Travel/High-Tech Basses

Yesterday I took the time to try out a few basses. I had just spent two hours listening to the Maker’s Competition instruments, so I felt like I was primed for some playing.

I don’t feel qualified as a super sophisticated reviewer, so this will be brief. You should of course form your own opinion.

Lemur has begun offering three of it’s basses as folding or travel basses: the Venice, Tosca and Liberty Bell. Both the Venice and Tosca are fully carved; the Liberty Bell has laminate back and sides. I played on Venice and Liberty Bell models that had been prepared to fit “in the box.” These were all definitely playable basses, and from what I could hear (in the convention hall hallway, mind you) they sounded pretty good. I’m definitely not presently a judge of workmanship, but I can say that there is no audience-visible indication that there’s anything different about these basses. On the Liberty Bell that I played, I do seem to recall, there was a cut in the heel and a small gap visible to the player.

Lemur’s video on converting these basses to/from travel gas gone viral among the bass community, so you can see the procedure for yourself.

Prices can be found at Lemur’s website Lemur Fly-Away Basses

COSI stands for COmposite String Instruments. These are fully composite instruments, available in a base model and a “Chase” model, distinguished from the base model by the way the carbon fiber is laid into the mold. I know from my days reselling LeGouic carbon fiber bows that this leads to subtle but important changes in sound. The basses are available in all black or with a wood veneer on the top, and either can be made with the travel option.
The setup on these demonstrators was not truly to my liking–but all setup work is done through traditional techniques, so you will be able to get these basses adjusted to your liking. These were definitely playable and nicely resonant instruments. They did have a bit of the pinched sound of a new instrument. To my surprise, the maker tells me that the sound does break in over time. COSI also makes cellos, and probably violins and violas, so we may be able to confirm that with our upper-string colleagues.

Converting the bass for/from travel took only a few minutes, and looked simple, although it did involve a little judicious tapping of the bridge to position it properly.

Given the models and options I’ve listed prices run from about $6,000 to just under $11,000. There are also fractional size instruments, at lesser prices. COmposite String Instruments

If yor needs include ease of travel, I think all these basses are worth considering. And especially if you suffer weather at your gigs, the COSI basses may be worth a try.

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