Your opinion on a starter bass, please

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by UrCorgi, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. UrCorgi


    Jan 22, 2018
    I've been looking for a starter bass, and a very well-used Englehardt has appeared locally. Here is the link: $650 · 1980's Englehardt 3/4 Upright bass. I haven't been able to check out the instrument yet, but I know Englehardts are generally considered acceptable starter basses. I'm also looking at a couple of used but relatively new Chinese factory instruments. The Englehardt is about $500 US; the two Chinese instruments are a bit more, but even when they were new, they didn't cost more than $1200-1300 US. Both Chinese basses come from fairly reliable sources and are not necessarily pieces of junk. I'm in my 70s, so I don't ever plan to get too serious about the bass -- if I live long enough, I'll more likely get to be a better fiddler or mandolin player. I only want to explore the bass for bluegrass. I'm concerned about the pits in the Englehardt's fingerboard, as I can imagine very expensive repairs, if required. Any obvious opinions about -- as Alice said -- "Which way? Which way?"
  2. That’s not a 3/4, it’s their EM-3 model which is 1/4.

    If it was an EM-1 3/4 and you could get it for $500 CAD I’d be telling to you call them right now.

    But you really don’t want a kid’s bass.
  3. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    Pass on that Englehardt. It needs serious work. In your position, I’d probably keep looking for something good used. I had an old Kay that was an excellent plywood bass. Those are generally better instruments that predate the Englehardts. My understanding is when Kay went out of business, Englehardt bought their tooling.

    If you can, try out one of the Chinese basses. They might be just the thing if you want to get up and running quickly with a minimum of drama. It’s not your main axe so mechanical condition considerations outweigh any sort musical advantage. I mean, this is music you can play a washtub bass to.
  4. UrCorgi


    Jan 22, 2018
    KUNGfu -- No, at 6'4", I certainly don't want a kids' bass!!! But what makes you say that it is a 1/4??? The seller appears to have played it long enough to know the difference between a cello and a double bass. Maybe he's a hobbit?
    saabfender -- thanks for your opinion. I hope to look at both the Englehardt and one of the Chinese basses this weekend. I'm just gathering all the information I can, since I bring nothing to the table myself!
  5. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    Wow. Since one half of my musical life is bluegrass I guess I'll have to dump one of my two basses and pick up a gut bucket. Silly me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2018
  6. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    Maybe "it's music a skilled bassist can play a washtub bass to." What do you have against that instrument anyway? I've played gigs with one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2018
  7. The weird proportions and the painted maple fingerboard. Once you know what you’re looking at you can’t unsee it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2018
  8. UrCorgi


    Jan 22, 2018
    Yep, that's why I'm here. I DON'T know what I'm looking for, and I appreciate the advice. Boy, the tone here sure took a twist, though.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Let's take sniping out of the thread, please - it isn't helping the OP at all. I have edited the worst of the personal stuff out per the post reports and request that we focus on helping the OP find a bass moving forward.

    Corgi - it's just my opinion, but unless you find an amazing deal on a piece of history (Kay, American Standard, King Moretone) in great shape where the seller doesn't know what they have, I think you'll get a better deal on a newer Chinese bass by a reputable maker. When you buy an older bass, you're paying partly for bass, and partly for "vintage cred/mojo", kind of like a vintage car. Vintage cars look cool and draw attention to themselves, but compared to modern cars they require a lot more work, are more prone to breaking down, and don't turn or brake as cleanly. If I were recommending a car for a new driver, I would recommend something 10 or less years old in good repair that handles well.

    Especially at your age and with your ambitions, I would recommend a bass with a decent sized neck that is stable, modern overstand, adjustable bridge, and quality ebony fingerboard. This will allow the bass to be easily set up with a string height that will make if approachable and fun to play and learn on. I've seen many lower priced "I got a deal on this" basses that students have had that are technically playable but not at all fun or ergonomic to play, and I wouldn't wish them on anyone. Kung Fu knows his stuff when it comes to basses, and he and others can help you find something more suitable if you keep asking. Good luck!
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
  11. UrCorgi


    Jan 22, 2018
    Thanks Chris. Makes a lot of sense, and I like the car analogy! And thanks for the link, Eric, but I'm looking at a couple of local second-hand Chinese basses here that appear to be decent (ie, more than Bass Shaped Objects).
  12. UrCorgi


    Jan 22, 2018
    Thanks for the various input, all valuable. But the Englehardt has been sold, so it is no longer an option. The advice here suggested it wasn't my best option anyway!
  13. I’ve been eyeing this old Gibson on reverb. As usual, it’s local pickup only but might be worth the drive south for you if you are in BC?

    Needs work but looks setup for bluegrass. Gibson Epiphone upright bass 1940s Gibson Epiphone upright bass 1940s | Gear Bazaar
  14. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    You sure, KfS? Granted the ebonized fingerboard, but where are the proportions "off"? And even on a stand, I find it hard to believe a 1/4 size DB will reach almost to the ceiling.
  15. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    There may be problems carrying that bass across a border because of the Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. It's obviously pre-CITES, but I'd first make sure I can carry it across.

    Here's info about rosewoods and CITES: Are Rosewoods (and Bubinga) really banned by CITES? | The Wood Database
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  16. Ish...look at the door.


    Apr 16, 2017
    Not sure if this was mentioned yet or not, but I learned on an englehardt because it was available. Personally, after playing a Chadwick (Shen model) I find the neck on Englehardts too thin and can cause some tension in the hand. I actually had to play a Kay this weekend (same as an Englehardt) and found the tension return to my hand. I would look for a bass that has a good neck for hand position. Go play a bunch and find the one you connect with the most.
  18. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    @UrCorgi if you're in BC, reach out to Jake at and let him know what you are looking for. He may know of something and might even have something that he could part with.
  19. Reverb has an article talks about the rosewood international shipping issue. You should not have any issues. They seem to be enforcing it against commercial entities, which is unfortunate for stores and manufacturers. Compliance is time consuming and expensive.

    I recently shipped a late 50s Kay bass guitar to Japan via USPO- arrived in a week no issues. It had a nice slab of beautiful rosewood for the fingerboard. Japan is a law-abiding and orderly society. No issues. And the whaling treaty. . .. ;/

    There may be other reasons, but I wouldn't let that get in the way.
  20. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    Don't mean to derail this thread, so just a brief note.

    I'm glad you had a good experience, but be aware this is the official position of the US:

    Musical Instruments

    Of course, the other country's official position/enforcement is also involved.