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Englehart volume

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by Rick Rhodes, Aug 18, 2019.


  1. Rick Rhodes

    Rick Rhodes

    Aug 18, 2019
    my Englehart Swingmaster gets drowned out by the band. Strings are old. Setup needs tweaked, but I also wonder if there are better strings that would help volume.
     
  2. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    What strings are on your bass now and how high do you set them ( measured in millimetres at the end of the fingerboard )? Bright strings like Spirocores can be loud, but so can guts at the other end of the sonic spectrum. I play my carved bass with guts / high action mostly acoustic and lots outdoors with banjo, reso guitar and ten sax. I really like the low end and air that my bass is pushing. The thing with guts is that they`re not loud in a similar way as steels can be, but they fill a frequency zone that is not there in the other instruments.
     
    unbrokenchain likes this.
  3. Rick Rhodes

    Rick Rhodes

    Aug 18, 2019
     
  4. Rick Rhodes

    Rick Rhodes

    Aug 18, 2019
    Believe it or not I have no instrument to actually measure string height in mm. The bridge is also not adjustable. I was thinks no of trying gut strings. The d and g strings are really loud, but the entire lower end of the bass is about 75 % of the volume of the treble end.

    I agree with you. I could shim the bridge, but gut strings, and maybe play with the soundpost a bit.

    The strings I have came with the bass ten years ago. They are spirocores.
     
  5. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    A little wood for shimming the bridge feet and getting the action up a little + fresh Spiros for the A and E? Lower strings sounding quiet might have something to do with soundpost location too.
     
  6. jleguy

    jleguy Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    DC Metro
    I have a ‘99 Engelhardt M1. It sat ideal till about 2017 when I finally decided to learn how to play upright. It took 2 years of playing it and keeping music playing behind it when I wasn’t home to begin to open up its sound. I currently have Lenzners plain guts G to A, an Eva E. May not be real loud for pizz unamplified, but amplified, it’s very nice with a K&K Bass Max piezo in the bridge wing in to most bass amp. I usually cut bass, mids, treble EQ rather than boost.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  7. Rick Rhodes

    Rick Rhodes

    Aug 18, 2019
     
  8. Rick Rhodes

    Rick Rhodes

    Aug 18, 2019
    Why no gut on the E?
     
  9. If you’ve ever played a plain gut E you’d know why.

    Recent Engels are incredibly overbuilt. An overly sturdy instrument just doesn’t want to be loud and deep. It’s physics. No way around it.

    All is not lost. We know very little about your setup and nothing about your technique. Do you pull hard with the side of your index finger, or the pad? The former will generally be louder. Making your index and middle fingers into a flipper and pulling with the pads can also be loud on some instruments.

    If the Spiros have been on there 10 years, they’re probably pretty tired and gunked up. Try cleaning them to get the skin oils out of the windings. Or you could try trading your set for a bright newer set. A lot of people really like old dead Spiros.

    A good average setup should be, at the end of the board, 10-9-8-7 mm between the string and the wood. Measure it in inches on your tape measure and translate that into metric using an online converter site. Just Google it.

    Most likely, though, is that your bass is too heavy and stiff to do what you want it to do. It’s possible to work around that; just stay on the D&G strings.
     
    AGCurry likes this.
  10. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    A regular pencil is about 6mm diameter, one way to get a gauge on whether your string height is "high" or "low."

    I've found Spiro weichs to be a good fit for an old-school "sort of gutty" sound when jacked up high on a ply bass. The mittels sound good that way too but they're tiring unless the height comes down (imo). High string height + weichs approximates the volume of low string height + mittels, but a little more air in the tone and stronger decay/less sustain with the weichs. You might try them if you haven't already, the .3885 set is where it's at :)
     
  11. jleguy

    jleguy Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    DC Metro
    I really didn't mind the sound of the silver wound gut E, but the silver winding of the Lenzner E was really digging into my fingerboard...I also replaced the metal endpin with a 1/2" timbale hickory drum stick and I think that has also helped to open the sound and volume some. I'm also going to try replacing the original spruce soundpost with a hickory one made from a drum stick that's about 3/4" a la Chuck Traeger. He advocated for a couple more things on laminate basses like a braided wire tail gut and Teflon pads (I forget the thickness right now) under the bridge feet and krazy glue treatment (not to glue it in place but to create a smooth finish on the ends, my guess is that epoxy would work too) on the ends of the soundpost that he says should be rounded like the blunt end of a drum stick so the ends act as bearings, but so you have no less than 16mm in diameter on the ends to contact the top and bottom plates. Those are his modes for opening up the sound and volume on a laminate bass. He specifically references Kay for these modes which essentially all Engelhardts are. While these is a lot of controversy about some of his work, they are all reversible so I'm eventually going to try them all. Traeger's "String Instrument Setups" is an inexpensive and short version of his bigger bible book. It's got explanations of all the Kay modes in it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  12. Does it still have the tailpiece wire? Or has it been replaced with a cable? Years ago I had an ES-9 that had volume limitations. I replaced the wire with a cable which made significant improvements to tone and volume.

    Also, Kung Fu gives good advice in his third paragraph above. More finger on the string gives more volume with less effort in my experience.
     
    jleguy likes this.

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