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  #1  
Old 04-17-2013, 07:03 PM
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Outpowering the sound of 2 acoustic guitars

Good evening everyone,

after reading the forum posts for 2 years, I decided to join in the fun more officially. I am currently playing bass guitars, but I currently see a progression in my taste that seem to suggest I should consider evolving in a double bass player.

I have a recurring problem: I am addicted to acoustic sound. This led my naĩve self to buy an acoustic bass guitar as my first ever instrument, thinking that I could play with acoustic guitarists without amplification. When it failed, I spent money on a more expensive and elaborate acoustic bass guitar.

My friends eventually built up the courage to tell me something close to: "look, your bass looks awesome, your execution is awesome, but we would love to hear the sound you produce so that we may enjoy our jam sessions even more".

Since then, I have been lugging my amp and my guitars, and attempting to hide the pout that creeps up when my friends can easily overpower an average sized room without even breaking a sweat, unplugued (those damned dreadnoughts can sing!)

I do not mind carrying around heavy gear: I just find pleasure in the organic feeling of plucking strings without electricity and being able to be heard in a simple, low key setting.

I do not fear the fretless necks, relearning an instrument and even taking on arco, pizzo, gear costs, courses, positioning, etc... What I fear is to bring an average double bass in a 12x12 room with my 2 guitarist friends and once again going through the disapointment of not being able to join in unamplified as my 2 last guitars did.

Would a normal 3/4 double bass be able to play with 2 acoustic guitars unamplified? Any piece of wisdom to share?

thanks,

Red Salamander
  #2  
Old 04-17-2013, 07:13 PM
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Yes
  #3  
Old 04-17-2013, 08:11 PM
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yes,... or even piano, drums, sax... etc... if the other musicians are sensitive and the bass player is willing to muscle the bass a little...
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  #4  
Old 04-17-2013, 08:20 PM
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The acoustic bass and acoustic guitar are a good match in volume. Just keep the dang banjo and fiddle players out of the jam!
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  #5  
Old 04-17-2013, 09:02 PM
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I'm usually jamming with three if not four guitarists, in a simularly-sized space. Cut through them just fine. You're hanging out in your own layer of the sonic spectrum.
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  #6  
Old 04-17-2013, 09:20 PM
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Yes. When I'm breaking in a new set of Spirocores, I have to lay off it because *my bass* overpowers the guitars.

Personally, I never understood "acoustic bass guitars." They're a gimmick, right? I guess they can be useful if you want to practice by yourself in a quiet place...
  #7  
Old 04-18-2013, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Thumpie View Post
Yes. When I'm breaking in a new set of Spirocores, I have to lay off it because *my bass* overpowers the guitars.

Personally, I never understood "acoustic bass guitars." They're a gimmick, right? I guess they can be useful if you want to practice by yourself in a quiet place...
Yes. They make sense only on a visual scale, for people who assume that since an acoustic guitar is only slightly bigger than an electric guitar, an acoustic bass should be similarly proportioned. In reality, the longer scale demands the square of the dimensional volume.

Our instrument is challenging enough on its own terms. But there's a further challenge in the surrounding instruments (acoustic bass guitar, electric upright bass) that disingenuously imply a shortcut to the sound of a true double bass. Long may she reign.
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  #8  
Old 04-18-2013, 06:41 AM
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The acoustic bass is not meant to be played unamplified (IMO). I find that its sound is more natural, with no room to cheat on the technique by hiding behind electronics.

It is the perfect bass guitar's player training instrument. But beyond that, forget about bringing it at a campfire for a nice jam session with cold ones in moderate quantity.

Thanks for the information, its much appreciated.

Red Salamander
  #9  
Old 04-18-2013, 08:02 AM
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1) You will have NO PROBLEM overpowering two acoustic guitars with a double bass. I have to watch my volume closely, to avoid getting "the look" or worse "the hand" at one old time jam where there are typically as many as 20 people playing guitars, fiddles, banjos, mandolins, plus the two leaders play fiddle and guitar with light amplification.

2) The unamplified ABG has its place, and I think that place is bigger than a lot of people think. But it takes technique and setup (high action, large body, heavy playing style with a lot of force and weight in the plucking) to get the most out of it. I have been happy with the cheapo Dean ABG (the loudest one I could find at a rational cost) and a group of 2 guitarists (who play quietly), fiddle, piano, voice. But I have to play hard to hear myself, the others say they can hear me fine.

3) You have to make a commitment to the DB - the instruments are expensive; you would be happier with ABG and an amp than a poor quality DB; - you have to learn how to play it correctly to get good sound out of it, you don't just pick it up and get good pizzicato sound - and instruction is also recommended to avoid bad habits that could cause injuries (there's a lot of force in playing it, you need to focus the force correctly.) That said, there is nothing else that makes that sound.
  #10  
Old 04-18-2013, 09:48 AM
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The vibe I'm getting from this thread is that being heard in an ensemble is some kind of competitive act...me vs. them. In an acoustic setting, balance should be on everybody's mind.

As someone who splits his time between jazz and classical, I've learned that if you want to hear another instrument in the ensemble...play softer! In an orchestra, if I'm playing held whole notes and I look over and see the oboist wiggling her fingers furiously, but I can't hear what she's playing, it is not difficult to figure out who needs to adjust the volume. And if I can't figure it out, the conductor will let me know in no uncertain terms.

I'm all for your acoustic-guitar playing friends wanting to hear the bass and even more for you wanting to play the upright bass in order to enjoy playing acoustically (I leave the amp at home whenever I can). But whichever instrument, if you're playing at full volume and the guitarists are complaining they can't hear you, you're not the one with the problem.
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  #11  
Old 04-18-2013, 09:53 AM
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^^^ Coming from an orchestral background what Mike is saying is completely true. Double basses are very loud when you get the right technique, I've played with clarinet and drums with no amp and could still be heard properly.
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  #12  
Old 04-18-2013, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Goodbar View Post
But whichever instrument, if you're playing at full volume and the guitarists are complaining they can't hear you, you're not the one with the problem.
Agreed. Except for an "acoustic bass guitar" without an amp. It's just ridiculous to even show up with only that.
  #13  
Old 04-18-2013, 02:18 PM
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Yes, ABG have their places and I agree that it wouldn't be my entire fault if my friends did not take steps to lower their sound.

However, the theory does not always fit the reality. At amateur level, it is sometimes hard to show some restraint when the music takes you away. I find that even myself, when making sweet music, tend to augment my volume. Good point though, I'll bring it up to the boys.

I like musical instruments that play in the low spectrum. I do not want a specific instrument, but something that I can train on for the next 25-50 years of what's potentially left of my lifetime. At least that's how I rationalize it .

Now, cost is always an issue for quality instrument. I wasn't planning on sharing this shameful bit of information, but I went and bought a Rigel Acousta ABG and thats 2200$ plus shipping. Great instrument, great sound, but definitely not good for a group of ragtag garage boys getting so excited that some of us tend to forget to play a a level where eveyone hears their instrument.

If I can spend this much on an instrument I never tried in my own hands, I am sure that I can find a descent setuped laminate for rent for a trial period, and then purchasing a descent instrument once I know for sure this isn't just a fad. (Who know, maybe I'll find a new home for this Acoustac ABG down the road?)

Anyway, I digress. I work in a wordsmithing kind of service (in french mostly), so sorry for the long post.
  #14  
Old 05-07-2013, 11:52 AM
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Hi` Red Salamander
Hmmm if yiou will sell your rigel Acousta i might be interested.
best regards
  #15  
Old 11-13-2013, 01:28 PM
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Here's a Rigel for sale in VT: http://burlington.craigslist.org/msg/4176364373.html

Kind of reminiscent of the old Regal Bassoguitar.


  #16  
Old 01-26-2014, 12:52 AM
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There is a bass guitar resonator that's pretty loud. I've seen reviews of it that claim with a pick it can be heard at the campfire jam .
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  #17  
Old 01-26-2014, 12:12 PM
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As others have stated here, yes, a double bass will match, or even overpower acoustic guitars. I used to play in a songwriters circle and there were on average about five acoustic guitars playing during these sessions, and I still was told I was loud.
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