Thursday, April 3, 2008

PJ Tan Violin Shop, Edmonton AB Canada

In a recent Contrabass Conversations interview, Barrie Kolstein gave some advice on buying a bass. I think the most interesting piece of advice he gave was something along the lines of “If you find a bass that feels right to you, that you can play and feel comfortable with, buy it.” I had received this advice from others, including Ken Smith, Arnold Schnitzer (both via email) and a guitar player I used to play with (over drinks).


On a recent trip to Edmonton, I stopped by P.J. Tan’s Violin Shop. This is a beautiful shop with exquisite violins, cellos and violas. I’m talking about simply amazing instruments. As a bonus, P.J. and Graham are absolutely great. Genuinely good people who are committed to the music and the instruments they support.

I played one of the few basses they had in stock. I loved the neck immediately. It’s a bit shorter scale than I’m used to, but has a nice flat round feel that reminds me of my old King bass and (oddly enough) a Fender jazz bass. The sound is awesome: big and hearty, dark but with a bright finish. (It’s like I’m describing a bad wine.) It felt great and, following the advice above, I bought it. Surely more money than I could afford to spend, but what an instrument. P.J. is doing a few things to it (e.g. repairing a seam and re-shaping the bridge) and delivering it this weekend.

I’ll write more and post some pictures of the bass soon. Right now, I want to give my endorsement right now to P.J. Tan’s Violins. It’s difficult to find a good luthier who you trust. I would make the drive to have P.J. or Graham work on my bass.

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