Advice Please! Need a truly "silent" upright

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by kurkomat, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. kurkomat


    Aug 28, 2001
    Austin, TX
    Friends- am in need of some advice! I just moved from my house in the burbs into an apt in S.F. and am finding it very difficult to play upright without bugging my neighbors. I'm a 9-5'er and typically practice from 10-12 at night so I need something very quiet. I've read through all the threads here on various mutes / strapping things to the bridge / isolating the endpin from the floor, etc. All of these work pretty well but my bass is still too loud for me to comfortably practice per my regular schedule. Renting a practice space or practicing immediately after work are not options. So-- anyone have any ideas on any really silent basses out there that have the same scale length of a standard 3/4 upright? I've looked at the--

    Yamaha Silent Bass / Kydd-- ($$$$)
    Dean Pace / Zeta-- (basically seem like slab basses)
    Eminence-- (nice bass but still too loud acoustically)

    Does this sound crazy-- I am thinking of slapping a bass neck / bridge / tailpiece onto a piece of wood for night practicing. I'm thinking that I'd only be able to hear the true string noise with no resonance (like playing a slab unplugged.) Anyone tried this or know of any alternatives? Parts alone would run a few hundred dollars so if anyone has any better ideas please let me know. Honestly I'm so bummed about not being able to practice regularly that I'm thinking of switching back to slab. I don't want to give up on upright just yet but I definitely need to find a solution.

    thanks much.
  2. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I do!
    I'm up at 5:30 and leave home at 6:45.
    I'm in the bed at 10PM.
  3. DB66


    Aug 24, 2005
    Washington, D.C.
    why don't you make friends with the landlord or super in your building and see if you can practice down in the basement or the laundry room, might have really nice acoustics down there, concrete floors, cinderblock walls.

    I've been considering buying a large shed from Home Depot and running electricity to it so I have a space of my own to practice. 1 toddler, twin newborns, a wife, and an au pair - I've no room of my own anymore :(
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Been there, done that, sold it. Didn't work for me nor did I like the design & workmanship. It ended up being a cute waste of time and money for my purposes as a practice substitute.

    When compared to a real DB, the feel just isn't the same. I'd look elsewhere - something that has more of a DB shape. Acoustically, it still wasn't quiet enough. Alot of energy gets transferred quite well down the cymbal stand. Doesn't work when you live on the 3rd floor and the walls are thin. In a certain sense, I think the stand coupled with the floor even amplified the sound. I knew this when I just held the bass up against a vertical wall and my girlfriend listened from the other side. She said it was very loud. I once got a complaint about playing the EUB after hours in my bedroom from probably my next door neighbor. His bedroom is adjacent to mine. At least my downstairs neighbor is somewhat deaf.

    CAPT KURK, I feel your pain man. I live in SF too and it's not easy. My solution was to share the rent for a practice studio with a buddy of mine. At least that way I get to practice the real thing, but I have to drive over to Cow Hollow every time. If you live on the bottom floor, maybe you'll be ok with an EUB. Otherwise, I dunno.

    In San Francisco, you're lucky if you have a basement or shed to practice. Apt buildings here are used for parking cars usually and there's not much room for anything else. Sides who wants to dodge cars while they're practicing.

    Anyways, I'm still looking for another solution. EUBs are tempting but not a total solution. Even the Ergo was very audible with the bow.

    Jas, the diff is that you're in NYC and we're in SF. Last I checked, SF isn't as cool as NYC, sadly. People go to bed here, and lots of them around midnight. They don't wanna hear someone thumping away at 11pm. In my condo, I get FINED (yes FINED) by the condo associated if I get more than one complaint about my noise. I'm allowed to only make musical noise til 10 everynight. No IFs Ands or Buts. It can suck.
  5. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
  6. kurkomat


    Aug 28, 2001
    Austin, TX
    thanks guys- good suggestions. I was in the works of looking at the ergo when Hdiddy's post showed up. Sounds like we're in identical situations- I live in a 2 bedroom loft and when I'm playing my upright with all mutes attached my wife in the upstairs bedroom still says it's too loud so I KNOW the people downstairs are hearing me too. It's not so much that I would get fined by the HOA (though I might) I just don't want to be a bad neighbor. When I come home from a long day of work the LAST thing I want is to hear other people's business when I'm trying to relax.
    I have to say though, that I pulled out the electric last night and played from 10-12PM and had a smile on my face. Hate to say it but I may be taking a several year hiatus from the upright :meh: -- just too inconvenient right now for my living conditions.

    thanks for the advice.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That information is not in your profile!
  8. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
  9. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Is it really that hard to move your practice back a couple
    hours, then you'd be in prime time and neighbors TV would
    drown out your playing :)

    Maybe its just my situation, but I haul my bass downstairs
    some evening, sit in our den and practice while my wife and
    I watch a movie. My playing is pleasant and melodic enough
    that my wife doesnt mind at all. Not to mention that I find
    it challenging improvising over whatever musical content
    the movie might throw at me :)
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    wait wait wait... I forgot there was one last alternative!

    I have been considering this solution and I know it will work - but it can be kinda expensive and you won't be playing your DB. The idea is to get an NS Designs CRM-4 (or whatever configuration you like) with the strap attachment. Since you'll wear your bass instead of using any mounts or end pins, the bass is totally decoupled from anything except your body - so theoretically you should be able to practice to your hearts content. The CRM-4 will run about $2399 (I contacted Bass Central) new. The strap attachment is < $200. You can go cheaper if you can find everything used.
    If I didn't have my practice space, I would've been all over the CRM by now. It's definitely worth looking at.
  11. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    From that picture there doesnt seem to be much
    difference playing that and playing a fretless BG,
    you would just hold the thing vertically :D
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Nah, there's some pretty big fundamental differences that you wouldn't see in that photo:
    1) Bigger gauged DB strings. Requires a good RH technique to get good sound.
    2) Bigger differences in string heights - especially for playing with a bow.
    3) neck should be much thicker.
    4) shape is more DB like which is important for where you place your RH thumb - just like the real thang. Also important for RH technique
    5) And finally and most importantly, 41" scale length - not 36". Makes a ton of difference as you need to use a different left hand technique.

    The comparison is like apples to oranges. It's the same fallacy that one can use EB technique to play a DB. It's just dead wrong. Even the Ergo (as much as I may not like it) is much better than something like a Pace EUB (which is a cop out IMO). Just my 2 bits.
  13. That's about the only situation I've seen where having a pot belly would be an advantage!:)
  14. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    My Azola is as quiet as they come, and there are a fair number of used ones around. It has a neck heel, unlike the NS, so it feels more like a DB. Add a headphone amp and you're set.
  15. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    How much space do you have? If you have enough, you can build a booth. It's a lot cheaper than buying an EUB and you'll get to play the real thing. There's really no trick to it. For DIY vocal booth, see

    Other ideas to cut down on the sound.

    1. Carpet. One inch thick. You'd be surpised what wall to wall carpeting will do. It really sucks up the sound. You don't need to install it.

    2. Studio foam. Put the foam on the wall that you share with your neighbor.

    3. Practice mute

    4. Workout mat under the endpin.
  16. Mheintz, your advice is okay for absorbing high frequency sounds within the room and making it into a less resonant space for recording, but none of what you suggest will do much to prevent the problem of structure-borne bass vibrations.

    You might be on to something with the vocal booth idea, though not in the form that the link suggests.

    Recording studios are built as "rooms within rooms." You basically build a second room inside the first and float it on rubber absorbers to prevent sound transmission through the floor. The second room should "self-support", or any ties used for structural stability should also be absorbers. The door to the second room should seal acoustically with magnetic strip like a fridge door and all wall, floor and ceiling joints should be airtight. Your aim is to prevent as much structural and airborne sound transmission as possible.

    So, kurkomat - you could build yourself a small practice booth supported by rubber absorbers and shut yourself and your bass in it for a few hours every night, or until the air runs out!
  17. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    The practice mute is the easiest and cheapest thing to do. It won't cost you more than $20 and it greatly reduces the sound of your bass.