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Acoustic Bass Guitars

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassballs27, May 17, 2003.

  1. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Hello Everyone!

    I'm wondering if there a models available now that are decently loud to jam with an acoustic guitar?

    I once played a brand new Dean Acoustic Bass (not sure of the model). The price tag was good, but the E string was weak when amplified....plus it gave monster feedback! (Scared the salesman at the store)

    I've also played some Ibanez ABG's and they haven't been bad....price is a little higher than the Dean.

    Now, I have played a Tacoma Semi-Acoustic unamplified....and it was a little nicer....but not something for jamming....or my pocketbook!

    Anyone out there played a Godin A4 or A5 Fretted or Fretless? There supposed to be quite good....maybe comparable to the Tacoma.

    Another ABG on the chopping block is Carvin's latest AC40 or AC50.....anyone tried one of these? How about the good old black Fender ABG?
    BG-29 or something?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Heavy_E


    Jul 2, 2002
    I have played the Ibanez last week and it had a really great feel to it. It was easy to play and sounded good. I have also played an epiphone and it was crap...

    that's my 2 cents ;)
  3. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Hmmm......would that happen to be the El Captain?

  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    It depends on whether you're planning on playing amplified or unamplified. Neither the Godin nor the Carvin are really "acoustic", in the sense that they're meant to be amplified and don't produce all that much acoustic volume.

    If you're interested in playing unplugged, the Tacoma is probably the loudest, but you've already ruled that one out. I'm not sure about the cheaper ones, though I've heard good things about both the Fender and the Takamine.

  5. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Well.....the Tacoma I played was a Semi-Acoustic.....looked like the Godin or even a Rob Allen (now there's pricey semi-acoustics)

    Takamine is something I have to look into as well....but I don't believe they're all that cheap.

    Cort was another brand that makes Acoustics, as well as Washburn....but I'm not expecting these makes to hold a candle to a Tacoma.

  6. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA

    Just checked out the Takamine BG512.....not too shabby......they even have an upright style acoustic bass now too! (Looks like that one is worth a few bucks!)

    Hmm...Fender has two acoustic basses now huh?

    BG-29 and BG-32.....opinions?

  7. Only


    Sep 8, 2002
    Warrensburg, MO
    I recommend the Epiphone El Capitan.

    Nicest ABG I've ever played. Pretty loud, excellent tone, and plays easily. The larger body can get in the way of some players, though.

    And on a side note, the Ibanez acoustics I've played were the worst sounding and most poorly made of all, excepting Rogue.

    Just my $0.02
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Interesting--I've never seen any semi-acoustic Tacoma models. They've all been "fully acoustic", like this CB10:

    As for the "upright style" Takamine B10, that one has actually been around for many years, lots longer than their cheaper ones, but it's mostly just been available in Japan and Europe. Yep, it's pretty pricey, something like $2k I think.

    I don't know what your price range is, but you might also consider looking around for a used one of the old Guild B30/B50 basses. Those will also put out some pretty decent acoustic volume.

    Like I said, I haven't played all that many of the cheaper ABGs, but I wouldn't be surprised of the Cort and Takamine were pretty good.

    Good luck!
  9. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Thanks Mike.

    And yes....I have played the CB-10!

    Yep, price tag was around $2500.00 Canadian.

    Funny thing is, they only had the bass for about 2 weeks and it sold!

    I never went looking for a model number on it, and I thought it was a Semi-acoustic...but it did have that hole!

    Silly me.....it was acoustic!

    Great Sounding....Not really jam worthy....and the price tag was way too much!

    Thanks again,

  10. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    CN$2500 for a CB-10? Ouch! It may be worth your while to come south and take one home.

    Hang on until the search function is working - you'll find lots of threads on this very topic...
  11. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    I play both a Godin A5 fret;ess and a Godin A4 fretted. They are, IMHO, quite excellent basses. These two are my main basses for my solo work...and I have recieved quite a few "requests" for these on studio dates of late.
    (BTW...if you look at a Godin catalogue on the pages for the A series basses..you will find my picture. Yes, I am an endorsee)

    Neither, unfortunately, is loud enough to go up against an acoustic gtr. But, that is the problem with ABGs in general. All the Tacoma players will certainly chime in how the Tacoma is quite loud...and it is....but the physics of sound prohibit it, even with it's massive body to project both volume and tone.

    For what it is worth, the best semi-acoustics are designed to be augmented with amplification. Those would be, again this is only my opinion (tho a quite studied opinion) Rick Turner Renaissance, Godin and Rob Allen.

    For acoustic volume, at a udget price...try looking at some used ovations, guilds or Washburn (the AB32 model is quite nice, tho again very large) which can be found, sometimes on ebay quite cheap.

  12. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Max makes some good points. I happen to own a very large handmade ABG that's quite the loudest and best-sounding ABG I've played, even next to the Tacoma, Taylor, Martin, Guild, etc. There are two factors that make even this bass less than ideal in an acoustic jam situation: 1) it's a lot louder out front than it is from the player's position, so it tends to be a little hard to hear yourself even when the other players can hear you, and 2) even if it projects well, without amplification no ABG seems to fill up the low end in the way an electric bass will--you end up being just another guitar playing single-note lines, not really the "anchor" at the bottom. That can be OK, and is fine for working out parts and whatnot, but it's not really satisfying in the same way. I love my ABG, but I tend to play it solo for myself much more than in a group setting.

  13. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    It sounds like an Acoustic Bass is more of a "novelty" item, you still have to drap your amplifier along anyway. And what good it that? I might as well play my solid body or go for a semi-acoustic (if I must have an acoustic or upright-like tone).

    I just felt like exploring a different realm of the bass guitar. Something different compared to a solid body fretted electric bass.

    One the other hand, without changing the thread too much, how does a fretless (semi)acoustic bass compare to a fretless solid body?

    Other than weight and look, there must be tonal aspects between the two? The solid body might be more advantangeous here because of the fact that you can still play slap bass whereas on an acoustic fretless.......you can't!

    I owned a cheap fretless bass for 16 hours (yep I traded it back) I didn't exactly like it all that much. But, the bass didn't really sound all that good, and I have played better models. It like to definitely give fretless another chance.

    Thanks to all that have or plan to post!

  14. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    A semi-acoustic has a much different "flavour" than a solid body. It is hard to put an actual description to it...but let's just call it a certain "je nais se quoi".

    For me the semi-acoustic, and for that matter fully-hollow, basses posess some of the tonal anomalies inherent in all acoustic instruments. That is to say they give something back to the player.
    They are a bit trickier to both control and manipulate, but the rewards are much richer.
    They respond to the slightest nuance of your playing style offering a much wider dynamic and timbral range
    In short they "speak".

    Traditionally it has been thought that the desing allows for a much deeper and richer low end, and while this is true (or can be true), they also can produce some very ringing, and zingy "electric" tones.
    I am able to coax a wide variety of sound from my Godins.
    Yes, they do require amplification...and as such I might add a very different amplification needs than solids. But the amped tone is much richer, and "truer, than most solid basses.

    I might add.....techniques such as slapping and tapping are not impossible with semi-acoustics, nor with wholly acouctic basses. There is a different reqirement, and perhaps the techniques are a bit more difficult, but I have no problem slapping or tapping with any of my ABGs.
    (you might wanna give a listen to Jonas Hellborg's "The Quiet Life" for a recorded example of slapping on an un-amped ABG.) The sound of slapping on, for instance, my Godin's is a bit different than what is achieved on solid body bases..but to me is is a welcome change from the somewhat over-used, over-scooped, "typewriter bass" sound which has become a bit prevalent.

    They may not fit everyone's style, or all specific needs (I still lug my solids, incl my 67 P bass, to most sessions), but for me, the sound of a semi-acoustic is perfect. I do quite a lot of chordal playing, and chords really sing and respond with the hollow or chambered bodies.

  15. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Now, it seems that we are getting somewhere. I should made this post about comparing acoustic and solid bodies.

    I believe you can still use a regular bass guitar amp for a semi-acoustic, can't you?

    In a way are you meaning EQ needs for acoustics?

    I know there are specific acoustic amplifiers for acoustic guitars. Trace Elliot is an example of a manufacturer. However, are these for acoustic guitars, are they not?

    Thanks for your post, it seems that you like to your semi-acoustics!

  16. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Yes, obviously I do like semi's.........

    In regrads to amplification/eq needs:
    any piezo equipped instrument requires a more "transparent" amplification than a magnetic PU. Amps such as the TE are indeed designed for acoustic gtrs, but can be workable with bass (I have, infact used the Fishman equivalent of the Trace system...as well as the SWR Calif Blonde, both with great results.)

    Most bass amps have a predesigned eq curve to enhance the tone of the bass as per the maker's "idea" of what a good bass tone is....and this is anything but standard.

    Piezo's have huge dynamic and frequency responses, and the ususal midrange bumps or cuts which "most" amps have built into them usually creates for some less than desirable tones.

    Add to this, even a well bufferd piezo output has a very impedence, most bass amps have a fairly low impedence input.......not a good match.

    I have found you need an input impedence of 5-10 kOhms for acceptable input. One way of achieving this is to use a high quality DI (Fishman Platinum Bass, LR Baggs Para Acoustic, Raven Labs MDB1 or APD1) as an input buffer...running the bass into this before it hits the amp.

    For what it is worth: my rig is the aforementioned Godin basses into a Fodera model 2000 preamp, LR Baggs ParaAcoustic DI (with the insert loop sending to a Line 6 DL4 looper) to a Raven Labs PHA1 preamp (which has an aux loop sending to an Adrenalinn processor), to a Raven Labs MDB1 mixer/direct box/buffer amp (which has it's aux loop filled with a Lexicon JamMan) to a Raven labs APD1 active/passive DI (with an aux send feeding a TC Electronic M-One)...finally going to an Avalon U5 and onto a Stewart 2.1 feeding two Epifani 1x12's......

    And while a faux acoustic or upright sound can be achieved with tone controls, palm mutes, and hand placement on a solid body bass, it reaaly does't compare to the sound of a piezo driven ABG with TI Acousticore strings.....but then again to get a true upright sound, just play upright!

    But I must say that I find the sound of a well made ABG or semi-acoustic a tone which speaks for me. As I earlier posted it might not be right for everyone, and many players regrd it syill a novelty.

    As with any bass, the cheaper the cost the cheaper the materials and hence the sound. An inexpensive soilid body with a cheap active circuit...and sorry to tell you guys MOST of the active circuits out ther are just that...cheap....sounds bad. Smae for ABGs.
    One of my ABGs is a Dean Performer Plus, which is a 32" scale small bodied ABG...lotsa fun to play, but came with a Shadow P5 piezo/preamp system which was just horrendous. Replacing it with a Fishman helped, but I still did not like the results....replaced that with a Highlander which was much better, and also more expensive, and recenltly put a RMC piezo system in it, and it sounds great!
    Not as good as my Godins, but very nice just the same. The Dean bass, I believe, lists at around $650, so it is not too expensive...replacing the electronics took a fun and comfy bass and made it quite usable.

  17. tyson


    Feb 9, 2000
    Dallas, TX
    i have and Alvarez AEB and it's fun to play around the house since it's lighter than a standard bass guitar and doesn't need a chord to get "some" sound out of it...
    here are my areas of disssatisfaction:
    1. no way to make bridge adjustments to accurately make action, intonation, and fret buzz adjustments.
    2. no way to easily adjust the pickups....currently the baby picks up the A string much stronger than the other strings?
    3. phosphor-bronze strings are generally more expensive than nickel or stainless strings.
    4. where the heck is the truss rod?
    5. it CANNOT play with one or two acoustic guitars without the aid of 10-15 watt bass amp.

    BTW, i just tried out the Fender Bassman 25 at Brook Mays...very sweet tone
  18. I agree with everything Max has said, particularly about the Godins. I'll just add that, before scoring a used Acoustibass fretless (predecessor to the A4) about a month ago, I might have actually practiced twice a week. Since getting the Godin I've played every day. It begs to be played. I started using it on stage immediately. Absolutely love it.
  19. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Glad to hear you like the Godin so much! Yes, they are quite incredible basses.....and personally I always like the Acoustibass with it's slightly thinner body and resonators.

    Re: the Alvarez.....
    Proper seating of the piezo element is crucial for balanced string response. The problem with most budgetr ABGs is that the pickup setup is not done properly.

    The bridge saddle needs to be completely flat on the bottom side, and must fit fairly slip in the bridge (it should fall out when you flip the bass upside down without strings). Often either the saddle is not flat or fits too snug or loose and thus dowed not allow for the strings to pull it into a vertical position against the element.

    A quick fix could be to put a single, tiny drop of super glue directly under where the A string sits (on the bottom of the bridge saddle, tho!) This will act as a buffer for that string and CAn even out the response.
    Other than that, sanding and leveling the bridge saddle is in order....you might want to check that if your piezo is not a single element, but rather four individual elememnts, that they are seated right uner each string.
    An experienced tech/repair person can do this w/o problem.....

    Trus rod is usually accessed at the butt end of the neck..thru the soundhole. Rod adjustments are the easiest, but not the only, way to make action adjustments. (resitting the saddle, neck shims etc......)

    I highly recommend Thomastik-Infeld Acoustic Bass strings for all ABGs. These are the only string actually designed for these types of basses. They have a nylon core with phosphor bronze alloy windings and produce a remarkable tone! They are quite light gague and easy tension (which is good on these basses).....and not too terribly expensive. Best of all they last and last! One of my ABGs, which gets played everyday, sports the same set for over 2 years now!! It is not uncommon for players of these strings to leave them on for 2-3 years...they get better with age!
    Steel and nuckel strings have a pronounced, and somewhat unmusical effect on piezo PUs....a certain nasal harshness (sometimes called "chirp") which these do not produce..
    I have used them on a number of different ABGs and in each one they really bring out the beauty of the instrument.

    Try em out!

  20. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Wow......getting an even better response and better opinions!

    Question for Max......

    Do you at all like Godin Solid Body basses from there signature line? i.e. the BG-IV?

    I was quite impressed by the BG-4.....the BG-5 still kind of had a weaker 'B'.....which made the 4 more practical.

    I'm very impressed with Godin's Guitar line.....WoW! Too bad I don't play guitar though.
    My first stringed instrument was a bass guitar, and I think it will end up staying that way!


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