Acoustic Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Kevin1234451, Mar 18, 2023 at 1:59 PM.

  1. Yes

    9 vote(s)
  2. Or No

    42 vote(s)
  1. Kevin1234451


    Feb 21, 2023
    I don't hear much about Acoustic Bass but was wondering if it's good to start as a beginner and as a first-start instrument or harder pros and cons for it?
    mrperkolator, DJ Bebop and jd56hawk like this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    By "Acoustic Bass" to you mean the traditional classical upright string bass? Or do you mean Acoustic Bass Guitar?
    DJ Bebop and jd56hawk like this.
  3. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'm a big acoustic bass fan, but as much as I play mine...all the time...I wouldn't recommend one for a beginner.
    Comfort. It's simply not as comfortable as a Jazz bass, P bass, Stingray, etc, and comfort should always be an issue for beginners.
    Plenty of new players gave up learning because they were trying to learn on the wrong bass.
    (By the way, I started learning with an acoustic bass and own two.)
  4. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I started on Acoustic Bass Guitar (ABG) and have no regrets. I’m a pick player and not a super low action light touch dead fish handshake player.

    Playing an ABG with a pick IMO is the way to go to be heard when playing unplugged.

    You can learn to play on any electric slab O’Wood bass with the other referenced technique above later.

    Question: have played any stringed instrument previously?
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  5. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    IMO, no reason you can't learn on an ABG. Question is, what do you want to play after you progress a bit?
    A basement/garage band kicking out Zeppelin and Uriah Heap tunes? Electric might work better.
    A folk duo playing Dylan/Taylor/Simon & G? ABG would fit just fine.
    Get to a store and wrap your arms around a couple acoustics - see how they feel.
    Disclosure - I only play acoustics, got two.
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  6. Kevin1234451


    Feb 21, 2023
    I mean Acoustic Bass Guitar
    salmon256, B-Mac and bholder like this.
  7. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I have a Guild and an old goofy Kramer ABG. They’re awesome. But they’re also not. It depends. You can’t gig with one unless you amplify it and in that case it’s not going to sound as good as an electric. You have no intention of taking it camping so just drop that idea. They’re really cool to grab and go hang on the porch as a musical excuse to drink beer. I’m all for that. But they’re gi-freaking-gantic and your elbow can’t reach over it comfortably. And MTV Unplugged isn’t really a thing anymore so no bar near you wants your future band to play acoustics with amps with you on a stool.

    I like mine but I am an electric player and understand what my ABG is for.
  8. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    OK, given that, I gotta say no, start with electric. Maybe a hollow or semi-hollow one if you want, but start electric for sure.
    darwin-bass and Killing Floor like this.
  9. Kevin1234451


    Feb 21, 2023
    I have but would it be easy for a beginner to play it plugged in with an amp or not if it's an Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar?
    jd56hawk likes this.
  10. Kevin1234451


    Feb 21, 2023
    what if its with an amp and it can be Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar would it still be hard or good and easy to start with?
  11. klattman


    Jan 8, 2008
    In general it’s difficult to set the action and intonation perfectly and low on an acoustic bass. And the bass is thicker, making it more uncomfortable to play.
    bholder likes this.
  12. salmon256


    Jul 10, 2021
    I think ABG aren't bad but I also think they can be awful if you get a super cheap one with no setup. For a beginner just get a electric bass guitar, if you wanna go with a ABG because of not being able to get an amp yet, I was in those shoes as well, just get a vox amplug or any other brand of amplugs, or a Zoom B1 pedal they can all do headphone playing. And when you're ready to get an amp have fun. I think ABG are cool but also need loads of setup if a cheap one, also they are kind of big, and I'm a tiny person my normal acoustic bass guitar is hard for me so I have to go with a small one LOL. So depending on your body it made be harder and playstyle, setup etc. Anyway this is just my opinion, if the acoustic bass calls to you by all means please do it, but you can always get one as a second hand bass later on. Also IMO no matter what unless you have a music man old one that is giant they will never be loud enough, but there's tons of cool battery power acoustic amps and PAs you can get down the line if you still want that sound and portable outside/camp playing in a way. Good Luck
    wintremute likes this.
  13. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I like my ABG a little more than the next guy (just played it out in public last night) but I do think of it as kind of a specialty axe.
    If you intend to be playing in groups with a more acoustic vibe then maybe go ahead & take that fork from the get go and get an ABG.
    But, if you have to ask, it should be easier to get a decent electric bass on a starting budget, and it might open more musical doors for you. IME learning to play with the amp is an important part of the experience.
  14. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I’m strictly referring to playing technique.

    Did you previously play stringed instruments with a pick?
  15. KRJax


    Jun 17, 2022
    If you try an ABG - I enjoy mine - and if you want to use a pick, try felt. You don’t get a lot string clank especially with bronze strings.
  16. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah, I was going to add, if you absolutely must go with an ABG, get one with good electronics and plan on at least a small practice amp. They're a bit harder to get around on than electrics, just because of the size and shape of the body, but nothing insurmountable. The main thing is to recognize that you'll need an amp to hear yourself (or for others to hear you).

    Don't get me wrong, acoustically loud ABGs do exist, but they're big, rare, expensive, and not a good investment for beginners.
  17. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    @Kevin1234451 , IMHO there really is no right or wrong answer. Starting on ABG could be great for one person and a huge mistake for another.

    There are lot's of people here on TB who don't even think ABG is a viable instrument. There are going to tell you the all ABGs are useless :poop:.

    While an ABG can be loud enough for practice, they are not generally loud enough for a jam session without adding an amp. Then again, an electric bass also needs an amp if you want to jam.

    A good ABG may be loud enough acoustically to be heard in a jam with singing and a few acoustic guitars, but I don't think most people will find it loud enough to make the experience enjoyable. Unfortunately our ears are most sensitive in a range that guitars cover and basses do not. So for equal perceived volume, bass actually has to be louder. If you want to learn more, Google and read about the Fletcher-Munson curve.

    Larger ABGs tend to have bad ergonomics, which can make them uncomfortable to play for an extended time.

    For the record, I own a Tacoma CB10 with the Fishman preamp. The Tacoma was one of the louder ABGs you could buy. It has a medium/large body, which get's uncomfortable fairly quickly.

    The Tacoma's extra acoustic volume comes from the way the body is constructed. The panels are very thin and lightly braced, which makes the bass more resonant. The light construction makes the bass a bit more fragile. The extra resonance makes the Tacoma feedback at lower volume when played through an it limits how much you can turn up.

    The neck on the Tacoma plays pretty well. But the bridge is fixed, so there is adjustments to compensate for intonation variances across the strings.

    I think the Tacoma sounds great through an amp at low to medium volume. The Fishman preamp allows you to push the volume a bit as you can flip the phase and also adjust a variable notch filter and the mid control to help mitigate feedback. But there are definitely limit to how loud you can play.

    As I mentioned, acoustically it's loud compared to other ABGs, but the tone is not very deep. If you play in a campfire setting you will be heard well enough to be appreciated, but you will probably feel like the guitar players are really dominate. I think the experience would be a lot more enjoyable if you have a small battery powered amp such as a Roland Cube Street EX. IMHO the need for using an amp sort devalues the idea of an acoustic bass...but IMHO the Tacoma really sounds incredible and unique through an amp, and it produces an awesome organic tone that you cannot get with a slab.

    While I think ABGs are cool and have value. I see them more as a specialty instrument that expands the range of tones you can produce as a bass player. I don't see ABGs as a great choice if you only plan to own one bass....but YMMV.
    Bunk McNulty and Clutchcargo like this.
  18. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    WEDGIE Picks.

    No clank

    And different levels of rigidity.

    Guitar Picks

    @jd56hawk got me into these
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023 at 8:13 PM
    jd56hawk likes this.
  19. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I've said this elsewhere and I'll say it again here:

    Here's a big part of the debate that isn't explained.

    Guitarists usually, but not always, start out on an acoustic guitar. They learn how to play and then get an electric guitar afterward and also learn on that. They fully comprehend and understand that the two types of guitars are different animals and require different techniques.

    Not so much the same with the majority of bassists, unless they're a guitarist first. Bassists usually almost always start on an electric bass. They want to be like their idol. They learn tabs and patterns. The majority skip notation. They also play with an extremely low action and the limp wrist dead fish hand shake technique of playing because the amp can do the talking. They tend to learn songs and not learn to play bass.

    If you want to play an Acoustic Bass Guitar (ABG) you need to play with a different technique. If you play an ABG like an electric bass with an extremely low action and limp wrist dead fish handshake technique you will never be heard in ensemble playing regardless of what ABG you buy unless you plug in, even an Earthwood or a Tacoma Thunderchief. Doesn't matter.

    In order to be heard on an ABG unplugged you must play with a high action so the strings can ring out. You must play with finesse (picture John Entwistle or Geddy Lee playing an ABG) or use a pick (Rubber picks from 'Wedgie' are great as they have little to no plastic clickity-clack). You should also use loud Phosphor Bronze strings that are pressure wound to allow the strings to ring out and have minimal string squeak.

    If you must have the super low action for the limp wrist dead fish hand shake technique of playing associated with Slab O'Wood electric basses then you must plug in. If you do play that way, then tape wound strings are the way to go on a plugged-in ABG.

    Understanding this will dramatically help with not having your expectations dashed.

    There's a bunch of peeps here that love ABG's
    Acoustic bass fetish club Part 2
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023 at 9:06 PM
  20. Michael Stanley 2112

    Michael Stanley 2112 Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2020
    I'm going to have (yet another) unpopular opinion ...

    I think starting on an acoustic is a bit of an advantage in that when you do switch to electric, it will seem sooooooo much easier because you've already built the muscles and technique.

    I'm not saying there won't be some adjustments, but they'll be adjustments of comfort rather than adjustments of discomfort.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023 at 9:10 PM