Well, looks like I'm going to take the plunge...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by yawnsie, Apr 24, 2001.

  1. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Don't worry, I'm not here to ask what rosin Flea uses or where I can get Mingus tab - it looks like I could soon be playing a double bass. I was asked to join a community band a few days ago, and I've got to say the lure of playing a "real" bass was too much for me to resist.

    The problem is, this band hasn't even got instruments yet. Apparently, a lottery grant is forthcoming, which should give the organisers a few grand to play with, and I've been asked to research obtaining a double bass. So, I thought, where better to begin this honourable quest?

    I think a few facts would be handy, now. I'm in the north west of England, and I'm an absolute beginner at the double bass. As it's a community band, it's likely that I won't be the only person to use the bass.

    So, I have these few questions that I would like to pose to the DB fraternity...

    1.I don't think there's anybody who reads this side of the forum who lives in England, but I'd like to know how much a decent bass would cost roughly.

    2.I've asked above how much a "decent" bass would cost, but I'm sure someone like Don Higdon or Ed Fuqua would have a different idea of decent bass than I would. Bearing in mind it'll be used in a community band, by people with no prior DB experience, how good a bass should I be looking to buy? Unfortunatelty, there isn't a bottomless pit of money, but seeing as I'm spending someone else's, I want to look for a bass that's at least playable.

    3.How would I go about purchasing a double bass? Would I be better off going direct to a luthrier, or looking in shops? If anyone knows of any places where I can obtain a bass in the north of England, details would be very much appreciated.

    4.When (if?) I do go shopping for a bass, are there any things I should be looking for? For example, I know to check the neck when buying a bass guitar, and for any rusting or damage. Are there any warning signs that will tell me if I'm buying a dud?

    To be perfectly honest, I doubt that this money will ever come through - the person who asked me has a history of setting up wonderous plans that never quite come off. But, if by some miracle he does come through, it would come in handy to have some sort of rough knowledge.

    Right, I think I've wasted enough of your time. Thanks in advance for any advice or responses anyone can give me.
  2. Congratulations on your obviously intelligent decision to join the legion of "Real" bassists! ;)
    Now, as I understand it you are looking for an instrument that will basically be public property, yes? And you don't have a lot to spend, right?
    Well, as a beginner, you might want to look for a quality Laminate (Plywood) Double Bass. They are very durable and some are just as good as a carved instrument. The Englehardt Swingmaster (Grandson of the old Kay basses) comes to mind.Also, have you checked into Carbon Graphite Basses? I recently sold one, but it was a very decent instrument for a good price. I had it made in Paris by a Mssr. LaGarde. Do a search for COSI instruments and you will find it. I also suggest you check out (All Hail!) Bob gollihur's bass page for tons of luthier information and misc. DB stuff.
    As for question 4, on a used DB, look for bad,sloppy repairs, cracks, open seams, loose parts, and warped bridges or fingerboard. I also suggest you check out this thread on Buying a DB, written by yours truly (clap clap...thanks,Mom :))
    depending on what you have to spend and what you want, you can get a good instrument for about $2000-$8000 US. Good Luck!
  3. When I think 'community band', I think outdoor concerts, in which case I strongly recommend a plywood bass
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Have you tried Overwater in Carlisle? They have been sending me brochures and they have advertised the they are now doing double basses and I think they said something about starting at £750 and having basses for all pockets and abilities. They may be worth a visit. I have bought things from them and they are very friendly and easy to deal with - 2 years 0%-interest credit!!

    I have also been looking at double basses and have found that the "cheap" ones go very quickly and most of the independent dealers are talking in the area of £5,000 and upwards!! :eek: I phoned around and the cheapest was about £1600 and I would have had to drive to Bristol - which is a long way from Brighton - Overwater is too far for me, but as you are in the NW already it might be more practical for you.
  5. Yawnsie,i bought my bass from Overwater in Carlisle about this time last year,it is of chinese origin and is labelled `Antoni`? after purchase(£450)i took it to a local luthier for setup,he charged me about £60 which included setting the soundpost,some fingerboard planing and setting of the bridge height,very reasonable i think you will agree.I did after a while upgrade the strings to spirocores(£100ish).all this has made my bass playable for like just over £600.this is my first bass also.
    perhaps for another source for used basses try Loot.com. in the stringed instrument section,i have seen basses from as little as £350 and some in the Manchester area.

    p.s. i live on the Isle of Wight and i read this board all the time,see......there is DB life in the UK. good luck with your search. steve.
  6. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Well, everyone, thanks for all your advice, especially the link to Reedo's post. From this, I think that I should be able to track down a half decent bass. As I say, I don't know how much exactly will be available, but I should hopefully be able to use this information to get the best for my (alright, it's not actually mine, but I can dream... ;)) money. Should this money ever materialise, be prepared for me to harass you all some more...
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I am also very grateful that you started this thread and to Steve - who may just have provided me with my best way into DB'dom. My finances aren't in a very good state, but if I can get a DB from Overwater on interest-free credit, I think I might be able to swing this - at a price like this I don't think I can go wrong, as an introduction and maybe go for something more expensive, once I have decided whether it's for me. Or if not, sell it on and cut my losses - which wouldn't be that much.

    Now is the Bass going to survive being shipped from Carlisle to Brighton?
  8. Bruce,most people will probably direct you towards a more expensive bass,but the one i bought from Overwater was ideal for me and my budget.it gets played 3 to 4 times a week in local pub gigs so i did not want something that i would have to worry about to much.also,up to about xmas`99 i was a complete novice,not even having played a bass guitar until santa arrived,so a big investment in an unknown venture was out of the question.
    i`ve had a lot of fun since i started playing double bass,o.k. it is harder work than a BG but since i didn`t have that experience anyway,it maybe was better for me.plus it looks really cool!
    keep saving the pennies and good luck
    p.s. the guy at Overwater was really helpful,talk to them about shipping.or take a couple of days off and visit the Lake district!
  9. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Bruce, if it's work commitments, petrol prices, etc, that are stopping you from getting up to Carlisle, send me the money and I'll buy your bass, and keep hold of it until you get a chance to come north. You know you want to!
  10. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. something tells me there may be another motive behind that offer,nice try though.
  11. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Ah well, god loves a tryer... ;)
  12. Hey,you never know unless you ask...;)
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Sorry, I havan't managed to get back to this thread since last posting. I have bought both an amp and cab from Overwater before and had them shipped and they were very friendly and easy to deal with. I have been to the Lake District by train before - but by Car from Brighton is going to basically take a whole day of driving - but £450 for a bass seems like a risk worth taking just to get started. Nobody has said I should go for a more expensive one - it's just been a question of finding anything at all locally that I could try.

    Actually a few of the people I have phoned have told me that, while they don't have anything under about £4,000 in stock, they could buy me a Chinese bass very cheaply and set it up as you described, to make a very playable instrument! As a bass guitarist, I really felt I should try before buying, but in this case, I am a bit reluctant about trying a £4-5 k instrument - firstly in terms of showing myself up! - and I don't imagine it will be anything like a cheaper one and the whole experince may make starting out harder? So I think thsi would be a worthwhile risk and I'm sure I could always sell it on if I don't get on with it,as there seem to be so few cheap double basses around in my part of the country.

    Steve - could you tell me where that "luthier" is based?
  14. Bruce,glad to see you are getting serious about the double bass,Overwater were the least expensive when i was looking,but their prices may have changed in 12 months. still,worth a call i think.
    the guy that set up my bass lives here on the Isle of Wight,he makes violins,guitars and mandolins etc.he made a beauty of a flatback mandolin for my brother. if you need to contact him you can email me for his number(it`s not too far from Brighton) and it is also a nice day out.personal pickup from the ferry no problem!.......call me.

    good luck. steve.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well it looks as if any plans have been well and truly squashed! As if I didn't have enough bad luck this year -with my roof collapsing, my car was broken into and the CD player ripped out and I had left my EA Cab in the boot (trunk) and this was stolen! My musical instrument insurance doesn't cover me for this and it was not very clever of me - but the car was right outside my house and we heard nothing - no sign of forced entry.

    So once again I think I will be thwarted . :mad:
  16. Sorry to hear about the amp and damage to car Bruce ,i don`t suppose the amp could have been in the garage and covered by your house contents could it?
  17. :eek: Oh, Man that sucks!!! You have my sympathies, Bruce.
  18. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Well, I don't suppose anyone's that interested, but here's an update anyway. I've spoken to the person "organising" this community band thing a few times over the past few weeks, and he reckons that he needs to show to the powers that be that he can organise a band properly before they'll be forthcoming with the cash. Anyway, the upshot of this is that I apparently have to play bass guitar in some ropey indie band for about six months if I want any chance at all of getting near a DB.

    Seeing as this is coming from the same person who went around telling everybody he'd been given an old bank and money to build a studio by the dole, and was getting Paul McCartney to finance an album (or something like that,,, :rolleyes: ) I've decided to shelve my plans of getting better acquainted with the good people over this side of the board. Still, who knows, one day - maybe, just maybe...
  19. Yawnsie, don`t tell me your`e giving up that easy!
    why don`t you save the money you may get for gigging with this indie band and buy your own?you know you want to.BTW i have seen the same bass that Overwater were selling in Southampton(online) for about £399.Oh,and don`t even consider the bass on ebay uk at the moment,the top has split so far away from the body,you could put hinges on and use it as a wardrobe. keep looking.
  20. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Don't worry, I'm certainly not giving up, but it'll just take a little longer now my most likely route into DBdom has been snatched away. It's going to be a long time before I can afford a DB from gigs around here, but mark my words, my time WILL come. :p