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Who is the Fender of Upright Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by spliffnriff, May 5, 2004.

  1. Hi guys, I was wondering which manufacturer and bass would be the equivalent of the Fender American P bass?
    That is, which URB is the working horse bass for all you uprighters out there? :bag:
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    It ain't like that, beet. Basses that are manufactured in the same way as MIM Fenders are not played by pros, semi pros, serious students. You don't look for a "manufacturor", you listen for a sound. And you are just as likely to get that sound from a no-name factory bass from maybe Germany or Bohemia as you are from something that comes from a specific maker.

    Think KEN SMITH not FENDER, somebody who either puts his hand on every part of the instrument or has somebody who works on every part - no machines, hand made.

    The double bass world is not analogous to the slab world.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Prior to the company's collapse, the fairest answer to that question would probably have been Kay. And there are still plenty of them around, but now the old ones have gotten trendy along with more rare, so they are quite pricey for what they are. Wow that really makes the Fender comparison a fair one!!!

    But really the is answer is that there isn't one. DBs aren't the same animal, nor are the players.

    DBs aren't produced in large enough quantities under a single label for the "workhorse" label to really take shape. Plus, the sound, feel and playability of a DB has as much or more to do with the private luthier(s) who have/will get ahold of it down the road as it does the label on it.

    The players typically don't care what label is in it as long as it does what they want it to do.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I'm with Chasarms and would guess Englehardt, who I understand have purchased Kay's secrets some decades ago.

    Unlike Fender, though, Kay didn't invent the double bass.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    In fact many players don't even know what they actually own!

    I get lots of questions at gigs about what kind of bass I play and the answer is I have no idea...it was factory made in West Germany, probably in the 1950s. Beyond that I know nothing.
  6. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    If you're talking workhorse instead of innovator, I would say, for a plywood, Kay, and for a carved, Juzek/Wilfer or any of the similar Czech/German basses that fall into that pattern.
  7. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    I would go with Kay. Its not an Alembic or Ken Smith but it is not a Tiesco or Hondo either.

  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So equally, it shouldn't matter how an EUB looks - as long as it sounds good, then it shouldn't matter? ;)

    I was going to say that the Kay = Fender equation doesn't hold up, as you never see Kays in Europe - whereas we have a huge surfeit of Fenders!!
  9. If you can find one that sounds good. :)
  10. Thanks guys, I think my quest is to find a bass that sounds good..... tough to do with a AUB newbie, I am still learning how to produce good sounds. Hey if there is anyone in Toronto who knows the great places to get one, please let me know.

  11. To be more accurate, in 1969 Kay was a subsidiary of Valco, who went out of business. Valco's assets were sold at auction, and Valco executives Robert Engelhardt and Al Link bought them.

    To quote from "History of Henry Kurhmeyer and the Kay Musical Instrument Company" from an excellent Kay website at

    "During the time Valco was dissolving, Robert Engelhardt and Al Link formed a company called Engelhardt-Link. At the auction the new company purchased the bass and cello portion of Valco. Included in the sale were all the assets, remaining inventory, jigs, forms, and tools necessary to produce basses and cellos. Fortunately, Engelhardt-Link was also able to convince a couple of very knowledgeable employees to stay with the company and continue production of upright instruments as they had been produced in years past.

    As soon as Engelhardt-Link purchased the acoustic part of the Valco business the bass and cello line was moved to yet another building in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, located at 185 King St. The first Engelhardt bass, made the "Kay way," was shipped from its new factory on February 18, 1970."

    Cheers, Tim