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Acoustic Double Bass Effect from a bass guitar

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by vballslife, Mar 7, 2006.


  1. vballslife

    vballslife

    Jan 20, 2006
    At the risk of heresy/blasphemy, may I ask if there is a special-effect mechanism (such as a special-effect pedal) that would make my bass guitar sound like an acoustic double bass?

    The bass guitar is a semi-hollow Epiphone Viola.

    Many thanks in advance,

    HmL
     
  2. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    The "Big Muff" through a Hartke 2000 is a dead ringer for an 1800's Prescott.
     
  3. joe_sorren

    joe_sorren

    Apr 7, 2005
    arizona
    lol!
     
  4. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    All kidding aside, heavy damping of the strings is an old technique that, shall we say, suggests the sound of recorded DB from the old days. Jamerson did that. Joey Spampinato of NRBQ gets a similar effect by damping with his palm. Flatwounds help, as does playing fretless.
     
  5. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    There are a few things you can try, although nothing is going to work as well as you would like. If it were possible, there would be far fewer upright players. That's one of the reasons we still carry around, and put up with some of the hassles of the DB. I would suggest flat wound or nylon strings, a sponge stuffed under the strings right in front of the bridge, and the neck pickup soloed. Definitaly fingerstyle towards the neck. Hope this helps.
     
  6. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    Try an Ashbory - if you're patient and have perfect pitch. It's sound can fool a lot of listeners.

    The Roland V-Bass has a pretty good db sound, And plenty of tweaking. It too can fool people.

    You'll get more jobs if you have a real DB. I know I get told to bring the DB and leave the slab at home.
     
  7. vballslife

    vballslife

    Jan 20, 2006
    Many thanks for all your replies!

    For now, will start with flatwounds, and sponge in front of bridge is excellent idea.

    As for "the neck pickup soloed. Definitaly fingerstyle towards the neck," do you mean using eclusively the front pickup (i.e., the one towards the neck)?

    Again, thanks.
     
  8. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Yes, the pickup by the neck will give you a deeper sound while the bridge pickup is a lot more midrange-y. And playing fingerstlye (not with a pick) with your plucking hand close to the end of the fingerboard will also give you more a deeper tone. BTW, the sponge should be cut to maybe 1/2 to 1 inch wide, so it doesn't completely mute the strings.
     
  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, and I'd try the flatwounds without the sponge first and then sponge at will. The flatwounds will be a noticable difference to you right out of the box.

    As I mentioned in my PM to you apologizing for being such a tool with my posted reply :)....

    I have tried several brands of flatwounds. LaBellas and TIs are the most hyped and most expensive, but so far, the $16 Fenders that you can get anywhere are my favorites. A close second are Ernie Balls, which are similar to the fenders, but with slightly less tension.

    That's a cheap way to get started. The problem with flatwounds is that when you don't want to sound like that, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. They don't cut through the mix as well as roundwounds will in a rock band.

    I'll warn you though, flatwounds on an electric bass is a gateway drug...it leads to a very expensive and life altering doublebass habit.
     
  10. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    My Fender fretless Precision A/E with Thomasik Jazz Flats and the piezo dialed in sounds pretty UB-like... so long as there's a loud band playing as well ;-)
     
  11. vballslife

    vballslife

    Jan 20, 2006
    :)

    As already mentioned in reply to Troy's PM, I am already addicted to the DB sound (via a rental); my current circumstances (finance and living space) however cannot accommodate said addiction, and am simply looking for the next best thing...

    In any case, many thanks for all your replies. Got the flatwounds last night; will swing by Michael's (the craft shop) for the sponge today.

    Re. the sponge: soft or hard sponge? By "hard," I meant the "florist" sponge in which one can stick silk flowere stems and such. Else, "soft," as in dishwahing sponge? Also, is sponge wedged snugly between the strings and body (and the bridge)? Pictures would be great, if available.

    Also, there were mentioning of the Ashbory and nylon bass strings: where may I get said strings? Guitar Center had no idea what I was talking about...

    HmL
     
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I'm not sure what that means either. You'll have to have a good amount of metal in the strings if you want the pickups to hear them. I think what you want if you're going that way is tapewound strings. Start with the Flats you bought and then read about tapewounds on the BG side if you're not happy with the flat sound.

    I think the flatwounds alone will make you happy for a while.
     
  13. vballslife

    vballslife

    Jan 20, 2006
  14. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    And here's the only bass these strings work on:
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Bass/Electric?sku=510832

    I remember seeing an old Beetlebass once that had a flip up sponge mute widget on the bridge. I haven't seen the reproductions, so I don't know if they also have this.
     
  15. vballslife

    vballslife

    Jan 20, 2006
    Took me a bit, but finally...

    o The flatwounds are on
    o So are the foam rubbers (just enuf to dampen the string a tad, vs. totally muting them)
    o Lowered the bridge (so that there is equal pressure on all strings from the foam rubber, and--I think--softens the fret noise some...)
    o Raised the fingerboard pickup
    o And, amp'd by a Marshall acoustic amp.

    The forum is correct in that it's still not exactly the double bass sound, but is close enough for my purpose. As to the fretless effect: again, I think lowering the bridge eliminates some of the fretted effect...

    In any case, until such time as when I have the space and funds for an honest double bass, this set-up would suffice.

    Many thanks for your help.
     
  16. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Here's one more suggestion if I'm not too late.

    Using your thumb to pluck the strings instead of (or in addition to) the index and middle fingers also gets a fatter sound IME.

    I don't mean thumb like Marcus Miller or Victor Wooten. I mean downstrokes with the thumb, like a classical guitar player.

    I play my electric bass (w/ flatwounds) at my church sometimes to support the teen choir there. Lots of footballs (i.e. whole notes) and parts that aren't busy at all. Sometimes I don't use my index or middle fingers at all in this situation, and just use my thumb as described above.

    Do this for a while, and it too can become addicting! It has been for me anyway.

    Good luck!
     
  17. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Just one more suggestion, unrelated to gear. Listen, listen, listen. Scott LaFaro on the Village Vanguard album. Copping an upright bass playing style is not all of it, but at least it's part of it.

    Listening to that album on the way home tonight was a humbling reminder of how far I still have to go, just trying to get my upright to sound like an upright.
     
  18. This discussion is ironic. I heard a double bassist this weekend trying his damndest to make his upright sound like an electric! :smug:
     
  19. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think that is MUCH easier to do.
     
  20. vballslife

    vballslife

    Jan 20, 2006
    "I mean downstrokes with the thumb, like a classical guitar player."

    That is a great reminder: when I first tried to imitate the DB, I actually played my BG as I would a classical guitar.

    "Copping an upright bass playing style is not all of it, but at least it's part of it."

    Have been listening to Eberhard Weber and Jaco Pastorius myself: completely understand the feeling about "how far yet to go," upright OR otherwise...

    "I heard a double bassist this weekend trying his damndest to make his upright sound like an electric!"

    Perhaps a happy medium would be a semi-acoustic EUB? Loosely on my "to-do" list for this spring/summer is to build an EUB...

    Again, many thanks...