Those cheap upright basses...

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Lukey
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Those cheap upright basses...

Post by Lukey » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:21 pm

Anyone recorded or played any of these sub-$1000 upright basses from various ebay/internet dealers?

five hundred-ish bucks is a lot of money for something that could be a total dud... but so much less than a real, nice upright.

My gearlust-driven wanderings always seem to lead me to these things and I'm just wondering if any of y'all have any input as to their actual usefulness. I'd like to start recording some jazz/folk/what-have-you, and it would be really nice to have one around.

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Post by dsw » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:35 pm

I play upright and I think you'd have to play it first. I think the internet is a terrible way to buy an acoustic instrument, because they are all so different. I know some live where access is hard, but I drive from Portland to Seattle to try out instruments sometimes.
Also bass players are pretty picky about their instruments so its unlikely having a cheap one in the studio is going to be a big plus. It's not an instrument that can be quickly learned, unless maybe you're Jaco or somebody like that.
Do you play bass?
Do you already play fretless bass?
Is there a bass repair shop around? They may have some used instruments that you could get a good deal on.
Have you checked out Craigs List in your area? In Portland there's always uprights for sale. That way you can try it out first.

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Post by dsw » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:41 pm

Thought of some more....
The thing with a lot of cheap basses I've played is the action is so darned high they are real hard to play. And they sound brassy and tanky and don't have that deep round thing.

Upright is really fun, having come from electric fretted, I loved the expression you can get, the vibrato, the growl.

Later I got an electric fretless and was glad I had the upright chops, because it was an easier transition.

I recommend putting marks on the neck so you know where the notes are. It's NOT cheating. Ask Edgar Meyer.

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Lukey
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Post by Lukey » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:47 pm

I've played fretted electric for about 12 years. I've had a couple cheap fretless electrics, and have screwed around with a few uprights at stores and what-not. I really really love the upright vibe, and have even liked the feel of a couple EUB's.

The thing is that I don't know of a decent local shop (Dayton, Ohio) or tech.

While I can be pretty picky about my electric bass sound, I'm almost as likely to pull out my harmony P-bass ripoff as I am the marcus miller. I love flatwounds, and I'm not too crazy about any of the fretless electrics that I've played.

I'll also readily admit that while I feel pretty comfortable with any upright I've held and played, I can't very well tell the difference between them. It seems like it could be a very stupid purchase, or the thing that sends me down a new path to musical bliss. I kind of doubt 500 bucks could do such a thing.

I just get curious, you know?

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Lukey
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Post by Lukey » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:55 pm

Also:

I'm always checking craigslist in all the cities within an hour or two. No uprights yet. There's a Sam Ash in the area, but given the quality of their house brand guitars and amps, I'm pretty scared of dropping almost a grand on one of those carlo robelli orchestral instruments.

have you played any of those palatinos? I saw over the rhine's bass player (I think it was byron house at the time) playing one and dug the sound.

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Post by river » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:02 pm

I second the advice to play whatever you intend to buy. I don't own an upright, but recently did a folk project, and the bassist used a student bass his mother bought him when he was 13 years old. It was the best sounding upright I've recorded to date, so there are inexpensive gems out there. Happy hunting. BTW, I just emailed Byron House about playing on an upcoming project....monster player!
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dsw
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Post by dsw » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:02 pm

Never played a Palatino that I can recall, but like I say (broken record me) they are all really different.
I like lower easier action, because my hands aren't that big and I'm lazy. If you have real big strong hands, higher action can be ok.
I like this sound: DOOM, not: KANG
Is that a weird way to put it?
how far is it to Elderly Guitar from where you are? They will have lots of basses.
I hear the Chinese basses are getting better.

My bass is an odd duck. It's 1/4 size. Real easy to play and not loud at all, but I always use an amp anyway.

You pay more for carved top and back.

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Lukey
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Post by Lukey » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:21 pm

Elderly looks to be 4 hours away.

It's weird. I live in a densely populated area. There's just not a lot of "music culture" stuff here. A cliche' complaint, I know. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. All the mom and pop stores are trying to charge MSRP on terrible crap, and all the old salty dogs who've done things with vibe seem to have had their stuff materialize out of thin air.

Ohio. *shrug*

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Post by newfuturevintage » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:32 pm

They're hit or miss, mostly miss.

For the sub-$1k upright basses, look for something Euro/usa/japanese from the mid '80s or earlier. I used to have a Suzuki 3/4 bass that was very nice, well balanced, decent volume, good action, and later a Meinl bass from Germany, also well balanced, but not as easy to play. I think I paid ~ $700 or $800 for each of them, and sold them for about that too.

Keep looking locally. Craig's List is the best source around my area. Also try asking around at any local music schools / colleges if they have surplus for sale. Keep your eyes open for estate sales too. Something like a Kay or Englehardt might be the ticket.

For new, I think you're looking at around $1700 minimum or so before you can expect it to not be scrap.

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Lukey
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Post by Lukey » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:50 pm

Right on. Back to the waiting game, I suppose.

Thanks for the tips...

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:18 pm

stay far away from the crap-a-tino basses. I had one for a few years. When it got broken I didnt bother to fix it. As stated by a more experienced URB player on the talkbass forums, the guys that make those are more concerned with filling a shipping container than what they sound like. I'd also like to add that URB (and bass instruments in general) is not really part of Chinese culture so I would be surprised if they could pull one off if they tried. (no offense meant to Asian folks, I also would be surprised to see a European pull off an building an Asian instrument)

If you spend a bit more you can get an eastern European one. Check out the talkbass.com forums for more advice. Also take a gander a lemur music. They have some decent economy URB's.
??????? wrote: "everything sounds best right before it blows up."

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Lukey
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Post by Lukey » Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:02 am

Yea, just looking back at videos, it appears I saw Byron playing an eminence, and not a palatino.

money.

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Post by stooge » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:40 am

Lukey wrote:I've played fretted electric for about 12 years. I've had a couple cheap fretless electrics, and have screwed around with a few uprights at stores and what-not. I really really love the upright vibe, and have even liked the feel of a couple EUB's.

The thing is that I don't know of a decent local shop (Dayton, Ohio) or tech.

While I can be pretty picky about my electric bass sound, I'm almost as likely to pull out my harmony P-bass ripoff as I am the marcus miller. I love flatwounds, and I'm not too crazy about any of the fretless electrics that I've played.

I'll also readily admit that while I feel pretty comfortable with any upright I've held and played, I can't very well tell the difference between them. It seems like it could be a very stupid purchase, or the thing that sends me down a new path to musical bliss. I kind of doubt 500 bucks could do such a thing.

I just get curious, you know?
Not sure if this will help or not, but there's a place in Columbus called the Loft Violin Shop. Never been in there, but a couple of the upright players here in town go there...

...may be worth looking up.

dsw
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Post by dsw » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:54 am

Look for a repair shop. Talk to the guy. They know about deals sometimes, and have things for sale often.

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Post by vxboogie » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:32 am

Lukey wrote: The thing is that I don't know of a decent local shop (Dayton, Ohio) or tech.
Have you checked out Hauer's in Dayton? I'd be surprised that they wouldn't have something with all the band and orchestra stuff that they do.

There's also St Anne's Hill Violin shop on E 5th that may have something.
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