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willow kolstien

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by poalf, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. poalf


    Feb 27, 2003
    Phoenix, Az
    I'm seriously considering a 7/8 flatback Kolstein with willow back and sides. Does anyone have any experience or comments with Kolsteins or willow? Will the willow age and hold up like maple?

    I currently have a Wilfer that has a tighter grained top, much better grade ebony, medium flamed carved maple back and sides and, in my opinion, better workmanship. It's a beautiful instrument but it just doesn't have the tone or project like the Kolstein.

    Any comments, experience or advice?
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Polaf, I too have owned and played many Wilfer Basses. The wood, workmanship and cosmetics were always beautiful. I was in Barrie's shop a few years ago and was shown one of his Willow Basses in the making. Although I was not impressesd with the cosmetics, I was impressed with his effort to duplicate the old world sound and appearance. I have owned at least one old Italian Bass and have seen many. They are usually made from plain to ugly wood and often guled up of several pieces. The tone of these old relics however is unbeatable.
    You must decide if the cosmetics out-weight the tone for your personal taste.
  3. poalf


    Feb 27, 2003
    Phoenix, Az
    Frankly, I don't care much what it looks like as long as it sounds great, plays well and holds up structurally. I'm sure the wilfer will hold together and always sound and look pretty good. I just don't want to have spent the money and after a few years have a dead sounding, patched together bass that I can't get rid of.

    It sure sounds good now: a little bright, but I think that can be taken care of with some Flexocor's, which I will try before I buy (I think it's got Spirocores on it now).
  4. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Given the normal care you would give any bass, a willow bass can be expected to be around for 200 years after you aren't.
    Testore basses - early 1700's - used willow, and if you want to own one today, you'll pay dearly
  5. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Willow has a reputation for producing a more mellow tone than maple. It is a very light wood, so less weight, but I've been told it's stiffness is equal to maple; maybe somebody knows.
    Michael Cameron who's the bass teacher at the University of Illinois at Urbana has a Kolstein that I've seen and played and it is an excellent bass, the same for Jim Clute who has been with the Minneapolis Symphony for 40 years. Both of these guys love their basses.
    Kolstein also uses slap cut spruce for the top, like the original.
    In fact I think that Jim Clute told me that he owned the original at one time, or at least had played on it.
  6. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    I think I dated her in college.
  7. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Yes, Mike. The one who was always wheeping!
  8. poalf


    Feb 27, 2003
    Phoenix, Az
    thanks for the input.

    I currently have the kolstien at home for a 7 day trial. My first impression stands: the workmanship and cosmetics of the Wilfer are clearly a notch above, but it just doesn't speak like the Kolstein. The Kostien is much more even and rich. It lost some pizz volume with Flexocore's, but still respectable.

    I just swapped A strings with Obligato for Flexocore (and vice versa). The Flexocore killed the Wilfer's pizz and didn't help arco while the Obligato brought back the Kolstiens pizz but didn't make the arco too bright.

    If it was even money or close, the decision would be made.


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