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acoustic rehearsal

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Norre, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium

    Last week we had an acoustic rehearsal with the band - 2 acoustic guitars (not amplified), 1 harmonica/singer (not amplified) and me on URB (also not amplified). Our drummer was on holiday :) I only pizzed.
    It was fun, but somehow my bass couldn't cut through the sound of the guitars. :bawl:
    I use Obligatos, which sound great when I practice alone or when they are amplified ... but somehow they don't work for me in an acoustic settings. Sounds familiar?
    I tried playing as loud as possible (btw, I haven't had any blisters for the last 2 years, but last week I had 2) but still I (and the rest of the band) had a hard time hearing myself.
    So I guess my question is:
    If I used strings thar are brighter, would I have heard myself better? Or should I look for strings that have a better projection? Or more sustain?
    Actually, I've been thinking about getting some Garbos lately, because I heard a lot of good things about them here on TB, but after this experience I don't know if I still want to do this.



    PS: I play in a blues band.
  2. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    I don't think you can blame it on the strings. I play fully acoustic in a few different clubs here even with a drummer with the Obligatos and it is no problem. Sometimes it is a matter of working to project, and sometimes you might have a bass that is simply not very loud.

  3. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Thanks for the info Monte.
    If it's my bass, is there anything that I can do to make it louder?
    If it is not my bass, could it be that I'm not pizzin' right? I've been studying classical music for the last 2 years, concentrating on arco. Nobody never really tought me how to pizz "right".


  4. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    The cheapest thing to work on is your pizz.
  5. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    I would agree with everyone else's comments about the bass or the technique. I've been playing for just over two years as well, and I play in a couple of different bluegrass bands, and I go to jams a couple of nights a week. I have an old ply bass, and I use Obligatos. I have no trouble being heard with those strings, even when playing with 2 banjos (loudest acoustic instrument on earth), 3 guitars, 2 mandolins, and couple of fiddles and a dobro.

  6. You can also place yourself nearer a room's corner. This should provide an obvious increase in the bass sound volume, and also boominess.
    You may also need to find the string that'll give the best tension for your bass to give its highest volume. The best load (given by the string pressure) for your bass has to be found by trial and error. Fine carved basses frequently sound louder with lower tension strings, like gut.
    You can detune your bass by slacking the strings and listen to the volume.
    If you notice an increase with lower tension, this may tell you that you need a lower tension string.
    Obligatos are now available in solo-tuning sets, if you didn't already know.

  7. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Classical pizz can be different from jazz pizz.

    Step 1: Keep your right hand lower on the fingerboard close to the end. This will help with projection. In general, pizz closer to the octave than the end will give you a nice round sound to your ear, but won't project. The sound at the end of the fingerboard may not sound as pleasing, but will cut through better and give you more ping, and will sound better out front.

    Step 2: This is a little more esoteric and may require a teacher: Work smarter, not harder. Learn to use more than just your right hand in getting a big sound. Using the larger muscles from the back and shoulder will allow more sound with less effort and less chance of injury. It is very hard to describe, but easy to show. Christian McBride showed me in about 5 minutes, as did Lynn Seaton. There are any number of variations on it, but it is easier to show than talk about.

    Step 3: Volume comes as much from the left as right hand. Make sure you are holding the strings with enough pressure and proper technique.

    Step 4: Practice in a large area, and try to fill the room with sound. This is a slow way to help, but I believe that eventually you find ways to fill the room.

    Step 5: A variation of 4. Quit relying on sound reinforcement and just do it. Force yourself to do rehearsals with no amp. If you think you can do it on a gig, make yourself!!

    Hope this helps. There is no easy answer, so try to find someone with a big sound you admire and get them to help you.

  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I mentioned before, how I was at Jazz Summerschool recently and when we had bass classes, I was with about 4 or 5 other students playing DB acoustically and the tutor, a Jazz pro - standing round in a circle.

    So - to me, as a non DB'er it was fascinating, as the teacher was so much louder - or rather projected so much more sound, than the students.

    And it wasn't just his instrument, as when he played one of the students' instruments, he was still noticably louder - in fact he was louder on one of the students' instruments, than he was on his own! But that was a very nice-looking instrument and obviously why he wanted to try it! ;)
  9. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Thanks guys ... very useful information :hyper:

  10. Also, as noted here before, the bass sounds a lot different to the person playing it than to the person standing a few feet away.

    I played a trio gig with a singer in a lounge/restaurant and decided to leave the amplifier at home (mostly because the stage was tiny). I was working like a bastard thinking I'd be buried, and my onstage volume seemed to confirm that suspicion.

    During the break, however, a guy at the other end of the room told me I should "turn my amp down" because I was covering up the singer!
  11. Aren


    Jul 18, 2003
    Fort Wayne, Indiana
    Another thing to keep in mind is the room. Have you had the same problem in other rooms? It may just be as simple as putting yourself in a different spot in the room. I can be in one area of my music room at home and just move a matter of feet and get a completely different sound.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Great story - that reminded me of something that the teacher I was talking about in my last post said. So - it may well have been that the phenomenon I noticed was also related to the fact that I was standing opposite him in the "circle", i.e. that he sounded so loud.

    But anyway, he did say that thinking about projecting the sound where you want it, can help this - so he said if you look ahead, where you are trying to project the sound - this helps. Sounded weird to me - but I suppose the point is you don't want to be looking or projecting all the sound sideways, for example?
  13. Different basses also project differently. Plywoods sometimes have a focused, up-front sound, whereas carved instruments project more wide-spread. Turning the bass to the direction ( or away ) you want to project can have strong effects to the way a listener hears the bass.

    In my home when I practice, I stand near a piece of furniture where I keep my cd´s in. It has sliding glass doors, and it works like an amplifier.
    If I turn the bass so that the back is in line with the doors, I get a huge response from the room, and also small things rattling all around the apartment. Turning the bass 45 degrees sideways stops the rattling noises, but the response from the room to my ears drops to half.

  14. Norre

    Get another bass player to play your bass with your group while you walk around and listen to it.

    I ran sound this weekend for a Bluegrass Festival. Another bass player used my bass during a jam with my band for a couple of songs. It was an enlightening experience for me. I heard all kinds of things I hadn't heard before. Tone, Volume, projection were all much different than I thought they would be. I had only heard my bass from the playing position perspective. I am pleased with what I heard. Before listening from an audience perspective, I was questioning whether I needed to change something.


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