Most people prefer locally made, handcrafted items because of the extra care and attention given when they are being made. They are unique, have more character, and have a higher quality compared to machine-made items. For these reasons, handmade items also tend to be more expensive. So when Gary Upton started Upton Bass String Instrument Corporation, his primary goal was to provide customers with the finest instruments possible without breaking the bank.
When the company was founded in 1999, it specialized in the sales and repair of fine string instruments. They also offered upgraded and revamped instruments in their first location in Jewett City, Connecticut. The acclaimed venture quickly grew and eventually relocated to downtown Mystic, next to the historic Mystic Seaport, in 2004.
The addition of Jack Hanlon and Eric Rene Roy strengthened the already highly flexible and impressive build and restoration team. Together, the team helped catapult Upton Bass to the forefront of bass restoration, even earning the moniker “Upton Setup” for their outstanding comfort and response when it comes to extensive bass restoration.
Due to their great success in maintaining, updating, and hot-rodding existing basses, Upton Bass started to dabble in building their own double basses. First, they imported bass shells from Europe and completed them in their workshop. Keen attention to detail and utmost care was given to every aspect of the instrument—from bridges, endpins, and saddles, to fundamental geometries, ergonomics and strength. All of these considerations brought about the creation of all-original Upton basses.
It was in 2006 when the powerhouse finally decided to completely build instruments in-house in the Italian tradition using select tonewood. Their workshop in Stonington became a modern-day Lutherie, creating double basses that are both supremely artistic and practical and making it the only double bass production facility in America.
In the summer of 2012, Upton Bass found its new home in the form of a big red barn on a historic mill site. The workshop is post-and-beam built with local timber, a perfect reflection of the company’s strong commitment to sustainable building practices and inspired hand craftsmanship.
As the company grew in prominence, it managed to capture the interest and earn the trust of world-renowned bassist and virtuoso Gary Karr to build his signature instrument. This collaboration led the Karr Model to earn the Silver Medal for Tone from the International Society of Bassists in 2009.
Over time, Upton Bass has continued to receive several other awards and patents, but to them, the most important recognition is the support and enthusiasm of fellow musicians all over the world who choose to play Upton basses.
It is no doubt that Upton Bass String Instrument Co. has established itself as one of the world’s premier double bass specialty shops while staying true to their vision of providing affordable options to double bassists and cellists. Upton Bass continues to work directly with their customers with the intent to further their goal of giving everyone a one-of-a-kind instrument and experience.
Learn more about Upton Bass by visiting their website.