What do you all think of this Eastman VB95 7/8 scale, Busetto corners, carved top?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by johnny_bolt, May 21, 2018.


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  1. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    I'm maybe an advanced beginner with double bass. After playing rentals and full-plywood basses, I want to go to the next step.

    So in FMI (Fantastic Musical Instruments in Pasadena), I tried out their carved-top basses, and this one really stood out. My GF said its sound makes her weep inside ... where the others in the shop just bored her:



    (The audio from my Google Pixel 2 phone is pretty accurate, except: in person, the bass isn't boomy, as it comes across in the video. Bassy, for sure - a nice balanced tone with highs, mids, and a real bass unlike what I'm used to from an upright.)

    I feel shaky buying something "expensive" like this, but to both me and my GF, the bass had amazing tone. Lots of complexity and resonance; sounds vaguely like a piano, we think. Also: it has deep bass frequencies unlike any of the others in the shop.

    It seems to be a pretty unique model; I can't find any for sale or listed anywhere with the particular combination of 7/8 scale and Busetto corners. It does look like the Busetto shape makes for a larger body size - the curves don't slope in as tightly as gamba and violin.

    The next thing that was striking was how easy it was to play. I'm think it's 50% chance, the right size neck and radius for my hands. But 50% the design and set up. It felt like a low-action electric, but no buzzing. And without much effort I got great sounds – possibly some synergy with the high output from the other physical characteristics.

    About the size: the string scale length is 42.5 inches, putting it in 7/8 territory. I had never considered anything but 3/4 (and even thought of going smaller!) But it was there in the shop, so I thought why not?

    For context, I stand 5'7" and had no problem with the instrument. A couple things about it were visibly different from the 3/4 basses: the bridge looks like is a good half-inch taller, and the strings stand out farther. And the scroll itself is bigger. But it didn't feel like a bigger instrument at all. And like I wrote above, my perception is that it's easier to play than the 3/4 basses I'm used to.

    It might require a 7/8 size bag... that should be the only accommodation for it.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    These basses have a large voice in their price category. The generous old school string length can work especially well with lower tension Evah Pirazzi weich or Velvet blue strings. Good luck!
     
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  3. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    The 42.5 SL is beyond today's standard (41-42") for this size instrument and might make it harder for you to play and to sell when you're ready. The current price should reflect this. Many don't want a longer string length and larger basses are being designed with more manageable string lengths.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
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  4. Just make sure you can comfortably hold half position (Ab, A, Bb on the G String). If not I would pass. We don't need any help playing out of tune!
     
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  5. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just fyi; Eastman's 5-string bass has a 43" length. Back to the future!
     
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  6. My section mate used to play one, before he swapped it for a Jay Haide fiver. The label inside said "4/4".
     
  7. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Interesting! I'm going to show it to my instructor and see if he thinks it's a good fit.

    After one evening of practice, my left forearm is pretty sore from fingering in half position. Like, I've got pain in it now. But it could definitely be my technique.
     
  8. A lot of current classical thought on fingering is to have a relaxed hand - we have to keep in mind they KNOW exactly what they are playing and rehearse it. The argument they make is that it takes energy to hold position.
    My opinion is that if you are doing any improvising, holding
    position is energy well spent. If your forearm hurts you are probably squeezing too much, you need to get your power from your chest, upper back and arm weight.
    The bad news is that a longer string length will exacerbate that issue.
     
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  9. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    > ...you need to get your power from your chest, upper back and arm weight.

    Thanks! I've heard this — but not sure exactly what it means. Should i be, in essence, pulling back against the neck sort of like a bow and arrow?
     
  10. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sorry but - it means getting a teacher. You'll do more damage to yourself than not otherwise.
     
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Geoff Neuman is in Las Vegas and is an excellent teacher and source of info.
     
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  12. The subtext here is that this an instrument for an advanced player with solid but flexible technique. I would say it is not the bass for you. I would get a well set up Shen or something and some serious lessons.
     
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  13. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Ok, I'm taking this very seriously. I've also rented a much less expensive (but not as amazing sounding) 3/4 bass, and am going to schlep both of them to a next lesson, to get some feedback.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  14. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    There's a VB90 hybrid for sale on Chicago Craigslist for a good price.
     
  15. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    OP, if it isn't too late already, FMI is also a Christopher dealer. The 7/8 marketed Chrissies are 106cm in string mensure (for whatever reason, Christopher uses body & bridge size, not scale length, to separate 3/4 from 7/8). Available ply, hybrid and carved.
     
  16. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've played both these basses. I can't speak generally about Eastman V Christopher, but this is the best bass Tom has in his shop right now. He had two big Christopher Gofrillers that were just dead. He had a Chris 5-string that was loud but a tank. The Shen plywoods he has are good. But this particular Eastman is a cut above.
     
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  17. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Yep - that was exactly our impression. We checked out every bass in the shop, and this one really stood out, regardless of price.
     
  18. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Update: my teacher really likes this bass. He's been playing and teaching for decades, is in the philharmonic, etc. (Geoff Neumann, based on the recommendation above from @Eric Hochberg ). He also gave it the thumb's up as a bass that's right-sized for me. It turns out, he and I are the same hight and have the same hand size, so he was able to judge that it's a good fit.

    FWIW, he likes Eastman better than Shen for student basses. The only thing he'd change is the bridge -- he found it to not be very arched, making bowing a little more difficult. I also discovered that it has a curved back and Rubner tuners, and I'm digging it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  19. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    I’d say that if the sound of the bass really inspires you, it’s easy to play, and your teacher gives it an OK, go for it! The sound and playability of it will inspire you to want to play it more, and thus you will make faster progress on it and you’ll play better. Although a 42.5 in. scale is longer than today’s standard, it can certainly be dealt with. I’ve been playing an old Tyrolean with a 42.25 in. scale for about 40 years, and even though I also have a new 41.5 in. great sounding laminate bass, I invariably pick the Tyrolean for gigs because its sound and feel inspire me!
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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