Yet another request for advice


Yet another request for advice

Postby ghiadub » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:36 pm

I am looking to get a new upright bass and need some experienced sage advice.

I have been shopping around but there are not many music stores that have upright basses here, and the ones that do only have one or two.

I was lucky enough to meet Bruce Sexauer (http://www.sexauerluthier.com/) at a bluegrass festival and had a chance to play about 10 basses that he had with him, a mix of $1k to $20k, fully carved and laminate, old and new.

I really liked an old Kay he had, it had been repaired a bunch but had a full loud tone. Some of the really expensive new basses looked great but were not very loud at all.

I sold my Cremona SB-1 so I could get the funds and physical space.

So my question is, is there anything in particular I should look for if I want a loud somewhat punchy dry sounding bass?

Is it just a bass by bass thing, or are there particular construction techniques or styles of bass that will give it a certain sound?


Bonus question: why did you pick your current upright?
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby Mike Childree » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:05 pm

I play a New Standard Cleveland, all ply bass....reputedly the finest ply bass on the market. I chose mine because these are basically updated and upgraded versions of the American Standards, which are very much in-demand in the roots country/blues/bluegrass/swing world. They're pricier than your average entry-level ply basses like Kays, Englehardts, etc. but I have loved every second, and have never wanted another URB since I got it. Numerous national-level bluegrass players have checked it out, and pronounced it killer, and quite a few ended up getting their own. I believe the current prices are around $4K. See them here: http://www.newstandardbass.com Also quite a lot of buzz on TB about them.

There are several builders making these "better than entry level" ply basses now. Upton, Shen, and others are making them and you can get into one for a bit less than I paid for mine.
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby ghiadub » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:32 pm

Mike, any thoughts on this?
http://sacramento.craigslist.org/msg/1507458040.html
King upright

Chef, don't you own one of these?
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby Chef » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:50 pm

While I do own a King, mine's pretty unique. A KC luthier bought it with no fingerboard and no top at a trade show in the 70's; I believe it was factory over-run, and never really "finished." He bought spruce to carve a top; aged it 10 years, then carved the top for it. Machined up a fingerboard of pakkawood-alternating layers of ebony and thermophenolic resins. Shimmed the fingerboard up for great action, carved a new bridge, rebuilt and re-plated the tuners; finished the whole thing...I love it, but it's not really "an old King."
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby Chef » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:52 pm

I looked at the one you posted, and that's sweet. If it's local to you, I'd sure go look it over.
But, for that price, I personally would probably call Arnold and order up a New Standard. The LaScala is, dimensionally, very close to the King, which was in fact built in the HN White factory, where they made the Cleveland as well.
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby Freddels » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:13 pm

I bought a New Standard Cleveland Hybrid for pretty much the same reasons as Mike. I wanted a bass that sounded good and all the talk about the New Cleveland's had me sold. Back when I was in college, I had looked at old uprights b/c the new stuff was crap. The old basses were b/w 5K-20K with 10-12 being the decent ones. The Cleveland is a pretty large bass and the LaScala is a bit smaller. I wanted a cannon!! [smilie=icon_biggrin.gif] Winton's bass player Carlos Henriquez plays a New Standard Cleveland ply.
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby ghiadub » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:50 pm

Thanks Gents. While I have your attention I have a friend who is selling a Mathias Thoma 3/4, an older MT-1. He is asking 2700, it was apraised at 8k. But it has some repairs, a crack in the top, endpin, and edge repair on the back.

Any thoughts on Mathias Thoma basses? I plan on playing a that and a few others as I get time.
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby Freddels » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:51 pm

ghiadub wrote:Thanks Gents. While I have your attention I have a friend who is selling a Mathias Thoma 3/4, an older MT-1. He is asking 2700, it was apraised at 8k. But it has some repairs, a crack in the top, endpin, and edge repair on the back.

Any thoughts on Mathias Thoma basses? I plan on playing a that and a few others as I get time.


I don't know anything about them. Do a search on the DB side of TB for info. If the crack is repaired properly there shouldn't be any problem. My Cleveland was returned to Arnold due to a crack in the top. Arnold took the top off, repaired the crack, and graduated it (thinned it out) so that it would resonate more. I bought that particular bass b/c the top had been graduated by Arnold and knew that it would sound great. When I got the bass you could barely see the crack (you had to really look for it) but after time and wood expansion you can see it now but it doesn't affect the sound/tone.

The problem with carved basses (full or just the top) is that they will need repairs as the wood expands/contracts and cracks.
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby Mike Childree » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:33 pm

That was my next piece of advice...evaluate what kind of music you'll be playing with the bass. If you're going towards the rootsier stuff, then a ply bass will do just fine and in many cases sound better than a carved-top bass, due to the simpler tones (more fundemental, less overtones). Ply basses are really durable and you'll have little to worry about in terms of humidity, care, etc. If you're going to play jazz or classical, the carved top is the way to go....just can't get that great growly, complex tone from a ply.
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Re: Yet another request for advice

Postby ghiadub » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:40 am

Thanks again mates [smilie=food-smiley-004.gif]

My old Bari player picked up a old beat up Kay for 200 bucks a while back, I have been bugging him to sell me that. I will not be doing a ton of giggin with the upright, at least I don't plan on it.

If I do, it will be bluegrass, and the occasional jazz gig when I get tired of them begging my to bring the big one. I am not playing in the blues band anymore.

The reason I sold the Cremona was the neck felt like a bat and fingerboard sucked the tone. I have played a few other uprights in the $1200 - $1500 range and even the cheap ones felt and sounded better than the Cremona.


Problem is I have not found a new standard anywhere around here. For acoustic instruments, I prefer to play them before I buy.
Plus, I am not in a huge hurry. I will find a loud barky bass. I plan on dropping in at Lemur when I am at NAMM and playing some of thier basses. I played a bunch at NAMM last year but it is kind of impossible to hear anything there. Probibly the worst place on earth.
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