What do you know about Bulgarian Basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by ZorkBogg, Nov 4, 2004.

  1. ZorkBogg


    Nov 4, 2004
    Has anyone here any experience with the Bulgarian basses that Bob Gollihur is selling? I am a student looking for a good quality bass that will serve me well for years to come. Is this a good choice?
  2. ZorkBogg


    Nov 4, 2004
    I was really hoping to get some advice here. I am a parent who is trying to get a bass for my son who is a Jr High student. I don't want to get ripped off by buying a craptastic bass. I don't really know what to look for. The Bulgarian Basses look good, but I was hoping for an review from someone who has one, or has seen one. Are they too good to be true?

    I am not looking for the worlds finest bass, I just want to know if it is worth the wait and the cost.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Did you follow Steve's link?

    That seems to be the only case of a TB'er actually owning one. Bob Gollihur gives a very comprehensive review on his website and includes many pictures and sound samples.

    But I can't remember anybody else here saying that they owned one or had any experience? Anyway - time passes very slowly on the DB side ....

    [Tumbleweed blows across....]

  4. ZorkBogg


    Nov 4, 2004
    Yepper, I did follow the link and I have looked at Bob's website. Bob says it is real nice.

    I just don't know what I can believe. I see the Englehardts advertised, USA made, good price, evolved from the beloved KAY. My son's teacher says they are junk. Did they use to be and now they are good? Is it just that they need to be properly set? I have no idea.

    I can buy a used school bass for $1200 , an Englehardt for $1300 or one of Bob's for $2250. What would you do as a parent of a teenage boy?
  5. I think that the universal opinion on TB is that Bob don't sell no junk. The Bulgarians may not be a symphonic quality instrument but they would probably be a pretty good starter bass.

    What sort of music is your son learning? I can't say as I agree with the teacher's assessment of the Engelhardts as being crap. I have owned an ES-9 for several years and while it is not terribly well suited for arco, it works pretty well for pizz. If the boy is moving into any non-classical field the E'hardt might be a good starter bass. They are well built and I doubt if you have any worries of one disintegrating like a cheap chinese.

    Have you checked with any luthier/bass shops for used instruments?
  6. skullhead


    Aug 27, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have one of Bob's 5-strings. Very solid. The set-up as shipped was impossible to bow. Bridge had to be replaced. After two years, the sound has really opened-up. The fit / finish is very nice. I would have prefered the satin finish, but it wasn't available at the time.

    So, it's well worth the price, but if I had it to do over again, I'd request that it be shipped with an uncut bridge, and have your local luthier ready to shape it.

    Almost forgot. The pos hanger-type tailwire failed as soon as I brought it up to pitch, so have a replacement ready to go.

    Recommended, but not "playable" out of the crate.
  7. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I've long since gotten them to use a multistrand steel cable and clamp; I didn't like the original twisted tailwire, either, so a tailgut replacement is no longer necessary.
  8. I first saw one of Bob's five string Bulgarian double basses about 2 years ago in Savannah, GA. It was purchased by a fellow who is not a forum member that I know of who plays archo with a community symphony as well as other styles. At the time he was pleased with the bass and it looked great and sounded very full bodied. The symphony director liked it so much that they were intending to get another one.

    I have since spoken (just a few months ago) again to this fellow and he is still very pleased with the bass. He has had some "tweaks" done by Anna Huthmaker in Duluth, GA. and also had some minor adjustments done by George Hofer in Savannah. Both of these people are reputable violin luthiers. The tailwire was replaced and the general violin shop setup stuff done. George specializes in double basses and rebuilds them. I spoke with George just a few months ago (I plan to visit him as soon as time permits) and he recommended Bob's basses as being a very unusual value for the price.

    As far as the comments about them being heavy, I don't remember this fellow complaining or George thinking it was unusual in that way. My teacher's carved bass (old German) is extremely heavy compared with my plywood bass. This may be typical.

    I would buy one of Bob's Basses if he would make me one a little larger, say 7/8 or 4/4, but that is not a quality issue (and hopefully he will read this and send me an e-mail saying it can be so!). I have dealt with Bob on some minor items, a bow (great bow, too!) and a pick-up and he delivers quality products and is probably the only dealer I would buy from sight unseen.

    As far as the Engelhardts go, I saw one made several years ago and have seen one made far more recently. They are better now as reported. The earlier one I saw was one of the worst sounding DB's I've heard. The more recent one was an acceptable beginner instrument, well made and with a surprisingly pleasing tone, but not very much volume. Personally, I would have to say that the Bulgarian carved bass I saw just blows these away in terms of construction and tone and volume. Big difference.

    The vintage Kay's tend to vary substantially, some being ruined by poor repairs, others benefitting from genuine improvements. I don't think that on the whole they are better or worse than the new Engelhardts and the "vintage" price tag is very questionable. I hope I might have been helpful and I wish your son well in his musical pursuits. Any DB will be challenging and I encourage him to stick with it.
  9. Just a quick note to second the motion that (All Hail) Bob Golihur is a man of ethics and to be trusted. In all my dealings with him he has been generous with advice and honest in his dealings.:cool: As for the Kays. If you can find one, definitely check it out. I would never sell my '52 Swingmaster. For what I do (jazz and bluegrass) it's perfect. :D

    Just my $.02

    Best to your son in his bass endeavours.
  10. skullhead


    Aug 27, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    As far as dealing with Bob, he's a real pro and handled some terrible newbie questions with class. Knowing as little as I did at the time, I should have spent the $ to let Bob set up the 5-string. If you have a luthier, maybe have it delivered to him. Save a trip, and he could put the (nice) crate to use. Again, the product is great and Bob's service is even better.
  11. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I would also like to raise my hand in support of Bob Gollihur.
    My experiance wasn't with his Bulgarian basses (allthough I may want to get one someday) but with another brand he sells, The Eminence EUB. I sent him about 3 grand for one about to years ago, (the cost of the bass + hard case+ shipping) a compleatly blind purchase for what at the time was a relatively unknown make of instument. No big name players were giving their endorsements, nobody to speak of was playing the bass in clubs for me to check out and there were no CD recordings available for me to hear what the bass might sound like.
    The only thing I had to go on was his word that the bass's workmanship and capabilities were indeed true to their representations on his web-site and that if after taking delivery of the bass I was dissapointed, I could return the bass for a refund.
    He sent the bass from the United States, all the way to Dubai, UAE, the heart of the Middle-East, were at the time I happened to playing jazz steadily at a Super-Deluxe hotel.
    This was a leap of faith for me, to send a man I'd never met in person a large amount of money for an instrument that I'd never played, heard or even had seen except in a picture on a computer screen, nevertheless, I decided it was worth the gamble. Why did I trust the bass would be all that Bob claimed it would be on his web-site, and that if I came to find that it wasn't, I could be assured of a refund?
    Because he said so! Simple as that. A man's word is his bond and Bob struck me as being a man of his word. The bass of course proved to be exactly what he claimed it would be.
    I'd buy from Bob again without hesitation. He has proven to truly be a man of his word, too rare a commodity in these troubling times.
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    And the other thing that's really cool about him is that you can reach him, or his equally cool son, Mark, just about any time you have a question. If you call him, you'll talk to him personally, and if you email him, he'll often respond immediately. Not sure how he does that! But I do appreciate it.

    Other guys who have that level of commitment to the customer are Arnold Schnitzer of AES and Marty Paglione of AMT mics. It comes in very handy when you live on a little rock out in the middle of the ocean.
  13. rscconrad


    Apr 26, 2004

    I saw from your profile you live in Illinois.

    Engelhardt is located by Ohare. If you get a chance stop by and see them.

    They have factory seconds that are cosmetic flaws at a good discount.

    I went over there and came home with one. Call them on the phone, they will tell you what they have and at what price. It may change your prespective.

    Just some freidnly advice. As far as Bob goes, when I order stuff, it is from him, strings, stand, bow, books, case. I think he is a good guy to do business with but since you live in Illinois you have another option.

    Even if you buy a new one you can save on the shipping.

  14. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I don't quite know what to say, other than I thank you all for your very kind words!!

    and in response to this question, yes, I can have them made in 4/4 size. I can't put my hands on the numbers, but I recall that the one I have had made was more in 7/8 territory.