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Whats the consensus on Gliga these days?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by JtheJazzMan, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    First off i should say i actually have a Gliga. Ive only owned this bass for about a year so im looking for some longer-term owners. And perhaps some reassurance.

    Ive read a few things (positive to negative) about construction aspects. One was a claim that Gliga uses synthetic glue. I have taken a small dried drop of glue from the inside of my bass and it seems to be water soluble, so does this bust that claim?

    Is there any long term maintenance issues with construction. Especially the heavily braced flatbacks?

    I only ask these questions because Im am most likely going to be putting in an order for a custom 5 stringer. I would be keeping that for many years if i spend the cash on this bass, so some long time owners could help me out with opinions.

    Ive been quite happy with my 4 string, and i realise the tone is thinner and more focused compared to other doubles. To what extent do the bodies mellow out over the years? Gliga seems to use thick tops, plus heavy bracing makes for a solid chunk of wood.

    So yeah, any opinions to calm my spending nerves?
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    To the best of my knowledge, these are basses made, en masse, in state-run or, at least, state-subsidized Romanian factories. That, in and of itself, is no indicator of quality either way but it is consistent with my experience of the widely varying quality of these basses. Some can be quite good, some just fine, and others a nightmare. Understandably, they generally don't spend much time (if any) graduating the tops, opting for non-optimally thick tops, perhaps to enhance longevity (but at the expense of tone-quality). It also depends on the price point to some extent.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Have you ever seen or played a Gliga bass? Aren't all factories that produce basses, be they in Romania, America, or Germany, producing instruments "en masse". My own bass, to the best of my knowledge, was produced "en masse" in a German factory and shipped in the white back to the states. It's a great bass. I don't think it's fair to generalize about such things without direct personal knowledge and/or experience.
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Chris-- yes, I've played quite a few Gliga basses. You will notice that I was VERY CAREFUL to say that the production of basses en masse, "in and of itself, is no indicator of quality either way." Did you miss that statement? I went on to say that that fact is consistent with my experience of the variable quality of these basses. So, you missed on all counts. I didn't make any generalizations regarding quality and en mass production and I made it clear that what I was speaking about was my personal experience with Gliga basses.

    I agree with you when you say:
    I didn't do that at all.

    As to en masse production, my understanding is that few factories quite match the volume of the Romanian ones. That, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. No, it is certainly not the case that "all factories that produce basses, be they in Romania, America, or Germany" are producing basses en masse.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That's fine. I did see you say "in my experience", but until the clarification, I didn't read that you had played quite a few Gliga basses, unless it was written in lemon juice. :)

    But isn't the point of any factory to produce things "en masse"?


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
    Dear friends, the Gliga factory is now a private enterprise. It produces many instruments in various grades. I tried many violins and some violas in the past five years. They were decent instruments and the price of each one of them was by far the most competitive in each category.
    I tried only two double basses, both of them flatbacks, with mixed results. One of them delivered a "booming" piz sound, the other one was a mediocre instrument. Both of them came together for the needs of a small music school somewhere in Greece and they costed the same amount of money. After some cracks caused by the students of the music school a local "luthier" took the top plate out and i had the chance to measure the thickness of the top plates with my caliper. The "booming" one was properly graduated, the other one was significantly thicker. Both were glued with hide glue.
    This facts tend to prove that the quality is strictly a matter of the individual worker who constructs each particular instrument. Sometimes we can find real gems, sometimes
    low quality. If someone has the chance to try a Gliga instrument
    then he/she can decide for the quality based on real facts.
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, I would have thought that saying that my personal experience is such that they can have widely varying quality would have implied that. I could have been more explicit, so I will be. After reading your comment, I tried to figure out how many Gliga basses I had played, seen, and heard about. I figured that in the last five years or so, I probably have played 15-20.

    Well, yes and no. Certainly, it is the point of factories to produce in quantity. I was using "en masse" to connote VERY large quantity. I regret if that wasn't clear. In any case, my understanding is that the Romanian state factories have very large operations. From what I have experienced, the quality control can be less than desirable. This is a far cry from the German factory that produced your bass for Arnold. As I understand it, that factory maintains very high quality and the control is very tight in terms of producing what Arnold wants. The proof of the pudding is certainly in the tasting (playing, hearing). Gliga basses, in general, can't relly hold a candle to the New Standards.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Thank you for pointing out that the factory is now private. Your own experience with the very different quality of two of the basses squares completely with what I was saying.
  9. I've not played any one Gliga bass for long, just long enough to try it out during and after setup and repairs. Not a lot of repairs, either, as so far the GEMS grade Gliga/Genial basses I've handled have been remarkably stable, mechanically. The sound has varied somewhat in the basses I've seen, though not one has stood out yet as being what I'd call 'good.' 'Adequate' and 'weak' fit more accurately, as I said, varying a bit from one to the next.

    And perhaps your initial comment about some folks saying the Gligas use synthetic glue relate to my comments elsewhere? It has been my experience so far that every Gliga bass around here was assembled using a milky white synthetic glue, of a gummy and rather tough consistency. Not a single exception, period. Of course I don't see every bass brought into Vancouver and area... but I do see many of them, perhaps the majority. I have worked also on a few Gliga violins, both of GEMS grade and also of a higher quality. The GEMS instruments were white glued. The nicer ones, and really, these showed some very lovely craftsmanship and wood quality, were all hide glue assembled and oil varnished and very smoothly polished. So I know that *some* Gliga instruments use hide glue. It is possible, even likely, that some GEMS model basses are hide glued, perhaps those aimed at other regions in the world. I do not have access to Gliga's in-house policies, so can only guess based on what I have seen and worked with. If you'd like a sample of the synthetic glue mailed to you for examination (and you could try dissolving it in water if you like) just send me an email with your mailing address. I could probably fish some out of a Gliga sooner or later and send it to you, along with a picture of the blob from before cutting it away from a brace or lining.

    I'd say if you like Gligas for their sound etc., buy a 5-string and you'll be happy with it. I am not judging that decision. But then again, I just did a small repair on a 'J. Heinrich' Chinese bass of remarkably better quality in every regard compared to the Gligas I have seen, with absolutely stellar sound across the range, for which the buyer paid $1,700, Canadian dollars, from a local seller who works from his apartment. That's less than half the cost of a Gliga, and really an amazing instrument. One drawback; a bit short on drying before carving, so there was a crack in the belly to be repaired after a few months in our winter dryness. I'll be communicating with the makers if possible to recommend they dry the wood another year before carving and assembly. Oh, and it's made with a synthetic glue... but very little of it, and quite brittle compared to that used in the Gliga, so I had little trouble getting the top lifted along the lower bout to lower the stress in the cracked area. I then did all the repairs through the f-holes, then re-glued the bout and all is just fine again.
  10. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    Thanks for the info guys, what would be a better thickness for a top on a 5 string?

    The bass I have at the moment is about 7mm in thickness at the edge and 7.5 - 8mm at the inside of the F holes. Is that going to be needed when it comes to the tension of a 5 string?

    Ill take a bunch of questions with me when I go shopping after reading a few things here!
  11. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    in relation to the glue it may have been your comment, im not sure, ive done a lot of reading in the past few days.

    what would be the problems using this synthetic glue? any negative effects tone wise? is it a permanent glue, or just tougher to get off compared to hide?
  12. A common mistaken perception, that thickness has any absolute relationship to strength in a top. Sure, two pieces of differing thicknesses from the same quadrant of the same tree at the same height will result in the thicker one being stronger/stiffer... but from different trees? The stiffness range of spruce and spruce-like species used in instrument tops is very broad, both along and across the grain. No possibility at all of making any sort of user-measurable suggestions there. I'd say if you see some distortion already happening around the upper or lower f-holes, or both, when a bass has only been strung up for a little while, there may be something to worry about. And if it's really thick looking, then maybe it's too heavy. Or not. Have to play it to find out. Visible grain structure may or may not tell about stiffness. I've met very open grained spruce of surprising hardness, and close-grained spruce showing surprising weakness. No rules, really. A luthier gauges by feel, while carving and tapping and listening, and of course often these days by more technological means.
  13. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    Weren't Upton bodies produced by Gliga pre '97?
  14. I have no idea, as I only recently became aware of Upton basses and have only seen one - an economy all-laminate version - so far. An interesting question though, to me, as I am somewhat amazed that Upton basses can be made within the US at such low pricing. Is this really the case? Or have I misunderstood, and in fact a lot of the work is done off-shore?
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Gerard-- The only parts on the current made-in-USA Upton basses that are not made in Connecticut are the metal ones (tuners, etc). If you visit their shop, you see that wood goes in one end and basses come out the other. No off-shore work. 100% made in Stonington, Connecticut. If you ask Gary, I bet he'll send you pictures or even a video of their production.

    Before in-house production started, I believe it was the case that Gliga was making SOME of Upton's basses to Upton's specs. No more.
  16. That's what I'd read in these forums, but it's reassuring to hear it from so authoritative a voice. I received a private message from someone 'on the inside' as well, detailing just how much goes on at Upton in-house. So doubts or wonderings are gone; Upton's basses are made in the USA, no doubt.
  17. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I think my Romanian flat back bass is a Gliga, but there's no marking on it, so I can't be sure. The top split while it was at my luthier's, waiting to be sold. He removed the top, repaired it, and sold it to me at a good discount about five or six years ago. It's been stable since then. No white glue- it's all hide glue.
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, I don't know about authoritative. :) Being in Connecticut, I've had chances to watch it all happen. It sure is amazing and fun to see as you walk from one end of the facility to other.
  19. kurt ratering

    kurt ratering

    Dec 2, 2008
    waltham, mass.
    bass luthier, johnson string inst.
    for what its worth we sling gligas here at J.S.I. that we get from howard core. they arent labeled as such, but its pretty obvious that they are. good basses from the feed back i get from customers. we have moved a few of the flat back fiddle cornered ones, as well as the round back gamba models. for the money (flat back approx.$3500, round approx. $6500) i think that they are good basses.
  20. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    I've had a gliga roundback with violin corners since '01, and it's been realtivley trouble free with what I think is a very nice tone. The last time this subject came up Gerard made a claim that Gliga uses white glue on the braces of flatbacks and I took offence and flamed him. Upon reflection, I have to say I was out of line, sorry Gerard. All I can say is that I've been extremely happy with my bass and there is definately no white glue in her. The only problem I've had that wasn't my fault is with open seams, but I heat my house with wood and the nature of my house makes it impossible to really control humidity. I think that Gerard makes a good point that some of the chinese shops are making some really good instruments for stupid cheap, but then again others are making some real crap.

    Back to the O.P... if you decide to go ahead with ordering your fiver from gliga, try to get the US distributor you are working with to put you in touch with Mr Gliga himself and let him know what is important to you. That's what I did and he hooked me up in a big way, just make sure you don't waste the man's time.

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