#1
So, I've wanted to start playing the upright bass for a couple of years now, and honestly my desire for the instrument has just increased over time. I just got offered an used upright for 1000 euros flat, and obviously I'm pretty excited, as that's not that expensive.

It's a 3/4 laminated bass that was apparently handmade in czech republic. The seller claims that a luthier evaluated the instrument as "high quality for a laminate bass". It comes with a bag, a stand and a bow, a pickup system and it was recently set up. I plan on playing jazzy fingerstyle on it. The brand/builder is Cremona

So, notice any red flags? 1000e is a huge investment for me, but I really want an upright bass. It's my dream instrument. All of this looks good to me, but I thought I'd ask for a second opinion.
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#2
That's kind of cheap for an upright, but the laminate instruments (especially the old Kay basses) in that range are the go-to for bluegrass. They tend to be nasally sounding and quieter than solid wood instruments, so that sound is suitable for some genres where that sound is desired (country and bluegrass for example) but not ithers.

Also you're probably aware of this, but in case you're by some chance unaware, 3/4 is considered the "standard" size for upright bass. Some sillies decide to buy a 4/4 because it's "full size" only to realize that nobody plays a 4/4. But that being said...

So don't always trust sellers, especially with vintage string instruments. The instrument might be "high quality" but that doesn't mean that the instrument is in good condition. It's hard to evaluate string instruments without seeing them in person. I'm guessing it's probably an older instrument. You have to check very carefully for structural issues in the bracing, bass bar, top, etc. Old instruments could potentially have nasty cracks everywhere. Though keep in mind any very old bass will almost definitely have small surface cracks. It just happens with age and has no negative impact on the instrument other than making it look old. So it's important to know what are normal, superficial cracks from age and what cracks are actually damage.

Really I would not buy it if I were you until you have someone you know with experience with uprights takes a look at the instrument to examine it structurally just because you can't trust sellers. Maybe he didn't take it to a luthier. Maybe he did and the luthier said that it was an excellent instrument... but with major structural issues that need to be addressed and the seller didn't mention the second part. Either way, having the peace of mind would do you some good.
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#3
Quote by theogonia777

  Also you're probably aware of this, but in case you're by some chance unaware, 3/4 is considered the "standard" size for upright bass.  Some sillies decide to buy a 4/4 because it's "full size" only to realize that nobody plays a 4/4. 

Yes, I'm aware.
Quote by theogonia777
 That's kind of cheap for an upright, but the laminate instruments (especially the old Kay basses) in that range are the go-to for bluegrass.  They tend to be nasally sounding and quieter than solid wood instruments, so that sound is suitable for some genres where that sound is desired (country and bluegrass for example) but not ithers.

Well, it being cheap is the point, but I hear you. Still, I can't afford a more expensive bass in quite a while, so now that I have a chance to get one so I can get some real practice and experience, I'm considering it. And since it's supposed to be a beginner instrument for me, I'm not too concerned with the tone, especially since I don't have a lot of options.

And just to make this clear: I've asked three different (=all in my area) instrument rentals for an upright with no luck. So renting is not an option at this moment.
Quote by theogonia777

So don't always trust sellers, especially with vintage string instruments.  The instrument might be "high quality" but that doesn't mean that the instrument is in good condition.  It's hard to evaluate string instruments without seeing them in person.  I'm guessing it's probably an older instrument.  You have to check very carefully for structural issues in the bracing, bass bar, top, etc.  Old instruments could potentially have nasty cracks everywhere.  Though keep in mind any very old bass will almost definitely have small surface cracks.  It just happens with age and has no negative impact on the instrument other than making it look old.  So it's important to know what are normal, superficial cracks from age and what cracks are actually damage.  
 

These are all valid points, and I'm definitely not going to buy it before examining it first. Not sure if any of my bassist friends have experience with uprights, but I'll ask around. I'd of course want to get an experienced upright player to tag along, but not sure if that's possible. So, I thought, maybe people here can name some obvious things to inspect. The bass is from 1999 by the way.
Quote by theogonia777Maybe he didn't take it to a luthier.  Maybe he did and the luthier said that it was an excellent instrument... but with major structural issues that need to be addressed and the seller didn't mention the second part.  Either way, having the peace of mind would do you some good.

He actually mentioned the luthier by name so I could just ask if he remembers this particular bass. Also, the ad is on a popular finnish music site (kind of like UG but finnish and more focused on band and gear ads) and you can leave comments on peoples profiles. He has a comment saying that he's a trustworthy seller, and he's been a member of the site for over ten years, which is actually much better than most people I've dealt with. Still, that doesn't make him automatically trustworthy. But there is nothing to suggest that he's not trustworthy, quite the contrary, but I'll be cautious anyway. I'm not trying to sound naive, but I have years of experience on this site and from what I can tell his profile is spotless.
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#4
Quote by Kevätuhri
Yes, I'm aware.


Just making sure.

Definitely talk to the luthier though and see what he says. If the seller has a good reputation that's always a plus.

As far as tone, many people prefer the inexpensive plywood basses for certain applications. I know I like them better. Part of it is also a traditional thing. A lot of guys playing country and bluegrass and stuff we're broke guys that got cheap stuff because that's what they could afford and so that became a characteristic sound of the style of music and so people still want those instruments for that sound since it's /the/ sound.

But for a beginner instrument to learn on, tone is not such a big concern as you said. But you might find you like the sound and it has enough volume for what you want and so you might not find the need to "upgrade" at a later point. Although I have pretty much no experience playing jazz bass so I don't really know what jazz bassists prefer. I just know that the Americana guys love the sound of plywood and classical guys usually don't.
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#5
theogonia777 

Yeah I've heard that a lot of jazz players prefer a plywood bass, but I can't speak from experience. So in terms of specs, the bass is more or less ideal.
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#6
As an upright owner, they can be fun to play (I am / was mainly a jazz player).  The Cremona's are OK starter basses but not highly valued as instruments overall.   In the States they sell new for under 1,000 USD. 

My advice? Don't buy unless you have a luthier go over it completely or someone who knows how to play an upright.  Uprights can be tricky beasts--the least little issue with the neck or bridge or stand pin can cause playing and tone issues.  As an inexperienced player, you won't notice these until you get into playing.  

My husband used to joke that my bass was the 100+ USD money pit.  I've had the bridge replaced, the ebony fretboard planed, the tail pin upgraded. And replacement strings make electric bass strings look extremely cheap.   Also, if you go down this route, get a teacher for a few lessons to teach you technique.  Upright, whether you're playing jazz, bluegrass, rockabilly requires a different technique than electric.  My first lesson with my teacher was an entire hour of unraveling my bad habits. 
#7
anarkee 

Thanks. To be fair, the seller did give me a full list of things that were just repaired, which included fretboard planing and a bridge repair among other things, if that is to be trusted. And lessons are on the list sure  

I've had a lengthy conversation with an acquaintance who plays the upright bass today, and also has a lot of experience selling and buying upright bass stuff from the site in question. We talked all kinds of things through, from the country of origin, to the specs, to the repairs, strings, all of that, and his conclusion was that it has a good price and that it looks like a great choice for a beginner bass, and as someone who has experience on these things he'd say it's trustworthy. Granted, he hasn't actually seen the bass himself (it's in the next city over), but this is as close to an expert opinion I have at the moment. 
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#8
I know I know, a double post - but just dropping an update. The bass got sold, so I missed the deal but I will survive, by investing in new bass effects  
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#9
Do you have a feasible means of moving it?  An upright bass in a case is pretty big, and they don't travel well when stuffed into a compact car.  You might need to get a new vehicle.

Since the upright is played "upright," the length of the end pin makes a big difference.  Get one that positions the bass at the right height for you.  Make sure there are no cracks in the bass, and that none of the laminates are coming apart.  Make sure there is no damage to the headstock/scroll.  What looks like a little crack could actually be a big deal.  And as Tam said, the price of the strings is enough to make you faint.  A set of the really good ones can cost almost US$300.00.  At least you don't have to worry about the frets wearing them out.
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#10
FatalGear41 Thank you for the info, sadly I don't have to worry about all that anymore, for now. Good point about the vehicle, of course, but I actually don't drive, so moving it around would be hell anyway
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