Upright tone with what I have...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by russpurdy, Feb 15, 2014.


  1. russpurdy

    russpurdy Supporting Member

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    I have a squier P bass with chromes on it. I'd like to get an upright tone for some folk music I've been playing (john prine, loudon wainwright type stuff). Would some tape wound strings help me out? Would pulling the frets, shimming the neck and making a budget fretless get me a lot closer?
     
  2. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

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    Get tapewounds, put foam under the strings at the bridge, raise the action, and play close to the neck with the meaty part of your fingers, almost the side of your finger.
     
  3. dukeorock

    dukeorock Gold Supporting Member

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  4. kevteop

    kevteop

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    If all you want is to approximate the 'feel', then the advice above is the best advice you'll get IMO.

    But you won't get anywhere even ballpark-close to the sound of an upright with a bass guitar.
     
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  6. dukeorock

    dukeorock Gold Supporting Member

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    I mainly play upright as well, so of course I agree with this statement 100%. The OP is looking to get closer to the sound, and that is closer for sure.

    Actually, wanting to get more of an upright sound and feel on electric bass is what led me to buying my first upright :)
     
  7. kevteop

    kevteop

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    Yeah I went from putting LaBella flats on my Jazz and foam under the bridge to buying a laminate 3/4 DB, spending hundreds on different sets of strings, then a nicer carved 3/4 and hundreds more on strings, then pickups and mics, etc.

    I know your pain! :crying:

    I sort-of agree that it is 'closer' to the sound, but for me those things are more about approximating the feel of the upright in the context of the track, and they'll help you play more like an upright player. That will help the listener feel comfortable with the idea that you're playing an upright but it won't give them that neck-hair reaction that you get when you hear a recorded double bass.
     
  8. dukeorock

    dukeorock Gold Supporting Member

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    + a whole bunch :)
     
  9. RickBlair

    RickBlair

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    Roll the tone knob all the way back also.

    Rick B.
     
  10. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

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    Very true. Nothing but an upright sounds like an upright. Not a ubass, not a p with tapes and high action, not palm muting. But, you can get some great thuddy tones that work well in situations where you'd want an upright.
     
  11. Bassdude15

    Bassdude15

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    Foam mute under the bridge, roll off most of your tone, dial down the treble on your amp and boost the midrange.
     
  12. kevteop

    kevteop

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    I really disagree with this. You're already using flatwounds, you should not roll off the tone or cut treble at the amp. A lot of the interesting characteristics of a miked upright bass involve the mechanical sounds of fingers against strings - you do not want to lose that.

    Try not to roll off anything if you can get away with it. Put some foam under the bridge and jack up the action by a couple of mm and you might not need to roll off any treble.
     
  13. dukeorock

    dukeorock Gold Supporting Member

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    Ok, this guy knows his stuff!
     
  14. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky

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    I have a stingray fretless with piezo in the bridge. With the piezo engaged and by plucking near the neck ala upright...I can get on the off-ramp, and then into the car park of said ballpark, albeit in the far corner, with a long walk into the stadium. Not quite there...but it sounds damn good: Better than many of the so-called electric uprights I've heard. But you're right. There's no replacing that big 'pillowey' sound with just a hint of point when the strings thwack the ebony board of an upright. :D
     
  15. russpurdy

    russpurdy Supporting Member

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    Thanks guys. I think the foam will get me what I want. That quick decay is the part I was missing. I'm not trying to approximate every subtle nuance of an upright. Just looking for something that will get that rootsy, muted sound for root fifth folk stuff. Would tape wounds be any better than my chromes for this kind of thing?
     
  16. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

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    Not unless your chromes are a few years old.

    Labella tapes are great. Get the heavy 115 set. The 105 set is pretty low tension.
     
  17. kevteop

    kevteop

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    Yeah I've had a fretless with a piezo too, and the piezo is great especially for adding that immediacy and the 'finger' thing. It's definitely an important component if you're going for that sound on a bass guitar.

    That said, I do my best to avoid using typical piezo pickups on upright because they instantly lose the acoustic sound. You only really get a 'perfect' upright bass sound when it's fully acoustic or recorded/amplified with a good condenser mic. Live I try to use an Ehrlund EAP contact mic wherever possible, because it rejects feedback amazingly well and still sounds like a miked acoustic bass, but I am sure I will come across a gig one day where that pickup is totally impractical and I will resort to a piezo. In the mean time if I get anywhere near the levels where my pickup isn't going to work I poll the band to see if we can play a little quieter! :D

    But to be honest, when I discovered the Ehrlund, I was at the point where I was not going to do another amplified double bass gig ever again, I was so sick of the compromise I had to make with my sound. This weird little expensive triangular plastic thing is the only thing making my endeavours as an upright bassist even remotely practical. Thank you, Ehrlund!
     
  18. kevteop

    kevteop

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    Yeah, chromes are a bright string. I really like LaBella 760 gauges (FL on a Jazz Bass, FS on a P) which were Jamerson's favourites, having come from a DB background, although of course we are spoiled for choice these days.
     
  19. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

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    Your lines, articulation, timing, and style will have a huge effect.

    I am trying to resist, but cannot avoid rising to the poisonous bait...the only thing that sounds like a double bass is a double bass. There, I said it...but a Rob Allen fretless comes close.
     
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  20. MD

    MD

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    Yeah, pull the frets.
     
  21. Michael Jewels

    Michael Jewels

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    Here are 2 videos that pertain to this subject.



    Good luck.

    Mike
     

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