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Yet another UK Stentor thread!

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by pumpmuppet, Nov 17, 2005.


  1. pumpmuppet

    pumpmuppet

    Nov 17, 2005
    London
    Hello all. Yes, another UK BG player switching to that woody monster. Been planning it for years, but delayed and delayed thinking there was no point as it would take forever to become competent. Well, if I'd done it back then I'd be flying by now so no more procrastination!

    To the point... I've been renting a bass for a couple of months now and had a few lessons (see, I've been reading the threads here!). The bass I'm renting isn't the most pleasant thing to play and, at £40 a month, I could really be putting this money into something that's mine. I'm fortunate enough to have just enough ready cash to buy my own instrument now (anyone looking to buy a lovely fretless 5 BG?) and think that's probably the way to go.

    I've been reading with interest, and at at times despair, about the availability of new instruments in the UK, and come to the inevitable conclusion the the Stentor range is a pretty decent bet. The problem is obvious being able to try them out. I'm visiting a double bass shop over the next 2 weeks where they have a Stentor Conservatoire in stock, and a pretty nice 1930s-ish Czech bass. My question is basically whether the new Stentor tone is going to change over the next 6 months or year, as this seems pretty important when trying the 2 instruments out. To be honest, my playing ability isn't quite at the level where I can really tell that much about the 2 basses and it's a lot of money to be throwing around. The Czech bass is only about £250 more, but I'm not sure if it's just a romantic notion of having an old instrument that's drawing me to it.

    In general, are the Stentor players here still happy with their purchase or are they finding flaws in their instruments a few months on? Anything you would change, or wish you'd waited a little longer and bought something at the next level.

    Thanks for your time, this new world is a little confusing at times.

    Owen

    (Have fun with the username guys...)
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well both Olie Brice and I have been using Stentors - I met up with Olie at Jazz Summerschool at the university of Glamorgan, where he played his - I wasn't brave enough to take mine!! ;)

    Olie's had his a bit longer than mine and it sounded great on stage and we reckoned it to be the loudest bass amongst the students - maybe a dozen DB players..?

    Olie was put in a group with a trumpet/flugelhorn player that I play with locally and he mentioned how much he liked Olie's tone and said that he was glad I'd got a real DB like that - he's only heard me on EUB and BG so far!!

    I am really loving mine - which does seem to be improving in terms of sound - but that may be down to several other factors - so, I put on better strings - Spirocores, changed the endpin for one from the Contrabass Shoppe...plus I'm sure my technique is getting better, as I am so motivated to practice now!! :)

    I haven't found any flaws and my teacher (Jazz Pro) has looked at it extensively and the only thing he mentioned was changing the endpin - otherwise he was pretty impressed.

    I have the Elysia and I think Olie has the Conservatoire...he might chime in soon...I saw him post the other day, but mentioned he was busy!
     
  3. pumpmuppet

    pumpmuppet

    Nov 17, 2005
    London
    Thanks for the response Bruce.

    In your experience, is there a significant difference between the Elysia and the Conservatoire? Either in sound, build quality or aesthetics? It's near impossible to find a place which has both in stock, and certainly not set up ready to play. However, an instrument could well be with you for the rest of your life, so skimping on the cost a little may be regretted later.

    Does the endpin really affect the sound that much?

    Owen
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The difference is in the back and sides - so the top on Olie's Conservatoire looked exactly the same as mine - but the back and sides of my Elysia are in flamed maple, which has a nice tiger-stripe wood grain look - whereas Olie's Conservatoire has plainer-looking wood.

    The main difference looked to be the back on mine swells a bit more ...maybe.... it's difficult, as I'm going on memory an we didn't have them side by side to compare?

    Olie said there was a definite increase in volume with a better endpin and I've noticed that the bass feels more stable as well. I was also getting a kind of "fluttering" sound when playing high up on the G string, which my teacher told me was due to the flimsy endpin and since changing it, this problem has gone!! :)
     
  5. pumpmuppet

    pumpmuppet

    Nov 17, 2005
    London
    Interesting. I never really gave it much thought, but it makes sense. I just assumed that it's fairly straightforward to manufacture a decent endpin without adding much to the relative cost of the instrument.

    Currently, I'm playing with the endpin on a thick bit of rubber to give the neighbours some peace! I'm going to patent an all-rubber one which absorbs the sound, whilst simultaneously allowing you to bounce the bass down the steps of the London Underground. Pogo bass!

    One other thing I noticed from looking at the Stentors was that they seem fairly small. The guy at the shop actually suggested getting a full size one rather than 3/4. Any opinions on this? It's not the kind of decision you can go back on when it's been ordered and already set up...
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well there have been a lot of discussions around her about size and you could have a look though a lot of these - but generally the feeling I get from all the experienced players is that size is not really as relevant as getting a good bass that suits you - there is no standardisation of sizes and Ken Smith (who should know) told me that there is no such thing as a 4/4 bass!!

    Most Jazz players use 3/4 or occasionally 7/8 basses and I remember seeing Dave Holland play live a few times and his DB looks pretty small compared with a typical Orchestral bass, but of course he gets a great sound!

    I tried two new, German-made basses in Footes (Golden Square Soho) and was told that one was 3/4 and the other was 4/4, but I noticed very little difference apart from about £700 extra on the price!! ;)
     
  7. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    I've been playing a stentor conservetoire for just over 2 years now, and am still very pleased with it. Since buying it I've chnaged the endpin for a very nice hollow one, and it did improve both tone and volume.
    It is small, which suits me as I don't drive and carry it to gigs and rehersals most days of the week in a hilly town!
    It is louder than most basses I've come across, and for its price is surprisingly rich and 'growly'. Hard to say how much its changed over the past 2 years as I was a beginner then and have worked very hard ever since, so obviously my tone has improved.
    Everyone I know who's tried my bass has been very complimentary, including some established pros and teachers.
    However, they do vary a bit. Some of them have a horrible metal tailpiece, and I played on in a shop that was the same model, but didn't sound as nice. Mine has been well set up and has spiros on it, but I'm not convinced that was the only differnece.
    Only problem I have with it is that the sound isn't very even wen you go up the e,a & d strings towards the octave. Also, I do get some wolftones playing arco, although as my technique has improved these are less noticable.
    I wouldn't reccomend it necessarily for classical playing, but as a student/beginning pro level jazz instrument I don't think you'll be disappointed. And if you prefer playing without and amp as I do you might find it loudr than some far more expensive basses.

    rant over!!
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    re:improving sound - the sound that the bass will get as time passes will be a richer and more complex version of the way it sounds right now. Depending on where you are buying the bass, just be aware that there may some set up issues. If the bass hasn't been set up properly, you may not be hearing its "true" sound.

    Buy a bass because you like the way it sounds RIGHT NOW, not because you hope it will sound more like you want it to at some point in the future. I would DEFINITELY get somebody who plays to come by and play the basses, that way you are hearing the actual instruments and not the weaknesses of your physical approach.
     
  9. put it this way, (as far as i'm aware) basses tend not to deteriorate in sound terms as they mature, provided you're nice to it! (as i would imagine you would be if you shelled out the £ for a nice new stentor! ;))
     
  10. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    there were quite a few little setup issues with mine - I had some work done by a good luthier very early on - a bit of planeing on the fingerboard, a new bridge, couple of other things.
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You've got me worried now that I need to replace my bridge and get some more work done...:meh:

    Seriously I am happy with having had somebody I trust and who is a very good player, looking at it and playing it ! :)

    The big issue for us in the UK is just getting something to play that is reasonable but doesn't cost the earth - i.e. more than my car!! ;)

    PS. Did you ever find out what bass, the student tutor at Glamorgan was playing - that looked bit like a Stentor...I can't remember if you did?
     
  12. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    He told me, but I can't remember. It looked very, very similar to mine though. Same factory different company?
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - I vaguely remember it - but just can't get the name out of the recesses of my memory!! :meh:
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    No, but neither do they substantially change. A bass that sounds thin and nasal will CONTINUE to sound thin and nasal. It's not going to suddenly start sounding like a Panormo just because it's been played for 20 years.

    Buy a bass that you like the way it sounds RIGHT NOW.
     
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Let us now how you get on and where the shop is, how they seem - customer service etc. :)
     
  16. pumpmuppet

    pumpmuppet

    Nov 17, 2005
    London
    Will do. Was planning to go last weekend but was struck down by avian flu. Maybe this coming Saturday, or if not then definitely the one after.

    The shop in question is Thwaites in Watford - not too far from London. Nice people and a large collection of instruments, including some I can actually afford.

    I'd love to be able to try out a few Stentors together but obviously no one in the UK seems to be doing this.

    My fingers are blistered.
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Hmm... Watford's the other side of London for me - I'm not sure I could handle all the way round the M25 - no matter how good the shop was!! ;)
     
  18. pumpmuppet

    pumpmuppet

    Nov 17, 2005
    London
    Understood. Under normal cicumstances a journey to Watford should be avoided at all costs anyway.

    I live in North London these days and have made 3 trips up there. Trust me, when the Northern Line is down and you are carrying a double bass on your back, the 1.5 hour trip is no picture. Especially when you get there at 3.30pm on Saturday and the shop has just shut! I know I should have checked their opening times before leaving, but closing before 5 on a Saturday afternoon is a world away from any consumer experience of mine.

    Besides, if you're in Brighton the best way would be top hop on the train with a coffee, cd player and newspaper and kick back for a while (unless you use Thameslink, then prepare to suffer).
     
  19. Inconnu

    Inconnu

    Nov 1, 2005
    My bass-ment
    I saw and tried one around here... at a music store. Cheap, really cheap... I didn't realize they could be good... Of course, the one I tried had a bad bad bad setup...
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Agreed!! ;)

    Well on the train it would be several changes and getting on and off the tube - not really feasible with a DB !!

    But if they had any interesting stuff it might be worth a visit?

    PS - I'm not sure that Stentor in Canada is the same - I couldn't see that they had Elysia and Conservatoire DBs...?