About Steve Swan

My shop specializes in high quality new and used string basses in most price ranges. Since starting out my career as a guitar repairman in Sacramento in 1975, I have managed acoustic instrument stores, worked for an import musical instrument wholesaler, built Santa Cruz Guitar Company instruments, worked as a music dealer service agent, and have owned and operated my own retail store since 1990. I also play string bass and guitar semi-professionally. My guiding philosophy is to stock instruments that I would have at home to play, and to treat each customer with gentle respect. A return to doublebass playing in 1998 prompted a search for local San Francisco Bay Area shops that specialized in double basses. The retirement and geographic relocations of four major doublebass service providers in the mid-1990s through 2005 had left a vacuum of resources and qualified luthiers for San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California bass players. To at least begin to start filling in that gap, I acquired my first new bass for the small guitar shop space in January 1999 during a tour of the Winter NAMM show.

The shop attempts to first and foremost serve the needs of the large and diverse northern California doublebass community. The spacious retail facility here on Bayshore Highway provides easy and safe parking day or night, easy access to freeways, trains, and San Francisco International Airport, a comfortable and safe neighborhood on “Hotel Row” in Burlingame, and a large retail display space that can safely hold  about 120 string bass instruments and display 70 of them in all price ranges and functional needs. These basses are serviced to our specifications by our allied team of five doublebass luthiers. For more about these luthiers, please see our “Repair” page.

Check out this 2011 interview from bassplayer.com.

About our String Basses

I stock a wide variety of upright basses that will support the needs of players just starting to play all the way to professional level handmade and vintage instruments. All new basses are set up by one of my associated team of bass luthiers. All used basses owned by the shop get a thorough going over by my luthiers to address any setup or repair issues before they hit the showroom floor. I also stock a good selection of bows and bass covers. I have the largest stock of basses for sale on the west coast between the Canadian border and Los Angeles. Please stop by for an audition in my large and comfortable retail room. Always make an advance appointment, though, as I run many errands, making pickups and deliveries.

  • New Chinese Basses: I have weeded through the many brands coming from China and have settled on only four lines that meet my strict requirements, Shen, Xuechang Sun, Maple Leaf, and Neolson. Two of these brands, Shen and Sun, have their own web page. These instruments serve the needs of beginning students through conservatory or semi-professional players.
  • Vintage American Plywood Basses: I usually have some examples of the much loved American plywood basses from Kay, Epiphone, American Standard, and King Moretone. These popular instruments have served musicians well as performance and festival instruments.
  • New German Sourced Basses: Mostly coming from smaller shops without brand names, these basses are often customized in our “Workshop Series” of instruments that may include custom finishes, regraduated tops, and neck resets for better overstand heights and/or neck angle. These basses are fine choices for the professional or semi-professional player.
  • New German Basses: These fine instruments from the Hofner factory in Hagenau are distributed under the brand names of Hofner and Paesold. These are the instruments that I often play myself. The 7/8 size doublebasses have been especially popular in both the jazz and orchestral communities. We also occasionally feature new and used Wilfer basses. Additionally, several models and variations of features in the New Standard basses are ordered in the white without the necks attached for a more effective custom presentation. These instruments are enjoying use in conservatories, professional jazz bands, and many orchestral settings.
  • Vintage European Basses: These instruments are usually Italian, French, Czech or German made and offer a fine value for the professional, conservatory student, or semi-professional player.
  • Handmade Basses: These contemporary or vintage instruments come from master luthiers working alone or with only one or two assistants. They may come from the United States or from various countries in Europe. These instruments represent a truly professional level performance doublebass.