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Acoustic Bass Advice

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrBassman17, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    I’ve got an old fretless Epi El Capitan, too. Well, fretless and nameless as it was a leftover from when Epiphone moved their instrument production out of Korea, but anyway, it’s an Epi El Capitan, fretless. I put some D’Addario chromes on there, which probably isn’t ideal considering the tension, but that’s what was available.

    To me, a non-upright player, it’s amazing how much it gives an upright bass vibe. Now if you actually compare it directly with an upright, it’s a pale imitation indeed — there’s just SO much less sound and bass coming out of it (acoustically). While that seemingly would be a major criticism, no — like I said, it’s amazing how much, in it’s quiet way, it sounds like an upright bass. Being close to an upright is a visceral experience. But, subtract that whole visceral thing and just have the sound without all the moving air and the impact, and the sound is pretty much there. The El Capitan even records pretty well as all that amazingness of the UB doesn’t necessarily come through a recording (at least not through computer speakers or earphones).

    Maybe a good analogy is watching a movie on an iPad vs. watching it on a big screen HD TV with 5.1. The movie is the same. All the bigness, the visceral impact of the sound and giant picture is removed on the iPad, as well as the ability for many people to fully enjoy it all at once. Still, it’s amazing how this beautiful little picture is telling a story right there on this portable small glass screen you’re holding on your lap
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    40Hz likes this.
  2. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Good luck with that. I’ve never heard a good enough bass player on AEB to keep up acoustically. Maybe the dude from the violent femmes could? Really hard fretted with a heavy pick and very bright strings would get you as much volume as possible but sound nothing like an UB.

    Do you spin it around while slapping it like a 50’s swinger?

  3. Kevan Campbell

    Kevan Campbell Bergantino Artist, Vibe9 IEM Artist Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Agreed! I picked up a used Tacoma Thunderchief fretless 5 and as a “acoustic campfire bass”, something acoustic to take to unplugged writing sessions and being played live in an acoustic format (plugged in of course) it really kills it for me and the artists I play for! However, it’s not a real substitute for an upright bass (though it gives a fair vibe and approximation with LaBella tapewounds and playing with the fat side of my fingers). I’m hoping to get into upright when my bank account is a little healthier.
  4. spvmhc


    Apr 14, 2011
    As mentioned earlier, an approximation of the upright sound can be obtained from a fretless Godin A4 using tapewound strings. I have used this combination. The Godin gives very little volume unless it's plugged in; you might get more unplugged from the Epiphone. Note that the Godin is a 34" scale bass; the Epiphone you're looking at is a 30.5" scale. You'll notice the difference in how they play. This is a personal preference issue.
  5. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    YMMV. A ‘51 single coil P with round wounds can sound very close to an upright. Tape wounds and mute are necessary if you don’t mute with your touch. You pluck with your index finger bent at the second joint from tip combined with your release of the fretting fingers post pluck.
    Gravedigger Dav likes this.
  6. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    There is a Martin that has a small body that used to retail for about $1000. It was not exotic looking but is one of the best sounding ABGs I’ve ever heard.

    DR ABG strings are the least brash bronze strings I’ve used.
  7. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    ...don't forget the high pass filter!

    Can attest... I played my Kala Mahogany Fretted Ubass at a show one time, fairly big venue (well, for me anyway) and after the set we were in the greenroom and one of the players from the next band that was going on asked us if the bass parts were on a backing track since there wasn't a "bass" on stage. They thought I was playing a uke and couldn't connect the low, deep sound they were hearing to my u-bass. (This was in 2012, so the instrument was very new to the scene.)
    I use it in my home studio recordings when I want to simulate a doubler....emphasis "simulate", I know it's no comparison to the real deal, but whose got 40 grand to blow on a dog house?:woot:

    The U-bass series is phenomenal in both looks and sound (and price).
    Low84 likes this.
  8. Just saw that Taylor makes a GS mini-e bass- looks interesting...... I've not heard it, but possibly another for consideration.
  9. I have tried this Taylor in the store and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of sound that came out of this mini bass. I did notice that the back was slightly bowl shaped and together with the bright bronze wound strings it gave off a much brighter sound than the 5 string El Capitan with round wounds (compared to in the same store) and my 5 string Dean with bronze wound strings (at home). I have noticed changing strings to tape wound on my Dean that I can achieve the more upright tone but a lot of the volume will be sacrificed. The bronze wound strings loose a lot of the bright highs over a period of only a couple of weeks of playing I have found. Coated and especially tape wound strings last a lot longer, but like I said they have a certain volume limit to them even new. The only way to carry the upright tone into higher volume territory was to upgrade the preamp with a Fishman Presys preamp and plug in. Good luck with your search.
    DaveKirkpatrick likes this.
  10. So... a lot of what many folks think an upright sounds like is what a recorded Kay upright sounds like, mic'd in a particular way.
    That's not what an upright sounds like when you're playing a symphony-quality upright yourself, or listening to it a few meters away.
    Many of the acoustic bass guitars actually do a perfectly fine job of sounding like an upright, if it's a really great upright up close; I have a Warwick Alien, which does have the advantage of actually being a Markneukirchen bass made across the street from where my upright was made 50 years earlier, and the Alien, strung with D'addario flats, sounds rather like a good Markneukirchen upright strung with Evah Pirazzis (my upright has no label, but would have had a Framus label if sold in the US; it's a generic looking fully carved gamba-shape bass with rosewood fingerboard and tailpiece).
    That's a much brighter, more present, and less thumpy sound than said Kay would make. It might not be what you want for some styles, that of course is up to you... but the brightness, mwah and twang can all be had out of an upright too.
    Trying to keep up with a steel-string acoustic guitar played loud is futile, an acoustic bass guitar just can't do that, not enough mass in the strings nor enough resonating volume. Nylon string, yes, that is possible.
    jd56hawk likes this.
  11. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Respectfully, a Kay set up properly doesn't sound the way you describe.
  12. mikeoso

    mikeoso Acoustic Curmudgeon

    Feb 14, 2014
    eastern Iowa
    To return to the original question...IF your aim is to play the Epi amped, and you know what sound you want, order it from someone with a decent return policy, plug it in to your amp, and see. IF your aim is to play it unplugged in ensemble, don't bother...you'll be disappointed.
  13. MrBassman17


    Dec 30, 2011
    Brewster, NY
    Finally decided on the Dean Quilted Exotica; should have it in a week. Zounds offer is too good to refuse - $400 no tax, no shipping 12 payments no interest no credit check! Done deal!
    jd56hawk likes this.
  14. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    And a few far better ones at twice the price. Your mileage may vary. :D
    chadds likes this.
  15. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Recently played one. Very nice, but as I said earlier…
  16. MrBassman17


    Dec 30, 2011
    Brewster, NY
    Pictures to follow....Zzounds is amazing! I took FedEx delivery in just under 24 hours! Been busy 'bonding' wit the newest member of my bass family, and I have to say, right out of the box, it is really good! Only criticism is that when I went to change out the strap buttons to change over to the Dunlop
    s I use, the button at the bottom of the bass is an end pin, like on an acoustic 6 string! Not to mention it was glued in! So, I had to break off the head, drill a hole to screw the button for the Dunlop to mount! The button at the base of the neck was just like any normal screw in mounting! Anyway, everything else id just fine with it. Good sounds coming out of it, and I'm already planning a string change to La Bella black tape wounds. Stay tuned for photos!
    mikeoso and tfer like this.

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