My first experience playing a bass guitar came when I was asked to join a local garage band in the mid-1960s. I was learning rhythm guitar back then, inspired by the Beatles and the wave of British pop bands that flooded the airwaves from around 1962.
But they already had two of those. They didn’t have a bass player, though, so I became the bass player. Not a terribly good one, mind you, but it was a fun experience. As soon as I left, a year or two later, I went back to rhythm guitar. But bass stuck with me and I’ve tinkered with it on and off since then.
In the 1980s, when I had an apartment full of musical instruments and recording devices, and jammed almost every weekend, I bought a couple of bass guitars to fool around with. I also needed something different to play when I went to a jam that already had half-a-dozen guitarists.
My favourite was a short-scale (23″? 25″?) Supra bass. Wish I’d never sold it, but that was 20+ years ago. Ab antiquo, as it were.
I started tinkering with bass again in 2011, when I bought an Epiphone Viola bass, a close clone of the Hofner bass Paul McCartney used in the Beatles, but a shorter scale. Beautiful instrument. It was on sale as a ‘scratch and dent’ item at the local Blue Mountain Music store, but I couldn’t see a single blemish.
I’d been playing ukulele for more than three years by then, but when I saw it in the store, suddenly I had an urge to play bass again. I got it and a small practice amp.
Shortly after that, I picked up a used Ibanez six-string bass from a seller on Kijiji. Six string basses are oddities to me, but I’ve always loved playing odd instruments, so I added it to the collection. I didn’t play it a lot, though, after the initial plucking. Mostly I found the Epi easier to play and I didn’t want unplayed instruments cluttering the house. Pretty soon, I sold it.
I started looking at electric upright basses a couple of months after that, mostly out of curiosity. Fretless, upright basses have always sounded beautiful to me and I’ve been a big fan of Charlie Mingus for decades.
But size-wise, they are just way too big for my little house. Susan would be most unhappy were I to fill our already-crowded dining room with a fat bass. A loud bass, too. Not exactly something I could plunk away at without disturbing her. At least with an electric bass, I can play without amplification, or with headphones.
So the alternative was an electric upright bass. But I knew as much about EUB as most people know about quantum mechanics or the mysteries of the apostrophe. I needed to do some research. I joined bass forums and asked the typical newbie questions: what to look for, brands, sizes, etc. Did I want a flat fretboard or radiussed?
Long story short: many choices, none sold locally that I could find, high shipping costs to get one from the USA. And the best were rather expensive. Some were very expensive, way beyond what I could justify spending.
But then on Kijiji I found one. An Ergo five-string, being sold in nearby Wasaga Beach.
Ergo was one of the brands that was highly recommended on the forums, and has a dedicated, passionate group of players. Small company, quality products, handmade instruments, reasonable prices. And beautiful instruments, too. One solid piece of Honduran Mahogany used for the body and neck. Custom piezo electronics and pickup. And a bow. I always wanted to try bowing a bass (for which I have zero skill, I might add).
I had to have it. Which I eventually did, but after some cajoling, pleading and begging. It lived up to my expectations from the start.
So a year ago I got the instrument shown here in the photos. I played it quite a lot back then. I had only a tiny practice bass amp, entirely inadequate, and borrowed a larger one for about a year. That was returned, and I need to invest in an amp to really get the beauty of this thing out.
But over the intervening year, I’ve run out of steam and time, and have other commitments (not least to finishing my fourth book). While it’s said vinum et musica laetificant cor – wine and music gladden the heart – my practicing on an instrument I’ll likely never play in company, seems less uplifting than playing my ukulele. So I’ve decided to sell the Ergo. The Epi bass is sufficient for my needs right now.
It comes with gig bag, bow, and stand. You can see the OEM price on the site: $800, plus $200 shipping (maybe more today…). I’d like $600, but will consider any reasonable offer over $500. Contact me if you’re interested. It will go on Kijiji in a couple of weeks, if no one makes an offer. Clearly this is an instrument you need to pick up, not have shipped. So you will probably be in southern/southwestern Ontario to make it worthwhile.
PS. The colour in a couple of older shots shows as more yellow than it really is. That’s my old camera playing tricks. It’s reddish-mahogany, like the other photos show.
- The Father of Modern English - © March 19, 2023
- Not the Chaucer You’re Looking For - © March 17, 2023
- More Venery - © March 12, 2023
Sold! Thanks to everyone who commented or asked about it. The Ergo has a new home now (and has gone to a far, far better player than I’ll ever be). But now I can think about buying a new ukulele…