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Was it wise to have ordered an Upton?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by BRIDGE, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. My Upton Deluxe Hybrid (Made in America) arrives on Tuesday. It's ironic, but somehow unsurprising given my general luck, that I should just now begin reading a lot of posts critical of Upton basses, giving me a rather serious case of doubts about whether I made the best purchase or not. I'm not trying to knock Swanson or Clink - far from it, I think every viewpoint ought to be shared, especially when thousands of dollars are at stake - but these fellows' comments about their Upton experiences are now making me wonder if I made the right choice!

    I went with the Upton because it seemed like the best option - there are no good bass shops around here in Southern Indiana, at least none that I could find info about on here or on Gollihur's site. All the local music stores in town have maybe one or two basses between them every few months, and they all seem to be low-end Knilling plywoods, which my teacher warned me against. Furthermore, I heard NOTHING but good things about the Uptons up until now on this board, and their free shipping and free setup really seemed like the best deal going. And as soon as I started corresponding with them over the phone I was sold by their professionalism and great service. Finally I asked around about it here, and was told that the Upton is a great instrument by many posters, including drurb. Also, my teacher said it was a good choice, and I trust him. So I went with the Upton.

    My only other options for a hybrid or carved bass in the same price range were basically: 1. The Eberle / Wilfer basses from Ideal Music, which were priced very very well but I couldn't stand the ultra-glossy look of the finish. 2. a Christopher bass, which I also did not like the finishes on. (Yes, I care a lot about the appearance of an instrument as well as the sound.) Or 3. a Samuel Shen bass. I had read a lot of good things about the Shen basses but admittedly - and I may be wrong here, or just prejudiced, but whatever - given the choice between an instrument made in Europe (or, America, which is even better,) and one made in China, I'd go with the former. I know there are a lot of basses coming out of China which are supposed to be great but when I read that Upton was switching to American-made production, that sealed the deal for me. An American-made instrument with free setup, free shipping, a finish which looked really nice to me, and a very very good reputation - the Upton won out in the end.

    Now I'm reading a few things that are giving me doubts. Not only here but on Ken Smith's forum also. I realize that Ken of course is a businessman and of course he wants to push his basses over the competitors' (of which Upton represents a major one.) This is not a bad thing, it's perfectly reasonable for any smart person. But Ken also obviously really knows his stuff when it comes to basses, (or as he would say, Basses :)) so when I read some of his posts which are critical of Upton's instruments I'm not just going to ignore them. Specifically he brings up a very good point about Upton having saturated this website with advertising and consequently gaining a lot of "hype" which may or may not be warranted.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, some people sell sizzle and some people sell steak - I hope that Upton is selling steak here. Ah well, in just a few days, I'll find out.

    Keep in mind I am just starting out so I am unlikely to be able to be a good judge of the Upton's quality once it arrives. (My teacher will be the judge of that, I suppose.) Hopefully it will sound good to ME and play well for ME, which is all I could hope for really. For an entry-level instrument that would also have a carved top and sound good arco as well as pizz., and with a high-quality setup included in the cost, I figured I couldn't go wrong with the UB Hybrid.

    What sayest thou?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Your teacher is a great player and and even better person. If he said it was a good choice, it's because he believes that. Also, without getting too deeply into the whole Gary U./Ken S. situation, I don't thin I'd be spilling any beans if I said that neither is on the other's "Fave Five" list, if you get my drift. The best thing to do is to try not to worry, wait until you get the bass, then focus on playing the snot out of it when it gets here. Enjoy!
  3. It's way too late to start having doubts now. Just wait until you get it and then decide for yourself, based on your own ears and fingers how it plays and whether your happy or not. If today is Thursday and it comes next Tuesday then it probably has shipped and if not it will cost you somewhere around $500 restocking fees to get out of it so why not just relax and go with the flow at this point.

    Based on that and other's experiences there is a good likelyhood of having a very nice playable bass so why put yourself through this until you know for sure. If it doesn't turn out good you can negotiate with Upton (well maybe, but more likely not) on the return or you could just sell it and get most if not all of your money back.

    Good Luck

  4. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Well, you could've done what the rest of us around here do when it's time to buy a bass--get in the car and head to Cincinnati. I've been there about five times in the past two months just shopping for basses. Nick Lloyd always has an example of each of the Shen models at his shop, and the Cincinnati Bass Cellar has about ten basses in your price range alone at any given time. I bought my first bass at the Cellar when I was about your age, I just bought a nice fully-carved Shen from Nick Lloyd, and I'm about to acquire another instrument from one of the two shops. You're welcome to tag along next time I go over there.

    I don't think you should second-guess your Upton before it even arrives--I bet you're going to love it! But I'm definitely of the "get off your butt and go play a lot of instruments" school of bass shopping. Most of the big dealers in Cincinnati and Chicago will let you take basses home on trial for a week or so, which is an indispensable experience for a bass shopper.
  5. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA


    Enjoy your bass! +1 to Chris F - if your teacher says its good - its good!

    In my studies, I have gotten the most benefit from following my teachers' direction without hesitation or doubts. If they said jump, I only worried about height, shoe choices, foot/leg technique, and frequency. I have been fortunate to study with some amazing players...sounds like you have the same opportunity.

    All of this stuff is so subjective. Rely on your own experience and please share it with us as it develops.

    Methinks that you should have faith and enjoy. This precious moment will never come again. Savor it.

    Upton has sold a lot of basses to folks who love them. It is all about fit.

    Things have a way of working out. If you find later that you need a different bass, you can make that happen, too.

    +1 to Bankerwithabass. That decisional ship has sailed. We all make our choices with a 50% chance of being wrong at any given time. Moreover, its not what we decide but what we do with the results that counts, IMHO. None of us are omniscient.

    These are all luxury problems, anyway. We are all so lucky to have the gift of music, the desire to play, at any level, and any bass to play on! The attitude of gratitude...

    You made something happen, now enjoy it. The most important things for now may be continuing to play, practicing hard/smart, and following your teacher's lead, IMHO.

    Finally, if you are truly unhappy, I believe that Upton may offer the option of returning new, custom-made basses within a certain time period if you feel compelled to do so. Again, see what your teacher says...
  6. lowEndRick

    lowEndRick Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2006
    I just took delivery on my UB Deluxe Hybrid. Bridge, I remember having similar feelings, I believe it is only natural because there are no guarantees on personal satisfaction in life.

    Maybe this will help. I posted this on another site recently:
    A friend played my bass yesterday. He is a bass player and music teacher by profession. Studied in college and has a masters degree.

    I stood about 6 feet away and listened to him play some arco passages and some walking jazz lines. He played for about 10 or 15 minutes and when he was done my eyes were filled with tears. The bass sounded so great with a sweet tone. Very articulate and clear all the way down the fingerboard. Lots of low end growl when walking. It really showed me what this bass is capable of. Now I just gotta practice, practice, practice. I played with the orchestra last night and was very pleased with how I sounded. This bass is so much easier to play.

    Now, having said that I just want to also say that this bass is not the end-all be-all. It does not compare to most full carved basses in the above $6000 range. Its a great bass for the money, but you never know. This probably won't be my last bass. For now though, I am very happy with this bass.
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Please excuse the 'partial' quotes but it's done like this so I can clear the air.

    I think what Upton is trying to do is a good thing. Like with anything in any business, it takes time till the 'fruit is ripe'. I believe you will see improvements as time goes on and they develop their product.

    Yes, I was critical and yes I had doubted their ability to compete in the low end making in USA and yes in some ways we are competitors. But, do you know that Gary and I actually talk on the phone and thru email on occasion? Not just about this but about old and Vintage Basses as well.

    The Upton boys are a generation or so younger than me and maybe what I think is not what they believe as far as their abilities go to make this happen. There is room for and a need for USA made Basses. The wood is here too for the most part. Actually, many old English and Italian basses have been seen with woods that appear to be American like Southern yellow Pine for Tops and Sugar Maple for Backs, Ribs and Scrolls.

    It can be done and as you see, they are doing it. What some don't realize is that people can get a Bass, like it for awhile and then go and upgrade to a double priced European Bass new or old. This is a fact of life. Another fact is that these new USA Upton's will serve the purpose for many without any upgrades needed. This depends totally on the player.

    If the shoe fits, wear it!
  8. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    This particular teacher in question has never been in the same room with an Upton bass, and there's a chance that his recommendation was made after playing my New Standard Cleveland and mistakenly thinking it was an Upton. So even teachers' advice should be taken with a grain of salt...
  9. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004
    Very cool response, Ken.
  10. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    To whom it may concern,
    I regret that anything I may have said on this, or any other forum could be construed to indicate that I do not think the basses sold by Upton are good basses. Please forgive me if I have left that impression. On average, I suspect they are better than most in their price range.
    My teacher as well as other bassists who played my bass thought it was a nice bass for the money. You won't go wrong in buying one. Now that they are made in-house the quality has almost certainly been improved.
    Any advice I would give is this: if at all possible, don't buy a bass without playing it first.
    Mine is over at KC Strings right now being fixed up for a new owner and they gave me more than I paid for it. I just decided that it wasn't the right bass for me and moved on.

    You made the right decision. Enjoy it.
  11. I think you are in good hands here. You made an intelligent, informed choice and you are going to be happy. Every bass I purchased came with it's share of buyers remorse, including the lovely Yankee bass I play now. It comes with the territory. Also keep in mind what you are purchasing and what you are going to get out of it. You are not purchasing a $30,000 bass here, you are purchasing an intermediate level instrument that will take you to the next level of playing and sound. You will play the hell out of this bass and get what you need out of it and when you need more you will buy another bass. Trust your own instincts in your playing and purchasing. Take your time and be patient. Build your sound slowly, don't judge things too quickly. A lot can be done with set up adjustment and string swapping. It's a process and we all go through it....constantly and forever. For now, just be excited and get ready for a new journey. Post your pics when you get it and get in that shed, it's nice to have a nice bass but you can play stunningly beautiful music on any bass....it's really up to you.
  12. Dont sweat it. i have a upton hybrid and love it. i am a newbie and have been playing for almost a year, minus about two months because of a elbow tendon problem:meh:. i dont think you can go wrong buying a bass that comes set up and ready to play. being new to the double bass there can be alot of worries(especially after you get to reading stuff on this forum) about set up, strings, bridge placment, sound post adjustments, the list goes on and on. some of the reasons i chose upton was based on alot of the reviews on this forum. not having bass shops near me to try any out i figured at this price point i'm going to get a bass that is set up properly and a good entry level instument to start on. since i had no experience to begin with it wouldnt have mattered if i had played a fully carved bass or a plywood bass, i had no techique anyway. as i improve with practice the bass of course sounds better and better. upton is not the only bass that comes set up and ready to play im sure there are plenty of good ones out there. i felt most comfortable going with upton based on all the good things people on this forum had to say about them. now that i have a little experience under my belt next time i go bass shopping i will know a little more what i am after sound wise and playability wise. the new standard cleveland is starting to call me for a tryout:rollno:
  13. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Well, you did take a risk buying sight and sound unseen or heard, but if this makes you feel a little better, one of my students plays this model and his sounds very good for jazz pizz (I haven't heard it bowed). It has a nice full sound and does not sound particularly "raw" as many newer basses do. I believe it's a little bigger across the top than some 3/4 basses, so depending upon your physical size, this could be a factor in its playability for you. You'll find out soon enough.
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Oops! I assumed you were the teacher in question...

  15. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Ah, Buyer's Remorse.:eyebrow:
    Why did you have to go there? I just upgraded to a bass three times the value of the Upton and absolutely love it. However, the G Obligato just broke, probably from being on and off and on and off and o........... a zillion times. The Spirocore G sucks. Hopefully the Flexocore G from Bri will be the ticket :meh:.

    As the bass is brandspanking new and is tight, I'm already thinking of some darker strings top to bottom. I've been listening to a lot of Sam Jones. Man, did he have a sweet sound:D.

    Bridge, be prepared for a little adjustment and string swapping initially as it's just part of the deal. Whatever the bass sounds like on day one, it will improve pretty quickly. Play the heck out of it and just enjoy it. The positive attributes of my Upton were these:

    1) It was very easy to play.
    2) It didn't weigh much, maybe 22lbs. Every pound counts when you are dragging it up the stairs at 2:00am.
    3) It didn't sound terribly bright like a lot of new basses.
    4) It spoke well from top to bottom. Many basses in the price range have a better low end or better top end, but are nasty or stick out in spots. The bass was a little light on bottom, but was fairly even overall. That's hard to find in the price range.

    All that said, even when strung with a Stark E and Mittel A-G it just didn't have enough for me. Each person is different. Most people would be very happy with it, as you probably will be.
  16. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    +1 to "D'oh!" :)
  17. Like Bass Dan said .... Don't Sweat It Bridge :) . Do like all the good advisors above have recommended and play the heck out of it. Even if it's a bit tight right away and you need to play with strings and set-up for improvements, I'll bet it will just keep sounding better. Especially if you are working on "your sound" and technique at the same time.

    A couple weeks ago I got to see and hear two Uptons in action for the first time (I live in the boon-docks). While Corey DiMario (of Crooked Still) and Travis Book (of Infamous Stringdusters) may not play the same kind of music as you and they were playing ampped, I can tell you that there was nuttin' but good sounds coming out of those two Upton fully-laminated basses :D ! I was sitting maybe 15 feet in front of the basses so I was getting to hear a good share of acoustic sound along with the sound system. Two fine players and two fine "road-worthy", "knock 'em around some", reasonably-priced, travellin' basses ... can't beat that :p !
  18. I'd have a hard time buying a bass that Ive never played...that said, once you receive it, it will be THE best sounding bass of your selection of one:bag:
  19. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Ignore the farmer redneck from Missouri. He's got what, a dozen in the fold?
  20. ...heeheehee

    That kinda came out wrong:eyebrow:....what I meant was to look at the bright side...you dont have a room full of basses to spend a whole day checking out and agonizing over....you have the one they send you and you will make it sound the way you want....so mail order bass may be the way to go:D Congrats on your new bass by the way Bridge...Upton is good people. I applaud them for making a nice bass in the US!!! .....now I want one....

    Clink, how does the new bass sound a Knuckleheads?

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