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Acoustic Bass Guitar -- too genre-oriented?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by foq1978, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. foq1978


    Aug 7, 2009
    Rio de Janeiro
    I've been thinking about getting an electric-acoustic bass guitar, but I was wondering if they sound / look too restrict to certain genres (I don't see many bass players using them).

    Is it because of its tone?

    What are your impressions on acoustic bass guitars?

  2. I bought a really cheap ABG from eBay a few years ago. I only wanted it to play around the house when I didn't want to turn on my amp. It was an awful bass, but it came in handy for figuring things out and allowed me to discover that I prefer short scale. I hated it. I started playing at open mics where they wouldn't let me play my electric through the PA. It didn't sound too bad, but the high action made it difficult to play while I was singing, so I upgraded to an Ibanez AEB 5. Although this is the bottom of the Ibanez line and is medium scale, it is really growing on me.

    As to genre, maybe ABGs are best for acoustic types of music. With no amplification, there is little volume, as you may already know. I don't know what the best ABG for metal is, though.

    I'd start a thread for that, but too many people would thing I was trolling when I'm just trying to be a wise guy.
    SeamzKing likes this.
  3. My first bass was a Fender GB-41 SCE acoustic. It's a 34" scale bass with a large body. Like all ABGs and 6-string acoustics, it has that signature sound. Depending on how you play and what you have in the signal chain, a number of tones can be produced, but it's not going to have that solid body sound, i.e. thump, growl, etc.

    BTW, I switched to solid body basses and sold the ABG after playing it for only a short time. My disappointment with ABGs is the acoustic volume. Try jamming with someone playing an acoustic guitar and you get drowned out. I figured if amplification is needed even for "acoustic" jams, then I'm not going to deal with the large, uncomfortable body and just play a solid body bass.
  4. waleross


    Nov 27, 2009
    South Florida
    Not for me and if I was playing an acoustic set, I would just turn way down. Good ones that don't sound tinny cost more. Taylor is a name that gets mentioned on this site from time to time. Do your HW and you decide. :)
    SeamzKing likes this.
  5. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    The only one I think I've heard on a record was on Moloko's 'The Time Is Now'. Mark Brydon is an underrated bassist though, trust him to find a use for one. :)
  6. Dr H

    Dr H

    Aug 30, 2010
    England, UK
    I use an older Eko similar to this one: Eko Acoustic Bass.
    Mine is a 4-string with a fretless rosewood fingerboard and flats; picked it up second hand for £30 20+ years ago.
    It's acoustic/electric with a bridge piezo and I occasionally use it on stage, but generally for jamming/practice it's well set up with a low action.
    It has good projection and tone and works well for slower numbers.
  7. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    It's because they're impractical. They generate very little volume at all when played acoustically. And played plugged in, they're subject to feedback and other amplification issues.

    If what one really wants is a great acoustic bass tone, there's nothing like an acoustic upright bass. If what one really wants is a great electric tone, there's nothing like an electric bass guitar (or electric upright bass).

    An acoustic/electric bass guitar has most of the disadvantages of each, and practically none of the benefits of either. :eyebrow:

    Orangeclawhammr likes this.
  8. eban3

    eban3 Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2007
    Palm Bay FL
    Wiley beasties ...Good for learning stuff around the house or maybee playing church services (i Don't) but Ive had everything from $200- $3000 versions , all pretty useless for performing acoustically .....go buy a Kala u bass or a frwtless you'll get more use,though if your set on one best sounding acoustically i ve played and ive played many is the Breedlove ceadar top series which they arent building any more,actually cops an acoustic uprighty kind of sustain and has more acoustic volume than anything i ve heard ,including the old Tacoma Thunderchiefs..though i hear Rigel ,the mandolin people are building something that sounds real good .....but none seem worth the money
  9. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I play acoustic bass guitar, electric bass guitar, and upright bass. My Tacoma CB10E "Thunderchief", when strung with the right strings, plugged in, properly EQ'd, and properly played comes so close in tone to my upright that I use it when the stage or venue is too small or crowded to accomodate the "doghouse".

    The doghouse is MUCH more susceptible to feedback than the ABG. The ABG is just fine in the right setting, but for full band (ie, drums) where the stage volume gets loud it's the wrong choice.

    ABG (the right one) have their place, it's up to the player to know when and where it fits.
  10. swamp2


    Feb 27, 2008
    I bought a cheap Dean Playmate on CL for $65 just to experiment with it. I was able to get it playing very nicely but had to mill down the nut and saddle, fiddle with the truss road and put fresh strings on it to get it there. I agree it's not very useful to perform with unamplified - just not loud enough - and once you need an amp I'd rather play something else. But, tonally it is enough different and does work well in church when the guitar player is going acoustic - plus I suppose the appearance maybe is better in those conditions. It's also not a bad thing to leave out and noodle around on.

    In other words, it has it's place, but it's not a very big place. I personally wouldn't spend a lot of money on one.
  11. I can get my Ibby AEB10 into pretty much any musical style, but I use a hole plug and always amplify it.

    There's no trying to fool myself (and you shouldn't either) that an acoustic is good for playing in an acoustic set without an amplifier - that's just tokin'.

    But - AMPd, it's great. Fully round, fundamentally sonic and very deep in voice, it is extremely useable.

    Nathan East used on for quite a few numbers with Clapton/Billy Preston in concert for both acoustic and electric cuts, so there's that documentation that it very adaptable for many settings. Of course, East is a very special bassist too, so there's always that to consider.
  12. RedElefant


    Feb 20, 2011
    Birmingham, AL
    I'm pretty happy with the sound I get out of my Fender GB41 SCE (which I bought here on TB). While it is subject to feedback, it isn't too difficult to control if you pay attention.

    I will say, however, that it's purposes are limited. I use it for an acoustic gig, which is just me, an acoustic guitarist, and our vocals. We both plug in, so the bass's natural volume is not a concern for me.

    I wouldn't use it in any other setting though. It is a large instrument. and not practical for any of my other gigs (although one band is considering adding an acoustic set....another opportunity to break out the AEB Fender!!!)
  13. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    I play my abg almost daily, love the tone!!!
  14. jscottmsc


    Nov 22, 2008
    Charlotte, NC
    I play many acoustic gigs...i.e. my acoustic-electric bass plus A.) 1 acoustic guitar and vocals or B.) 2 acoustic guitars, drums and vocals. I use a custom 5 string bass, a Warrior Knight made by JDran of Warrior Instruments.

    I also play an NS Designs CR-5M Electric Upright Bass for some acoustic gigs (using Thomastic Infield Strings and TC Electronics Staccato Head...I have not been able to get a good upright bass sound without both of these additions).
  15. DrewM85


    Jan 2, 2012
    Ive only played a few and all have sounded thin and lacking to my ears. No where near that nice round tone an upright makes. I never had the chance to plug one into an amp to hear the sound they produce, but I never really saw the point of it anyway.
  16. I see (and hear) your problem here.

    Plug it in. Then you'll see and hear the point.
  17. DrewM85


    Jan 2, 2012
    Next time I get a chance I will, but I was more interested in the "acoustic" abilities of the instrument. Maybe I would like the sound of a fretless with flats??? Do they even exist?
  18. It's still an acoustic, but just that it's also being amplified.

    The voice will be there - in spades really - and you'll have all the tone and voice you thought you should get but cannot because it just needs to be amplified.

    You're not coloring it, but you're just bringing out it's real voice.
  19. Dr H

    Dr H

    Aug 30, 2010
    England, UK
    See my previous post: fretless Eko with flats...
  20. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    Once you accept the fact that the laws of physics won't allow an ABG to come close in volume to an electric guitar or anupright bass, and appreciate it for what it is, you will find many situations were it is a useful tool and an instrument you can express yourself on in ways an electric won't.

    If for no other reason to own one, they are great for woodshedding. I do a lot of freelance work and often have to learn group's entire set in a few days or a week. On those occasions I sit at the computer with my ABG and pull up tunes on youtube, knocking their list out in no time.

    Last year I played couple dozen gigs on ABG, mostly wineries and restaurants, with an acoustic guitarist and drummer and an occasional harmonica/percussionist. My first ABG was a $250 Johnson, surprisingly good at that price. I have more recently acquired a fretless Breedlove cedar top ABJ25/cm4.

    I play both through a Fishman Platinum plus bass preamp/direct box. The Fishman makes a world of difference. The first thing I did with both basses was to switch the strings to D'Addario Chrome flats. For me, bronze strings are counterproductive. Not sure why so many makers insist on using them, other than the fact that acoustic guitars use bronze. I don't want my bass to sound like a big acoustic guitar. I want something more in the realm of a miked upright, which can be approached with amplification and proper EQ. A sound hole plug is essential for feedback control.

    The Johnson has nice warm wooly tone with a definite acoustic vibe to it, when plugged in and EQed. It blends well with the acoustic guitar and I get a lot of mileage from the mere visual effect of having two acoustics on stage. At wineries and restaurants, the acoustic 'look' is less intimidating to patrons seeking to relax to some music at less than rock concert volume. Being a fretted instrument, I just couldn't get the glissando and vibrato of an upright, so I took the plunge and bought the fretless Breedlove. I showed it to two of my upright bass playing friends who were duly impressed. If I decide I don't like it, I know where i can flip real fast. One of them joked about stealing it from me. After I put it away in the case, one of my friends asked me to get it out so he could play it some more. Neither of them would say it sounded just like' an upright, just that it sounded really good and they could do things on it in an upright style that they couldn't do on other ABGs. Other people with less discerning ears said they would have been completely fooled had they only heard, and not seen the instrument.

    As far as genres are concerned, you are limited only by your own constraints. I play blues, folk, country, classic rock, and jazz on mine. It may not be the best bass for metal, but there's no reason you couldn't adapt some metal tunes in an acoustic setting.

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