Mudcat Café message #3218301 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #134838   Message #3218301
Posted By: GUEST,josepp
04-Sep-11 - 11:27 PM
Thread Name: Bought a double bass today
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
I forgot to mention that a few months back I took my bass to my instructor's house because his luthier was visiting from Muskegon. This guy built two basses for my instructor and they're beautiul in appearance and tone. I suppose one day, he'll be building one for me. So I took my bass over there and the guy looked it over and asked, "May I ask how much you paid for this?"

"Twenty-one," I replied.

"Really?" he said. "That's a damn good price for that quality. Solid top with some thickness on it. I would think that would cost more in the $2700 range."

I told him that it is about 27 except it was sold to me as a VB-80 for $1900 and with tax it came out to 21 even. The VB-95 retails for about $2400 and with tax works out to around 27 or so.

He said that the best student basses he'd previously seen were the Kay basses because they used solid tops but the tops were so thin that you could put your fist through them and this Eastman has pretty much pro quality solid top and that costs so i made out pretty good.

I said I wanted something with good resale value so when I move up, I can get something for it. My instructor, however, told me I should keep if possible because if I sell it and have to put my new bass in the shop for any reason--and I should count on doing that at least once--then what do I play with in the meantime? Well, that was a good point. So I guess I'll try to hang onto this one as a standby when I move up to a better one.

In case anyone's wondering, you have to lay out some coin for a good double bass. People ask me what they can get for $600. Here's what you can get for $600: NOTHING! I mean, you can go online and buy one for that much but it's a piece of crap. You might get lucky and buy a nice one for very cheap because some guy who owned it died and his widow or kids want to get rid of it because these things DO take up some space. But how often does that happen? A cheapie that's worth practicing on is still in the $1800 range and that's for a laminated top. Just the wood for a fully pro model costs more than $600. It has to be the right type of tonewood, perfectly aged and cut. So you know that the wood on these $600 cheapies has to be shit. Those things will fall apart within a few years and probably within a few months if used heavily. It's better to save up for one that will still be playable long, long after you've stopped due to death.

I had a coworker order one for like $800. It was certainly very pretty--all solid white and all. A few weeks later, he sold it on ebay without explanation. I noticed one MAJOR MAJOR problem with it. It arrived at work because he used it as the mailing addess so I got to see it come right out of the box. The thing was, the bridge was sitting flat and wrapped in plastic. He had to install it. So what you ask?

Well, see, there's this little thing called a soundpost. It's just a wooden dowel made of spruce, I think, and it is wedged between the top and bottom plates. It restricts the vibration and keeps the top and bottom vibrating uniformly and sounding good. Without the soundpost, the acoustics just aren't there. The Italians call the soundpost "anima" or "soul" because it is the soul of the instrument. But the soundpost is only held in by string tension just like the bridge. So if you take the bridge off, there's no string tension! So what's holding the soundpost in? Glue? Or did this cheap-ass thing even have a soundpost?

My instructor told me to always change one string at a time and never taken them all off at once for that very reason--because the soundpost will fall over and it's about impossible to get it back in the way it was and so the instrument will never sound right again. You know my coworker realized the thing was a piece of crap and got rid of it to some dumb rube who didn't do his homework and thinks he's getting a deal. That's why you never order online and why you have to shell out big coin for a double bass.