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Engelhardt amplification problems

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Haderian, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Hello all you beautiful bassists... just got back from a terrible gig right now. Plenty problems. I usually play a 100 y/o German carved bass. Last week I received an Engelhardt ES-9 Swingmaster from Lemur Music, to play in those rowdy bars. I put my Fishman on with the amp in the usual place, and man, as soon as I turn up the volume I get tons of feedback! This never happened with "Old Greta". With her I get complaints about playing too loud, so I have to keep turning the volume down, even though I could have played much louder. I mean there´s a HUGE difference! All the settings are the same, even the venue is the same, it seems the Swingmaster itself is the guilty party in this case.

    My luthier took something like a couple of inches off the top of the stock bridge and I put Spiros on, the same strings that I use with the antique bass. But he told me the stock bridge was a piece of crap from some cheap inferior 2x4 wood. Could the stock Engelhardt bridge be the problem?

    Well, that´s it -- but I just have to spew out my extreme disregard for drunken audiences!!! Did you ever have some bad-smelling wino character screaming in your ear for some "Sweet Home Alabama" while you´re trying to sing and play a complicated tune at the same time? And with the wino bad-breath bastard knocking your mike into your front teeth, making your lyrics sheets fall to the floor, and banging his filthy hands on your strings in the middle of a song? While the amplification isn´t working right and the guitarist looks at you with strange bulging red eyes from having some grass between sets, and suddenly deciding to change into some strange new key in the middle of a song?

    You jazz and symphony guys live an easy life! With us URB players down in the hard world of sleazy bars, it´s a f***ing world war for every song! But that´s how Paul McCartney got his teeth cut on the Reeperbahn back in the early 60´s, playing 12 hours a day, 8 days a week in front of drunks and pimps and hookers. Still, it´s a drag... sorry about straying away from the original subject here! Merry Christmas anyway!!!
  2. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    that's showbiz, man.

    as for the feedback, ditch the bridge and make sure your fishman's properly fitted/installed. i don't know how much impact those will have, but it's worth a shot... good luck.
  3. Skynard fans in Sweden?!?!?!? On behalf of America, my apologies.

    As far as your gig, I'd say at least it can't get much worse. Years from now you'll have an amusing anecdote with which to entertain your fellow musicians. In the meantime, better figure out a way to dispense with hecklers.;)
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I heard Mr. Bal talk about us
    I heard ol' "T" put us down
    I hope T-Bal will remember
    Swedish man don't need him around anyhow



    Englehardts are notorious for needing some serious set-up work out of the box when shipped, and Fishmans are notorious for feedback, especially in the upper mid frequencies. If you'll do a search for "Englehardt" on the board, you'll find several threads addressing these issues. I think most people say that at the very least, the bridge and soundpost should be replaced, and often it's also a good idea to get the fingerboard planed as well. Sorry for your rough time! Good luck.
  5. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    SWEDE HOME, ALABAMA........ :D
  6. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Bah-dum! Tshhh!!
  7. Me again. Thanks for the advice. But now I´m more shocked than ever about my ES-9´s poor performance. Locked myself into my garage yesterday and seriously compared the amplified sound with my 100-y/o carved bass, by switching my Fishman back and forth. You wouldn´t believe this if you had been there. With the ES-9 all I could get was a thin plonkety-plonk sound and as soon as I turned the volume up from dinner-conversation level it would feed back. With the century-old bass I could have filled in at a Kiss concert. I swear it was at least six times as loud, a full-boom sound with no frequencies missing. With exactly the same settings and same conditions!

    The Swingmaster still has the stock bridge and soundpost, but wears Spiro Weichs. My luthier told me 5 minutes ago that it´s the body construction itself that causes this problem and I could never get it much better no matter what I do.

    I know there are plywood players out there who have a great and loud sound. Seriously -- what could be the problem? Can a stock Engelhardt bridge and sound post really make the instrument suck so bad?
  8. :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  9. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    I've got an EM-1, and the first pickup I tried was the Fishman. It was horrible. I didn't so much have trouble with feedback, just the dry, scratchy tone that seems to be the usual complaint. I switched to a K&K Bass Max pickup and K&K power pack preamp that I bought from (All Hail) Bob Gollihur and have had no problems since. K&K makes several models of pickups, which you can check out at Bob's website (www.gollihur.com). The Bass Max is as simple to use as the Fishman, if not simpler.

    As for your ES-9, I will also endorse getting a good setup, including new bridge, soundpost, and flexible tailgut at a minimum; have the fingerboard adjusted if possible. While my EM-1 will always be a cheap plywood, the setup made a world of difference. Engelhardts are also sturdy to the point of having a choked sound; you may find that higher-tension strings will bring out the volume a little better. For instance, the difference between Spiro weichs and mittels is significant. I found that I had to work a lot less with Spiro mittels set with relatively low action than with any other string.
  10. Hey, thanx for all the help! Yep, just ordered a Bass Master Pro pickup from the extremely nice Mr Gollihur, who has taken his time to send some advice (on a Saturday, too!). My luthier will make me a new bridge and soundpost. I will let you guys know what happens. That blonde bass looks so good, I have to make it work! Just like with an old girlfriend I used to have... but that didn´t work out. Hope it´s easier to straighten out a bad URB than a crazy woman.
  11. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    You may want to go here
    These guys have alot of experience with amplifying urbs as some of these bands play at very high volume levels
  12. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I'm a little late here, but I think your luthier is suffering from Laminophobia (That affliction that causes the nose to automatically turn upwards whenever plywood is present).

    Lotsa players own and amplify plywoods without having the problems you mentioned.
  13. Heh heh, funny! But it´s probably not Laminophobia in my luthier´s case. He´s the one who sold me my carved bass and now it´s a big "honor" thing about his stuff being the best and f**k the rest...
  14. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    While we're talking about making Engelhardts a little better... mine has the heinous two-tone sunburst finish with the polyglop on top, the glare of which can be seen from space. I buffed mine to a satin finish using a fine Scotchbrite pad. I soaked the pad in water to minimize the dust, a la wet-sanding. I did it without even removing the strings or anything else, and while it's still orange and brown, it looks much, much better. I've also read the opinions of several of our resident TB luthiers that the finish on the Engelhardts and other lower-end plys robs the sound. I can't imagine that I took enough off to make a difference. If you search this forum, you will find some discussions about this topic (including better techniques than mine), all the way to complete refinishing. Having the natural finish, I would imagine that your ES-9 would look very nice without the famous Engelhardt reflective coating.
  15. Hmmm, thanks -- I think. Now I´m gonna lay awake tonight wondering what my Swingmaster would look like with a less shiny finish. Naah, I don´t think so. And I kind of like the idea about being visible from space!

    Personal opinion: The blonde bass looks different enough to get lots of attention, but if you want to put it down, you could say it looks sort of half-finished -- like someone forgot to paint it brown. Without the shine it would look even more like some home-built thing from cheap materials. I will have to give this a lot of thought.

    Also I have learned that a lot of people sand the neck to get a little more friction. Not me though. When my left hand gets a bit sweaty it slides up and down that neck at warp speed. I even gave my century-old carved a coat of clearcoat around the neck to get that slippery-slide elevator action... different strokes for different folks!
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Uh-Oh...you may have committed a serious violation of the Luthiers Prime Directive. Please check in Here for details. Be warned: if you turn yourself in, you may have to submit a forehead print and other information to Bob and Arnold.
  17. Actually I find just the opposite to be true. Playing summertime bluegrass festivals in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee generates more sweaty palms than a tax audit. My sweaty little thumb would slide but not smoothly on my ES-9. I used steel wool to remove the clearcoat, then treated the bare wood to several coats of danish oil. AMAZING difference--the neck is now slicker than deer guts on a door knob.
  18. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    You paint a pretty picture;)

    I have to agree with you though. My only experience so far is with slabs and a natural oil finished neck is much faster and smoother. IMO
  19. "Playing summertime bluegrass festivals in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee generates more sweaty palms than a tax audit."

    You guys are so funny! This one made me laugh my ass off, I could imagine the IRS interrogation: No Sir, cross my heart, I swear we pay the proper tax for all our gigs, like all musicians do. Never got paid "under the table"...

    I sure would like to live in the U.S. for a while but I´m afraid I wouldn´t fit in -- not enough of a comedian. But maybe with some practice?

    Since the original subject has been long forgotten (and my amplification problem will soon be taken care of), can you fellows recommend a really swingin´ bluegrass band with a hot bassist? I want to digest inspiration from all possible sources -- and my band could probably be called something like a Swedish version of bluegrass.
  20. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    The Del McCoury Band, bassist Mike Bubb. I heard him describe himself as a 'blue-collar bassist,' elaborating on his description by saying that he just kept the time. I consider this an understatement, as he also has great bluegrass slap technique that he uses tastefully. Any of Del's more recent albums are great; I am partial to 'Del and the Boys.' Definitely one of the hottest bluegreass bands working right now. Others I like: Missy Raines (bass) & Jim Hurst; David Grisman Quintet (Jim Kerwin; not bluegrass but great acoustic music); Strength in Numbers (Edgar Meyer); Old and in the Gray (Bryn Bright).

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