What 'bout Englehardt's value?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by clochard, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. Greetings lads and gals:

    I'm looking for a DB on a relatively limited budget - as is every budget i guess (I'll be needing a versatile bass with a clear sound). After searching the net, it seems the Englehardt basses (concert, maestro or supreme) are worth the dough.

    Any thoughts/comparisons/comments on this, any experience from playing those that resulted in loving or hating them? Any evaluation on how much a luthier's job is necessary for the post-buy setup and-or corrections?

    Any input is welcome, for i'm about to get one shipped to my doorstep.


  2. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Check the sticky posts, but for the price range of an Engelhardt, you should look into a laminated Shen.
  3. mpoppitt


    Mar 28, 2005
    Austin Texas
    I'll second holding out for a Shen, I love mine.

    If your going Engel, at least get the EM, it's worth it to not have an 'ebonized' (painted) fingerboard.

    Check out Upton's Hawkes models (he sells Shens and Engels too)

    Check out Norton's Christophers (he sells Shens as well, it's where mine came from).

    Both of these guys only sell basses that are fully set-up, So it is worth it to deal with them, even if you find a 'better' deal on the same bass elsewhere.
  4. bpclark


    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    FWIW, I have had an Engelhardt C1(20+ years old) for 3 years and although it is better than no bass, it is not a bass I would recommend to anyone. It has had some work done to it since I got it (replace endpin, adjust soundpost, refit the bridge), and though it is much better than it was, it is still a one-trick pony. It's OK for some pizz things ie blue grass, etc., but playing it arco has always been an unpleasant adventure.

    I'm sure not all Engel's are like mine (particularily the newer ones), but make sure that you check out the alternatives, hopefully in person before ordering the Engel.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Engels are nice basses, and if you like a really thin neck, they're the way to go, but I prefer a bigger neck that gives you some room to stretch out. I own an Upton Hawkes, and in that price range I've yet to find a bass that beats it.
  6. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    I had an EM1 "shipped to my doorstep" in 2001, and I, too, saw the appeal of low price, free shipping, made in the US, etc. While it has been a solid bass, it has little to no character as a true musical instrument. You will have to have the fingerboard planed and the bridge set up, and unless they are being shipped with better strings, you will have to toss the strings immediately. Other improvements that I had done include a new soundpost and cable tailgut, along with a real non-rattling endpin. Not necessary from the get-go, but nice improvements to the sound. Oh, and the thin-neck experience is overrated. I've got small hands and fingers, and the thin neck does nothing for me.

    All told, I spent in the neighborhood of $500 to get it in playable shape, and that's not including my own time sanding the neck so that my thumb didn't stick and buffing out the violent lacquer that mine came with (I believe they have improved this). So, can it be shipped to your door? Yes. Is it really playable at that time? No.

    This is no knock against Englehardt (or you) in any way. I just wanted to pass on my experience because I was in a very similar position 5 years ago. In hindsight I regret buying it, and will be looking for a better bass in the near future.

    Good luck in your search!
  7. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    I know I am in the minority, but...

    With my only bass playing experience coming from playing my Fender P-Bass, my ES-1's thin neck felt natural to me.

    I was on a budget and I was able to find a local luthier to order a lefty Supreme for several hundred dollars cheaper than the Shen or Upton models. It was playable out of the box, but after a few months I did have the fingerboard dressed, changed the strings to Obligatos, and switched to an adjustable bridge. Even with all this work my total price was still cheaper than a righty model of the others. I am lucky to have a local luthier who can do the work. (He only deals with local pick-ups though)

    I am happy with my Supreme and if you are on a budget, it is not a bad bass. Everyone raves about the Shens and Uptons and if you can put the cash together you should give them a chance.
  8. Ok guys; thanks for the input;

    i must admit the englehardt choice was based on thin budget and experience, since the two basses i played long enough with were a ES-9 and a cheap china bass that won't bear a name. In that context, the ES was astounding.

    thanks for the altenatives, i'll surely go check that out immediately.

    also : thanks to jimclark for sharing his story, and may he rest assured that no offense is taken from an honest advice.

  9. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    ...and not only will an Upton laminate blow the doors (seams?) off an Engel, they're around the same price (including setup)!
  10. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    I would also add to my previous post, and to the broader and never-ending discussion at TB about purchasing a first bass, that I was exactly the kind of musician that the bretheren have tried desperately to educate in the quest for a first purchase. And I did nearly every single thing opposite of what was recommended - bought sight unseen, jumped at the first thing that I could afford, set my price point without considering setup costs, played it for months before taking it to a bass luthier - the list goes on and on. Probably my biggest mistake was believing that, since I 'only' played traditional folk music, and since I was 'only' a beginner, I did not need or deserve a better instrument. Very wrong on both accounts.

    Again, no attempt to equate my situation to clochard or anyone else reading this thread. Just sharing one person's experience and encouraging all to heed the advice of the many professionals who contribute to this forum (myself not included in this group!).
  11. I own an EM1 which I use for playing in a community orchestra. It was a huge upgrade from the chinese bass I bought on ebay so that I could get back into playing string bass. Over the two years that I have owned the EM1 I have replaced the strings (chomesteel) and had an adjustable bridge made for it both of which improved the sound. But the greatest improvement came with the purchase of a good bow. I brought a glasser braided fiber bow and the sound is as good as any laminate bass that I have played. If you play arco always consider getting a decent bow, it will make any bass sound better.
  12. dbgal


    Nov 28, 2005
    My experience was very similar to jimclark68- I was just getting back into DB after 20 years, & didn't want to spend a bunch of money on something that I wasn't sure I'd stick with. At the time I bought it, my only opportunity for playing was the community orchestra, but I've since started playing with a few other groups as well. I bought an EM1, shipped straight from the factory. The strings were out of there immediately- I replaced them with D'Addorio orchestras. Then I had a horrible buzz on the E string, so took it to the luthier. After having the fingerboard dressed, soundpost replaced, new adjustable bridge, and tailpiece cable installed, it is a decent bass and I'm happy with the tone & it's playability. I do plan to add to my stable- the wide shoulders on the Engle make it extremely difficult for me to play thumb position. But, I'm going to keep the Engle & set it up for pizz- I've got several groups I play with where the Engle is perfect. So, bottom line is: IMO the Engle is a decent bass, but expect to spend $$ getting it set up. Had I found TB prior to my purchase, I might have gone another route. Then again, maybe not. If you have an opportunity to play before you buy, that's definately your best choice. Good Luck!!