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Engelhardt EM-1--good? bad?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Rosiejay, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Rosiejay


    Feb 18, 2008

    I am normally a consultant for violins, but my client wishes to buy a durable starter bass for bluegrass. Are there any opinions on Engelhardt EM-1 or any Engelhardt model?

    We purchased a 1920s Kay with a broken neck for $70. The body is quite nice but needs some glueing--I rather like it. I'm a luthier. We are debating whether to immediately invest in a new neck blank for the Kay and graft the scroll on, or buy a starter bass elsewhere and take it slow with the Kay.

    I would appreciate any recommendations on other good basses as well.

    Thank you!

  2. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    The Engelhardts are a good solid starter bass. I have an ES-1 and after a little set up, it sounds great. It has served me well. Keep in mind that "sounds great" is for a plywood bass that costs as low as they are. You can't expect to get the sound of a higher price bass, just be realistic and it can serve the purpose of starting out.

    If you do a search, you will see various threads regarding Engelhardts, both pro and con. Most of the cons say that for a little more money you can do better.

    As for repairing the old Kay, you will find varying opinions on those as well. There is always a market for them, so some people seem to like them.

    Godd luck which ever way you decide!
  3. jimmyduded


    Jun 12, 2007
    cherry hill nj
    if you got a kay for 70 dollars then there is no reason to spend the 1000 dollars to get a englehardt, sure its a good bass but old kays are golden
  4. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    There's no such thing as a 1920's Kay, as they began building them in 1937. You can learn more at www.kaybass.com.

    Engelhardts have a good following, especially in the world of Bluegrass. However, for the same money or slightly more, there are other options. Ideal Music is selling laminated Eberles for less than $1,000. There are Shens, Uptons, and others in the price range. You'll find opinions on all of them in past threads.
  5. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Rosie, you can buy a new Engelhardt neck for $109 from (All Hail!) Bob Gollihur.

    In that its made with the same tooling, it will fit the Kay very nicely. :) Is the Kay neck not repairable?
  6. Rosiejay


    Feb 18, 2008
    Thank you all very much. Sorry, I gave a very rough estimate on age and was off!
    The biggest difficulty is that we need a working bass soon. The Kay needs major work before it comes alive again--not to mention it's my first bass project. Violins are my forte.

    The need is for a sturdy inexpensive bluegrass road bass, to be owned by the band, as a backup to the magnificent vintage one owned by the bass player. It needs to be able to survive the wear and tear of the road and the (heated) cargo bays of the bus, and late night jam sessions in the tents on wet or cold nights, etc.

    I do personally like the Kay. The scroll was broken off, and there is also a large crack across the heel of the neck. The problem is that apparently there was massive damage to the whole neck, which was filled with wood putty and varnished. Of course, it didn't hold. I don't think there's enough real wood left to do anything with. The scroll and fingerboard are still very nice, so I'd like to salvage those and just buy a neck with grafting block. I did also check out Gollihur but haven't contacted them yet. I'd like to know if they have the neck without the scroll. I don't know--maybe we're better off scrapping the original scroll but I like to keep it as authentic as possible. Even the tuners are still working fine on the original.

    The body has a lot of wear and some separation of layers but not anything too serious. The top needs to come off for some internal reglueing but it's already half open.

    So there is the situation! :) Thank you all.
  7. robgator

    robgator Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2004
    Urbana, Illinois
    I'm a big fan of the Engelhardt basses - if they are set-up well. If you need a bass right away, and have a chance to snag an Engelhart, then get it. The Kay is definitely worth the time and expense needed to do a repair job on it. If the top is already half-open, then go for it. Tend to the internal work, pick up a replacement neck from (all-hail) Bob, and my guess is that the Kay will be ready for years of playing. All the best with the Kay and your quest to get an upright soon.

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