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Noobie with setup questions?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Chasarms, Feb 26, 2002.


  1. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I just purchased my first URB. With my budget, tastes, interests and after reading as much as I could, I ended up landing an Engelhardt ES9.

    As I have read many times here, the key to a good bass is setup. I figured as much. I have been playing EBG and acoustic for 16 years. Of course, there's nothing out there I can't get right on a EBG with the right allen wrench and a little patience. With this big boy, I am lost.

    I have reviewed the Hammond Ashley site and have seen that they sell basses that have been "set up" and the costs are as high as and additional $750. They include a new post, bridge and a great deal of hand work. Even scraping and oiling the neck? Is that similar to sanding the laquer off the neck of an EBG?

    Of course, it also includes new strings and such.

    Should I expect to spend another $750 on the bass to make it sound and play suitably?

    If so, I will have to take it in steps. Can someone offer me a short list of a few things to start with and perhaps work into that $750 worth of work over the course of a couple of years or so.


    Thanks very much,

    Chas
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Planing fingerboard and shaping the bridge/nut should be your priorities, as you will injure yourself without them.

    IMO, the other stuff can wait.
     
  3. As much as we all like to save money, we also have to realize that quality work is going to cost more that average or less than average work.

    This is not meant as a commercial for Hammond Ashley Associates, but I have visited with the folks at Hammond Ashley many times over the years and I can assure you that they do quality work. They have been in the double bass business since the mid 1960s. You can be assured that if they say it has been setup in their shop that the instrument will be very playable out of the box. I've noticed that several discount type shops are selling double basses on the internet and saying you should by theirs because it has been setup in their shop. Which one do you think will be doing the better job of setting up the instrument for sale?

    It is quite possible that a fingerboard planning and nut/bridge adjustment will be all that will be needed to make it playable. Then again...

    Since you've already purchased you instrument, my advice is to find a luthier in your area that specializes in double basses. I sure that he (or she) would be willing to inspect your instrument and tell you what work is needed to make it play and sound as well as is possible for that particular instrument.
     
  4. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    the big problem is that luthiers take the same money to set up a Kay or an Engelhardt that they would take to set up a Testore....
    anyway,i play mainly with a Kay and i love it for the style i play(30's-40's music) and 2 months ago i spent $700 to put it in the best possible shape
    i'm sure now it sounds better than in 1952 when it was made....
    if you think that you're gonna stay with your engelhardt
    for a while, invest on the right set up....
    i can tell you that my kay sounds much better than a lot of expensive basses...and its not just me wo says it....its my luthier and another bass players...
    and at least i dont care about the humidity....
    all the best

    N.A.
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, since you already play EBG you know what a good setup means. It's no different for a violin, cello, double bass, piano, guitar, ukelele... Perhaps like you, I think hundreds of dollars to do this kind of work is downright CRAZY. I wouldn't think of paying this kind of cash to get my piano tuned and sticking keys repaired. So I did my homework and did it myself. But I've already got sandpaper, block planes, feeler gauges, needle files, documentation, motivation, etc. I'm NOT asserting that you won't get a quality setup treatment on your Englehart for $750, but if you are conscious of things like even and useful string spacing, action, straight fingerboards, tone, money not growing on trees, love the art and craft of woodworking...

    And yet if I had $20,000 to burn, I'd burn it on one of those gorgeous Kolstein basses that have the year 1680 or something in it's description. To make music on a bass that's absorbed so much human history would be a dream for me, even if it sounded like my Strunal.

    So I'll never laugh at you for doing it.