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I was told plywood is the only way to go...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by HotRoded, Feb 25, 2008.


  1. HotRoded

    HotRoded

    Jun 6, 2003
    Maryland
    I am beginning my research for my 1st upright. I have already done a lot reading here.

    So far I have contacted 2 shops (seller and repair) in the area, and at one, when I explain my situation, I was answered "you want to get a plywood bass" (namely an Engelhardt ES-1), and was explained why: they are more solid than hybrid or carved. That I can unerstand, more precautions need to be taken with an hybrid or carved. He also told me that professionals always have a plywood bass, and this is the one they can rely on when a carved needs to be maintained or repaired.

    I have to admit I was a little bit surprised by such a definite statement.

    I went to another shop in the area when I have tried Eastman basses: plywood, hybrid and carved. The carved one sounds much better than the 2 others, but it is also more than twice the price. The Engelhardt (plywood) is priced halfway between the Eastman plywood and the Eastman fully carved, (All with new strings and professionally setup), which, unless Engelhardt is a nice step above Eastman, does not justify the price difference.

    I plan to go to that other shop try the Engelhardt.

    Besides, does anyone know shops specialized in Maryland or Washington, DC area?

    Thx.
     
  2. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I have no idea why someone would tell you that. Get a carved or hybrid, they play better and work better. Some people have a huge paranoia about cracks and repairs. Yes, they happen, but are fairly rare if you take care of the bass and be careful with it.
    Engelhardts are not great basses in my experience, all basses are different so there could be a great one out there, but not likely.
     
  3. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I agree with Damon. Tell us more about your "situation" so that we can all help you decide whether a ply really is your best choice. What is your budget? What type of music do you play? In what venues would you be playing?
     
  4. HotRoded

    HotRoded

    Jun 6, 2003
    Maryland
    Sorry, I should have been more specific: I am an electric bass player, willing to play double bass.

    The style of music I will play will be jazz, also playing with a accoustic band (accoustic guitar + vocals). Later, I would like to play big band / swing type of music. To sum up: all finger style.

    My budget is not well definite, if I can find something that would suit my needs for $1500 - 2000, that would be fine, Spending 3000 could be considered.

    This would be hopefully I instrument I would keep, rather something I would need to upgrade in a near future.

    Also I am considering getting a used one
    .
     
  5. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    You say all fingerstyle now but if you want to do any of it in tune, tha tmeans practice with the bow. A hybrid or carved won't HAVE to be upgraded, and will hold value better.
    You will need to upgrade from plywood if you get more serious.
     
  6. A hybrid is a lot more bass that an Engleheart. If it was my choice and I had up to 3k, I’d get a Chinese solid top with a good setup. As an upright player tones your best friend.
    All basses break if you drop them...
     
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    With that kind of budget, I'd definitely go with a carved top, although not necessarily Chinese. Fine basses with carved tops in that price range come from Eastern Europe as well as the USA.
     
  8. arseniotall

    arseniotall

    Dec 24, 2005
    dc
    ...get wut sounds good.
     
  9. mattfong

    mattfong

    Jan 14, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    I got a used Eastman fully carved for $3000 in great condition. Go used if you can, better deals. Definately get at least a hybrid though.
     
  10. dchan

    dchan

    Nov 19, 2005
    Bethlehem, PA
    That's a weird statement. I'm pretty sure I'm taking this out of context (or your translation of whatever he said was off), but why does he think it's not possible to have TWO carved or hybrid basses in case one needs mainenance? Wouldn't that solve that problem as well?

    From pure inference, I'm guessing that he means that a plywood is better for outdoor gigs in more extreme weather and temperatures. Or maybe he means musicians don't make enought to afford two carved basses and the maintenance that goes along with them. Maybe I'm reading too much into this.
     
  11. Dave Whitla

    Dave Whitla

    Apr 25, 2006
    Ireland
    IMO a plywood bass is a waste of money. A hybrid is not that much more, money-wise, and sounds a whole lot better. Since you're in Maryland, check out Bob's House of Basses. I'd say he has a decent range of basses in different prices, and he's very good and approachable for advice.
     
  12. dchan

    dchan

    Nov 19, 2005
    Bethlehem, PA

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this as well. I have a question: did the seller explicitly say you should definitely get the Englehardt ES-1 (or something like that to a degree)? If so, I would be extremely wary of his intentions, especially if he has a full stockroom of the Engle's (or has actual stock or business share in the company). I have never actually met a seller who has explicitly steered me to a specific product.
     
  13. In your budget keep in mind also that also you'll need a bow about $100-$150 for a cheap one, (i know you only wanna play pizz, but i think it's still good to practice with one once in a awhile) a good bag will run you at least $250, and lest we forget a pickup (about $150) And If you don't get one that's already set up, it'll put you back even more

    Not trying to deter you but keep these things in mind while looking for a bass too

    (I bought a Standard Hybrid, the bill was about $700 more because of all the crap I bought with the bass)
     
  14. pjmuck

    pjmuck

    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    Hey, does anybody have any experience with the fully carved Bulgarian basses that Bob Gollihur offers? I'm in the market for my first upright on a budget as well, and I'm convinced I'm not going to go the route of an Engelhardt. The pirce looks reasonable. My choices are extremely limited, however, because I'm left handed, so there's only a handful of companies that make lefties. Christopher's another one that's been recommended.
     
  15. HotRoded,

    I agree with part of what Dave Whitla said -- get thee to Bob's and play some basses of each kind.

    I disagree that all plys are a waste of money. Many of them are. Some of them aren't. I have a '34 Jaeger and a '42 Kay and I'm happy with both of them, given the situations and style I usually play in. That said, I've played other plys -- including some Kays -- that didn't cut it. You have to play 'em to be sure.

    By the way, I'm in the Maryland 'burbs of DC. My basses aren't for sale, but if you want to play some funky old plys to get a feel for what is possible, PM me.

    Good luck in your search. Trust your ears, find a good luthier (I can recommend one if you're interested) and get a teacher to get the right start and avoid injury.

    Let us know what you decide.
     
  16. I also live in Maryland, Hagerstown area and I just purchased my first bass. I got a used Cech plywood like new for a $1000. New set of strings and some research on this site for set up stuff. I am very happy with the bass. I plan to play country, rock, bluegrass, and I will use it at church for the choir. The reason I got this bass was price first but I wouldn't be affraid to take it out to any venue. If I need more volume for my coffee house gigs I'll get a pickup. If I could afford another grand or less I'd get a hybrid from Bob or Upton or European. You can try mine too. PMs welcome.
     
  17. arseniotall

    arseniotall

    Dec 24, 2005
    dc
    plywood is a waste of money? I think thats a little harsh in my opinion. I have a 40's kay that has eaten several basses sound and tone that have cost three times the price. bottomline: get wut sounds and feels good, thats all that really matters. Whether it is carved or ply.

    Im in DC. You can come to the Bohemian Caverns on tuesday or saturday and check out my kay if you'd like.
     
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    ...proving once again that personal preferences vary greatly and/or that price is not a reliable guide to quality. Assuming the nominal price of a Kay to be around $2k, FWIW, I've never heard one that could hold a candle to a bass that justifiably would cost $6k (usually fully-carved). That's my experience anyway.
     
  19. arseniotall

    arseniotall

    Dec 24, 2005
    dc
    and/or

    for jazz.... my experience has been totally the opposite. I have done gigs on 10k dollar basses in europe who sound couldnt hold a candle to my KAY. My employer, a grammy nominated jazz artist, agreed with me totally.
     
  20. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Probably has a lot more to do with strings and set up than the top of the instrument, for example you will get your sound out of your bass better than a bass with arco strings set up for orchestral playing. I generally sound better on my bass, too. A carved top is not only about sound, but how the vibration keep the sounds moving and thus takes less energy and smooths things out.

    Also, it is better for arco, and even if you just want to play pizzicato, arco practice is the fastest way to get decent intonation, and a nasally plywood is going to be less inspiring to practice on.
     

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