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Re: Reworking An Engelhardt ES-1 for Bluegrass

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Posted by Don Cornwell ( on June 04, 2002 at 16:44:57:

In Reply to: Reworking An Engelhardt ES-1 for Bluegrass posted by Thump on June 03, 2002 at 12:33:15:

: About a year ago I bought a new ES-1 to get back into bluegrass play. I set it up myself out of the box. It seems to work OK for bluegrass. After playing a couple of other folks' basses at a festival recently I wondered if mine could be set up better. One was an old Kay (50s-60s) and the other was a carved German (also old). I contacted a luthier in my region to inquire about this. He said that he sells and likes Engelhardts, but that he never simply sets them up out of the box. He says the bridge and the strings are thrown in the trash, the fingerboard planed and dressed, and then adds an adjustable bridge, new tailwire, and "some real strings." The cost for the work is around $4-500.

: I was told by the guy who originally sold me the ES-1 (a well-regarded dealer) that it would set up quite well out of the box compared to the lower-priced Engelhardt models. It actually sounds OK (had a little buzz once but it disappeared) but its sound is not as mellow as the two older basses I played (which were in fact really sweet). I cannot help but think that age was a major factor there, but maybe set-up could improve things.

: So what is the reigning wisdom here from those who have no economic interest in this transaction?

The only reason to have a luthier touch your bass
is if you're not happy with the way it plays or
sounds. You have to figure what it is about your
bass you don't like and then get several opinions
about how to address those concerns. I have four
basses and usually one of them is in the shop being glued or having the sound post or bridge
adjusted. (personally, I would never recommend an
adjustable bridge; metal never vibrates as well as
wood). It takes a long time for a laminate to
break in and in addition, a luthier who knows basses can probably help your bass sound better.
Good Luck, Don C. P.S. The price that your
luthier quoted is not out of line, but there could
be alternatives that would cost less.

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