Sam Shen emigrated from China to Windsor, Canada in 1989 and opened his first violin shop. Sam studied violin performance and business at the University of Windsor. In 1993 he established Shen’s Musical Instruments Co., Ltd. in Suzhou, China, manufacturing violin family instruments for export. In 1998 Sam Shen moved back to Suzhou fulltime to train his staff and to oversee and maintain his high quality standards for instrument manufacture. The shop introduced the Samuel Shen line of basses to the northern California double bass community about 12 years ago and remains the only authorized dealer for this line in northern California.
Sam Shen is dedicated to making fine student and professional grade instruments. I’ve been very impressed with the solidly conceived designs, the clean and accurate workmanship, and the fully seasoned woods used in Shen basses. There is a Shen model for nearly every student budget, size of player, and playing style. I keep a dozen different 5/8 and 3/4 size Samuel Shen models in stock and usually have multiples of the best selling models. Samuel Shen doublebasses are widely recognized as representing an outstanding value in consistently great sound, easy playability, and great reliability to the extent that the shop does not even bother carrying other student level lines for laminated or hybrid instruments. The shop remains the exclusive dealer for Samuel Shen string basses for northern California.
» See Shen Basses In Stock!
Xuechang Sun doublebasses come from three different small shops in China, with all quality control and design specifications controlled by the owner of the U.S. distributor in southern California. This consistently high quality line of instruments features primarily violin corner carved back instruments with high quality tops sourced from the former Soviet Union and fine Maples sourced primarily from China, but occasionally from eastern Europe. The lovely finishes range in color from dark brown, red or red-orange, to the amber-orange “cello finishes.
The Xuechang Sun doublebasses offer superior value in their various price range models of 120, 320, 420, 520, 920, Gofriller, and Amati models. I hand select each instrument at the warehouse with an inspection for wood quality and an all-important tap test for the top. Custom orders for five string models and other configurations and sizes are possible. The shop remains the only authorized dealer for Xuechang Sun basses distributed from the Chino warehouse of Century Strings, a former original partner with Eastman Strings
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Roderich Paesold was a bowmaker who had grown up in his father’s string and bow business in Eger, Germany. In 1950 he re-established a bowmaking business in Bubenreuth, training a fleet of recognized bowmakers. I am now stocking a selection of both French and German style Paesold bass bows. In 1968 the business expanded into manufacture of violin family instruments and is now located in Hagenau. The Hofner faculty produces bothe the Paesold and Hofner lines. I am particularly impressed with their responsive, all-solid light weight string basses. The shop has been stocking these fine instruments since early 2001.
The building style reminds us of high quality german instruments built in the 1900-1920s time period, but with contemporary string lengths and D necks. Though we sell number of 3/4 size examples, the 7/8 size instruments have found special niches in the northern California jazz and orchestral communities. All models feature all-solid wood construction, 2 piece tops, carved swelled backs, and spirit varnish for even response. Oil varnish is available on some of the higher models and custom orders. Paesold and Hofner basses are made in the same Hofner factory. The models are usually identical in features, so I’ll start including the equivalent model designation for each distributing company. These Paesold and Hofner instruments are consistently my favorite German-made basses. The shop remains the only Hofner or Paesold bass dealer in northern California.
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Customized New Standard basses
The customized New Standard basses that the shop has produced for the last 6 years have found a home on the west coast with the performing traditional jazz and americana music scenes in California, Oregon, and Washington state. The shop usually cries in stock all-laminated and hybrid versions of the La Scala and Cleveland models contemporary versions of the old King Moretone and American Standard model basses produced by the H.N. White Company from 1936 through 1965. These modernized versions feature a traditional neck mortise rather than a fragile dovetail joint and a much more useable string length of 42″ compared to the old 43 1/2′ string length developed in the mid-1930s.
Our custom upgraded versions feature a slightly steeper neck angle to give a bridge height of 7″ versus the standard height of 6 1/2″. The taller bridge produces more volume and a stronger voice on the bottom two strings, especially. Custom thin spirit or oil varnish finishes applied by Hannah Mayne or Josh Tharp are lightly applied for acoustic transparency. The color choices range from bright ambers, to quiet red-orange, to dark red-browns that look like they come from 100 years ago.
The shop usually supplies at least one New Standard bass for the rental lineup of 5 instruments for the Monterey Jazz Festival every year. The shop also keeps one New Standard Cleveland in stock for regular performance rentals to traveling musicians. Our shop remains the only West Coast dealer for New Standard doublebases.
Production Kolstein instruments come primarily from Romania. These instruments have the tops regraduated and the bass bar revoiced in the Kolstein shop, where they are then finished in an antiqued oil varnish and then fitted with fingerboard, Kolstein tuners, bridge, and tailpiece. Some are also made by Barrie himself, as noted » See Kolstein Basses In Stock!