Waiting on my first Upright--a blonde Shen!

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by regularkent, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. I bought a Shen SB90 today. Right now it's being set up. It's beautiful; hopefully I can show it off with some pictures after I pick it up next week. Can't wait to bring my first double bass home!
  2. Bassman316


    May 27, 2008
    Longs, SC
    Congrats, man. Now all you have to do is wait for it to be set up! I put in an order with Upton about a month ago and I'm going nuts waiting for the knock on the door!
  3. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    Hey, Regularkent, did you get it from Gary Ritter?
  4. Yes indeed! Have you dealt with with him before?
  5. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Congrats on the bass!

    I remember the day that my bass came in. I drove my van out to my Mom's work during lunch/study hall, picked it up, went back to school (high school), and proceeded to attempt to play it for the rest of the day. It was heaven compared to the school bass I had been playing. Almost 4 years later, it is sounding better and better. It has a lot more dings/wear marks on it and it feel more like "mine" than when it still ding free. The first one is the hardest.

  6. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    I probably just missed you Monday if you were at his shop. I left around 11 a.m.

    I played just about every bass he had -- even the ones way out of my price range :) -- and went with the Shen SB100. It was out in his workshop when you walk in. It was literally between that and the blonde.

    I had a blonde '49 Kay Swingmaster that I sold (for money and because the neck was too thin for me), and the Shen looked a whole lot like it. They nailed the vintage blonde color on that one, for sure. And the sound was very nice for the stuff I play, jump blues.

    The sound on the 100 and the blonde were identical to my ears. But the wood and the finish on the 100 sold me.

    I have dealt with Gary before. He's a good guy; fair prices; and knows how to setup an upright. I like having someone like him 20 minutes from home. The other repair guy I use is in Lansing. He's great but a bit far sometimes.

    I had been eyeing several other basses. Adrian Juras has a sweet Christopher flatback in Ontario, but we couldn't work out the logistics. There's a nice Hofner lam down in Atlanta, too, that looks appealing. And, of course, I've communicated several times with Upton and also considered a NSCleveland.

    Bottom line was I needed to feel it in my hands, whichever bass it was. Pictures and words can only do so much, and I can't afford to travel all over the country trying 'em out. But you do gotta slap it around .... and the Shen took it very nicely, I might add.

    I'll post some pics next week after I pick it up.
  7. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Congrats - I took the dive with a used Shen SB80 back in february. According to my instructor and local luthier, they are very nice basses for the money.
  8. Ha, I got there about an hour after you left, thejumpcat. Gary mentioned that you had been there.
    I felt the same way about the sound being identical between the 90 and 100 until i stood back, hearing as a listener instead of a player. It seemed like the 100 maybe had a slightly warmer tone to it, probably due to the oil finish instead of the lacquer on the 90.
    Your new bass is absolutely gorgeous. I was thinking about ordering a 100, but the sound on the blonde is close enough that I just couldn't bring myself to spend the extra cash. I don't regret it; I love the sound and look of the bass I bought. Now I just have to wait a week before I can play it again...
    Kinda nice that we're getting the show models he picked up in Nashville, huh? I'd expect they were the cream of the crop.
  9. huh - it's pretty easy to be jealous when it comes to a blonde!
  10. I look at the same bass like this one at his shop.
    May I ask what was the price you paid on the Sb-90
    because Nick Lloyd SB-90 in Ohio is about $450 less?
    I don't want to over pay for the same bass....
  11. I paid $1875, which is the retail price the distributor charges. Of course, I paid extra for a proper setup.
    Looks like Nick Lloyd is offering a great deal. You may want to ask when the Shen basses he has in stock were made. I haven't heard the difference, but I've been told that older ones don't sound nearly as good. Either way, you'll have to make a judgement regarding the sound on your own, in person.
    Has anyone compared an older Shen to a new one? Is it true that there is a significant difference?
  12. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    I have one of the first SB-90's. Actually, the label in mine says SB-100 as they hadn't even decided on a model number yet. Still love it. Great choice.
  13. The current United States trade deficit with China at about 17.5 Billion Dollars just went up a little more :D: . I hope you Michigan guys from Ypsilanti and Detroit aren't also driving imported cars ;) . Does anyone else ever wonder how a nice plywood Chinese bass can be so inexpensive, even though it has to be shipped half-way around the world :confused: ?
  14. Must be magic. Ancient eastern magic.
    China will probably take over soon, anyway. Maybe they'll see my bass and have mercy on me.
    And don't worry, Bob, my Chevrolet is sitting 20 feet away, waiting to cradle my 20 lb. Chinese baby on the way home from the shop.
  15. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    Give me a break. Where do you think that computer you typed your response was made? In Montana?

    Maybe your question should be how come an American bass (like the NSCleveland) cost so much when it's made right here on our East Coast.

    Should I rule out German or Romanian basses, too? Or the foreign gut strings? Maybe I should only play music written by Americans?

    I'll bring home the Shen in my Mercury, thank you.

  16. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007

    Yes, Nick Lloyd is selling the SB100 for a bit less, but by the time I drive 8 hours round trip to Cincy....? Plus, I've got a local repairman/sales who is worth supporting. Wouldn't be real smart to buy a new Shen from Nick and then take it to my guy to be worked on.

    But I will say that when I was toying with the idea of a NSCleveland, Nick was really cool to communicate with.
  17. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    New Standard basses are made in Germany. The necks and fingerboards are set here in the USA, and they are varnished and set-up here as well. There are several reasons why these basses cost much more than their Chinese counterparts:

    1) The components are made in a country where workers matter; where they have access to health care and education, and are treated humanely in regards to hours worked and vacation time.

    2) The work done on these instruments here in the USA is done by highly-skilled artisans who need to be fairly well-paid to stay in business.

    3) These basses are built with better, more expensive, more seasoned woods, and better workmanship. They are not mass-produced.

    I am of the opinion that players should buy instruments that fit their needs, regardless of place of manufacture. However, being patriotic, all things being equal I try to buy American. My family drives a Honda and a Chevrolet.
  18. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    Here's a quote from Steve Swan's website (http://www.steveswanguitars.com/shen.htm) about Shen instruments:

    "Sam Shen emigrated from China to Windsor, Canada in 1989 and opened his first violin shop. Sam studied violin performance and business at the University of Windsor. In 1993 he established Shen's Musical Instruments Co., Ltd. in Suzhou, China, manufacturing violin family instruments for export. In 1998 Sam Shen moved back to Suzhou fulltime to train his staff and to oversee and maintain his high quality standards for instrument manufacture.
    I've been looking critically at basses coming from China for over 20 years. What I have most often seen has been instruments with odd designs, poor workmanship, and unstable green wood. Working with bassist Paul Strelau to develope a complete line of basses, Sam Shen is dedicated to making fine student and professional grade instruments. I've been very impressed with the solidly conceived designs, the clean and accurate workmanship, and the fully seasoned woods used in Shen basses."

    Here's some thoughts to consider from a friend of mine who is an expert on issues relating to China (trade, education, employment, etc.). His name is Tom Watkins, and he is the former superintendent of Michigan's school system.

    "The standard of living for the Chinese worker (think of the U.S. 100-150 years ago) is rapidly climbing -- 300 million have risen out of abject poverty, hundreds of thousands of new millionaires.
    By buying from the Chinese you are helping more people to rise out of poverty by providing jobs (where is it written that only Americans deserve a good life?)
    Further, what is 'American' nowadays? Often the components are from around the world and assembled in China or the labor is done in China-- because it is so cheap.
    All things being equal, I always try to help the home team-- but in this global world-- not all things are equal."

    Don't get me wrong -- I would LOVE to own a New Standard, and if I had the $4,300 I would. Although I have never played one (I don't even know if I've heard one), everything I've read on this site indicates that it is THE best laminate. Some would argue otherwise; I don't think I would. But even the NS comes from a foreign country. I'm not sure how it's fair to slam someone for buying a Chinese bass, but not a German bass.

    I have no idea what Sam Shen's shop -- or the shop that NS parts come from -- is like.

    OK, time to get back to work.
  19. Hey Sorry RegularKent and JumpCat :meh: .... I really wasn't trying to start a war here. I like you Michiganders. Have fun with your nice Shen basses :) .

    Lately I've been pretty-sensitive to the state of the U.S. economy .... I've been trying to buy-local and buy-American when I can. I just hope the Chinese don't get cold-feet on our Economy and all want to cash in their U.S. Treasury bills and bonds at the same time :eek: er'else we are all in trouble.

    I'm a big fan of Upper MidWest plywood basses. My Kay was made in Chicago and my Epiphone in Kalamazoo. The plywood and hide glue are genuine American but I'm sure the rosewood and ebony boards aren't :D . My '98 Nissan truck was made outside Nashville. My Mac computer was definitely-not made in Montana ;) . If we could figure out how to make computers out of snow, grass, sagebrush, wheat, cows, beetle-killed pine trees, copper, coal, and platinum ..... Then we would.

    Maybe it's just me but I appreciate the fact that New Standard, Upton, and Englehardt double basses are at least partially American-made now that Kays, Epiphones, Kings, and American Standards aren't made anymore.
  20. mkandolf


    Nov 21, 2007
    Saint Clair, MI
    and me still trying to scratch together enough to get a new set of strings and have the fingerboard setup for my new Gollihur Classic Englehardt.....

    Mike, an automotive engineer working in Metro Detroit.