String Bass Sales & Repair

Neck of a Double Bass, String Bass Sales and Repair          Steve Swan String Bass

   Welcome to our string bass sales and service headquarters for all things doublebass in the greater San Francisco bay area. Our two retail showroom usually have over 90 basses available, with 75 on display. Our basses range in price and function from new and used student level through old professional grade orchestral instruments.  We also have on hand a good selection of bass bows, string bass covers, K & M bass stands, a broad selection of strings, pickups, wheels, quivers, and rosin. Upgrade components such as tuning machines, bridges, endpins, and tailpieces, as well as repair parts such as ebony fingerboards, nuts, tailpiece saddles, sound posts, bass bars, and neck blanks are all kept in stock and are available for repair procedures with our allied group of professional bass luthiers, including Allan Droyan, Jeff Sahs, Michael Olivola, Hannah Mayne, Ben Williams,  and Josh Tharp. Other northern California luthiers that we have used in the past have included Alex Friedman of South San Francisco and Matt Bohn of Felton.

  Although the shop is usually open Monday-Saturday from 9 until 5 pm, it is always best to make an appointment in advance, so please call (650) 515-1014 or email The shop is conveniently located near BART and CalTrain, just off of 101 Between Broadway and Millbrae Avenue in Burlingame, and only 2 miles south of the San Francisco International Airport.


Steve Swan String Bass

1519 Bayshore Highway (at Mahler)

Burlingame, CA  94010


  In-House Luthier starting work September 24

Beginning Saturday, September 24, Ben Williams will be working in the shop to perform regular maintenance duties and routine procedures. As the tool area in the warehouse is more completely outfitted, larger repair jobs will be worked into his schedule. We believe that you will find Ben very easy to work with, bringing a steady personality, a broad background of repair and tooling experience, and a gentle good humor that brings a nice sunny energy to the shop.


 Walker Creek Music Camp      October 6-9 2016

 Once again I will be helping out at the Walker Creek Music Camp in West Marin during the long weekend of October 6-9. This camp reminds me of the collaborative fun experienced at the Strawberry Music Festivals. Classes are available for vocals and most folk string instruments. I supply a few extra basses for students and staff, usually teach an elective bass class, help run some jam sessions,  and am nearly always the teaching assistant for the string bass class.

 For this fall camp, the instructor is MVP touring bassist and soundman, Paul Knight. Paul anchors a good many bands, including Peter Rowan’s various incarnations, and is in high demand for his flexible and knowledgable approach to many folk, bluegrass, swing, and old-time string band settings.  A patient, but energetic instructor, Paul is especially effective in helping new players gain quick confidence in learning to play these intimidating musical hippos. He will have some scheduled office hours for specific topics and can usually be tracked down at various spots on the grounds during the four days of camp when he is not busy running sound systems for dances. For more information about the bass class (which still has a few openings), or other classes, see the website:



Student bass annex next door

After 3 years of waiting for the next door neighbor at 1521 Bayshore Highway to make a change, we are finally moving into the front part of that unit to display 24 student basses. It has increased the total retail floor space by 50% and provided for more audition space for the basses and a teaching studio space. The other mid-grade and higher end basses in the main retail room have more comfortable elbow room now. It is a most welcome addition to the retail bass experience!


 Monterey Jazz Festival Rental Basses

 Every year the shop provides a number of professional performance level basses for the Monterey Jazz Festival. This year for the September 16-18 run, we will provide 5 basses to the festival. I will be in attendance all day and through the evening on Sunday, September 18, if you would like to say hello or chat about basses for a few minutes. Just send a text or an email and we will figure out which stage area would be best for a meet up.


Sunday, September 18, brought fine weather and some great music to the festival. A good friend and I took in a magnificent set by singing great Gregory Porter. His bassist played the used the New Standard hybrid on the Arena Stage during the entire set. Other fine performances that we took in were by the Montclair Women’s Big Band, The Wayne Shorter Quartet, a bit of Bill Frisell’s group, Pat Metheny Quartet, Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith, and the Joshua Redman Quartet.

 It is a pleasure to serve the jazz community by providing these professional quality basses to traveling musicians who don’t need the added hassle of transporting their own instruments to festivals.


 Looking for a specific kind of bass? Get on the want list.

 If you are looking to find a specific kind of instrument that will best suit your playing, let us know and we will keep you in mind when one turns up. With regular travels that take us north to Oregon and Washington state, south down as far as San Diego, and east to Nevada or Arizona, we have developed a network of west coast players, luthiers, and estate resources that lead to some interesting and wonderful finds. We also have access to new custom basses or examples with unusual features that may be just the right combination for you. An email or a phone call can get the wheels turning to find just what you are looking for at a price that makes sense for your situation.


   European or American made basses currently in stock

Some string bass customers have resistance to basses made in China. Though we carry four brands of highest quality Chinese-made basses, there are currently 40 string basses in stock that come from Europe and the United States. The price and functions range from a recent used Engelhardt EM-1 priced at $1150, to a professional concert quality Italian bass dating from about 1830 priced at $40,000. In addition to many older or more recent contemporary used instruments, we usually have in stock new instruments from Wilfer, Hofner, Paesold, and customized New Standard basses.


   Shen Hybrid and Laminated Basses in stock

 During the “Back to School” season we attempt to keep a larger stocking inventory of Samuel Shen Laminated and Hybrid models in inventory through the end of October. Here is a thumbnail count of each new model currently in inventory. For more detailed model specification descriptions and sample photos, please see the Samuel Shen page. Used examples with their own specific pricing are usually noted separately on the Samuel Shen page.

New Laminated models

Lacquer finishes –  SB 80:  2 ,    SB 90:  1              Oil Varnish finishes –    SB 88:  6,    SB 100: 3

New Hybrid models

All have oil varnish finishes-     SB 150:  3,      SB 180: 3,     SB 190 5/8:  4,      SB 190 Rogeri:  3


  Heinz Staninec memorial page  ( 7-26-2003 to 9-9-2016)

  I have a memorial page for my dearest dog buddy, “Heinz”, in the “Featured Basses” section. Shop visitors got to see him once per week here in the shop for the last several years. 2016 brought many more challenges for him as his all day visits became more frequent. The steep stairs at his mother’s home became too much in June and I assumed full time day and night care for him the last 9-10 weeks of his life, “The summer of Heinz”. As time permits, new photos from the last few years will go up.



  Long Standing Major Lines of Doublebasses That We Have Introduced to the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999.

In our 17 years of retailing string basses in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have been very pleased to have introduced a few major lines of instruments that have solidly found their way into the large student and performance bass communities based here.


 The Hofner and Paesold lines have been made by the same Hofner Company in Germany for many decades. We have been stocking and selling these lightly built and responsive instruments since early 2001. The building style reminds us of high quality german instruments built in the 1900-1920 time period, but with contemporary string lengths, D necks, and medium shaped neck profiles. Though we sell a good many 3/4 size examples from this maker, the 7/8 size instruments have found a special niche in the performing jazz community here. Our shop remains the only Hofner or Paesold dealer in Northern California. 


The customized New Standard basses that we have been selling for 5 years or so have found a home in the performing traditional jazz and americana scenes here. I usually include at least one New Standard bass in the rental lineup of the five instruments that we rent to the Monterey Jazz Festival every year. We also occasionally acquire used standard versions of the models that New Standard offers and may start stocking a few to serve the more budget minded customers in our base. Our shop is the only dealer for New Standard on the west coast.


And last, but not least, the wonderful Samuel Shen line of student level instruments has been the foundation of our student bass lineup for over 10 years now. We regularly stock multiple examples of 10 different models in the line. Samuel Shen basses are widely known as such an outstanding value and have proven themselves over time with consistently great sound, easy playability, and great reliability to the extent that we do not even bother with carrying other lines for student level laminated or hybrid instruments. The shop remains the exclusive dealer for Samuel Shen string basses for Northern California.


   Shipping: Safe and Reliable   

 We are able to safely ship basses in the continental United States by Con-Way Freight. Basses are shipped upright in a shipping box or trunk and attached to a pallet.  We have a 100% safety and delivery record with Con-Way and will continue to use their service with the highest confidence.


 Guitar website

The website dedicated to our guitar business is     

We do cross-post the electric bass guitars to the guitar website for convenience. Please make use of our extensive “Want List”, as we are always tracking down specific guitar and electric bass instruments for our customers.



Most Recent New Arrivals 

>Recent used Engelhardt EM-1             Clean with  repaired hairline heel crack

>2005 Thomas Martin 7/8 carved back          Splendid orchestral instrument

>New large pattern Xuechang Sun 120 all solid         Set up for orchestral play

>Two new Shen SB 190 5/8 flatback hybrid          Large sound, easy play

>New Maple Leaf model 140 gamba 3/4       Gorgeous top, light and lively

>2007 Lemur Brian Bromberg model          Rich developed voice

>1920s Pfretschner “Andreas Morelli”      Wonderful performance bass

>Used Shen SB 200 3/4 Willow Flatback         Very clean, Complex arco voice

>New custom New Standard Cleveland ply       Blonde finish, steeper neck angle

>ca. 1951 German carved back 3/4      Prewar tone and response 

>2014 Thomann model 33 5 string         All solid woods, very low price

>SB 190 Rogeri       Shen’s largest hybrid model. A best seller.

>Two New Shen SB 200 Rogeri     Our finest Shen flatback model

>2010 custom Upton Professor 5 string          Nearly new condition




Basses in the shop for setup

-New Paesold 596 7/8      Deluxe model 7/8 violin corner German made

-New Shen SB 150 3/4 hybrid        Popular standard grade 3/4 hybrid model

-New Shen SB 100        Deluxe 3/4 plywood model

-Two new Shen SB 150 5/8 Hybrid    A more affordable student hybrid Shen 5/8 model

-New Xuechang Sun large pattern 120 model      Large voice, easy 41 1/4″ string length


Basses next in line for setup:   Shen SB  SB 190 Rogeri, Two New Shen SB 200 3/4, New Maple Leaf model 150, New Xuechang Sun 320 model.


 Basses in the workshop for major work

> 2004 Hofner 3/4 carved back                    Top and neck replacement by Olivola and Mayne

> New German large 3/4 carved back            Top and neck replacement by Olivola and Mayne

> 1940s Czech 3/4 flatback                                Top regraduation, new back and neck

 >New Standard Cleveland Hybrid    Custom varnishing  (higher neck angle already done)


 “Workshop” Custom String Basses

Examples of our customized “Workshop” basses currently on display and for sale here in the shop include two New Standard Cleveland (American Standard Shape) laminated models, a New Standard La Scala hybrid (King Moretone shape) with solid spruce top and solid maple sides, and two new examples of the custom german basses that are revoked to ca. 1890 specifications, given a better functional neck angle, and finished in a lovely oil varnish. We also have had instruments from Xuechang Sun given these kinds of customized treatments with very satisfying results. Basses “in the white”from various suppliers that we work with present a blank canvas for you to realize your dream bass. Please give us a call or email for ideas on how we an customize a bass like this for you. For more about our allied team of luthiers that get the work done to perfection on these instruments, please see the repair page.


 Lots of new, used, and consignment instruments

  Be sure to check out our newest arrivals and featured instruments, which are updated as they arrive. You can also view our complete current inventory