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Shoppe Workshop Double Bass circa 2004 - SOLD - #2677

Front image of a Shoppe Workshop Double Bass circa 2004
Back image of a Shoppe Workshop Double Bass circa 2004
Side image of a Shoppe Workshop Double Bass circa 2004
Scroll image of a Shoppe Workshop Double Bass circa 2004
Click to zoom to a double bass by Mario Bandini, Ravenna anno 1980

Does this sound familiar?

I'm looking for a huge sounding instrument, an instrument that's dead easy to play, an instrument that responds to everything that I ask it to do, be it in the orchestra or in that jazz café. Oh yes I am - but I really don't want to pay 15 or 20 grand to get it. Oh dear. This seems to be a familiar story that we hear all too often at The Contrabass Shoppe, but one which we are constantly trying to rectify.

So what about this for a contender?

At the amazing price of UK£10,000 this good-looking, completely handmade instrument is certain to fulfil all those high expectations.

I really don't believe you. You seem to say that about all your basses.

Yes - you are absolutely right we are proud of all our instruments. Tell you what - rather than me spouting on about things why don't you have a little listen to jazz supremo Geoff Gascoyne playing "Sentimental" on this very bass.

Wow thanks Geoff - that was fabulous. So where does all that beautiful sound come from?

Well its partly Geoff's fine playing and partly what The Contrabass Shoppe has done to the instrument. I can tell you that for both player and instrument to reach such a high standard it does take a lot of hard work and dedication.

I can see and hear the hard work Geoff's put in - but tell me more about what you've done to the bass and just why do you call it a "Workshop" bass?

We call this instrument a 'Workshop' bass because the roughed-out body of an instrument - in this case - emanating from Hungary - undergoes a substantial programme of improvements in the workshop of one of our capable outworkers. In brief the structural alterations and developments to this instrument include removal of the table (front), regraduation of the table, removal and replacement of the bass bar, replacement of the neck followed by varnish work and a full set-up. The complete upgrade programme can take three weeks to complete. Once done - the instrument is impossible to fault visually, structurally and of course sound wise.

Why do you feel that you need to do all this work?

In our opinion this type of European instrument - in its initial "roughed-out" form - is not of merchantable quality.

Why not?

Well it's all to do with economics. The free trade that the EU afforded such countries as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic since they joined it in 2004 and to Bulgaria and Romania since they joined in 2007 - resulted in a steady stream of Luthiers - many of whom had no formal training - offering their work to UK instrument shops and outlets. Quickly the market became saturated and along with reduced demand - prices began to tumble with the result that instead of improvements in quality - corners and short cuts were taken in an attempt to maintain profit margins.

Now after 6 plus years plus of trade with these countries are things beginning to improve?

Yes - the instrument makers are finally beginning to respond to a much reduced and selective market. The great tradition of high quality making in Hungary is seemingly on the cusp of a renaissance.

Hmm all very interesting. How come after all this work - these handmade instruments cost so much less than a well recognised maker from Holland or Germany?

The price advantage really is due to the very low wages in these former Eastern-block countries and the fact that much of the fine wood used has been sourced in relatively nearby areas. With prices in the region of 25,000 EUR for an instrument by a well recognised Western-European maker this instrument and the others that we produce like it can only be described as a market-leading product.

How long do you expect to maintain this price advantage?

With wages, materials, delivery costs and inflation all on the increase in the countries mentioned previously - the price of the Shoppe Workshop instruments is likely to rise in the short term. Indeed the very first Workshop instrument we sold were in 2002 and were priced at UK5,600. What a good investment they turned out to be!

Yes - the wood - you said that it was locally sourced. Where would that be?

The set of moderately figured maple for the back, ribs and scroll is from Bosnian. The medium - wide grained spruce for the table emanates from the Balkan Peninsular that was formerly called Yugoslavia.

How much would it cost to buy this quality of wood here in the UK?

If you could find a supplier who has it in stock - it could easily set you back UK2,000 if not more - and that's even before you start preparing the wood for making. Add to this the cost of quality fittings such as a fingerboard, bridge, endpin unit tuners and strings and once again it just makes you realise how much value for money you are getting with this instrument.

How come it was made in 2004?

Our supplier has assured us that the wood used to make this instrument has been naturally seasoned for at least five years. Just to be absolutely sure that there will be no further movement or shrinkage of the wood - The Contrabass Shoppe likes to store them for two or three years more - before commencing any work on them. This one seems to have been in storage for more years than average! It's usually a question of time and priorities that dictates when an instrument can be made ready.

What else makes this a winning instrument?

Well - we've managed to create an instrument with a string length of only 105.0cm so that even for the smallest of hands this instrument will be an absolute breeze to play.

What about sound?

You've heard Geoff play it. It's just such a positive, full-rounded sound with lots and lots of colours on all strings and in all registers.

Who will want to buy this instrument?

I'm reckoning that orchestral players, soloists and jazzers alike will be completely taken by the quality looks and sound that this instrument offers. With nicely sloped top shoulders and an advantageous string length - the instrument certainly does feel very comfy in the hand indeed.

Final Summary:

Priced at only UK10,000 this really is exceptional value.

Final Words:

This is a real wow of an instrument. What else can I say except that it did put a big smile on Geoff Gascoyne's face.

Stats:

LOB (length of back) - 115.2cm (45.30in)
Width across upper bouts - 51.7cm (20.27in)
Width across middle bouts - 37.2cm (14.65in)
Width across lower bouts - 67.4cm (26.27in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 23.1cm (9.15in)
Body Stop - 59.4cm (23.35in)
String length - 105.0cm (41.32in)

Price: SOLD

For a very big view of the instrument, click on each of the photographs

Front View

Back View

Front View Back View

Quarter View

Scroll view
Quarter View

Scroll View

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