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Looking for a good DB for bluegrass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Davis Goertzen, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. I'd like to get into playing bass in bluegrass, and would like to buy an upright acoustic bass. I'd like it to have very good projection, and I would also like it to be a laminate bass, as I have heard they hold up better on the road. I'm considering the Engelhardt Supreme. Recommendations, anyone? I'm prepared to spend money, but no more than absolutely necessary. I'd like this bass to last a long time. Thanks.

    Davis Goertzen
  2. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    You'd probably get lots of mileage and info from checking out the Newbie Links...this kind of question is asked and answered often.

    Instead of recommending a specific brand, I'll just advise you not to choose a bass for one style of music ("...I don't need a really nice bass, I'm just going to play bluegrass..."). Bluegrass bassists can benefit from a well-made, well-setup instrument just like jazzers or classical players. True you don't need an expensive carved bass, but you want something that's worth the extra time and expense required to get it set up for optimal performance. Every bass is different...try a bunch before you decide, and if possible have an experienced player or teacher help.....even if it is "just bluegrass".
  3. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Yeah, good setup helps. As a folkie myself, I'd advise you to get a bow and practice some classical exercises such as Simandl. Even if you only use that stuff for practice it will make you a better bassist. Besides, bowed drones sound great on modal tunes... "Cold Frosty Morning" and the like.
  4. Okay, Jason, that sounds interesting. Where can I find more about them? Are they carved or laminate? Roughly how much would one cost (Cd. funds please)? Thanks.

    BTW Mike, part of the reason that I was considering the Engelhardt Supreme was (1) it is laminate, which I have heard is more durable than carved, and (2) the store my brother works for can get them in. And I, living in Canada, would prefer not to kill myself on shipping charges.

    Thanks all for your input.

    Davis Goertzen
  5. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    You'll see lots of Engelharts and Kays at the Bluegrass festivals and I'm sure one would work well for you. I'm happy with my ES1. But I'll echo Mike - don't get hung up on a brand name, you've got a pretty good selection of laminates to choose from in the same general price range.

    Also, Engelharts are famous for having thinner necks than some others. Some players like them, while others - especially those with large hands - claim to get hand cramps and prefer thicker necks.

    Are there Bluegrass festivals in your area? You might attend one or two and talk to some of the band members, who might even let you try their instrument. That would give you a better idea before you put down your money.
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Bluegrass bass needs tone too! Think about it. You're on a slow tempo tune and you're playing a very simple one-five. Where's your mojo here besides your exquisite sense of time? It's in the sound, man. Make it growl.
  7. So true. I wish I had a dollar (US or Canadian) for every time I have heard someone talk about how the most important thing in bluegrass is a bass with a good thud. You can get that sound much cheaper by just kicking a cardboard box in time with the tune.

    Listen to a tune where a bass with good tone is playing. It adds greatly to the mix.