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When to trade up?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by xarafus, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. xarafus


    Nov 24, 2010
    SF Bay Area
    I bought a new Christopher DB303T Hybrid bass a few years ago and finally in this past year have been practicing and studying pretty hard with it...
    My question is: How do I know when I'm ready to trade up. What to trade up to is just a ridiculous question and I can see countless "experts" fighting over that topic and completely losing sight of the question at hand. So please, no fighting over the "better bass."
    I've gotten to the point where I've picked up a few others and I can hear/feel the difference. But is it a case of the grass being greener... The bass I have is great. The set-up and my "Bass Guy" is top notch. So is this the bass I'll die with or am I ready to start wearing my big boy pants?

    Just need someone to talk me down!
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    i believe you are ready to trade up when certain characteristics about your current bass start to bother you. If there is nothing your luthier can do to address the issues, then it's time to look for something that matches your growing awareness of the sound and response you desire from an instrument. Then, you have to put in the effort to find the bass that will satisfy your new level of awareness, and for a price you can live with. This can be a difficult process. You need to start playing a lot of basses.

    You say that your current bass is great. What, if anything, is not so great about it in your mind? If you can't answer that, then you don't need a new bass.

    Good luck!
  3. When your bass starts limiting what you can do, and you actually want to do something beyond that limit. That may never happen (there are plenty of professionals playing ply basses, after all), or you may already have noticed the limits of the instrument.

    I'm lucky, in that I've had what I believe is a nice 1958 Wilfer carved bass since I was a teenager, and I see no need to upgrade at all, since I can do pretty much anything with that bass.
  4. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    As soon as you can afford it. We are only in this life for a short time.

    But seriously, you can be very happy with your bass for a long time. But as soon as you start to try other basses you get into that compare and contrast situation and you are able to see where all basses differ and before long you'll find a bass that you like very much. It will do things that your old bass didn't quite manage.
  5. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    Founder - Discover Double Bass
    I've played loads of different basses over the last few years and once you have played a really good one it's hard to go back.
    It's a great time to buy at the moment with loads of great luthiers out there. For older basses it's a buyers market.
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Yup. As soon as its financially feasible and you have the basics of playing down. I think with a 303 Chrissy (I had a 304) you can live with the results but you won't know the diff til you had that several-notches-better bass in your hands for a few days. I found that I fought a lot less to get the sound I wanted. Doing so allowed me to relax more and focus on making music.
  7. What does your teacher think of your progress on your current instrument?
  8. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    You will know when your current bass is holding you back. A lot of players of stiff, quiet basses will get into the habit of pulling really hard, especially on the low strings, to try to beat some volume and bass out of their instrument. It's fun to point this out to players in the shop and watch their eyes get good and wide when they can coax a nice big sound out of a more responsive bass rather than beating on it.
  9. xarafus


    Nov 24, 2010
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks! All great tips. I will head all of your sour advice.
  10. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I'll add that if you have a good working instrument as you describe, then the "move up" is more personal than getting into the instrument you have. Once you decide, take some time to find the instrument that speaks to you. Check out as many things as you can, save money and assume that it's going to take some time to find the right instrument. It might be the last one you own, choose wisely, be patient and don't just pick the best one available at the moment.
  11. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    For me, i just knew it was time. I got lucky in that my parents helped me afford it. Any good shop is going to let you take it home for a week or two so you can get a true feel for the instrument. A/B it with your normal bass. Play scales, play melodies. If you feel your playing has grown more in a week than in a while, then its a pretty good indicator that you have found the right time to upgrade.

    Of course, finding the right bass and the right price is a whole different thread entirely...
  12. nicechuck


    Jul 9, 2007
    All I want to say is that every post on this thread is well thought out and well said. Good job everyone
  13. us_soccer


    May 16, 2007
    upstate ny
    I'm having exactly the same issue with regards to potentially "trading up".

    I've had my Shen SB100 for almost 5 years now, but not sure if I want to plunk down a good bit of money on getting a hybrid or a carved bass. Of course, I haven't played enough basses to know how much the jump in quality would be for me and/or whether I'm good enough to even realize the gains.

    My question is how you distinguish between the difference in basses vs. setup vs. strings etc... .. ? There are so many variables when trying different basses that it seems like it may be hard to totally isolate the different variables.
  14. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    I agree with the , "When the bass is holding you back" theory...This is accurate. In my teaching experience however, students think they hit that wall before they actually do.
  15. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    First thing, when you go bass shopping, I suggest bringing along a set of strings that have worked for you in the past to get your sound. Then you can put them on any potential instruments you are interested in. Some bass shops will help you do this, or you bring a winder and do it yourself.

    IME, it is rare for a setup to be to my liking when shopping, but I feel free to raise or lower adjustable bridges, at least. If you are looking in a bass shop, ask them to tweak the soundpost or anything else, if they think it may help with an issue. They probably won't want to work on consignment basses. If you are comfortable on your present bass, contrast it's setup with the basses you try so that you have an idea of what may be necessary to get the new bass playing the way you like. You might bring along measurements for string length, spacing, shoulder widths, etc. Scoop of the fingerboard is also an important variable.

    If a potential bass knocks you out with it's sound right off the bat, that is a very good sign and you should start assessing what it will take to get it playing well for you.
  16. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I was at an ISB conference a couple of years ago and got an opportunity to play many of the basses that were in the makers competition. All were very fine instruments and I assume setup to showcase the best they had to offer. Some basses projected very well with a rich nuanced sound and some didn't, granted the larger basses sounded amazing but not all of them. I would check out as many basses as possible and prepare a piece to use to audition them with and record that and compare that to the current bass that you have, that way you have a somewhat objective measure to make a determination from.
  17. xarafus


    Nov 24, 2010
    SF Bay Area
    That should read SOUND advice... Not sour
  18. I reckon you are ready to trade up the moment you can afford to trade upon an instrument that you not happy with! I have a bass I bought for under 5G fully carved Chinese beauty with Spiro Mittels an Olive G and lovely set up, vintage pegheads, dark purring response, cant ask for better sound, searched far and wide even though I can afford to trade up I wouldn't simply because it serves all my needs, never let me down. The only bass I trade up my bass for would be Drurbies super sexy bass, but I'd put hatpegs on that too. Sorry Les!
  19. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    ...and "head" should read "heed." :)

    Whoa! Of all the stunning basses around, you'd choose mine? I'm blushing. Hmmm... maybe it's a better fit than you think. It already has hatpegs... always did. :)

    Img_2801_small. P1000182-1_small.
  20. Its the wood, delicate pattern, slick appearance, tarnished brass with ebony right through the pegbox is my taste though. But the wood is priceless!

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