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7 Things you should know about buying a double bass

Buying a double bass – it’s huge!  The instrument, of course, but also the money involved.  It couldn’t be easier nowadays, though.  Just go online, find a good-looking one at the right price, have it shipped, and – voila!  (No, that’s not ”viola” misspelled.)  Hold on a minute. The double bass is a complex instrument.  Time should be taken to find the right one.  Take a deep breath and consider the following important things about buying a double bass.

  1. What kind of music will be played on it?  The different methods of construction for a double bass affect the sound.  A double bass may have the top, sides, and back all carved, all plywood (or laminate), or a carved top only and the rest plywood (hybrid).  A classical musician needs a double bass with at least a carved top.
  2. How is it set up?  The quality of the set-up is as important as the quality of the instrument.  A poorly set up double bass will not sound good no matter how finely the instrument itself is constructed.
  3. How does it sound?  Does it have the big sound needed to be noticed in an orchestra?  Or that special sound for a jazz combo?  The musician needs to play it in order to find out.
  4. What shape is it in?  If it’s not a new instrument, it has probably been repaired.  Because of their size and the tension they are under, double basses need repairs more often than other instruments in their family.  A poorly done repair can turn a sweet sports car into a lemon or a fine double bass into a dud.
  5. Where has the instrument been, and where will it be going?  If the instrument is coming from a very different climate, there could be problems.  Humidity especially affects the double bass because of its size.  Excessive dryness can cause warping and cracking.
  6. How much will this double bass be traveling?  A lot of travel and handling will require an instrument that can withstand the occasional knock.
  7. All this can be done on the internet?!? Obviously not.


When buying a double bass, It is wonderful and wise to do research on the internet about the instrument and the different brands available for sale.  But to find the right one for you we reommend finding a local shop where a trained luthier knowledgeable about the double bass can help and advise you.  Buying a double bass will take some patience and a time investment, but it can be a great success when you enlist the help of a professional you can trust.


photo credit: albertob via photopin cc

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