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Affordable double bass reviews


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I would like to give the double bass a go but finding information on what's good and what's not is difficult. So what's the opinion out there. I don't have a great deal of money to spend so I'm looking at the student / beginner level stuff. So far I have found, forenza, sotendo, stentor, thomman (I heard it's not cheap buying from Europe Any more due to the split). Does anyone have any experience with these brands, am I missing a decent brand. Basically are any cheap double basses worth buying.

There isn't much info on this stuff out there, could only find a few vids on YouTube

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If you have the patience, good sturdy old student basses still come up on ebay/gumtree surprisingly often. Every month or so. 1950s-60s-70s European. Czech, German, Hungarian. My personal taste I know, but an older bass is always nicer to play ... worn in, mellowed out, hard edges softened (acoustically as well as physically) ... proven longevity plus a bit of gig Mojo.

If you're lucky you'll get a brand name - Boosey and Hawkes imported good basses from Czech Republic and Hungary. More often than not you won't see a label ... but the basses are often recognisable to those who are familar with them.

You can get one for between £400-£1k.

Otherwise Strunal (in Luby, Czech Rep) make great new basses. They used to supply Boosey & Hawkes back in communist era. But yeah, Brexit. That was a good idea.

Post ebay links here, people will chime in. PM me if you want a quick opinion. 

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Some nice affordable starter basses come up in the BC ‘For Sales’ from time to time. Most, not all though, will have had some initial set up done to them which makes them more playable and takes the bugs out. Plus they may have better strings than the basic shop-supplied ones.

Trouble is, during the lockdown your opportunities for visiting sellers will be curtailed. Will there be an explosion of items offered for sale once the lockdown is lifted I wonder?

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I think I will keep an eye out for a second hand older one. I've had to watch a few go on eBay as they were just too far away. I prefer the older worn look, much nicer than a new shiny one, I don't care about a few dings and scrapes. Thanks for the advice. I set up guitars as a bit of a sideline/ hobby so I should be able to do a decent setup.

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Thwaites in Watford and The Double Bass room in Kent both have stocks of old eastern European basses around the £1000 mark.

If you're buying new, then Stentor, Strunal and the Thomann '2' (actually rebadged Strunals) basses are all perfectly decent basses for the money.

I use a Stentor Student 2 in our rehearsal studio and I've played one of the Strunal/Thomann basses - I'd happily have either if I didn't already have enough basses.

I'd avoid the £500 laminate basses you see on Gear4music, etc. Our singer's missus has one and it's not great. It can be made playable, but the sound is pretty insipid.

 

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Definitely keep your eye on the marketplace here. At the moment, travelling is pretty much a no no. Don't know where you're based, but when I was looking.... none seemed to come up for sale in my area (South Wales). As bassace says, buying second-hand on here, the bass will usually have had some sort of set-up. I've played a couple of new ones, when browsing in shops (pre Covid, obviously) and it was noticeable that those basses really needed a set-up. If you're new to DB, then a badly set up bass may well be off-putting.

My first upright was a Stagg EUB, which I bought on a whim, whilst at Cambridge Folk Festival. It was in the music shop in the marquee, it was brand new, and less than half price... so I just bought it there & then. They had only taken it to the festival so that it could be used on stage there, and didn't want to take it back - so I got myself a bargain. My first "proper" acoustic upright was an 80's Boosey & Hawkes, and it was lovely, well set-up, and nice to play - so I'd give and old-ish B&H a thumbs up, as a good place to start.

Also, if you decide either that upright is not for you, or you want to upgrade - you should be able to recoup your money if you opt for second-hand - just be sure to play it before buying. If you buy from someone here on BC, you're taking less of a risk than buying from eBay IMO. Alternatively, you could look at buying second-hand from a reputable instrument shop (when we can visit them again) Hobgoblin in Bristol occasionally get DB's in (they have other shops in the UK).

Moreover, good luck with your search - be patient.... and enjoy your foray into the world of upright bass :)

Edited by Marc S
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