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Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:09 pm
by JakeyVimto
Hey boys, I kinda shelved my plans to an upright bass due to the exorbitant cost, but I've found one in glasgow for £300.

Ive seen pictures and it looks in good nick, but is there any warning signs I should look out for when I go look at this thing?

£300 is cheap for a doghouse but expensive for an ornament, I dont want to mess this up. Aside from checking that the fingerboard is straight and not damaged, I'm not sure what to look for.

Your help, as always, would be deeply appreciated.

j

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:46 am
by MakaInOz
For that sort of price you're probably only looking at a 'student' bass (unless the gods are smiling on you and its not all ply - in which case grab it quick).

I spent a year hunting through used basses (sp?) when the eldest wanted to start. Its not unlike looking for a used guitar - the basic principles are the same: is it straight, is it damaged, does everything work, has it been repaired? Not just the fingerboard - every part.

Have a feel of the action - some require serious muscles! Check the accessories, starting with the strings. Strings can cost as much as you want - hundreds of pounds EACH is possible. Even cheap ones are going to be tens of pounds each, so see if there is any obvious damage/wear on the strings. Does it have a pickup? See if you can plug it into an amp to check it works. Does it come with a bow? And a quiver?

Best advice is to 'borrow' a double bass player to have a look at it for you. Even if it is a good bass, a well briefed expert can always find some ammunition to drive the price down!

Good hunting.

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:07 am
by maxx england
You can't fool me, you're going to put an engine on it and fly down to Swanage, aren't you? And don't forget to cultivate that vague and confused look the bass player in Ernie's Rhythm Section has. Wish you luck with it anyway.

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:55 pm
by ricochet
MakaInOz wrote:Strings can cost as much as you want - hundreds of pounds EACH is possible. Even cheap ones are going to be tens of pounds each...

Unless you go the weed whacker route, of course.

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:21 am
by oleman
I bought a cheap Chinese Bass for under 500usd shipped to my doorstep. It played and sounded good for about a year, then developed some serious structural problems at the foot. I have some Lutherie skills and I was able to stop the deterioration with some plywood and liberal applications of gorilla glue. It hasn't developed any other problems since then and plays and sounds as good as basses costing much, much more. Check and see where the bass was made; if its Chinese, proceed with caution. If it is an older Chinese bass and hasn't developed any problems; it might be OK.
There are also some basses made in Bulgaria that are inexpensive and are GREAT. I also own one of those and it is my gigging bass.

As with any stringed instrument, look for cracked seams, separations, particularly in points of stress, ex. nuts, necks, and where the bridge sits and tail piece and end pin. Pay close attention where the neck joines the body!! Also look for previous repairs. European basses are usually worth repairing IMO.

As Rico mentioned, weed whacker strings are around 25usd and are great. Sound like $400 guts and are so much easier on the fingers than steels.

If it was me, I'd buy the bass and fix it if it had just minor problems. Good Luck!

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:42 pm
by JakeyVimto
Thems some good answers!

Esp thanks for the details there Oleman, if its similar to looking over a guitar, I'm starting to feel more confident about the whole thing.

My big thing was not buying a real cheap bass that would eat itself due to flimsy construction, but its good to know that it is possible to fix up.

Cheers,

j

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:52 am
by grumpygroo
Why is it called a "doghouse"? I know nothing of basses, other than, I got severely moaned at once by a bass player for tuning my guitar bass string down to D.

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:04 am
by JakeyVimto
Mm, its big and made of wood, about the size of a kennel. I'm guessing, I dont know for sure.

It just feels cooler to say (or type) than double bass. And if all the sunglasses and trilby nonsense that comes with the blues is for anything, its for making me feel cooler while sitting at my desk in the morning trying to organise a medical inspection on an injured client. :-D

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:38 am
by grumpygroo
Hmm, probably, I just thought that maybe if you kept a dog in it, when you amplify it you don't need a woofer! :mrgreen:

Oh dear...sorry, getting a bit demob happy, off for a long weekend in the arctic regions north of Watford

Re: Things to look out for when buying a cheap dawghouse

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:17 pm
by ricochet
I expect a lot of bass players have been into the doghouse.