Ever hear of Engelhardt?? How about KAY!?!?
Engelhardt bought Kay's double bass and cello production facilities in the late 60's when Kay closed up, and has continued manufacturing the same line of basses and cellos ever since. They had a few rough years in there, but their quality control made significant gains in the last few years -- they are making exceptionally solid, consistently good-sounding basses these days, far, far better than the many cheapie imported laminated instruments that seem to self-destruct rather readily and regularly. And their prices are very affordable. See my FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and comments below for further information you may find useful.
ES-1 Supreme Bass
The ES series (Supreme and Swingmaster) differs from the EM (Maestro) in two primary ways. First, it uses ebony for the fingerboard and tailpiece, and the body is made of "more select woods." Be aware, however, that these better quality woods are chosen for their appearance, since the ES1 and ES9 have a more transparent finish to show off these woods. These instruments receive additional attention and are quite attractive. The ES-1 no longer has a sunburst effect, it is much nicer with the uniform deep reddish-brown finish you see in the photos I took. Ebony trimmed basses now have aircraft cable on the tailpieces and the bridges have been upgraded to a fitted quartered maple bridge.
Also note that the Supreme model is now also available as the "EG-1", which has the same specifications but has the smoothly rounded "Gamba" style corners (as shown at right) rather than the pointed "Violin" style corners of the standard ES-1. Overall length, 72 inches; scale or string length, 42 inches.
List Price -
Basses ship by truck see shipping costs below
« ES-1 EG-1»
Frequently Asked Questions
LEFT-HANDED??? Yes, I can special order Engelhardts as true left-handed basses for an additional charge of $295.
Bob, what's the diff?? -- If $$ are a concern, go for the EC-1 or EM-1, you won't be disappointed. They are great-looking and -sounding basses at bargain prices. However, if you have the extra bucks and intend to keep the bass for a long time (I've had my '41 Kay since 1966!!), spoil yourself a bit with the Supreme, or Swingmaster if you like the look. The Maestro is a bit darker, the Supreme has the more "traditional" transparent reddish-brown colored violin finish, and the Swingmaster is that striking blonde that everybody whistles at.
Ebony or Jatoba, what's the diff, Bob??? --
Ebony is the traditional fingerboard wood for upright basses, as it is a very hard wood and resists wear well. Jatoba is a good substitute, and it's pretty tough, but it's not as hard as ebony. If you are an aggressive player and/or intend to slap or use rough strings that will abrade the fingerboard, ebony is the better choice. However, unless you are going to be playing six hours a day it will be a while before jatoba becomes a worry. Ebony can also have a slightly brighter response than jatoba, which may be a little warmer -- but there are so many other variables involved it's not something to get too excited about.
3/4!?!?! I want a FULL SIZE BASS!!
No. You don't. Probably 99.5% of the basses on the planet are 3/4 size; it is the most-recognized "regular size" upright bass. The scale length (length of the string that speaks, from the slotted nut at the top at the fingerboard to the bridge) is 41.5 inches, and most other 3/4 size basses are in that same 41-42 inch range. "Full size" or 4/4 size basses usually have a longer scale length, and the body is larger, and frankly, there isn't a significant advantage, if any -- and you'll have a helluva time playing it and reselling it. Unlike the Olympic Diving competition, there are no extra points for degree of difficulty in bass playing! ;-)
All Kay and Engelhardt bodies are made by laminated construction rather than carved from solid wood. The necks are, of course, solid maple, the body fronts are spruce, the sides and backs are maple - the traditional woods for the stringed instrument family. Laminated basses were developed in the early twentieth century as a more robust alternative to carved instruments, for both price and longevity in hostile environments like USO tours, outdoor work, dry areas, and abusive conditions (like high schools!) A carved bass' large expanses of wood have no choice but to eventually crack and require repairs as they age at different rates and directions, and are especially vulnerable to low humidity, and high humidity and heat. Laminated basses were created to conquer those weaknesses.
The Engelhardts are somewhat playable from the factory with a medium setup, and I have them shipped directly to you from the factory or the warehouse. All factory basses will need some of setup work to tailor them to your playing preferences and to achieve the bass' full potential. Please expect to do a little work yourself if you are experienced with this sort of thing, or to pay a local luthier to refine the nut, bridge, and possibly fingerboard shape.
All basses are shipped by truck, as they are too large for UPS or FedEx. Yes, they are insured in transit, and well-packed. I've only had two mishaps with these basses, and they both were promptly replaced at no expense to the customer.
Costs for shipping a bass in the continental USA usually range between $130-$200, depending on location. Sorry, I cannot ship Engelhardt basses outside of the US and Canada at this time. In addition, The trucking companies add a hefty surcharge for shipping to a residential address, so if you can have it come to your work or a friend's business*, it may be well worth it, as you can save the cost of the surcharge, which are usually an additional $40-75 above the standard rate.
Also note that surcharges sometimes apply to deliveries in major metropolitan areas. There may occasionally be Fuel Surcharges assessed, typically in the western states. We have no control over these surcharges when they are assessed, and cannot get them discounted or removed; however, they are pretty rare.
All bass purchase freight amounts will be calculated and submitted for your approval before your purchase is finalized. (Note that our website does NOT charge your credit card when you place your order - all charges are done by us manually, once you've confirmed your total.)
* Note that to qualify, a business must be a storefront business with typical 9-5 operating hours; home businesses in residential areas do not meet the trucking company's qualifications. Unfortunately, neither do churches, schools or colleges - the residential surcharge does apply to basses shipped to a school or church.
Again: We will not process an order, charge your card, or ship your bass until we quote shipping and receive your approval.
Read this interesting History of Engelhardt Basses along with the history of the Kay basses that preceded them. Note: This is a page outside of our site, so we cannot vouch for the accuracy of all content. For instance, Engelhardts are much more readily available for purchase and delivery than what that site currently states.