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Acoustic Bass Guitars with Serious Mojo

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TolerancEJ, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Ok. I'm currently on vacation in The Philippines with my wife. I had no idea I would be writing a bass post from here.

    My wife and I took a river dinner cruise. On the way down to the boat, there was a local, traditional folk band playing. I couldn't help but notice the bassist playing massive acoustic bass guitar. I thought that was just the coolest thing. There's a whole lot of mojo going on there. The action is set rather high. The bassists technique was to use a very heavy pick.


    I was in awe, and couldn't help but think about it during my dinner, I saw Another One! The floating restaurant pulled up to another dock, where some traditional dancers performed for the passengers. The bassist of the accompanying band also had a similar ginormous acoustic bass guitar.


    Someone is making these basses, overflowing with mojo. I wonder where they're coming from.
    jd56hawk likes this.
  2. dwjazz54


    Jan 21, 2003
    Jersey City, NJ
    DO WANT.

    Serious question - how does it sound?
  3. Very deep tone. Pretty close to an upright, except these have frets.

    Forgot to point out. Look at the massive end pin. You can see it on the first picture.Very deep tone. Pretty close to an upright, except these have frets.

    Everyone is playing acoustically. The bassists in question are cutting through the rest of the band, including guitars and banjos.
  4. MoreBeer


    Jan 5, 2014
    Looks like your right arm would get cramped pretty easily after a while. Very cool though.
  5. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

  6. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    You see these in Mariachi bands from time to time, as well. I don't know where they come from (someplace in Mexico, one presumes) but they're an awesome sound!
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
  8. I've seen guitarrons before. This isn't one of those, though they're probably playing it in a similar fashion.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Definitely not a guitarron. More like a classical acoustic.
    TolerancEJ likes this.
  10. The true original ABG (or AEB): the Regal Bassoguitar


    The basses in the pics are not mariachi guitarrons, although the idea for the Earthwood Bass came from the guitarron. Mating a longscale bass neck to a guitarron body -- which one TBer has done -- might get you an instrument superior to either of the "parent" instruments.

    Clearly, the pics display two different instruments, possibly with different mensures. I'd
    like to see more pics. In the top photo that endpin and body both look familiar; I'd like to see the headstocks. Neither bass is an Earthwood, a guitarron, or a Bassoguitar.

  11. This one looks most similar to the ones I was watching, especially the presence of the end pin.
  12. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I really, really want one! I bought one of those Chinese Harmonia 6 string fretless ABG things. After working on it quite a bit I sort of came to the conclusion that this kind of super huge guitar idea is some kind of answer.

    I fooled around with mine trying different things to get acoustic tone better. I tried reducing the sound hole to lower the resonance, blocking the sound hole and so forth. My conclusion was that guitar-sized body just caused the resonant frequencies to be too high...in other words in the guitar range. That just didn't quite do it with a bass and you end up using the pickup and amp to make up the difference. My conclusion was (which I am now even more convinced is correct after seeing these) the body had to be bigger... much bigger.

    But also looking at the photos here it seems like the large size makes your arm over the top rather uncomfortable. This gets me thinking about a custom build where the area where your arm comes over is tapered or cut in or rounded to make playing more comfortable. Cripes I hate to think what a custom instrument like that would cost!

    I still want one though...GAS!

  13. I hear you there. I had also considered the discomfort, with your arm reaching around the huge body to pluck/pick. I guess that must be the reason that guitarrons have rounded backs, so the body is held at a more accessible angle.

    You know, I'm taking a guess that this instrument is not overly expensive over here (but probably costly elsewhere though.)

    I am planning on dropping by a music store at some point & I'll ask about them.
  14. Apolicious


    Jan 16, 2014
    I'd love to learn more about these. I've played a few guittarons, and dozens of ABG's, but nothing like these.
  15. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003

    I talked to Sterling Ball from Musicman. At that time.
    He said there is no way he would reissue the Earthwood Bass.
    So I had Marco Cortes od Marco Bass Guitars build me a ABG.
    It is 6 1/2" deep. Has an oversized body, and a 35.5" scale neck. It sound amazing.
    For pictures go to Basses, and look up Marco Acoustic Bass Guitar.
  16. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I may consider selling this ?
    I never take it out of the house. And it is mint.
    Just don't use it enough, other than recording.
    If interested email me for updated pictures. lightgypsys@gmail.com
  17. FourBanger


    Sep 2, 2012
    SE Como
    My guess is they are locally made and so the variety of shapes and sizes comes from the number of acoustic instrument builders putting them together in their little workshops. They are probably just building huge bodies to solve the age old volume problem because, as we know, an acoustic bass guitar like we size them is not loud at all.

    My guess is the only way to get one is to buy one from a shop or market in the Philippines and bring it home with you, i'd be surprised if there were any asian factories making these for retail distribution.
  18. Unless production has ceased quite recently, the Rigel is the closest modern equivalent you will find to these large basses. And I believe it lists for between $2,000 and $2,400. Of the contemporary mass-produced ABGs, I believe the Dean playmate has the largest body (and the lamest electronics). Aside from the Earthwood, the Guild B50 and B30 basses, and the first generation Harry Fleishman Compact Bass, a 6 to 61/2 inch deep body is about the most you can hope for with an ABG.

    Every bass intended to be played vertically has an endpin: the concert bass guitar pic'd above, upright basses, bassoguitars, mandobasses. But some also can be played comfortably across the lap: smaller uprights (NOT 3/4 sizes ones) and bassoguitars. I've not tried to play a bassoguitar for the equivalent of a four-hour show or used a pick on one, but the posited right-arm discomfort -- for both a quarter-sized urb and a bassoguitar -- is a non-issue; no discomfort at all. But you don't pick right in front of the bridge like on a Jazz Bass; you rest your forearm across the instrument's waist and pluck at the end of the fingerboard.

  19. My thoughts exactly. I'd love even to locate a used one.
  20. Neither of these basses is new (look at the playwear), and close scrutiny of the pics suggest they both have slotted headstocks. That being the case, both of these basses could be eighty years old and passed down through generations. They may have gotten to the Phillipines thanks to a layover by the U. S. Navy.