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Will buy my first double bass, I'd like tips !

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Inconnu, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. Hi !

    I've allready read the newbies links and thought they were quite interesting, so I decided to join this forum !

    I've been playing electric bass for 15 years and I want to get an upright bass now... actually I've been wanting one for about 12 years but now is the time.

    I read the tips you people left and I still have some questions/need some tips on some points.

    I've been shopping around town, got to meet luthiers and I tried a few instruments. The fact is I'm not rich and won't get any richer... so my DB will have to be bought on a budget.

    A few luthiers that have a good reputation around here told me something that was surprising to hear. They said Chinese made uprights were not the crap they were and that most german or tcheck instruments were now partly made of Chinese parts. They said both european and chinese instruments need the same work but the chinese will be cheaper. They also said that the double basses you buy from a music store are not bad either, they are just about the same has what the luthier sells you but without the work (setup,etc.) and new strings...

    I've always been advised against chinese unprights, and the tips I read on this forum seem to present opposite visions. The thing is I tried a real cheap Palatino in a music store and thought it sounded and felt OK. It wasn't worked on by a luthier but it seemed decent. Now a local store has a new chinese upright in stock that is superior to the "not-so-bad" Palatino... the price is good.

    I wonder how important it is to get a luthier's work on a new instrument and if that work was essential to the longitivity of the instrument, etc. The thing is... buying from a luthier seems at least twice the price for the same range of instrument !

    Anything you can tell me to help would be appreciated !

    Thanks !

    Oh ! by the way: I'll be playing pizz mainly if not exclusively... they are no Englehart instruments available locally it seems... the only tchech bass I saw was a Strunal at a store I can't trust, having bought a few stuff there and being unstaisfied with after-sale service.
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Fill out your profile and let us know what part of the world you are located. Someone might know of something that's available. If I were on a tight budget I would be looking at the Upton laminates.
  3. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    I recently bought a Strunal Model 50/4 from Sam Ash music in Phila area as a back-up to my carved top.

    I'm very satisfied with the instrument for the money. Good pizz and bow sounds. I would recommend changing the stock strings though. The ones that came with it were like rubber bands.

    It's a basic plywood with ebony fittings and fingerboard.

    I did buy the extended 2 year warranty which includes 2 free set-ups a year.

    Good Luck in your search.

    PM me if you have any other questions.
  4. I wouldn't worry so much about country of origin. Go to a couple of stores, try out as many basses as they have, and go with the bass that sounds best and feels best to play, that's within your price range.

    [/QUOTE]...and the tips I read on this forum seem to present opposite visions.[/QUOTE]

    Yes indeed. You'll find the same thing if you examine the reviews on this forum for pickups, amps, bows, etc. There's no absolute rights and wrongs when it comes to product preferences. That's why it's important to try as many basses as you can.

    I've got a Chinese-made, US-set up bass that has worked out really well for me. I bought it from a local shop in my area (A&G Music in Oakland). No complaints at all...
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    What is your budget? What do you want to do with the Bass Musically? How serious are you about playing the DB? Is this for hobby or professional use?

    These questions will hep people guide you. There is just too much junk out there today and plenty of people willing to sell it to you.
  6. My budget is not 100% set... I'd like to spend less then $2000 US for sure... hopefully not more then 1500.

    For the seriousness, DB will be an hobby for sure, for now. I've been playing electric bass for 15 years, mostly for a hobby, but a hobby I take seriously. Bassically, lately, I've been jamming with friends for fun and recording stuff on my own, in my home studio. The thing is, I only got pretty good electric bass gear... I don't wanna buy something that will fall apart.

    As for feeling and hearing what's best for me, I can clearly do it... I'm more concerned with durability, how frequently I'd need a setup, etc. I don't wanna throw my money down the drain with a DB that won't last.

    I guess, in terms of sound and feel, DB is like electric bass: some will say a Fender is all you need, some say they are crap and nothing is good under the 2000$ price range...
  7. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    The biggest problem a newbie has to deal with is inexperience. It's easy enough to understand the need to "get a bass that sounds good and feels good to play". But almost any bass will sound awsome to a rookie, and also will be ok as far as setup is concerned. So, Incognito, you'd better get the help of a more experienced player, or a teacher, with trained ears and hands. Here in France, it is said that you don't get good bargains with luthiers cause they know too well what they're handling, but you don't get robbed either, just the fair market price. Guitar shops on the other hand can sell you the worst piece of crap with a strait face. Their market are people like you who wants to switch, last chance to make a buck. The best deals are second hands, well setup and maintained instruments from db players that want to upgrade their stuff. Here again you'll need trained ears and hands (and eyes) to evaluate properly the situation. Hope this helps...
  8. I worked with Steve Koscica in Phoenix Arizona.... looked at his website, spoke with him a few times on phone, exchanged e-mails.... very informative and helpful.... I had tried many basses at shops in Los Angeles area... I drove to Phoenix, tried some of his basses, and found 'the one with the sound I'd been looking for'.... suggest you speak with him to understand additional options.. he has instruments in many price ranges (stringemporium.com)... you'll want to invest enough to be satisfied with your sound, and not fight your axe.. also, think about your end-to-end system, ie, amp, speaker, pickup, even the strings... it really is a system... I've been playing for 38 years on my original student model plywood... jazz, orchestra (rock with electric, but that's a different story)...always said I'd get a good rig 'at some point'... finally did it! (thank you, MasterCard).... I bought a Euphonics Audio iAMP800 and NL-210, Schertler Stat-B pickup
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    When you buy a cheaper bass from a music store, they don't always "service what they sell." Buying a bass from a specialist may be more $ up front, but less hassle and better customer service (imho) in the long run. The after-sale relationship can quickly fade when you buy from a music store.

  10. That, I understand... But if I, say, spend half the money on a bass in a music store then get service from a luthier, I wonder if I save in the long run... and not to mention I don't end up broke after buying the instrument...
  11. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Yes initially, but then the luthier charges you to properly set it up (often every aspect needs to be addressed). You ended up spending what you would have spent on a quality instrument that included the setup, plus most luthiers will do adjustments for a year or so for free...and most will warranty the instument.
  12. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Music stores do not know Squat about Basses. They buy the cheapest shiny crap that they can make the most money/profit on. A Bass shop that repairs Basses daily for professionals will put you into a better Bass. An hour of set-up labor is the same co$t on a Chinese Bass as it is on a 100k Italian Bass. Spend your money wisely.

    Find out what it will cost for a decent playable Bass first before setting your budget and buying junk.
  14. philly


    Nov 20, 2004
    As a fairly recent DB player myself, I'll go one more step and say that buying from a luthier is not only a good idea, but really the only smart way to go. I bought a plywood bass from Upton, and their service, setup, and information has already save me more in money and aggravation than I could have possibly saved elsewhere. Is the Upton laminate the best bass in the world? Hardly. But with it's good set up,
    good quality, and the confidence I have that they'll back their product allow me to think about learning to play the damn thing instead of what it needs to make it playable.
    I am confident that any of the fine luthiers on the forum will do exactly the same thing for any player. For a newbie it's that much more important. When guys like nick lloyd and eroy give you this advice, theyre not being self serving, theyre giving you the best possible advice. Upton (and maybe others) also gives a 100% trade-up, so when your ready to move up you're not staring at square one.
  15. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Perfect. +1.
  16. Ok, good...

    Another small question though... What about buying second hand ? I could get something good (like a Strunal) from "some guy", but is it risky for a person like me who doesn't know much about uprights ?
  17. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    like buying a used car. Read up on the model, and take it to a luthier for an inspection prior to purchase so you know what you are getting into. Don't buy someone's problem.
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Second hand? I wish I knew the previous owner(s) of my Basses. The history would make them worth more. But really, in Basses, new may be a bigger risk than older used Basses even in the Low end of the $cale. This way you could at least buy it after some type of break-in and see if all's still good. With carved Basses you don't know what can happen. After a few years or even 10-20 years, the Bass is about where it's gonna be short of any drastic weather or mishaps. I have seen Basses 150-200 years old without any serious belly/top cracks. Second Hand it more than OK. It's a small level of insurance in some cases.
  19. Montreal has some fine jazz clubs (I've been to Upstairs and saw great band from Magill)... go to the clubs and talk to the bassists... there's always a 'scene' in every city, just have to tap into it.... go to Magill... the band I saw was comprised of some Magill faculty members who've been playing together for 15 years... you're also only a few hours from Boston and NY... you can even fly cheap to check out instruments in other regions... with internet and cheap travel, you really have a very broad range of basses to choose from... and, like the folks on this thread are saying, just start playing a bunch of basses...go to the Luthiers' shops, talk with them, play their instruments, they are (broad-brush statement) great folks who sincerely want to educate the bass-playing community... took me a while to 'baseline' the sound/feel I was looking for... you kind of get saturated after trying a room full of basses, so spread out your search over some time.. but just start playing a bunch of instruments... its kind of like Harry Potter, the 'wand' kind of finds you if you're out there looking... and, you can always 'trade-up' after a few years, as you understand more what you want... I'm reading what some of the folks are saying in these forums, and playing a good instrument allows you to play what you're thinking/feeling... I'm not better than I was 8 weeks ago before I got my 'new' (100 yr old German) bass from Steve Koscica, but I'm playing a heck of a lot better, and I know my big-band colleagues think I'm a better player (actually, my solos are much better... very cool....)
  20. Thanks for all the advices ! I might be able to make contact with on or two local players finally, to get help to find a used instrument. Otherwise, I think I'm better off buying from a luthier I can trust... I meant one in particular who would even put strings that are more appropriate for my playing on a new instrument, no charge...

    Thanks all !