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Wash DC area upgrade bass search report--juzek, eastman, shen and others

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by PB+J, Aug 14, 2005.


  1. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I've been playing your standard ply engle m-1 for quite a while now. Got the right strings on it, it sounds good, it's a workhorse that's paid for itself many times over. I average a gig a week, usually jazz trio stuff

    But I have been getting increasingly frustrated by the thin neck, and by the hard work I seem to have to do to get a good tone. Long story short, I'm in the market for a new bass. But I'm never going to be a great player, and it seems foolish to spend too much. So under $5000 is my range, preferably way under. I don't want to buy a bass without trying it, so mail order is out.

    So far I've been to two places--David Mainsbridge's Chespeake Bass viol shop, and "Bob's House of Basses."

    Mainsbridge is a cool, unpretentious guy--he knows every blues, jazz and country guy playing in the DC area, and he does a LOT of repair work, bass only. I bought my engle from him. He had two unamed Chinese basses at $5000 and a "juzek." The juzek was priced at 3500 but it had some funky repairs to it and a very odd fingerboard, but it had the classic "juzek" growl and a very distinct voice. It would proably need a new fingerboard. The other two basses I liked , but not enough to pay what they cost

    Bob's house of basses is run by Bob Kurz, principle bassist with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. He's a fantastic player. He had a Eastman 305 (@3500), an Eastman 605 (4500), and a Shen for $5000. The Shen was just a fantastic bass--beautiful effortless tone, easy playing. The Eastmans were both very good--the 605 was slightly better than the 305, but not even close to the Shen.

    I'm currently trying out the Eastman 305. It sounds and plays much easier than the engle, it'smuch easier to get a niice tone, and seems very solidly made. My heart yearns for the Shen, but I can't justify the extra dough--at least, not yet
     
  2. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Always figure out the maximum amount you can spend on a bass. Then, buy the cheapest bass that is out of your price range. Always spend a little more than you think you can justify at the moment, because it's the worst to find yourself held back by your instrument at some point down the road.

    You say that the Shen is light years ahead of the Eastman 605. Well, it only costs 500 dollars more, right?
     
  3. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    that's the kind of thinking that leads to hopeless credit card debt!

    I see your point. But there's also the fact that the 305 is only slightly inferior to the 605, for 1000 less. But it's only 1500 less than the shen, which is.....which is one really great bass, wearas the 305 is a really good bass for the money

    I spent a lot of time paying the 305 today and I'm liking it a lot
     
  4. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I see your point. It seems like the real rip-off of the three is the Eastman 605.
     
  5. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    rip off seems a little harsh to me--the 605 had a deeper sound with a little more clarity. It was a better bass, I'm just not sure for a player like me it was 1000 bucks better.
     
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not so much harsh as unthinking. Don't mind T, his mouth tends to rush ahead of his brain and good sense.

    I would suggest you put aside all thought of price and model and wood and maker and whatever else and make your decision based on WHAT SOUNDS MOST LIKE THE SOUND YOU HEAR IN YOUR HEAD. Take some other players (like your teacher) so you can hear the bass played by someone who you KNOW how they sound and can extrapolate that to the instrument in front of you. That way you can hear how it sounds 20 feet away and to the side of it, as well as how it sounds when you're satnding right on top of it. And how it sounds when played by someone who has a deeper physical approach than you may have ( so you can really hear the instrument and not just whatever shortcomings you may have in physical approach).

    When you find the SOUND you like; then you can concern yourself with areas of playability, durability, repair, appearance and cost.

    And lastly; while self deprecation does seem to be on the decline in current society, it has no place in this discussion. Buy the bass that your soul responds to, not the bass you think you "deserve". Even if you pick up the bass once every fortnight, you want that moment to be special. Remember, you are only the caretaker of this instrument; (if it's a good instrument) it's going to have a life long after you are gone.


    So, I guess in a way, we're all kind of pets?
     
  7. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Damn your advice! It's good advice, except financially. Thanks--I'm mulling it over

    I'm no kid, I'm 46, I'm a history professor, i play for love--more than a hobby, less than a living. I'm a competant player, but it seems a little...,I dunno, self-indulgent. You're right though--if one plays for joy how much more joy would there be with the right axe?
     
  8. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, don't mind me. Just listen to Ed.
     
  9. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Florida
    I recently upgraded to one of Arnold's New Standard LaScala hybrids from an Ernest Heinrich Roth hybrid I had been playing for about 10 years. Prior to that I had a nameless German plywood.

    I can't speak about the Shen or Eastman, but I can offer another glowing endorsement for my New Standard. The set up is perfect; I can play way longer than I ever could before getting tired. The sound is punchy and deep. It records great. The hybrid will go a little past your $5k budget, but the laminated will be under. Based on my shopping experience, I did not play any other bass that came close that was under $8k. I would check out Arnold's basses before making a decision.

    Keep in mind what Ed said about having someone else play the bass. A great bass may sound way better in the room than in the driver's seat.

    Good luck.
     
  10. +1 on the New American Standards. I played a laminated Cleveland down at Nick Lloyd's shop a week or two ago, and I was absolutely blown away. Power, volume, tone, presence, playablility - everything was first class. And when that thing opens up, it's going to be a cannon! At $4K, definitely worth a look before you commit.
     
  11. PB+J,
    As usual, great advise from Ed, Larry, T-beers and Bassbuddy. I've got a 50's 3/4 Juzek that could be for sale and a N.S. laminated Cleveland that isn't. But, if you're ever about 9 miles west of the Richmond VA area, you're more than welcome to swing by and play them both. The guys on talkbass guided me to the Cleveland for which I will always be indebted to return the favor to any Talkbasser in the area that also may be seeking "that special sound " that Ed has spoken of many times before. If interested, just drop a PM or email. Good luck in your search.
    Jim
    jimahenderson@msn.com
     
  12. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I just bought the Shen this afternoon. It's a willow flatback 7/8ths. I liked the eastman, didn't love it. I loved the Shen, just loved it. It clicked. Plays like a dream. But I can't sleep thinking about how much it cost. It's 1:30 AM, and if my family wasn't asleep, I'd be playing it right now
     
  13. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    You'll get over the cost eventually
    :)
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you HAD bought the other bass, there is NO WAY you could have bought this feeling with the money left over...
     
  15. You didn't buy impulsively, you shopped around and went for the best deal. You bought an instrument that speaks to you. It'll hold its value, a few years from now you'll still be playing it and looking back on the purchase thinking what a steal it was.
    Enjoy.
     
  16. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Florida
    Careful buddy, most folks around here don't get buyer's remorse from buying basses. Keep talking like that and someone's going to yank your bass players card.

    Congrats. :)
     
  17. PB+J Mate ! (as we say ear in Auz Stralia!)

    Just enjoy it dude and all the rest will follow, your bass will pay for it's self in no time you will enjoy practice, gig's rehersals etc. get better gigs record etc etc etc

    It come's around and goes around!

    Enjoy and well done!
     
  18. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Y'all are too kind--good advice. In a while I'll forget what it cost but the joy of playing it will remain