Buying my first Upright

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by AHbassist, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. AHbassist


    Sep 22, 2005
    Kennesaw, GA
    So I've been an electric player for 6-7 years, been into rockabilly for about 4. The thought to buy a stand-up never crossed my mind... until 3 weeks ago. A new store opened up in a mall close to where I live. I had gone in to check out the resonators when I spotted an upright. Mind you I have never played one of these in my life. As I was playing some of my favorite Misfits licks, it bit me. Now I'm dead set on having one.

    Any advise when searching for your first upright? Looks don't matter to me much because I'll prolly pinstripe it as soon as I get it anyway, but I would like it to last a good while.
  2. Connor


    Jun 21, 2007
  3. AHbassist


    Sep 22, 2005
    Kennesaw, GA
  4. I couldn't be happier w/ my new engelhardt swingmaster. I've had it since Feb. Got it from . great setup, great sound, great price. Plus it's made in the good ole' USA!!!

    The engelhardt EC1 is a great choice for a first bass for rockabilly because it's CHEAP, sounds good, and built like a TANK! but the EM1B is pretty rockin lookin.

    I've got an older ES9 swingmaster, the new EG9 swingmaster, and a OLD 50's Kay C1 (same thing as the new EC1), the engelhardts hold their own w/ the old kay.

    Wherever you buy a bass make sure it's setup, the factory setup isn't great. Buy it somewhere that specializes in basses. Otherwise you better get a KILLER deal because you'll need to spend at least a few hundred dollars on setup (bridge adjusted, sound post adjusted, nut, maybe even fingerboard).

    Some experts will tell you blah blah, don't buy plywood, buy a carved this, hybrid that. Don't listen to that crap. Most all rockabilly (then and now) was played on a PLYWOOD american made bass. Plus I like having a bass that i can use and abuse and not worry about, the singer can stand on it, not worry about it too much carrying it in and out of the clubs etc.

    Just do some homework and dont' buy a CCB.

    check out King Doublebass too.

    And DEFINITELY sign up at this place can be a little tough on the billies.

  5. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    You should probably steer clear of a "cheap chinese bass", these are unlikely to last you very long at all. Spend just a little more money on a reputable bass: Kay, Englehardt, Shen, Upton, King, or whatever.

    Get the bass set-up properly for rockabilly, a reputable dealer will be able to do this for you.

    Consider what type of strings you want: steels, nylons, or guts. As a "rule of thumb", traditional rockabilly fans seem to like guts, but it seems to me psychobilly players tend to play nylons or steels.

    You'll need a pickup, and the type of string will impact your choice of pickup. You can use a magnetic pickup with steel strings, with nylons or guts you'll need a "piezo" pickup. Uprights tend to feedback (I find this to be a tremendous pain in the neck) and magnetic pickups avoid feedback issues. On the other hand, some people say that steel strings give them blisters.

    Get an account at and ask the same question. Very helpful people over there!

    I got my first upright one year ago. It's a tough decision, there are alot of things to think about that a newbie couldn't possibly know or understand.

    For me, it was a toss-up between an Upton Laminate Hawkes or a Slap King. I wound up ordering the Hawkes from the good people at Upton, and this worked out pretty well for me. But I often wonder if I would've rather had a SlapKing.

    PS: Johnny, good advice, it's looks like you and I are typing at about the same time.
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    My two cents:

    TRY some basses before you buy. Try HARD to play THE BASS you're buying. Not the "brand," not the model, but THAT BASS if at all possible. If you can't play, try to get some pal who can to come along.

    Also, read the Newby Links in basses. Chris Fitz has spent a lot of time making this resource available to us.

    In other words, use TB/DB wisely and try to retain your enthusiasm while shopping thoughtfully.

    Have fun, man. You're starting on a great journey.
  7. JamesC


    Oct 7, 2007 has a great selection of cases, strings, pickups, ect... at good prices. I got a gig bag and strings from there.

    FYI, the price of strings suck.............
  8. AHbassist


    Sep 22, 2005
    Kennesaw, GA
    all of your suggestions have been very helpful:D

  9. Hey man,

    My vote for 1st upright is Engelhardt EG9 (Gamba model) or ES9 (standard shape.) For the money this bad boy (EG9) is playable out of the box and will only get better - playabilitywise and investmentwise. Get a good set-up and you hardly need an amp. Good luck.
  10. Slaps McGoo

    Slaps McGoo

    Mar 23, 2008
    One of the basses that caught my eye (just starting as well) is the Eberle Laminate (plywood) from You'll want to get it set-up locally if you buy one, but you can get a non set-up for $850 (have to buy the strings/bridge etc). I've heard nothing bad about them and their sound is supposedly pretty decent. They're made in Germany (called Musima there) and are being sold at liquidation prices here. Apparently they're also built like tanks. But I wouldn't disagree with an engelhardt, I just wanted a slab of ebony on my fingerboard as opposed to jatoba, which is another hardwood.
  11. Love my EG9 and Fretwell was a great place to buy from, good setup, good prices, good communication, fast shipping.

  12. NuNuPants


    Aug 16, 2008
    This was just the topic i was looking for, im looking for one too.
  13. jschall84


    Mar 14, 2007
    fort wayne, in
    Bad MammaJamma
    +1 for buying from fretwell. jerry fretwell is a super nice guy and really knows his stuff.
  14. Slaps McGoo

    Slaps McGoo

    Mar 23, 2008
    threads been around for a while, but I ended up buying the
    EM1 from Jerry Fretwell and I haven't looked back. Jerry was great to deal with. Also just bought some weedwackers strings, for 30$ I'd say it's worth getting a set even just to have them on the sidelines.
  15. E2daGGurl


    May 26, 2008
    Thanks for posting, Slaps. It will be awhile before I am in the market for one - but boy, do I want one. I was really lucky to get to visit the Music Villa music store in Bozeman, Montana - the only place I've ever been where they had quite a few to try out (and they were sooo nice about letting me fool with them).

    I live in SoCal - anyone know where I can look at an EM1?
  16. shadygrove


    Feb 14, 2008
    Marysville, WA
    Try Lemur music in San Juan Capistrano. Sometimes they have used Englehardt/Kays on their website:
  17. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    Lemur had a EM1B (blondie) in there when I visited on vacation in June, might still be there. It sounded good and was in good shape.
  18. Another 2 cents, since you're up to about a dime by now!

    Since you're new to the upright, I don't think playing a bunch of them will tell you much as you haven't really developed a sensitivity for the instrument yet. In that spirit, I see no reason to search the world over for the "right" bass. There are lots of options right in your back yard.

    Ken Stanton Music, which is not far from you in Marietta, deals with Calin Wultur basses. They are excellent beginner basses. A moderate set up will be performed in-house that should be sufficient in the beginning.

    Ronald Sachs Violins in Lilburn carries the Shen line. While Chinese, the quality is outstanding for the price.
  19. tombriarhopper


    Oct 11, 2008
    My first one was a Swingmaster. Striking looks and it does boom. I bought mine at a local non-bigbox music store and it the set up was decent enough that I haven't messed it. Great friendly neck. If you have the cash, that one will last you a good long time. Good luck! Most of the fun is looking for it!
  20. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    Lots of good suggestions here, but also keep your eyes peeled for a used bass via craigslist, etc.

    I was lucky enough to find my EC1 used for about 600 bucks that way. It has been a great first double bass for me.

    I would really like to try the new Shen SB90 (blonde) though.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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