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  1. #1

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    Has anyone been tempted to try out an acoustic bass guitar. I've been trying out a few bass lines/runs lately for purely educational purposes, just using the bottom four strings, but I've been thinking a real bass would be more authentic. I like the sound of acoustic basses (closer to an upright bass than an electric) and fretless might improve my understanding of intonation. Crafter do one that seems to be mid-priced which is generating GAS. Anyone got experience of these, or suggestions.

    R.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quite a few times recently, I've been to a band practice and found no bassplayer there, and had to fill in. So I have been working on bass and whereas I'm not sure that I have time to get my act together on double bass, I am tempted by an EUB or a fretless bass guitar.

    However, the Dean Pace is a fretless electric bass 9 with a double-bass styled neck) designed to be played upright, with double-bass technique. It gets a bad rap on the Bass forums, but I tried one and it might just work to give me a faux-upright sound (-ish) without my having to re-learn what I did 35 years ago. Maybe have a look at something like that?



    BUT please note, the fingerboard radius is too flat for playing arco (bowed). On the other hand, the 35" scale means that it will take bass guitar strings. Swinga and roundabouts.

  4. #3

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    I gig/gigged with the bass more often than I gig with the guitar. (More jobs for bass players, and I just like playing jazz.)

    From my perspective, there are good and valid reasons for sometimes avoiding the double bass (upright).

    But if the double bass is being avoided because of concerns that it is too different from the guitar for a guitarist to play and to derive benefit from that playing...I say that these concerns should be set aside. It's not as different as you might think...there is a lot of transfer of learning between the two...practice on one does work as practice on the other.

    But if you need portable...if you need cheap...if you need small because you live in a tiny apartment...the double bass may not be for you.

    For those occasions where the double bass isn't practical, I've turned to the fretless slab. But I feel it needs a synthetic fingerboard (or synthetic -- epoxy -- coating) so that it can be played with round wound strings...it still doesn't sound like an upright, but some of the "Mwah" and growl of an upright will come through, and I can't get that with flatwounds on a rose wood fingerboard.

    To me, it's the combination of round wound strings and the amp that allows a semi acceptable substitute for the double bass sound to be produced by a bass guitar. And I haven't found any combination of acoustic bass guitar, strings and amp that really provides that acceptable substitute.

    Obviously, other styles of music call for different things, and the acoustic bass guitar has its place. But in the context of jazz, and particularly in those jazz setting where the double bass is more or less expected, the acoustic bass guitar just doesn't cut it for me.

    I suggest -- if you can afford it, if you can transport it, if you can house it -- simply sucking it up and buying something like an old Kay.

    If you cannot afford it, cannot get it across town, have no space to keep it at home...forget the double bass for now and buy a fretless solid body bass guitar with either a synthetic fingerboard, or one that has perhaps been defretted and epoxied to allow round wound strings.

    Or get a tuba.

  5. #4

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    I've had experience with two acoustic guitar like basses. (They're not really bass guitars because those are set up differently. They're termed electric basses). One was the Martin bass series which is not bad but doesn't have the volume to really do what's necessary. I also have a custom made bass which was made from a 1951 Epi Deluxe body with a fretless neck grafted on like the head and neck of the Frankenstein monster. It also doesn't have the volume of an upright but when played with the electric on, it sounds fantastic. The key is to keep the volume on the pickup a little lower and pluck the strings a bit harder. Then you get the right amount of decay as well as more of an upright sound. I've got to get a picture of the thing because it looks like nothing else.

  6. #5

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    Hey Raq,
    I bought myself a Harley Benton fretless bass (Thomann.de). It has a piezo and a simple pre amp, it shipped with roundwounds which I changed to black tapewounds and with a chunk of dense foam under the strings by the bridge it does a passable imitation of a double bass. It doesn't have fret markers and the side dots on the binding are from the fretted version so they're not that accurate to 'read' from. The neck is a D shape and exceptionally loong at a full 34" scale. The neck is a mahogany derivative and the top is laminated with what seems to be spruce/mahogany/spruce, the sides and back are laminated also. S
    Now if you are interested I'm selling it complete with a huge hardcase, not gigged, just used for home recording.
    Im based in SW Scotland here in the UK so PM me if you're interested and I'll send pix and videos of playability.
    Oh, and the price is a straight up, no quibble £150 all in!

    Here's a link
    HARLEY BENTON HBB 30 NT FL - Thomann UK Cyberstore

    Hope this helps
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAQ View Post
    Has anyone been tempted to try out an acoustic bass guitar. I've been trying out a few bass lines/runs lately for purely educational purposes, just using the bottom four strings, but I've been thinking a real bass would be more authentic. I like the sound of acoustic basses (closer to an upright bass than an electric) and fretless might improve my understanding of intonation. Crafter do one that seems to be mid-priced which is generating GAS. Anyone got experience of these, or suggestions.

    R.
    People say most of these basses are a bit weak when played unplugged with dreadnoughts but to my ears thay are a good match, volume wise, with archtops. There are many options as far as strings/sound. It's a mystery to me why people don't use 4-string acoustic basses for gypsy/Django stuff. With the right strings I think they would sound nice. For modern jazz I don't know if they would sound right.
    Paul Mcartney did get a bit of a jazzy tone with those nylons he used to use in the old days.

  8. #7

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    If you want something little with a lot of bottom, try these, I hear bluegarass upright players love them. The bassist in our big band brought one to rehearsal once and it was unbelievable how great it sounded. I know, you said an acoustic.

    DeArmond Ashbory Fretless Bass


  9. #8

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    I have a resonator acoustic bass. It's not fretless, but that's what the Ric is for.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    If you want something little with a lot of bottom, try these, I hear bluegarass upright players love them. The bassist in our big band brought one to rehearsal once and it was unbelievable how great it sounded. I know, you said an acoustic.

    DeArmond Ashbory Fretless Bass

    Or if you want something that can be played acoustically, try this:-


  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mangotango View Post
    Or if you want something that can be played acoustically, try this:-

    I have played a fretless UBass a few times. It's very cool and sounds great, but there is almost no way you can play it acoustically, even to practice by yourself. It is very, very quiet. I highly recommend it though. It has the same feel-good effect as the ukulele.

    It sounds great through a Phil Jones Briefcase or a Bass Cub BG-100 (I played with both ).
    Last edited by Eddie Lang; 11-10-2011 at 05:53 PM.

  12. #11

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    If you want to get a good acoustic bass sound out of a bass guitar, you just have to palm mute. The technique is a bit different from doing it on guitar, but it sounds great. I learned it from Marcus Miller at a masterclass, and our bassist has been using it to great effect so he doesn't have to bring his upright to every gig. The trick is to get the initial attack of the note out, a nice firm "thump", and kill the sustain. Flatwound strings help a lot in this regard.

    I'm not a fan of acoustic bass guitars because they don't have enough volume to play unplugged in many settings, and I don't think the tone makes much difference once you plug it in.

    As for fretless, well, I'll paraphrase another teacher at the above-mentioned masterclass. Fretless bass guitar is one of the most unforgiving instruments ever to be devised, because everyone can hear your poor intonation and mistakes, much more so than even an electric upright, so you have to be willing to dedicate plenty of practice time to getting it right, even with a lined fretless. If you want to take that time to learn, more power to you, but a P-bass or a J-bass and a decent amp will get the job done.

  13. #12

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    Thanks for all your comments. I'm not ignoring your contributions, just dithering. I am, though, determined to reach a decision - I just don't know what it is yet.

  14. #13

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    For guitarists to double on fretless bass, having the fretlines is very helpful. I picked up and Ibanez 5-string acoustic bass guitar a few years ago, and had my tech yank the frets and fill in the slots with strips (maple, I think), and threw a set of nylon-wound strings on it. it works very well, sounds a bit like Ron Carter's bass. I have the high C tuning, getting into the Marvin Gaye range. I say go for it, it's really fun!

  15. #14

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    This guy sound astonishly good and has a very guitar like technique...



    sorry, the embedded youtube does not work. Here is the
    Last edited by boo; 11-13-2011 at 04:28 AM.
    Please excuse my bad english!

  16. #15

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    I LOVE acoustic fretless bass guitar....i've an ibanez, gotten used at guitar center last summer--$125...previous owner had bronze roundwounds on it--clang clang clang--i put d'addario chrome flatwounds on it...perfect match.

    FYI: dean offers a basic fretless acoustic bass...retails for around $200..that's the least expensive acoustic fretless i've seen.

    my fave bass sound in the world, for almost any kinda music, is acoustic upright...but i've neither the space or funds for one...the fretless acoustic bass guitar gets close-enough, soundwise, for my needs--primarily home recording

    mine has a saddle transducer, but i really dont like that sound (on bass OR acoustic guitar)...so instead i mic it...variety of mics, mic placement, eq etc..it doesn't get that fat ooomph of an upright, but to my ears it works better for jazz-oriented music than a solid body fretless...

    occasionally i've recorded it by using a dean markley soundhole pickup--the kind designed for acoustic flat-top guitars...which sounds good but makes it sound more like an electric bass

    here's a home recording done this weekend using the ibanez acoustic fretless, mic'd with a sony small diaphragm condensor mic:

    Last edited by janepaints; 03-23-2014 at 06:21 PM.

  17. #16

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    there are many rigs available, some of which combine mics with transducers (better than piezos) for a very realistic yet controllable sound.

  18. #17

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    My son has a Gold Tone Micro Bass, which is a little bigger than a UBass, but has similar strings. It has a pleasant sound.

    i know a guy who builds very high end guitars and basses, and he plays a cheap Dean when he wants that acoustic bass sound.

  19. #18

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    Hello again - I've had one of those emails telling me you all miss me. I can't imagine that is really true, because although I try to take part from time to time, I'm too much of a novice to contribute much; but I do have some news on the 'bass guitar' front.

    I took heed of Atticus's advice and steered myself away from the fretless idea, then spent some time dithering between Squier J and P basses. In the end I was tempted into the Epi 'Jack Casady' bass - acoustic enough to try out ideas without plugging in, and still acoustic enough for me when you use the varitone settings through the amp (basic Fender Rumble 15). I was swayed by the impracticalities of going fretless and this down-to-earth Youtube review:


  20. #19

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    Hey Raq

    A tip for fretless 'thump' sound on a fretted bass is to put a wedge of high density rubber under the strings by the saddles to help mute the string. I used this to great effect back in the day.

    Some bass guitar manufacturers used to have a device manufactured into production models


    Fender Mustang bass with rubber mute system, I remember ordering the part through a Fender dealer at the time.
    It was fiddly to use, you had to slide it forwards and backwards. Great sound from this bass though.


    Rickenbacker bass bridge with thumb screw adjustment, easier to use.



    Modern solution, extra holes though, not efficient IMO


    Easiest solution but not elegant! Also needing smaller saddle adjustment screws or a neck shim!
    The original chrome saddle cover would have had a wedge of rubber glued on but it's an 'All or nothing' system, cannot easily change between numbers (or have 2 basses on stage!).



    This fella used a bit of nouse and made one for his Cassidy bass!

    Full info here

    Epiphone/Gibson-style Bass Guitar Bridge Mute - Hewson Chen

    Try it out, you might like!
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  21. #20

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    Tacoma Thunderchiefs come up on eBay and Craigslist. There are fretted and fretless necks (easily interchangeable). These seem to be considered the best sounding of the ABGs. My wife's CB10 certainly sounds good, but it's not an upright.

    La Bella black tape wound strings are said to get you closer to an upright sound. We bought a set only to discover that the pin holes at the bridge and grooves at the nut need to be bigger. I didn't want to change the bass to accommodate just one brand/set of strings, so we didn't get to try them.

    Joe

  22. #21

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    In my limited experience if you want to simulate a stand-up sound it has everything to do with the string material. Nylon, tape wound, etc...
    There's a variety of different materials out there but due to the cost of strings maybe we don't experiment very much.

    I always wanted to take something like a Harmony tenor guitar, tear it apart, reinforce the insides and put some tape wounds on it. Wonder how it would compare to a U-bass.

    https://reverb-res.cloudinary.com/im...zqa01ablrm.jpg

  23. #22

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    I had a Washburn 5 string fretless eab for a while. It sounded good plugged in but was completely inadequate acoustical. The neck width was too wide and very uncomfortable to play for more than a couple of numbers. Sold it. Boulder Creek basses are getting good reviews, as are Michael Kelly basses. None are really set up to play acoustically and therefore you might must as well buy yourself a solid bodied electric fretless which you can make sound like an upright and is much more comfortable.