Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Stagg EUB Is A Let Down

I think I alluded to the fact that I'd be buying an electric upright bass (EUB) with the money I made from "Big River".  I elected to pick up a Stagg EUB as it was affordable and I liked what I read and heard from various online reviews and videos.  I think my expectations were realistic - that it would not be the best bass on the market; I knew the workmanship would not be world class.  But it would have a great sound for playing through an amp and would be ideal for practicing with an iPod when the kids were asleep.  I also knew that there wouldn't be some of the nice touches that I would've liked (for example, scooped out on the underneath side of the fingerboard), but I was okay with that. It arrived yesterday and here's the breakdown.

The Good:

  • It is a beautiful instrument.  I got the honey finish, and it looks great.
  • The portability is awesome.  When it's in the gig bag, it's basically no larger than a small set of snow skis.  Putting it on my back and walking around was very comfortable.  I had visions of taking this thing with me everywhere.
  • The removable arms that you screw on either side (meant to mimic the shoulders of an upright bass for comfort and finger position purposes) were surprisingly comfortable and functional.  They didn't thread in as easily as I'd like, but no big deal.
  • The adjustable bridge had a great range of motion, meaning I was able to drop the action a ton without creating buzzing on the neck.
  • Loved - LOVED -the dot inlays on the side of the fingerboard.  Wish my Englehardt had this.  (As it is, it has marks that I made with model paint.)
The Meh:
  • The neck profile/shape was huge.  I don't personally prefer it, but it's a pretty common shape on upright basses so I knew I'd get used to it.  I also figure (perhaps incorrectly?) that this makes the neck quite a bit sturdier.
The Bad:
  • Couldn't get a good sense of how it sounded through head phones because it shipped with a half dead battery.  This causes distortion to the sound.
  • I could not figure out how to get the D note to stop buzzing on the A string.
  • Grooves cut into the bridge to accommodate the strings seemed huge and unnecessary.
  • I did run it through the amp and was underwhelmed with the thin sound, even with the bass cranked up on the bass itself.  (To get a true sense of the bass's voice, I "flat lined" the bass/mid/treble on my amp.  That is, I put all three controls at what amounts to "5".)  It lacked the same growl as the clips I heard of it on line.
  • The deal breaker:  The tuning peg on the A string slipped when under tension.  The gears didn't properly mesh and the metal coating began flaking off.
The Verdict:
It's going back for a full refund.  It's a bit of a drag not to have something I viewed as an important tool for gigs and practices, but I'm not as disappointed as I thought I'd be.  That is, I won't be disappointed once the charge on my credit card is refunded.  At some point down the road, maybe I'll be able to get a great bass like a Merchant bass, a Silent Bass, or an Eminence upright.


  1. That sucks Matt. It's always a bummer when you've been looking forward to something, only to be let down.

    1. for sure, paul, for sure. You should've seen me tearing that thing open yesterday. for a split second, I thought about how easy it'd be to replace the tuners etc, but what's the point? It should work right out of the box. it's the principle of the thing.

  2. Good move to send it back. Save your money for the Emminence.

    1. Yes those basses are pretty bad ass. I'm really intrigued by the Merchant bass. But the Eminence is a proven bass and actually can be used acoustically as well. In terms of acoustic travel basses, I think the Czech Ease bass would be pretty bad ass.
      Here it is in action: