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ABGs & semi-acoustics

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by maxvalentino, Apr 12, 2001.

  1. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    I am primaritly a solo bassist, although I do many sessions and side-man gigs out here in Cali. As a solo player, I have been bitten by the ABG/semi-acoustic bug. I, until recently, used a Washburn AB32 ABG as my main solo-show bass, and was quite happy. There is a certain je nais se quoi from an acoustic instrument....a pathos, if you will, that gives something back to the player. It is something that an all electric, solid instrument just does not have (solid bodies have their own special something, 'tho).
    Nonetheless, I began searching out various ABGs and semi's, and am amassing a little collection. I would be curious to hear from others who use semi's and/or ABGs, exchange tips and tricks, advise and antecdotes, etc etc
    oh..how about a list?
    1. Azola Jazzman: recently I had the pleasure of visiting with Steve Azola and spending an afternoon playing his truely extraordinary basses. They are some of the most beautiful sounding and looking instruments I have ever held and played. With an acoustic tone which is so rich and pure......I put on on order...
    2. Rick Turner Renaissance: this was at the top of the list until I went to Rancho Bajo and played the Azola's. All the written hype is true; these are absolutely incredible and versatile basses.
    3. Rob Allen: I understand Rob Allen used to work for Rick Turner, and there is a vibe of consistency in their basses. The Allen is a little more "electric" feeling...but the tone is all acoustic. Similar designs, but where Turner employs a Highlander system, Allen throws in a Fishman.
    4. Godin A4: HIGHLY UNDERRATED. This is a great bass at a great price! Rich, growly tone, a superb playability.
    5. Citron AE5: Oooooooh! This is one nice bass! A whole stable of useful tones....infinate flexiblity. Gorgeous woodwork, good electronics (magnetic and piezo). A bit heavy, and expensive.....but if I had the $$$.....
    6. Epiphone Jack Casady: I had to throw this one in 'cos I jus got one! (added to the growing collection) There have been some very complimenatry reviews made of this bass, and they are true! This is a great bass. Forget about your prejudices (no matter how warranted) towards Korean made basses, there was time and effort put into both the design and construction of this one! Based on the Gibson Les Paul Signature bass of the early-mid 70s, the JC has a variety of great tones. The single low-impedence magnetic pickup does a remarkable job at providing a real up-right type of growl and add that electric sparkle. I have not been able to put mine away.....it really shines at chordal playing, too. A couple of days ago I was able to A/B it with a 74 Les Paul Signature. Truth be told the Epi won hands down! Better construction, better feeling neck, better tone....hey, let's remember that the early 70s were NOT such a great time for American basses (or automobiles for that matter), and Gibson, for their storied history, was a Norlin company....I owned a few Gibson basses from that era.....all the vintage fuss now does not stack up...
    but back the JC...it really is a great bass and deserves a place next to these other wonderful acoustic-electric basses.
    I'd love to do a dissertation of TRUE ABGs (y'know, the one with sound holes...I have several of those)...true ABGs..hmmmm, bit of an oxymoron there. But that will have to wait for another time.
    Please let me know what you think, any of you fellow acoustic-bitten bassists.....
    Max Valentino (ekstasis1@hotmail.com)
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Welcome to the board, Max.

    It looks like you know everything already. (I think "anecdotes" is the word you wanted, though).

    I am also entertaining the possibility of getting an ABG, but that'll have to wait.

    I'm curious. Do you play your bass solo? Do you use any looping effects or the like?

    One bass you left out of your extensive (dare I say exhaustive) list it the Fender Acoustic-Electric Precision bass. The Godin does blow it out of the water, though.

    Will C.:cool:
  3. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    some time ago I tried one of those (limited, Japan-made) semi-acoustic p-basses. I wasn't that impressed, if memory serves....but maybe I should seek one out again!
    Yes, I use loopers. I have two Lexicon JamMan's, both with the 32 sec. memory expansion, and a Line6 DL4. I use looping rather extensively, but not to just solo over changes...rather to create a sonic texture or bed in which to add chord/melody bass parts. I also use a Lexicon Alex processor (great for bass!) and a Line6 MM4 Modulation Modeler, Fulltone BassDrive, TC Chorus/Flanger, SWR Interstellar Overdrive....and of course an EBow!
    I had the great pleasure recently of sharing the stage at the Northern California Solo Bass Looping Festival with (TalkBass' own) Steve Lawson and Scott Khunga Drengsen. We all did extensive solo bass/looping sets, but I was the only one playing an ABG.
  4. as an experiment I'm about to start building a long scale semi acoustic from parts.

    previously I put an Eko short scale maple/mahogany neck (from Brandoni music) on a cheap Japanese EB2/Rivoli copy and got quite good results.

    now I've just bought a Dearmond Jetstar Special for £65 basically just for the long scale maple neck, controls and machineheads (pretty solid); I'm going to get an Eko/Welson semi acoustic 335/EB2 body and fit them together (bolt-on).

    I'm looking for EMG Select humbuckers to fit in Jazz bass placement.
    I've got a cheap Gotoh copy bridge too. I might upgrade that later depending on how the project turns out.

    the sound I'm going for is a bit unusual- The Cure's Simon Gallup used a custom made Knight long scale semi acoustic shaped like a EB2 but with EMG active pickups(!)- a bright crunchy sound. (he's currently using an Epiphone JC)
    with the tone rolled off it should get the vintage McCartney sound too.

    ps. re. ABG's, I've got a Hohner TWP600B acoustic that I defretted and put light gauge Roto flats on.
    it's not particularly good (cheap and cheerful- looks great though:D) and the Epiphone El Capitan blows it away in terms of playability, but I like the "pseudo double bass" sound I can get out of it - I record it using a mix of the piezo output and a mic.
  5. MaxV, I see that you are a new Jack Casady convert.
    Now that you have one, and knowing its tone, can you imagine what this marvelous creation would sound like fretless?
  6. I am in the market for an acoustic bass. I played a Washburn AB10 a good while back and was quite taken by the kneck and tone. Have you ever played one of these? if you have is it pretty good. I have wondered if I had just happen to come across a really good or was just in a forgiving mood that day. Has anybody else out there played one of these. I didn't plug it in so i'm wondering about I'ts amplified tone. I take it by your post that the Washburn AB's are pretty good in general.
  7. I have a Washburn AB20 and a Harmony H22. The AB20 has in addition to the Fishman Matrix piezo bridhe a Barcus Berry Humbucking Dobro pick in the 'sweet spot' (I just couldn't bring myself to cut a hole in the top, even if it is playwood) and a Countryman Condenser Mic installed in side to add a little air to the sound. The Harmony is a short scale and works well in the old stlye country recordings I do a lot of and it's a pretty good tic tac bass played with a pick.
  8. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    The Washburn AB10 is a decent bass...but the pickup/preamp leaves a bit off. Upgrading to a Fishman is also difficult as the Washburn preamp faceplate is sized larger than a Fishman (maybe they didn't want you to upgrade?)
    For the same price the Tacoma B10 is better, but is also larger(deeper)...so it has a "better" unplugged sound and a more robust amped sound.
    Epiphone El Capitan is also a good choice...but a litle more dough.
    I have recently discovered Dean Performer ABGs. I bought a Performer Plus which is short scale, small body (which means it has a puny unplugged sound...tho very chordal friendly) but has a Shadow P7 piezo/preamp which works very good. I got it mainly as a travel/hotel room bass...for composing and such, but it is very fun to play! The Performer CE has a larger and deeper body for more true "acoustic-ness"....but remember NO ABG can really compete "unplugged". The physics of low-end sound and body dynmaics prohibit this. Even a Taylor, with its massive body, is drowned by a a steel string acoustic guitar. But then, I did play Steve Azola's vintage Ernie Ball Earthwood...that thing is HUGE with massive acoustic low end and volume....
  9. Thanks maxvalentino. I think I'm gonna look into a Tacoma B10 now. I hope I can find a music store that will have one in stock.

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