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Jif

Help Required To Identify Double Bass

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Hi, having played a EUB for a number of years, I decided to take the plunge and go for the real thing. I eventually took a chance on the bass in the photos below, it is all laminate, there is no label inside that I can see but it had a good sound and although the action was on the high side I figured it could be lowered.

It was fitted with Evah Pirazzi Weich strings which are like new, it has also had a new bridge and sound post fitted. I found a receipt in the soft case for the bridge fitting and strings which came to £500. I reckon the shop ripped the seller off for the bridge and fitting, they charged £300 for that, and they have made little attempt to lower the action to be more playable.

I have searched this forum and others to try and determine the origin of the bass with not a lot of success. The closest fit I could get is some version of a Strunal? Single tuners, outer linings and the flat surface on the low E side of the fingerboard all seem to tie in to that. Not sure on age but the previous owner had it for about 3-4 years, they bought it 2nd hand and by all accounts it was in need of TLC, hence the new soundpost and bridge.

Any help appreciated.

TIA

 

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It looks to me like a modern Chinese made instrument. I’d say an older Gear 4 Music bass, but I could be wrong. These ply basses need some work but are robust and can sound good. The bridge fitting cost is expensive, I’ve usually been charged £200 for fitting and about £75 for adjusters. And this is on a knackered old ply bass that has a warped top. He really earns his money on that one!

At this price level, having something that you enjoy playing is the main thing. It’s also good the action is not too low as sound projection can suffer a bit with notes choked off a bit. It’s probably been set up for Arco playing.

Welcome to the club and I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s a wonderful instrument.

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Thanks for the responses guys, a bit of a mystery then!

As you indicate, the main thing is how it sounds and plays. I feel the action does need to come down a bit, I get what you are saying regards tonal quality if it goes too low but at the moment it is physically very hard to play, I  probably need to strengthen up my fingers a bit as well. 

Regarding the sound, it has a pretty solid warm tone to it, sustain could be a bit better but that could also be down to my (lack of) technique.

I have a friend that I see every couple of months who is a rockabilly player, so I'll run it past him and see what he thinks, he also knows a good DB luthier if it needs set up differently.

I really like playing double bass, different from electric bass but totally unique sound, will need to spend some time getting to grips with it.

 

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Totally get it. Getting some lessons is a great idea. When I started the technique lessons really helped me.

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I also thought "cheapy chinese" but didn't want to sound insulting!  So thanks to Burns Bass for saying it out loud.  I wouldn't have spent £500 on it either.  Not sure I'd spend £500 on my 1880s carved German one for that matter!   However, as that money is already spent, you may have a decent bargain beginner bass that someone else overspent on!

The action doesn't look that high to me. It has to be a lot higher than on an electric bass because the longer strings move around a lot more.  I've pushed my action lower than recommended (for arco) by sawing off the top of the bridge; it's now much easier to play and has a lovely mwah sustain; BUT there is one note (luckily on an un-used quarter tone) that buzzes and when playing LOUD arco with my local orchestra  (eg Weber's Oberon Overture) the strings are a bit "slappy" so I have to take care.  I might buy an adjustable bridge one day.  Anyway,  what I mean is - go easy.  You can always lower the action, but you can't bring it back up!

If you still want a lower action, you don't really need a pro to do it .. just start by cutting the slots a bit lower with a needle file, mm at a time, until you like the sound and action, then saw or file the top down to match (the strings should be about 1/4, or a bit less, of the way into the slots); take care to keep the bridge profile "as is" which should more or less match the fingerboard curvature (I scribed round mine using a Jenny Odd-legs caliper inherited from my Grandad  before getting the saw out).

Oh ... and when taking the bridge off to do the final sawing down ... put the bass on its back and lift the bridge very gently - or the sound post might fall over and is a bugger to get back up.

Anyway, no need to obsess about where it came from; just enjoy the experience and when you get the hang of it, think about trading up.

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Posted (edited)

Cheers Nick. I paid £400 for it, figured with the decent strings and new bridge, plus nice soft case and a decent bow it had to be worth a shot and it does sound OK.

I actually did the thing with the needle file before these pictures were taken, I came across this technique on another thread in this forum, it was higher previously, but I have erred on the side of caution so far. I found a good guide on how to get the best height without risking the bridge as shown below.

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As you have highlighted, I'm a wee bit hesitant to remove the bridge to do this as I fear the soundpost falling down, but I will eventually bite the bullet and do it.

I thought that there was a good possibility that it was a Chinese cheapy, but when I tried it out I thought it had a decent tone that I could work with and tbh it will do what I require, certainly at first. I do a lot of multi-tracking and bass is not my first instrument though I have played a lot of bass over the years, I prefer to use the real thing rather than samples on a keyboard.

Yeah and you're right, better just to get into it rather than obsess where it originated, I was curious though,  I had done quite a lot of googling to try and find something similar without much luck. There seemed to be a consensus that the outer strapping was common to Germany and Eastern European makers, also the flat section on on the fingerboard appeared on a lot of older Boosey Hawkes  basses that were generally of Czech origin, as were the single tuners.

I couldn't find any pictures of Chinese basses that resembled it, but there are probably a vast amount of instruments made there. I have some other Chinese made instruments that are actually very well made, you can be lucky and get a good one, quality control being the biggest problem with a lot of Chinese stuff.

 

 

Edited by Jif

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Great graphic; says it all really.  Tho raising the height involves quite careful shaping of those hardwood spacers which have to match the curve of the instrument's belly very closely ... which is why fitting a whole new bridge IS a pro job (lots of thin bits of veneer might do it).

That "flat section" on the fingerboard is a "Romberg Bevel" - my 19th century German bass has one as does my 1890 french 'cello (and my dad's 18th century english 'cello - which pre-dates invention of the bevel, so presumably the finger board is newer).  It is just a way to give a bit of relief under the bottom string so that you can bow it REALLY hard without it hitting the finger board.  I think they are dying out with newer higher tension strings and also purely Jazz players often don't have them as they don't need to bow much.  So it's a common feature around the world.

The boosey and hawkes I learned on initially also had a bevel and said "made in china" inside - it was horrid (partly due to being half size), but they aren't all bad.  Could also be eastern european - but that bright orange varnish speaks china to me.

Anyway at £400 it's no rip off (!!) especially with a nice new bridge and sound post on it.  When I said I wouldn't spend £500 on it, I really meant "wouldn't spend £500 on WORK on it.  It will be fine for starters I'm sure, but if it's hard work getting a nice tone out of it, don't blame yourself entirely - a £5000 bass would make a nice sound more easily :¬)

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Thanks for the info Nick, very interesting. Yeah I got what you meant about spending an additional £500 on it 🙂

The new strings were also an element in my decision to buy, I figured I would probably buy new strings when buying a 2nd hand bass and these strings get good reviews and at £200 a set...

The closest picture I found that looked very similar was a Boosey Hawkes, but from what I can gather they sourced from various makers including China later on. Here's the picture, I believe it is an Excelsior.

 

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