Go to an experienced shop you can trust.
In addition, to getting a quality durable instrument, a set-up by an experienced luthier is indispensable. If the student can’t produce a good tone with ease, they will be quickly discouraged. An extremely poor set-up can even quite possibly even cause injury!
Don’t sabotage your success for the sake of a few hundred dollar.
The draw of internet buying has never been higher. The large and fancy web sites and/or auction houses promise top notch basses that have been professionally set up. Unfortunately this is almost never the case…
Most times, you’ll actually save money by going to an experienced luthier/shop. At Cincinnati Bass Cellar, we fix what we sell and believe me, we don’t have any interest in doing warranty work on crappy substandard basses. We carefully weed out the good basses from the bad and will only sell you the highest quality instrument in any price range.
New instruments do not arrive set up ready to play.
The difference between our professional set-up versus an Internet seller is insanely far apart. Numerous times a month we have customers come in the shop with a new bass they got this “great deal” on the internet.
But, why do they come back to us? The instrument from the Internet seller is usually unplayable; sometimes already having structural problems. They’ve realized fast that the bass has cheap strings, poor quality and misfit bridge-endpin-soundpost that need to be replaced. In addition to this the instrument needs a full fingerboard dressing so that every note doesn’t buzz. Over $600 later, they realize that they could have purchased a much higher quality instrument for a good bit cheaper than their internet nightmare.
Bass Buying Tips for the Experienced Player and Professional
Play as many instruments you possibly can.
Experienced players shopping for a new instrument need to have a concept of what type of tone and playability they prefer. Consider the question, who would you love to sound like? What size and shape of instrument can you realistically play? What characteristics most help your style of playing?
Borrow your friends, teachers and other college’s basses. Annoy everyone! Evaluate what you like and dislike about each of them. Discuss your findings and opinions with your friends and/or teacher; quite possibly they might have some input you haven’t thought about. Then make a list of traits that you don’t want to forget to look for when shopping. Lastly, get in the car and go looking. Having one bass sent to you at home versus going to look at dozens in a shop rarely finds you the perfect match. This is not the time to be lazy!
Take your time with each instrument, as you try out basses.
Play long tones, slow scales/arpeggios, loud and soft notes, some long/short spicatto. The biggest mistake we see people make is when they immediately jump into the hardest part of a Bottesini concerto. Remember this is not the time to impress people with your playing acrobatics; you are there to access and purchase a musical instrument.
Don’t expect to play each instrument flawlessly.
Basses have never been standardized and most likely never will be. There are dozens of sizes and shapes so the likelihood of being comfortable right away is unrealistic. Many people look for a bass that plays exactly like the one they had. Open your eyes and ears to new changes, often these are exactly what your playing style always needed. Every instrument likes to be played a certain way; give each instrument a chance to show you what it can do. There is no point in buying and instrument like you just sold…
Some of the best bargains are the newest instruments.
The stigma that used to be associated with new basses has really been put to rest in recent years. There has been an explosion of highly skilled bass makers all over the country and the world. With the overall improvement of player’s skills, many new demands have been made. Luthiers have really stepped up to the plate with incredibly high quality instruments. The geometry of older instruments has quite often been changed to keep up with modern standards. Generally older instruments tend to demand slightly higher prices than new. Lately some of the best bargains are the newest instruments now that you don’t have to sacrifice quality.