Hello, For a number of years Romano Solano was building up a bass luthier business. I liked him and supported him. Many of his basses sounded and played with a beautiful Italian tone. Others just wouldn't make it, had no pizzicatto on the low E. He also made a lot of strange basses, ending up on consignment in various shops, like a 5 string with a 39" string length. He loved to build BIG heavy basses, and I started with a 7/8th Panormo of his. To help promote him I sold it to a guy in the New World Symphony to get his bass out playing with the youngest and best players. I liked that bass, a little heavy but a sweet Italian sound and a 40.5" string length. (The New World Symphony is heavily endowed, hires only recent conservatory grads, and they can only stay with them 2 to 3 years. They are an incredibly enthusistic and influential orchestra.) The idea was he would rebuild the same Panorma flatback for me while this one was helping him. I sold for him, at no profit for myself about a dozen basses, mostly using my name as a reference and putting people in contact with him. I had bought a couple of basses from him intended to resell getting him some quick cash. Then I went to see his studio, a 12 hour trip. He said he had two basses for me, one was an old restored 7/8 Amati, the other a small, beautiful Ruggari Copy. The old bass was great, the quality of the restoration was great, but the bass was too big for me. The one that fit me, the little Rugarri had no sound. We agreed on a written price for me to buy both of them, I paid for the big bass, and he would get the other one right for me. Besides having virtually no pizzicatto on the low strings, it had a bad nasal sound on the G string. So we had a deal. He showed up to my house with that little bass but insisted on $2,000 more than we agreed on, because he had to regraduate the top. That to me is fixing up the bass. It still had that nasal sound. He also sold 3 instruments at my house, one to one of my students, one cello to a luthier friend of a friend that makes harps (A GREAT CELLO), and I took an old bass of his for resale, one he picked up from someone that upgraded. I still wanted the Rugarri, but while thinking over night he sold it. I even sold one of his basses to a student of Gary Karr so he could get his bass in Gary Karr's hands. In short, I thought of him as a friend and many of his basses sounded incredible. I sold thus about 12 basses for him, many of them influential sales, like to the biggest bass teacher and player in Central Florida. Then I was in a car wreck and needed a light weight bass quicly. I begged him to make me the Ruggari Model, just this time make it right the first time. I was very clear, it was the Ruggari model, and like my mantra I told him it must have great pizzicato down to the low E. He showed up with a 5/8th bass he copied and it had zero pizzicatto on the low E. It was well constructed but was unsuitable for the big band I played with and was't much of anything, though the workmanship was beautiful. I told him I wanted the Rugarri, he was angry. He said he would give me my deposit back when he sold it. That was years ago and he never returned the deposit. Or I offered to keep the deposit and make me that Ruggari I asked for. Finally, after notifying in mail I would publicize the story of him ripping me off for $1000 on the 2X Bass List if he didn't get back to me, I posted the story on him cheating me. At first I thought, OH NO, no luthier will want to deal with me. Instead just the opposite, I got thank you notes from a number of well known bass luthiers, offers to make me basses, and a lot of people posted that they ordered one bass from him, even had the measurements measured to match their existing basses, or he just made something completely different, like on friend ordered a flat back with an Eb neck and he delivered a nice bass with a D neck. Generally buyers bought their instruments, but a number found them unusable to them and lost of money trying to resell their basses. He learnt out an old cello to someone, didn't get it back, and I was instrumental in contacting the guy and ensuring Romano got the cello back. It's now been about 3 years since I posted on the double bass list my story. In the meantime Barrie Kolstein found me a smaller sized 100 year old Italian bass with a short string length for my small hands, but with a huge sound. In the past I would always recommend both Romano and Barrie Kolstein, one being the wild artist, the other the most experienced and dealer with the best record of integrity. That way the buyer had a choice. I made nothing, it was only a hobby. I just expected to be treated well when I got an instrument. I have always said that if Romano Solano either repays me, or wants to make me a bass I would send a positive end of the story to the world. He never had to integrity to follow up. I have given him every chance in the world to do what is right. I'd still like one of his basses, but with good pizzicatto on the E string. He can make some incredibly beautiful sounding basses. He also makes a lot that are good except for pizzicatto response on the low string. His Klotz copies sound great, (It was the Prescott copy) but weighed about 50 lbs. I just wanted what I wanted, his Rugarri bass. I would strongly consider one of his newer basses that are reasonably sized for some vertically challenged. In Summary, he is a dishonest man. He does not fulfill his promises, even when you show them his handwriting. He often shows up with something completely different than what you order. Many of his unexpected basses still sold, many are loved by their owners, while others went through bad deals, promising the bass would open up or such, and suffered financially trying to sell basses he had pushed on people. When he makes his good basses, they are basses of the ages. I admired his artistic streak. It would be my greatest pleasure to write a happy ending to the story, to at least get my money back or a reasonably sized bass. Don't show up at my house with a 42" string length. He is an artist, does not do what he says and will cheat someone that spent years helping promote his business. I thought he was my friend. Now I only recommend Barrie Kolstein to people looking for a bass. No one was ever sorry they did business with Barrie. He's seen the inside and restored more old Italian and other European basses than anyone else in the US. The store stands for total integrity. If he does work, or something does go wrong with a bass, he fixes it, even if he is losing significant money on the deal. No, Barrie is not the cheapest, you simply know Barrie Kolstein stands behind every instrument. Compare a typical bridge. Most shops fit a bridge well enough. They may even install metal adjusters. Barrie's bridges are made of well seasoned maple bridge with Ligume exotic wood adjusters. Ligume adjusters are self lubricating so you can change, even raise the action without reducing the tension on the string. And they are solid and won't break through compared to a Chinese adjustable bridge. The soundpost is so critical to the sound, only someone that was trained by a master and fitted 1,000s of soundposts will get it perfect so it's shaped exactly to the inside curve of your bass. The length should be perfect, just tight enough to stand with strings on but should fall without string tension. Even beginners buying a plywood bass should buy them from Barrie. Typically, a plywood bass needs a good fingerboard dressing, a fitted (adjustable) bridge, a perfectly fitted sound post, quality string and all measurements correct. When you consider that A fitted adjustable Kolstein Bridge, a new set of quality strings, a fingerboard dressing, and everything done right is worth at least $500 versus a guitar store putting a cheap bass together. And if you have a problem, Barrie will take care of it. He did some work on an old bass I had, and later there was a minor problem. He took the bass apart, putting thousands of dollars into getting it done right, at no cost. He stands behind his work. He has several rooms filled with old European fully restored basses. None have names or prices on them. You play the one and pick what you love. You can spend days trying out instruments and Barry will never rush you or push you. Check out his web site www.kolstein.com and look at those basses! So I recommend Barrie and post a warning about Romano Solano. I am not putting down his luthier skills, many of his basses are fine, some are exceptional, but he also builds dogs and he pushes them off on people. And if he'll cheat me, someone that tried to help build his reputation and promote him when he needed that help, done just for friendship, who else will he cheat. You have been warned. Please, feel free to ask Romano to return one of my calls or letters. I would love to write a letter of apology, saying Romano came through.