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Upton Standard Vs Shen SB 150 Opinions

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jordan2, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. jordan2


    Apr 2, 2011
    Hi everyone, I am going to be (potentially) in the market for a new bass in a couple months and am curious to hear your opinions on midlevel double bass options in the 1500-3500 price range especially. I am currently playing a 1940-50s German laminated bass which I like but has given my lots of problems (unidentified buzzes, bridge movement, neck issues) over the year or so that I've owned it. I play mostly jazz in louder settings with a pick up but occasionally classical and pit orchestra work. Right now the options that I am seriously considering are as follows.

    A: Get an Upton Standard (ply bass arond 2500), I played one recently in their Boston showroom and enjoyed the bass.

    B: Get a Shen SB 150 Hybrid from my local luthier who is selling two of them at around 1900.

    C: Stick with my current bass and put some more money into it to fix issues as they arise and hopefully solve some of the problems with it.

    So I am curious what people think between these options for sound, playability and durability, tradeoffs between higher end ply vs lower end hybrid, price points, and so on. Really anything on the topic, or ideas I haven't considered yet. Sorry this post is a bit jumbled, I'm looking forward to your responses!
  2. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Sorry to respond to a question with questions but knowing the following would help:
    1) Do you like your current bass?
    2) Have you had a good luthier estimate what it would cost to get your current bass in really nice shape?
    3) Have you played the Shen?
  3. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    Have you played the Shen yet? You're welcome to try my 150 out if you're near Cambridge. I played that Upton as well and bought the Shen.
  4. I've played an Upton Standard and owned a Shen 150. Both were nice basses.

    If your local luthier is the person I'm thinking of (north central MA?) I'd highly recommend you stretch your budget a little and grab the Shen Rogeri Willow this gentleman has.

    I bought a Rogeri over the summer because it destroyed every other bass I tried, and it can hang with my old carved Germans. Fantastic bass.
  5. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    How much would the budget have to be stretched?
  6. Less than $500, including the set of Sloanes on the bass.
  7. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Not bad for $4k.
  8. Fat bob

    Fat bob Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2013
    1900 for the 150?! If it's not one of the older super laminated ones that sounds like a good deal. I just brought one home for considerably more. Still I am stoked on it. I can't speak for the new standard, but the solid top is a considerable improvement over my last bass for bowing- and pizz. I look forward to hearing from those who have played them both.
  9. jordan2


    Apr 2, 2011
    To answer some of the questions, I have played all three basses but none of them side by side. I do like my current bass but the issue is there isn't one single thing that could fix the issues with it, the real problem is it is just sort of unpredictable and the action shifts really dramatically and buzzes come and go with out a clear source. Aside from sound and build quality, I'm also looking for a bass that will be solid in varying weather conditions, we don't regulate humidity at home in any way or have ac, etc. so I'm pretty much trying to find the best bass I can in my range that will hold up to conditions and remain solid and reliable. What are people's experiences with maintenance for carved and hybrid shen basses. Also I'm a bit further west, my luthier is Mark Leue. I actually played a Ruggeri today and it was one of my favorite basses that he had but I am a little reluctant to go into fully carved basses for maintenance and reasons and my climate situation at home.

  10. Mark is a friend and he's who I bought my Ruggeri from. He's great...came all the way out to Albany to make a house call when I discovered the fingerboard had a high spot.

    This is my second Shen. Both have been tanks. I heat my house with wood (with a pan of water on the stovetop) and humidity is over 50% during the winter and higher in the summer. Never even popped a seam on either Shen. If you buy a carved bass, a cool mist humidifier in the winter and plenty of air circulation in the summer to avoid mildew and mold will help you a lot.

    Fixing your current bass vs. abandoning it and upgrading is a decision only you can make. I tend to accumulate rather than upgrade. But I'm very happy with this purchase.
  11. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    ...but if you can't regulate humidity and temperature as Kungfu can and as many of us do, then, IMO, you are assuming a non-negligible risk with a carved bass. They are not quite as fragile as we sometimes think and/or make them out to be, but if you can't control the environment at least modestly, then I think you might be asking for trouble.

    It's not very difficult to control humidity in the winter. I favor evaporative rather than "mist" humidifiers. Check out all the threads on humidification. There's a ton of information in them.

    So, if the carved bass is the one that speaks to you and is within your budget, I'd go for it and then deal with controlling the environment the best you can.
  12. Jap767400


    Feb 4, 2014
    Just bought my Shen190 from Mark and couldn't be happier. This is my first bass so his set up was very important to me. Feels and sounds great.
  13. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2005
    Cambridge MA
    Congrats. I think you'll be happy with it.
  14. jmacdbass

    jmacdbass jmacdbass.com, openmusiccollective.org Supporting Member

    I put a good word in for Mark too, all those Shen "seconds" are good deals, and I think a hybrid or fully carved taken care of is way better then a laminated made by most anyone. That Tao and Christopher would most likely be worth checking out too. A little more money I would consider (or even doing it anyway for comparison) Volker Narhmann in Billerica MA
  15. fatpanda


    Feb 20, 2014
    +1 for this. Christopher 100, 200, and 300 series would be worth a look. They definitely have longer history and experience making basses than Upton and Shen, and basses are kind of their forte [no pun intended]. I've played their 200 and 300 with D'addario Hybrid strings, and it works for both arco and pizz.

    Found their facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/christopherinstrument