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Old 01-01-2020, 11:34 PM
Andrew Toering Andrew Toering is offline
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Default First DB - Juzek vs Shen vs shop bass?

Hello everyone, I'm having a great time reading this forum top to bottom (currently on page 7) while researching basses. (I was mistakenly waiting for a confirmation email to be able to post but I just tried to log in and here I am!)

I'm a professional cellist/electric bassist/multi-instrumentalist and I finally got hired to play a theatre pit orchestra gig in February doubling on DB/BG. I've wanted a DB for years (played in HS) and I always told myself I'd buy a DB when I got a gig. I think this will mostly be used for musical theatre pit orchestra work and occasional recording in my home studio - probably not in an orchestra section as I'm more likely to be called on cello, but who knows.

I think I'd like to spend $4-5k and willing to stretch to 7 or so if I really fall in love.

So far I've gone to my local violin shop (I'm in the Detroit area) and played the luthier's personal Shen 190 Rogeri Hybrid in addition to their stock, and preferred the Shen. They can order that model for me for $4k (if I remember correctly) but I'd be buying sight unseen. The luthier is confident in Shen's consistency, and he bought his sight unseen as well.

I just went to Guarneri House in Grand Rapids and brought home 2 Juzeks on trial. One of them is this exact instrument for sale again: They were my favorites from that shop in my price range, but now that I have them at home, I remember the Shen I tried being more consistent across the range, having more bottom end, and sounding more like the sound in my head.

I've been meaning to get to the Cincinnati Bass Cellar but it hasn't worked out yet schedule-wise. I'm going to call them tomorrow and see if I can get in this week yet. It looks like they have a good selection ( and I'm hoping I'll find one I like better than the Juzeks and the Shen.

Nick Lloyd's website only mentions his basses, but from my forum reading it looks like he deals Shen and maybe other instruments, so I'll give him a call as well. And Ken, your website doesn't look like it has any instruments for me, but I've seen your encourage others to give you a call anyway, so I hope you don't mind if I take you up on that offer

I initially called Mark Leue as his website has some interesting-looking instruments, but upon further research it looks like some of the old basses in my price range might be blockless and might need work later. Also I'd have to find 2 free days in a row to get to Massachusetts, and that's becoming more unlikely as school is starting (I'm a HS choir accompanist by day) and I'm gigging on weekends.

I looked at all the shops I could find in Chicago and it appears that none of them have much I'd be interested in. Please make me a suggestion if you think otherwise.

So, in short, these are my options as I see them now:

- One of the Juzeks, neither of which I'm too keen on at the moment
- Ordering the Shen Rogeri Hybrid
- Finding something I like more than the Rogeri Hybrid at the Bass Cellar
- This bass, which sounds great in the second clip but would be a 2-day trip and isn't sold by a luthier/dealer
- This Schnitzer & DeSola model but again is a long trip and a private seller
- Shen fully carved Rogeri
- Something from Nick Lloyd or Mark Leue or someone else?

I'd appreciate any general suggestions/advice. Obviously it comes down to whatever bass sounds and plays the best, but if there's anything or anywhere else you think I should look please let me know. I'll update when I go to Cincinnati. Thanks!!

Last edited by Andrew Toering; 01-01-2020 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 01-02-2020, 03:44 AM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Ok, first off, what sounds best to you and what plays best might not be the same. I am not sure of your experience in DBs to judge the quality of sound but I get that you are more of a beginner player/buyey on the DB, correct?

Juzek brand basses are fair in quality, built for a price. Many of them are in terrible condition and the cost to un-do old repairs and re-repair them is more then the value of the bass. Also, they are usually in my opinion way over priced. They can be good basses but to get them set-up well and with proper corrective repairs can be costly as I said and I don't know if you would be able to tell the grade of work done on the basses inside or out. Each shop has their own style of fixing and often it is at best, done only as good as they feel the value of the bass deserves. This is not acceptable for me. ll basses should be treated equally in the quality of work done but this is not often found.

So, you mentioned a Schnitzer/DeSola model bass. Well, Schnitzer is no longer involved with DeSola but the current 'OHara Fne Instruments' shop IS, which is the former shop of Schnitzer now taking over by his former assistant that did the same work before. Arnold himself didn't do much of the work from my knowledge on those basses.

So, if buying a bass, needing the best quality for the money and the best set-up possible (this is the guy who does MY set-up work on my personal basses) then Kerian O'hara is the guy you should visit. His website shows mainly basses on consignment but he does sell both Shen's and DeSola basses as well.

I was up there 2 weeks ago to drop off my French bass for a C-Extension, examine a re-made Extension on my Uebel and left the bass here 'for sale' after testing it and also to pick up my personal Italian bass I had left there for a minor tweak. While there, Wil DeSola walked in whom I have known for many years. I also tried a newly made/set-up DeSola bass with a travel/detachable neck and nearly bought the bass on the spot. Not that I needed it but is was THAT Good.. I loved it. So, Kerian is the guy I would see for a bass and what ever the price range is at his shop will be the best value you can find and the best set-up work you can get east of the Sun!

That's my advise.

Just a note here on buying shop basses with Juzek lables. First off, beweare of the ones being sold as or labeled as 'Master Art' models. I see them listed everywhere and not a single one IS a Master Art model bass. I know first hand about these basses and models. The MA is a violin model with high figure woods and single machines. The Varnish is an even colored Amber and not shaded or dark color. I have owned 2 of them, one pre-war and one post war. Two different generations of Wilfers, Anton from 1936 and Wenzle post war with no date.

Juzek basses as compared to a DeSola for set-up 'might' need the neck re-set and a new thicker fingerboard and also a new higher bridge at that point. That work alone is about $3k or so for that correction. So, the DeSola basses partially designed by Arnold Schnitzer originally have their necks set and installed in the shop at O'Hara's I believe and not in Germany at a factory so it is the same quality work as on a 50-100k instrument as far as the neck-set, angle and playability. The cost to correct a bass not set as good, is expensive. So, give Keiran a call.
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