Where to buy a bass?

After many years of just thinkin’ about it, I’ve decided I want to buy a bass.

I’ve played guitar for several years (but don’t play anymore), but figured I’m more cut out for the bass.

I live in the Northeast (Connecitcut), so I figure between Craig’s list, e-bay, and the various music stores in the tri-state area, I should be able to find a decent used one.

What to look for? Brand names, stores, etc. would be helpful recommendations from anyone on this list.

I am planning on going out to the Rockygrass Academy next year for lessons, and with the long, cold winters here, now is as good a time as any to start figuring out how to play the thing.



I too am looking for bass info. What to do with the 7 yop old the family who is expressing an interest in bass. Acoutic bass guitar? Or is there a Jr size stand up bass option? Who big does one need to be to play a full sized bass?
Any insight appreciated.


After a ton of research I went with Jerry Fretwell. I chose Jerry because of his steller reputation plus he also includes a free set of strings ($120 value) and more importantly a free setup. Out of the box basses are not really ready to be played and a good setup can run over $300.

As a general rule you want to stay away from cheap Chinese Basses. (ie, what you find cheap on ebay) Ive read some really bad horror stories about implosions under string tension and such.

3/4 is considered “Standard” and stands roughly 6’4" with the foot all the way up. Very few people use “full size” basses. They are over 7’ tall!

As for brands it really depends on budget. Most folks in bluegrass are really in love with the vintage Kays but they can be very pricy for what you get. Vintage American Standards are very desirable as well.

Engelhardt bought Kay and makes nearly exact copies new today. You will find mixed reviews but generally they are considered very decent entry level instruments that can last a lifetime. American made too!. I chose an Engelhardt M1B and am quite pleased with it. They also make a 1/4 sized bass for the kids.

Samuel shen also makes very nice and affordable entry level instruments. They are chinese but do not fall into the “cheap chinese bass” catagory.

If your budget is better than mine was. Upton and New standard make some very nice, well respected, instruments.

Here are a few resources I found helpful

www.talkbass.com <can be pretty heated with alot of what Id consider “bass snobs”. Folks that think if your not playing a 10 grand+ all carved vintage you are wasting your time. There is a ton of good info there though. just be warned :wink: :slight_smile:

Hope it helps!!

Thanks a bunch I will google 1/3 sized bass for kids!

check out MusiciansFriend.com. They can beat most retail store prices.



BUT you will need to replace the cheap strings,…plane the fingerboard , shape the bridge to match the fingerboard, file the nut and bridge to properly fit the strings, sand the bridge feet to match the top, and set the action and soundpost. All told, conservatively $300-500 of work just to make it what many consider playable.

Or you can buy from a respected member of the bluegrass bass community like Jerry Frettwell or BoB Gollihur for a couple hundred more than you would pay at corporate vendor and have all that work done by skilled folks with tons of experience and have the bass shipped to your door in perfect thumping condition.

Good Bass luthiers are not always easy to find.

I personally am very happy with my choice not to buy from musician’s friend even though there list price is considerably lower.

Just relating my experience and the reasoning behind it. To each there own :flower :slight_smile:

Cheers all! :cheers

I know this is an old thread, but I can’t help notice the amount of views and want to throw my 2 cents in.
I agree with everything Cletusaz said in his posts about buying a bass, but
when I first thought of playing upright 6 years ago there was NO WAY I could afford “an affordable
entry level bass”. $500 seemed to much to pay for an instrument that I knew nothing about, let alone
purchasing an Engelhardt or Kay. Especially when I had no Idea whether I would like playing it.

It’s a lot of money to lay out for, let’s face it, for an experiment.

So I spent a year searching for something I could afford. I finally found a cheap bass at a pawn shop for $500.
and played it for 2 years. I later came across a Cremona bass at HB woodsongs in Boulder on consignment.
for $575 and liked it much better than the one I had been playing. So I bought that and sold my old one on
craigslist. I’ve been playing the Cremona for several years now and like it so much, I spent $300 on strings,
had a new bridge made, and had it set up. ( I spent more on strings and setting it up etc. than the original cost)

There is no getting around you get what you pay for, but there is nothing like the joy of making music. It served me well to buy the cheapest bass I could which was all I could afford. It got me started playing bluegrass. I would not trade that for the world.

If looking for a bass, ask a bass player near you to help you look, and get advise. They might even come look and play an instrument you’ve found and give you advise on it. But always remember to reflect on “how if feels when YOU play it”. Your perfect instrument may be very different from others.

nice to have a forum I can rant in. I just wanted those on a budget to know that you do not have to spend a lot
of money to have fun playing bass.

Upton bass near Mystic CT has great basses they build at good prices. Free shipping as well!

I’ve got a 2000 Engelhardt S9 Swingmaster (blond) I’m going to have to put up for adoption. Great bass, I just can’t play 'em all!
We’ll be in Werner Field and at the band competition. (Stray Grass)

Useful information.
Thank you!