Poland. I am curious about how it sounds played with the bow. I imaginge that will have a lot to do with the strings they have on it at the time.

    I might also consider the hybrid version of the this UB bass, since I'll be playing mostly classical.

    If you do go, and can play either of these, I would certainly like to know what you think.
  5. Thanks Douglas,

    Yes I totally agree, when I have spoken to Gary I got the same impression.

    I am looking foward to playing the bass myself. I too thought it sounded like a good deal, and the bass certainly looked great in the web image. But this whole internet buying thing is hard for me to deal with.

    Keep me posted, and I'll be sure to let you know what I thought when I get to play it.
  6. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    HeckaGarou wrote:

    Never ever buy a bass (or whatever other music instrument) without trying it. On the net you can buy strings and accessories, maybe some amp and stuff, you can exchange information like here on this forum, however:


    You'll have to try it in person, with sufficient weighing of pros and cons, with second advice and, without haste, buy the bass when you decide to do so.
  7. As promised, I took a trip this with my bass teacher to audition the two bases I was interested in.

    We played both the new Samuel Shen laminated and hybrid basses, and also the new Upton Bass laminated (made in Poland.)

    They were all very nice basses but we both felt the Sam Shen basses suited us better. I was quite happy with the laminated SB100, but my teacher started playing the hybrid. When I heard
    the two played side by side, with the bow, you could definately hear the difference.

    Once heard,the hybrid was hard to pass up, especially since I'll be playing mostly classical.

    Thank you Jeff Bollbach, for the tip, and thanks Carlos Castillo for playing that bass.
  8. Dear Douglas,

    I thought the bass was quite good. It was nice looking, had a good sound. It was set up with Spirocores, and had a good pizz sound for jazz. This made it harder however to judge it for orchestra work.

    It did have a slightly shorter string length than I was used to, and the fourth position "pocket" didn't feel as natural, to me.

    The sound was good, though not quite as strong or rich as the Samuel Shen, and the Shen seemed very even sounding, even up at the octave G and beyond.

    I had heard many people comment on the quality of the construction of this Shen, but had been unable to get any comments on the Upton's quality. On the outside though the Upton certainly looked like a well mad instrument.

    Finally my teacher, who actually made them all of these basses sing, agreed that the Shen sounded and played a bit better, though admittedly at a higher price.
  9. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Is Uptons selling Shens? I didn't see any on his site. If not does any one have any links to retailers that sell Shens?
  10. Please excuse my apparent poor spelling and grammer - I am not a good typist.

    Doug - If I coudn't afford the Shen, I would be quite happy with the Upton, from what I have seen and heard.

    Rick - No, Gary Upton is not selling Shens. (I got the feeling he feels that all Chinese basses are...shall we say...a bad investment).

    I played the Shens at David Mix's place in Branford, CT. I may be wrong but I think that Arnold Schnitzer (I don't know if that the right spelling) also has them.

    It was Jeff Bollback that turned me on to them in the first place. Though I don't believe he has any in his shop.
  11. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    >Also has anyone bought any bass with the Upton setup? Do you feel they do a good job?

    I recently purchased a bass from Upton. Their service was good, but I would not get their setup. I ended up having everything they did redone by my Luthier.

    It may meet your specifications, yet for me, it did not (I am very anal & everything has to be perfect). Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking their shop...if I every buy another bass, it will be through them, I just don't think they do good setups.
  12. Jazzman,

    If I had decided to buy the Upton bass, I was planning to take it without setup, and bring it to Jeff Bollbach for the setup work.

    As it is, I plan to have Jeff do the setup of my Shen.
  13. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Hi Rick,
    Seeing as you're in Poolesville, the closest dealers would be Bob's house of Basses and Brobst's Violin Shop. Both of those shops will have instruments set up for you to play. If you don't mind a drive north, there's a great bunch in NY, Conn, and PA.

    Thank you to you folks who said nice things about our basses. :)
  14. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Thanks John, Looks like I'll be making some visits in the near future.
  15. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    Hey guys thanks for the talk of my basses!! I appreciate the discussion and feedback. My only concern is someone not being completely satisfied with our setup or anything we do......???

    If you know my shop, I stand behind everything and I am happy to take any bass back in for adjustments after the sale. The only situation that might go beyond this scope is a long-distance bass sale. If a long-distance client found fault with our setup I would still be sure to correct the error if given the chance. Setup is very subjective and I truly do my best to suit what every player needs via description over the phone, via email, or in person at the shop. If you know what you want I feel I can always make it happen.

    From a business standpoint I can see why shops are selling the Chinese basses. They usually have over a 100% markup and are always available, of course they push them.

    As a luthier and shop owner I will not put my name behind them for 1, 5, 10, or 20 years plus.

    Let me know if you have any questions.
  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I would hope that any reputable bass dealer would "stand behind everything"...;)

    Come to think of it, lots of 'em don't even know how...
  17. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
  18. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Gary, I just sent you an email. ;)
  19. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Hi Gary (Upton)-

    I am returning to the DB--it's been about 13 years since I played in high school, and I'm currently renting a painfully bad Palatino. I'm planning on visiting my parents out in Newtown, CT in August/September and I'd really like to stop by your shop.

    Are all the basses on your site available for inspection in your showroom? I'm particularly interested in comparing your Polish basses with the Engelhardts. I'm pretty set on getting a fully laminated bass because I plan on traveling and doing a lot of playing outdoors in the hot, dry Sacramento Valley of California. I'm also hoping to check out Popescu's shop in Westport and Arnold Schnitzer's New Standards in New York state.

    Look forward to meeting you,
    Winston Berger
  20. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    I sell the Shens. I sell them because they are a well made instrument, and I stand behind their workmanship. Yes, I sell them above wholesale, But not at 100% markup.

    My main business comes from repairing and making basses. After seeing several bassists get screwed out of their money on the crap instruments, (Chinese and European) I
    decided to offer a solution. That is, a Real
    bass for under 2K.

    Lumping all Chinese basses together is a little severe. Lots of chain stores, violin shops, and ebay sellers push the
    Cremona/Palatino/Skylark/Sunrise crap. The Shens and Christophers are in a totally different category.