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Engelhardt ES9

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Josh Curry, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Hi guys, first of all, please don't rip on me for my lack of DB knowledge. I'm an electric bass player of 13 years, but don't know really squat about upright. I played one for about 2 years in high school though, so I know how, but that was about 8 years ago.

    Basically, I'm thinking about getting an upright and I've been looking around, mostly on eBay and whatever I can find on various web sites. I really like the look of the Engelhardt ES9, I think because of the 'blonde' look, but it seems to be a good quality bass, right? I noticed that some threads mention this maker but don't really give a lot of details. Does anyone out there have one of these and can offer a good review of it, and maybe compare it to others in it's price range? Anything would be helpful since I just don't know uprights the way I know electrics.
  2. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I've had mine for a couple of years. With setup and a few changes - new bridge, tail hanger wire, soundpost, strings - it was about $2000. If you don't have to, don't buy off the internet. My ES9 was not playable out of the box. I like it OK with the setup except it sounds 'tight'. It may age just fine. I'd look at a Christopher, too. There are alot of good comments on this board about them.
  3. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    You might want to check out
    even if you aren't into rockabilly. there is alot of info there as well as the newbie links here.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    If you've been checking out eh Newbie Links, you will have seen that the Engles are what most around here consider to be at or near the bottom of the food chain of "Playable But CHEAP" Basses. Below their price point, you start getting into BSO's (Bass-Shaped-Objects), and at that point there's no point. A lot depends on what you want to do with the bass. Want to play Rockabilly? Bluegrass? Jazz? Do you want to do much bowing? What kind of sound are you looking for? Is there a teacher in your area? These are all questions that can help you narrow down your search, and supplying the answers to some of them here can help others help you better. Good luck.
  5. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    tsolo: yikes, that sounds like a nightmare. Thanks for the heads up!

    Rick: Thanks for the link.

    Chris: I did a keyword search for 'Engelhardt' and just turned up a couple articles mentioning them, I'll look through the newbie links too though, thanks. I am pretty much going to be using it for Bluegrass, Jazz, and Funk with a little but not much bowing.

    I definitely want something decent and not crap, however, I don't need a boutique model either. Something playable that's not going to fall apart and sounds good. Probably something on the high end plywood laminate side of things. I will continue my research but any help from you experienced DB guys would be greatly appreciated. Especially what to stay away from!
  6. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    No problem. The new bridge, strings, tail wire hanger and soundpoat that Tsolo mentioned is pretty much the standard set up on any new DB regardless of the make, model or quality. So no matter which one you end up getting you should leave room in the budget for that.
  7. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I choose the englehardt in part due to the abuse i seem to be able to dish out. The research i did before buying a bass (i hadn't find this forum yet) indicated that carved basses are more tempermental than plywood. I've never played a carved bass but I can vouch that the englehardts are built for the long haul. I play outside, inside, in cold, in heat, in wet, in dry - it is the timex (or Peavey) of basses. I haven't stood on it yet. I have banged it around. Still i wish i'd checked other models. The grass being always greener...
  8. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Hey BassWhore--I'm in your neck of the woods (Davis, CA). I've just completed my plywood bass hunt, having purchased a beautiful AES New Standard Cleveland bass. I figured laminated was the way to go because I plan to gig and play outside a lot and I want a bass that will be able to withstand the lovely weather (100 deg. + and bone-dry in the summer, 45 and rainy all winter) we get in the Sacramento Valley with minimum upkeep.

    The pickin's for DBs are pretty slim around Sac, although I did see a nice Czech Strunal at Nicholson Music in Folsom last year. Most stores in the area with band/orchestra instruments seem to get the cheap Chinese basses-Palatino, Cremona, etc. I rented a Palatino for four months while I was shopping--it was a good way to get my feet wet, but it also made me want to get a better instrument ASAP.

    I don't know if luthier Jeff Sahs (in Sac) deals with basses but a violinist friend of mine said he had good skills and service--he might know of some good sources. Keith Cary in Winters is an oddball--he played DB in Robert Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders, builds upright bass banjos, and makes mandolins out of bedpans--but I've heard that he sometimes has good deals on "player's special" sorts of DB's.

    While I've never been to Bruce Sexauer's shop in Petaluma- www.thestringbass.com -or the String Bass Shop in San Francisco- www.stringbassshop.com -their websites show that they carry fully setup Christophers. Lemur in San Juan Capistrano claims to have one of the biggest bass inventories around-including Englehardts, Christophers, and a wide variety of Chinese and European basses, from student to orchestra grade. It might be worth a trip to check'em all out.

    You could also try Ifshin Violins in Berkeley (though I've heard that they look down their noses at non-classical players) or Pierre Josephs in Larkspur. World of Strings in Long Beach has a very nice selection of higher end basses. I don't know who carries Samuel Shen basses in CA but I was impressed by one of their fully carved basses I played.

    I'd have to agree that it's really difficult to know what you want in a bass without playing a variety of them, and it's impossible to know if a bass you buy long-distance will be right for you until you get it. I've played about 20 basses during my search in the last year or so. Of all the laminated basses I've played, here are my opinions:

    --Palatino/Cremona--these are the "bass-shaped objects" that people talk about. In order to get decent tone/playability you'll have to spend another 60% on top of the purchase price on a setup, and you'll still have an instrument with finish and reliabilty issues.

    --Englehardt--I played a nice $1500 (used) one at David Gage's, that had a good setup. Pleasing tone, not incredible volume-wise.

    --Kays-I've seen them for $750 to $2500. Most of them had really nice tone but didn't project tremendously well. The cheap ones needed work, the pricier ones seemed too expensive for what they were.

    --King Mortone--I played one of these with gut strings in high school, and it sounded thick and rich even with a monstrous black tubular metal bridge--don't know why that was put on there!

    --Strunal--I thought it was good for the price (about $1500)--reasonable tone and volume.

    --American Standard--these are known as "cannons"-loud, deep basses that project well. They're also big 7/8 sized basses--look at those shoulders in tsolo's avatar picture. It was fun to play one but I don't think I'd want one as my only bass.

    --AES New Standard Cleveland and La Scala--these are definitely some of the best designed, well-built plywood basses ever made, with a tone quality that rivals (IMHO) many carved instruments in and above their price range. The Cleveland, which I have, is based upon the American Standard, but with a shorter scale length and smaller body, as well as an improved neck angle for arco playing. This bass has a very resonant, alive sound--deep but clear, with a lot of volume. Playability and craftsmansip are top-notch. The La Scala is a smaller, Italian style instrument with more of a growly tone.

    Bass Whore--There are a few very good DB players in or near Elk Grove--Matt Robinson, Kerry Kashiwagi, and Emerson Cardenas. I'm actually supposed to start studying with Kashiwagi soon--email me privately and maybe we can get together sometime. Good luck in your search!
  9. I've had my ES9 for about a year and a half and have few complaints. Sure, I would love to have one of Arnold's NAS's but at this point I just can't part with 3k+. Like MR. SULU mine was playable straight out of the box but after a professional setup there was a big improvement. I also have about 2k in mine.

    I play bluegrass with several bands and am on the festival trail pretty regularily from April to October--indoors, outdoors, hot, cold, damp, etc. The engle holds up well in all these conditions and occasional rough handling. Most players at these festivals have Kays or disintegrating Chinese BSOs. As far as I am concerned, the ES9 sounds superior to most of these.

    While you could get a better bass for more, I doubt if you will be disappointed with a Swingmaster. They also have a good resale value (at least in my area) so if you decide to trade up, it should be easy to pass it on. I would just recommend that you buy the best you can possibly afford.
    harleyman888 likes this.

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