The double bass (often referred to as “upright bass,” “standup bass,” or simply as “bass”) is the largest and lowest-pitched practical string instrument in the modern orchestra. The instrument is commonplace in orchestras, chamber music groups such as string quartets and solo performances. Bass is also popular in many other musical genres, including, but not limited to, jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass, country, tango and folk.
Because the double bass is such a popular instrument, it makes perfect sense that there are plenty of options to choose from on the market. With such a wide variety of basses, knowing the top brands is useful.
Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of an instrument, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I'll share my take on the top double bass brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the basses
- Longevity of the basses
- Variety of basses available
- Accessibility of the basses (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The top 11 best double/upright bass brands are:
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best double/upright bass brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable bass, and a link to their official website.
Gary Upton started his relationship with the double bass as an exceptional player. From that status, he quickly moved to hot-rodding double basses for fellow players. The next step was importing the shells to overhaul them. Finally, in 2006, the time came for the company to make the big leap of selecting the tonewoods and building double basses from scratch in-house in the USA.
The knowledge gathered over the critical aspects of double basses from playing and hot rodding makes every Upton Bass a familiar instrument, even if it is brand new. Indeed, Gary knows so well what players need that all Upton double basses feel effortless to play.
Abraham Prescott is the Antonio Stradivarius of the double basses. Gary had the privilege of working as a repairman on several originals. Thus, he decided to build his own line of Prescott double bass, following the tradition of the 19th-century master.
This dark-sounding, punchy double bass can deliver organ tube-like sub lows when played with a bow. Moreover, the premium spruce top and all-maple construction add the bright top to a huge bottom-end. This instrument is all you need to sound amazing in any context.
Upton Bass was founded by Gary Upton in 1999. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Mystic, Connecticut, USA.
Official website: uptonbass.com
Maple Leaf Strings
Maple Leaf Strings is a company created by a duo of music lovers who received orchestral training from a very early age. What sparked the need to create the company was the lack of consistent student-grade classical instruments for students.
Thus, they took their experience and knowledge and put it to work to create the instrument they would have liked to play when they were growing up. As a result, every Maple Leaf Strings double bass leaving the factory is an affordable, great-sounding, reliable, and consistent instrument to hone your craft with.
This instrument represents the highest-grade student-level double bass made by Maple Leaf Strings and can easily become the only bass you'll play until graduation.
Indeed, the hand-carved seasoned spruce top and hand-picked maple back, along with the ebony fingerboard, make it a professional instrument. Moreover, the factory-included D'addario Kaplan strings, graphite composite bow, and padded bag make it the perfect companion for studying and gigging.
If you want a professional instrument without the bulky price tag, this is a must-try before you buy.
Jason M. Bartel and Brad Patterson founded Maple Leaf Strings in 2011. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Official website: mapleleafstrings.com
It only took Eastman three decades to become the go-to option for double bass players of any skill level. Indeed, borrowing from the tradition of 17th-century German luthiers, Eastman manufactures reliable, great-sounding instruments for the discerning professional as well as the student and the beginner.
Perhaps, the company's biggest asset is the thorough attention to detail and quality assurance process. In other words, every time you choose Eastman, you're buying an instrument that sounds great, is trustworthy, and will last for a lifetime without breaking the bank.
This double bass belongs to Eastman's Professional Bass category and is made of hand-picked, naturally-aged European tonewoods. Indeed, the resonant spruce top and highly-figured maple for the sides and back, along with the hand-applied Antiqued Spirit Varnish, make this a great-sounding, superb-looking instrument.
Finally, the ebony fingerboard and tailpiece, along with the French-style brass tuning machines, round up an amazing instrument that is ready to take your playing to the next level.
Eastman Strings was founded in 1992 by Qian Ni. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Pomona, California, USA.
Official website: eastmanstrings.com
The beginnings for Samuel Shen were full of high hopes and thin air. Indeed, upon opening his small shop in Windsor, Canada, his reputation as a master builder, repairman, and knowledgeable string instrument guru did nothing but grow.
By 1993, he recruited the best in the craft from his homeland to build the best classical string instruments in the world. As a result, every handmade Shen double bass is ready to conquer every stage and recording session.
A warning should accompany every Shen instrument: it is very difficult to put it down once you pick it up.
Notable bass: Shen Rogeri 3/4 (link to check it out at CSC Products)
Although the huge body of the Shen Rogeri moves a lot of air, delivering punchy lows with a rich, deep, complex tone, this instrument achieves something sought-after by every company: it sounds even in every frequency.
This quality of the Rogeri might respond to the hand-picked spruce top and maple back and sides. Moreover, the rich harmonics in the higher frequencies come from the ebony fingerboard and tailpiece.
If this double bass fits your budget, you have to give it a try.
Samuel founded Samuel Shen Musical Instruments in 1989. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Suzhou, China.
Distributor website: cscproducts.com
Gewa Music is a rare example of a brand that mutated to stay afloat during Europe's most turbulent times and yet feels and sounds like an old instrument built in an early 20th-century facility. Indeed, the heritage and leverage that almost a hundred years of hard work and innovation are present in every note coming from a Gewa Music instrument.
In the same vein, the thorough attention to detail and restless innovation helped Gewa Music products become the go-to choice for students all around Europe and the world. If you want an instrument that's been 100 years in the making and sounds amazing, you have to try Gewa Music today.
Classical music isn't the only style you can play on double bass; others like tango, jazz, and especially rockabilly need the presence of these 4-string low-rumble monsters.
Such is the case of this matte black instrument made using laminated maple on the back and sides and laminated spruce for the top. Also, the wider ebony fingerboard provides enough surface to play the style and the right snap for the traditional rockabilly slapping technique.
Finally, for a small extra fee, you can add electronics and rockabilly-oriented strings as a factory feature.
Georg Walther founded Gewa Music in 1925. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Adorf, Saxony, Germany.
Official website: gewamusicusa.com
Yamaha is a brand that can be thought of as the very essence of Japanese precision and philosophy. Indeed, every product bearing the logo with the three intertwined tuning forks represents reliability, superior craftsmanship, and obsessive attention to detail.
Moreover, Yamaha, a brand with over a century of experience and leverage, blends technology perfectly with the legacy of over a century of making top-notch instruments to give the world new creations that can revolutionize how we approach and play music.
Yamaha is a brand you can trust.
The release of the SLB100, 200, and 300 revolutionized the music world drastically. That being said, the release of an instrument like the SLB300PRO designed exclusively with the professional player in mind and oozing tone so close to that of the original acoustic instrument that could pass a blindfolded test is nothing short of a milestone for classical instruments.
The previous silent double bass set the industry's standard; the PRO version goes beyond the standard to create the ultimate silent double bass to take over any stage.
Yamaha was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Official website: yamaha.com
Strobel is a brand created to close the gap between student-level instruments and professional instruments. In other words, it commissions the building of the classical instruments to some of the most prestigious companies in the market, such as Eastman, Knilling, and Howard Core, and retails them at affordable prices.
As a result, you can pick up a perfectly set up, great-sounding, well-made instrument that will stay in tune and take the student life beating without breaking the bank. If that sounds like the kind of double bass you're after, trying a Strobel out before buying is a must.
With a solid, hand-carved spruce top and a solid maple back, this double bass is capable of some serious low-end glory. Moreover, the addition of the ebony fingerboard to the maple neck adds subtle musical harmonics that round up the quintessential double bass sound.
Finally, it ships with Helicore strings, featuring a bag and a Pernambuco French bow. For the perfect balance between features and price, this double bass by Strobel should be on your to-try list.
Established in 2016, Strobel's main headquarters are in Frederick, Maryland, USA.
Official website: strobelstrings.com
Bernard Kornblum set out to make the best instruments he possibly could. As a master builder, he knew he had to start from the beginning: material sourcing. In this vein, the company goes the extra mile to build every unit using only the best materials, thus, maintaining excellence across the entire catalogue.
Moreover, the Custom Shop division of the brand turns dreams into tangible musical instruments made under the specific requests by expert hands in the Knilling facility. If you are after excellence in the shape of double bass, Knilling has to be on your list.
This double bass is an instrument made for the advanced student; this double bass features laminated maple back and sides, a solid maple neck, and a solid hand-carved spruce top. Also, the ebony fingerboard, nut saddle, and tuning pegs make it a bright-sounding, super-comfortable instrument to play.
Finally, the nitrocellulose lacquer doesn't affect the sound while keeping the instrument in shape for years to come. If you are an advanced student and your budget allows it, you'll never go wrong with this double bass.
Knilling was founded in 1922 by Bernard Kornblum. Currently, the company's headquarters are in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Official website: knilling.com
To begin speaking of Merano, it is important to note the company's motto: we would never sell an instrument we wouldn't use ourselves. This affirmation means that Merano is a company run by musicians making the kind of instruments they would like to play.
In the same vein, the competitive pricing of instruments that could have a bulkier price tag makes Merano the best affordable choice for the student that performs. Furthermore, the attention to detail matches the customer service, which is among the best in the market.
Notable bass: Merano BA100-WT (link to check the price at Merano)
This white Merano double bass features everything you need to master the instrument if you are an advanced student. To begin with, the selected spruce top and maple back and sides provide the quintessential double bass sound. Also, the ebonized fingerboard adds bright harmonic overtones to the overall audio. Finally, the arched back construction allows for a bigger bottom-end and a more focused bass sound.
With the addition of the padded gig bag and the genuine horsehair bow, this is a serious choice.
Merano Instruments Inc. was founded by Li George Ying in the year 2000. Currently, the company's headquarters are in El Monte, California, USA.
Official website: meranousa.com
As a member of the Violin Society of America for more than 20 years, Guolian and Mary have seen, played, and held more high-end classical instruments than most people alive. This accumulated knowledge added to the educated ear of every employee makes Antonio Strad the perfect choice for players in all budgets and skill levels.
For those in search of a double bass that is well-built, sounds great, and is 100% dependable, made by musicians for musicians, Antonio Strad is a must-try before you buy.
This is a perfect choice for the double bass student looking for the next step. Indeed, this instrument is 100% handmade, utilizing naturally-aged, hand-picked solid spruce for the top and plywood for the back and sides. This combination offers the player a big oomph with excellent lows and defined mids. On top of that, the ebony fingerboard and tailpiece add complex harmonics to the overall sound.
Finally, every Antonio Strad is professionally set up with Zyex or Helicore strings before shipping.
Antonio Strad was founded in 1994 by Guolian Zhou and Mary Zhang. Currently, the company's headquarters are in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Official website: dlucamusic.com
In case you didn't know, Cremona is the city where some of the most famous stringed classical instruments in the world were made. This includes, for example, the utterly famous Stradivarius violins back in the 16th century.
Cremona not only borrows its name from this tradition but also the commitment to excellence, world-class craftsmanship, and passion for detail. Moreover, the company's catalogue covers a vast ground offering the same quality every step of the way.
You can grow your ear and skills on a Cremona double bass from your first note to your first full auditorium.
Notable bass: Cremona SB-4 (link to check the price at Guitar Center)
This model by Cremona was designed aiming at the advanced student or professional player. The solid spruce top sits on curly maple for the back and sides delivering the quintessential double bass tone. Moreover, the neck profile is player-contoured to deliver maximum comfort and ease of access. Speaking of which, the ebony fingerboard rounds up the sound of a double bass ready to walk all the way to the top in your hands.
Try an SB-4 before buying anything else.
Richard Keldsen founded Cremona in the early eighties. The company's headquarters can be found in San Francisco, California, USA.
Official website: cremonaviolins.com.cn