Bass buying info
Basses come in all sizes from 1/10 to full size. The majority of adult players play a bass no bigger than ¾ size. It is important to have an instrument that is matched to your body size, so you can develop a good technique and playing style that will prevent long-term injury.
The shape of the instrument
There is no standard shape for double basses. They come in all shapes and styles but two of the most common are French style basses, which generally have sloping shoulders and German style with large shoulders. Bass players can be required to play all over the fingerboard from very low notes to very high. It is useful to have a bass that has easy access to all positions on the fingerboard. Generally a bass with sloping shoulders and a narrow heel (distance between the back and the front where the neck joins the body) makes access to the entire fingerboard easier.
Is the length of the strings from the bridge to the nut. An ideal length for most adults is 104-106cm. The longer the string length then the further the notes are apart so the fingers have to stretch further to play in tune.
Most basses will come with ebony fingerboard. Ebony is a very dense wood and is ideal for the wear and tear of string playing. However ebony is becoming scarcer in the world's forests and some of the wood being used especially on cheaper instruments is not a satisfactory thickness, quality or shape. Bass fingerboards need to be planed to very specific measurements to enable players to play comfortably over the whole fingerboard. This is not done in the factory but is done in the shop at point of sale. If the fingerboard is too thin or of an inferior quality then it will not be stable enough for trouble free performance.
Traditional instrument building wood such as spruce, maple and ebony, large enough for a double bass, are expensive and are becoming increasingly scarce.
Therefore plywood (laminated) basses or ply basses with a cedar or a low-grade spruce top are a cheaper alternative.
Advantages of a ply bass are they are typically stronger than solid wood bass and take rougher treatment than solid wood instruments. I have seen an eleven-year-old trip, and land on top of a ply bass with bridge hitting the ground with some force. Both the bass and the child were undamaged. On the other hand I currently have two solid basses in my workshop that have undergone a similar accident and now need new tops.
A ply bass that has an ebony fingerboard and quality fittings can be set up for easy playing and in some situations can be preferable. Typically, school and hire basses are ply because they are stronger and withstand rougher treatment. They are also, in most cases, more rigid and can be amplified louder without feedback problems in bands.
A solid wood bass will in most cases, if it has been set up properly, sound better than a plywood instrument. The sound quality of solid wood stringed instruments also improves the more the instrument is played. For the serious student a solid wood bass is essential.
Bass outfits are often bundled with a cheap bag and bow. It is often good advice to spend a little more on the bass alone and add a quality bag and bow.
The bag protects the bass so adequate padding is essential. It also needs grab handles and a solid shoulder strap to make carrying the bass safe for the instrument and the player. The bow is what makes the sound and a good quality balanced bow is essential to progress on the instrument.
There are cheaper basses Less than $1500, that are not advertised on our website. Bass Works repairs and sets up many instruments and some brands of cheaper instruments are poorly made and not ideal for students to learn on.