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TorturedSaints

Lockdown bass purchase ?

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I am really enjoying playing my NS Wav 4 (with German bow, for those of you that contributed to my previous thread).   I've never played a proper double bass and I am wondering about it. Although Scotland isn't technically in lockdown yet, most of the Central Belt is restricted, such that the only local bass I can find on gumtree (a £700 Stentor Sudent 1) isn't accessible to me under the current rules, either travelling there or trying it out.

Would I be totally completely off my head barking stupid to buy a 'mail order' bass such as one of the Bass Bags Eastman luthier-set up models or similar from Thomann or Carswells?  Should I just be patient and hold on to my money until happier times?  Any advice welcome. 😀  

Although now I've re-read my post, I think I know what advice I would give myself. 🙁

Ralph 

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Advise contain possible impatience and see if something comes up for sale nearer to home when travel permitted.

It seems most off the shelf "starter" buys end up needing decent set up and strings whereas bass with known history, already playable and with decent strings is not much more cash and can be tried out as well. In truth, trying out a bass for the first time is potentially fairly intimidating and if you have a pal that plays, take them along so you can get a more knowledgeable opinion.

Years ago I went off to buy a decent acoustic guitar and ended up getting a Yamaha I would not have considered if I did not have a mate along - he played all the candidates and the sound quality as a listener was amazingly different to perception as a player. Also, his much greater experience helped identify the best action/ sound projection/etc . The Yammy is still going strong and has proved an excellent choice.

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If you're looking at Bass Bags, maybe try hiring one from them.

Edited by MrCrane
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I say bide your time, I was in a similar situation a good few years back and looked at some new basses as I wasn't confident to buy off Ebay/Gumtree.

I still own a lovely bass that I bought from the classified section of this very site, which came setup and strung as a working instrument from an excellent player, and got great advice in the process. I got much more bass for my money and piece of mind too.

Stick it out a bit longer and the bass will find you 😀

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If you do buy an instrument from BassBags, I can vouch for the service & great setup that they do.

I tried the 'buy an old bass' route, travelling a fair bit up and down the motorways to try out old basses in various music shops, but mainly found that they weren't setup right for me (pizz only player needing low action), many were I think set up for arco, with dead strings, and so on, so it was difficult to evaluate instruments, and then of course I was then going to have to find a luthier (that fabled person) who could make the instrument playable.

So agree that if you can find a used setup working instrument that feels right that's great, but I wouldn't rule out buying new.

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If their delivery charges aren't too bad, doing the BassBags rental for a few months could be a plan, while you keep an eye out for a good used bass and hope the travel restrictions are able to ease up a bit. Then when you come to try out any other double basses, you have the one you've already been playing as a baseline to compare against.

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I say take the plunge. Even if you could travel, there will always be a better bass or a better bargain to be found. It’s the never ending quest! As long as you don’t pay over the odds and it looks easily resellable your risk is fairly low. 
 

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Thanks for all your thoughts.   I hadn't seen that BassBags did rental, so I might well investigate their hire and delivery charges.   Failing that I think it would be sensible to bide my time - but that's no fun is it? 😂  I'll keep you updated. 

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To paraphrase the birds in the bush proverb ,
a plywood box resonating against the gut is worth two carved tops in the cloud ( or something like that ) :)

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I wouldn't buy a double bass I hadn't played.  Too many variables.  In these days when you can't spend several hours trying lots of them out, rental is the way to go. 

Bassbags is 10 minutes from my house ... had several bits and pieces from them over the years.  Tried a few of their basses and can't fault the setup ( that Eastman VB503 is nice, though the 1910 English bass was better .. I nearly bought it ). They'll probably talk you into spending more than you planned, though ... maybe it's just me being a soft touch 😉

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I spoke to Mark (?) at BassBags - a thoroughly nice chap although @NickA's comment about talking you into spending more than you planned seemed 'on the money'!  The hire would be a good way to go except that where I live, the delivery charge and collection charge (based on mileage) would probably come to more than a 'beginner' mail order bass.  I think I'll sit tight for a while, although they do have a list of people possibly wanting instruments near Glasgow, so they could possibly do a 'cost-sharing' delivery run which might make it more economic.  

Thanks everyone for your help.

 

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8 hours ago, TorturedSaints said:

I spoke to Mark (?) at BassBags -

David 😉 .

They seem to do their own deliveries in a big van.  You'd think they could arrange DHL or something.

  There are other rental agencies .. eg I went to try out some basses at Thwaites ( Watford) and was told that, unfortunately, most of the basses in my price range had been rented out!  Some searching needed.

Think bass bags have the monopoly on renting out affordable factory made basses tho.

 

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So here's the update. I managed to restrain my GAS urge until December and I ended up getting a £700 Stentor Andreas Zeller from a local bass teacher that had taken him through the Glasgow Conservatoire.  It plays very nicely and my NS Wav EUB is now firmly back in its case!  It was delivered in March - the earliest we could do it legally in lockdown so I didn't get the chance to play before purchase, but I took the view that a bass teacher's personal instrument would be reasonably well set up and playable, as it indeed is.   I'm glad I didn't go down the Bass Bags route for a first bass, just because of the ratio of delivery cost to instrument cost.

I'm well into the Beginner's course on Discover Double Bass now, and getting some sounds that are nearly musical out of the bass.  

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On 05/05/2021 at 10:08, Beer of the Bass said:

That seems like a good, solid choice, I remember quite liking the Zeller basses I've seen.

I bought one (carved top) during lockdown and it turned out to be very good indeed. Luckily it was for sale locally and I was able to borrow it for a couple of days to try before spending the money.

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