Old School: 1964 Egmond Princess Bass
Steve Leggett reached out to me with the story of a special bass: his 1964 Egmond Princess.
Steve shares the history of this bass, including some great details on the company behind it.
It’s an Egmond Princess bass from 1964.
How long have you owned it?
Just over nine years now.
How did you come across it?
I was fourteen years old and had been playing bass just under a year when a friend of mine brought it into school to show me, as he knew I played. Straight away I was like, ‘dude; you gotta sell me this thing, it’s the coolest bass ever!’ This was at a time when my main bass was a horrible no-name P-copy that had been the best I could afford the previous summer, so the dusty old Egmond had me completely smitten.
Not knowing what the bass was, or indeed what it was worth, we agreed between us to trade my treasured copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and all of what little cash I had at the time for it. None of the electronics worked, and the action was unplayable, so I remember spending the next few days running home from school to work on it.
Stock or customized? Give us all the specs!
As far as I know, it’s all 100% original! It’s had a few bodged repairs over the years though, for example, a dot marker up the dusty end of the fretboard has been replaced by a large screw, the primary function of which seems to be to hold the neck on.
Any special characteristics?
Mainly that it’s still intact after all these years! I remember showing it to my bass teacher at the time, who was surprised it hadn’t ended up as firewood and offered me some cash for it there and then. I politely declined, however. There can’t be too many others like this one out there- I’ll be interested to see if anyone reading this has anything similar, as I’ve yet to see an identical one for sale!
On a more serious note, I’ve strung it with flats, and it has a great tone, warm and clear with a cool ‘hollow’ sound going on in the midrange and no real muddiness whatsoever. It’s very ‘present.’ The controls are a bit unreliable, sometimes not working in certain settings despite my spraying lots of electrical switch cleaner into the pots and switches, but until I get around to repairing/replacing the electronics I just see it as part of the mojo! It’s also pretty cool to have 24 frets, and a well-finished neck on a bass like this as my playing style involves a lot of fretboard-exploration.
What’s your favorite story about the gear?
I might be wrong; but if I remember correctly, the story goes that my friend’s father won this bass in a game of cards while serving in the army somewhere in Continental Europe. It then spent years languishing in a shed before my friend dug it out to practice on at home for a music class project, before bringing it in to show me. I can only speculate what happened to it before that fateful hand of cards and its subsequent trip to England!
Any special history or story behind this instrument or the company who made it?
Egmond was one of the biggest producers of electric guitars in Europe in the early 60’s, building affordable guitars in a factory in Eindhoven, Holland. These guitars were built with quantity rather than quality in mind. However, mine has survived better than a lot of bigger-name guitars and basses from the era, so I suppose I got one of the good ones! I understand Egmond were also sold under several names internationally, most notably Rosetti in the UK.
Several big names started out playing Egmond guitars, including George Harrison, Paul McCartney (apparently Macca’s first bass was a Rosetti guitar, strung with three piano strings), and Brian May, who started on an Egmond Toledo acoustic. However, unfortunately, the company struggled with competition from the far-east, and by the end of the sixties, importers around the world started ordering from Korean manufacturers like Samick instead, leading to the company’s decline and eventual bankruptcy in 1983. (Source: Egmond).
Do you use it on gigs?
Unfortunately not at the moment! After 50+ years, the pickups are getting a little microphonic and will need rewiring at some point soon. Also, I play in a five-piece ukulele band (just four guys with ukuleles and then myself on bass) for a living, so naturally a Kala U-Bass has been my gigging instrument for the last few years. However, I’m looking into a few additional projects at the moment in the hopes of using it live again very soon!
Any other vintage gear?
Not sure if it’s quite old enough to count as ‘vintage’ yet, but I also own a beautiful 1987 Hohner ‘The Jack’ headless bass.
Tell us a little about yourself.
When I started playing bass ten years ago I knew straight away I wanted to be a professional musician. I moved to Liverpool to study music at university and began embedding myself in the music scene there while studying, performing all over the northwest of England with various groups until finally upon graduating I was able to go full-time with the band that had proved most popular of my various projects, a five-piece ukulele ensemble!
Since graduating and going professional, the rest of Ukebox and I have performed up and down the UK, and then in the last two years, we’ve traveled all around the world as guest entertainers performing theater shows on various cruise ships. We’re now starting to perform more gigs on land again and focus efforts on our original music after years of playing covers exclusively, and on a personal level, I’m looking for some performances as a ‘hired gun’ bassist around Manchester, where I now live.
Before I started working abroad so much, I used to be an avid buyer and seller of gear, and have owned around eighty guitars and basses since I started playing in 2007. I look forward to raising this number significantly in years to come!
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