ABGs with upright-like sound

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by bassinstincts, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. bassinstincts


    Jul 7, 2004
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Acoustic Image
    Anybody know of a fretless acoustic bass guitar that actally has an upright-like sound to it. I own a Turner Renaissance and Rob Allen Deep 5. Both are great for what they are, but neither has the bloom I am looking for (and may be dreaming in technicolor about). Thanks,

    Jeff Elliott
  2. Did you try asking your question on the BG forum side?

    Did you try flat nylon tape wound strings?
    This is the first step to get a more DB-like tone on a BG methinks.
  3. arizonabass


    Feb 6, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    In my own explorations of this, I have found there is simply no substitute for the real thing. I have heard clips posted to these forums where the poster says this is what he did and this is what it sounds like: "a lot like an upright." Ummm.. no. It sounds like an electric bass, period, with a little "mwah" effect thrown in.

    If you're going to stay with electric and want to emulate the sound, then yes, "flatwounds and fretless" is about all you can do. Then you have to adjust your bass's and amp's settings, and pluck over the end of the neck, not over the pickups. Then you will get some kind of sound that emulates an upright. And, it you can achieve a greater degree of expressiveness of sound than you can with a fretted bass. But you will never achieve the dark, woody, open, breathy, alive tone that only a large air chamber will give you.

  4. bassinstincts


    Jul 7, 2004
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Acoustic Image
    Alas, I fear that your assessment is correct. This is one case where you can't beat physics. I have a Lamarre upright with a reduced body size and even it doesn't have a large enough resonating chamber to achieve the necessary bloom.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Also you probably can't get that big thump that DB's can get. I don't think you can make up for the physical difference in the extra 6+" of string length and girth on the strings. At least your chances are better with an EUB.

    Surprisingly, that Ashbory bass does an funny simulation. But again, no thump and the sound is rubbery. http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=bass/search/detail/base_pid/510832/
  6. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Physics is a bitch, ain't it? ;) There's one that I've always wanted to try, the"Arco ABG", built by Toby Chennell in the UK . But really, long strings and a bunch of air moving are impossible to replace, I think.
  7. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I thought the Arco ABG was just a guitar cornered 1/4. I do like the scroll a lot though, very practical.

    As said, you can't get a ABG to sound like a DB, I've played ones from $199.00 to $5000+ and they all sound like what they are, low tuned guitars.
  8. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    Yah.. as said, you should give up now beore you get really frustrated, haha. You just won't get an DB sound out of a ABG. The closest you may get is a tacoma thunderchief fretless, but that is still a far cry from a DB.
  9. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    I'll preface this with saying ditto on most of what has already been said.

    Since you worded it as "upright-like", I'll suggest you try to get ahold of a Takamine B-10, strung with Labella black nylon tape wounds.
    It has a deep, warm, acoustic tone, lots of low end growl and great sustain.
  10. Bofee


    Aug 19, 2005
    Grass Valley, CA
    The only BG's I've heard that come even close are the Godins, A4 and A5.
  11. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    The Tacoma CB-10 is a very nice ABG, but absolutely nothing like a double bass. Thomastik-Infeld flatwound strings give it a more organic sound. Roundwounds, such as the Elixirs it came with, make it sound more like a bass acoustic guitar than an acoustic bass guitar, if that makes sense. Either way, not even close to double bass.
  12. I've never heard an acoustic BG that sounded worth owning, let alone like a DB. The best one I heard was a huge Guild and next to a washtub, the tub sounded more like a DB. And you could hear the tub over 3 guitars, the Guild disappeared in the mix. I just don't think the string length, body cavity size, or really any of the limitations of "guitar basses" allows for the kind of sound that you are looking for. You need long strings, a huge body size and an arched and graduated top to get "the sound". For the lower notes (about an octave) the tub is the best substitute. You can hear a tub recorded on my homepage on the live version of "Van Johnson Younger" recorded at the Sentient Bean in Savannah. That was my first more basic tub. Now I have a better tub that is easier to play and has considerably better tone than any ABG I've heard.

    The bonus is the tub is less that $50 in parts and materials.
  13. Like you've already heard, there really is no such thing but practically speaking, it depends on exacting you are about it. If your not a db player and depending on how you want to use it, you might be satisfied with an alternative.
    My experiences have been:
    AGB: You can get growl, and some of the percussive air sound but not the core tone from the string length. Check ou the old Kramer Ferrington basses. (ok quit laughing), I've gotten some nice tones out of it

    EUB: The string length is there but no purcussive air sound and they can sustain way too long. (example: BSX T series)

    Guild/DeArmond/Fender Ashbory. If you want a low fat tone that almost comes across as acoustic, check out the Ashbory. I've tricked people listening to recordings of this instrument before. Not db players ofcourse.....

    I think I have examples of all these instruments at jazzbiker.com
    If you hear one that's what your looking for, let me know and I'll tell you which one it is... :)

    Good Luck
  14. For those that are interested in some truly musically relevant physics that is well illustrated and well explained try this little web site:

  15. You already own the best ABGs built. How do the Turner and Rob Allen compare?

    I owned a Godin for a short while, but I actually get closer to an upright sound on my old Precision with tapewounds and side-finger technique. Hated the Godin.
  16. You beat me to it ! Fretless of course... and plugged in... you won't get anything close to an upright with an unplugged ABG, even the Godin.
  17. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
  18. Compared to what he already has, the Godin is total junk.
    At least the one I had was. Although admittedly, the back is made of a very high quality plastic.
  19. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Well, now we're really into slabs at this point. And it's the player's hands and approach that make it sound like a DB, it could be a J-bass or a P-bass or whatever, doesn't matter. When I was a little kid, jonesing for bass sounds, I detuned my sister's classical guitar and played bass on that. You make do with what you've got.

    I used to have a Hohner semiacoustic fretless slab, that thing came as close to a DB sound in a laptop that I've heard. I think I paid fifty bucks for it. Here's a pic of one just like it...
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Before I took the plunge for the doghouse, I almost bought one of Carvin's fretless acoustic (more like semihollow) basses. I went to one of carvin's stores and tried it out. I liked the axe alot and almost bought it but they didn't have the color I wanted and I never got around to ordering it.