AlterEGO EUB megathread

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by anonymous0726, Jan 8, 2005.

  1. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Until the new EUB forum opens, I thought that I'd post this here.

    I just spent a month and a half with the Alter Ego (, and have it at home now. I have much good to say about it.

    This story was that the producer of the Three Irish Tenors needed to get around my having my bass on the show because of travel considerations. After dismissing renting basses in different towns, we decided on purchasing an EUB, if I could find one that I thought would work. The gig is predominantly arco.

    I tried a the Azola, The Eminence, Gage's Half-a-Bass, etc., and finally arrived at a list of four. The Alter Ego on top, two of the Azolas (one unplayed by me) and, finally, the Eminence. I told him that if he got the Alter Ego that I'd buy it from him, and the other three would be his alone after the tour.

    Some details:
    • The AE has an I-beam type body, with the front attached only at the top and the bottom. This allows the front to move more like a real bass. My thought here is that it would sound even better if they thinned the front out a bit.
    • The bridge is more like a 5/8 or 1/2 sized bridge, but a real bass bridge. You can place the bridge anywhere you like for you desired string length.
    • It has two Realist-type pickups, one under each foot of the bridge. These stay on the bridge when the bass is apart, and also has a Schertler. The Schertler is great for arco, but lacks presence and clarity for pizz, and the E-side Realist-ish is harsh (Underwoodish) with the bow, but does well pizz. The G-side Realist-ish is pretty terrible.
    • The pickups connect to an onboard preamp that allows you to blend the pickups and turn on and off the Schertler. This runs on a 9-volt battery, which requires a screwdriver to open the box to replace it. Luckily I think battery replacements is probably a once-a-year ordeal -- and then just for good measure.
    • Disassembly takes about 2 minutes, complete disassembly is about 5 minutes. The partial assembly is just a couple of minutes, and complete assembly -- including fussing around with the bridge and strings, is less than ten. It takes an hour so to settle down (tonewise) after complete assembly.
    My overall impression was way-favorable. With the bolt-on shoulders and back-piece, you wouldn't notice much that you weren't playing a real bass -- by feel. It balances much like a real bass and the shoulders were adjustable enough that I could make it feel pretty close, in shoulder size, to my bass. Tonewise the sound is as good as you could expect out of a bass through an amp. The Realisty pickups are more direct sounding than the Realist, but this is due to the 'top' of the bass being thick, as I mentioned above. With the bow I found it more resistant than my real bass, but by lightening up with the right hand I found it pretty friendly, ultimately.

    With the Walter Woods and the Ampeb PB112, I was able to find numerous combinations of pickup balance options that gave a good pizzicato sound. Including using only one of either pickups. For Arco it works only really well with the balance all the way toward the Schertler or with the Realist-ish disconnected (but you lose some of the presence on the D and G strings this way).

    For regular travel, the bass breaks down pretty quickly into a shoulder bag and moves easily. I was able to stow it in an airline-size coat closet on the tour bus. For flying, the neck un-bolts and the whole thing fits into a flight case desiged for golf clubs. The airlines put this under the plane with no extra baggage hassles. My one complaint about the soft case is that it doesn't protect all of the pieces very well from each other, allowing the tuning keys to scratch-up the left shoulder piece. The right shoulder I managed to fit in the soft bag by wrapping it in an old t-shirt and putting between the body and the strings, above the bridge. There is also a soft bag that holds the bass when it's completely broken down, but I don't have mine yet. The soft-bags are pretty low-quality and I expect to have to figure out a better solution at some point.

    Things that could be better:
    • The endpin is not notched.
    • The bags are cheapos.
    • The shoulders could stand more adjustment. The shoulders on my 7/8 bass are pretty unfriendly and I could duplicate this well with the AE. For someone with a small, slope-shouldered bass I think that he might have a hard time recreating the feel of his real bass.
    • The tailpiece provided is a bit long and if you want 41 1/2" or more in string length you'll have to go with a new one.
    • The bridge tends to get knocked easily when moving the bass around in the soft bag. This could be solved both with a better soft bag, and also by roughing up the finish under the feet of the bridge when you find your spot so that it doesn't move so easily.
    Also I'd like to add that I didn't get any chance to fuss with the thing before we hit the road. Therefore I had a few minor issues. One was the string-length problem. I was able to place the bridge so that I had 41 1/2", but as a result the strings were quite low and the floss was touching the bottom plane of the bridge. To exasperate this I installed Spirocore Solos just before I left. Thus I had to tip-toe, particularly with the bow. To get a corresponding timbre to what you get from your real bass, I would recommend going with strings that are one step darker than what you use normally. To get the string length and height that you want you're going to have to replace the bridge if the one provided is too short. Adjusters would be a huge PIA, but the instrument doesn't change much, if at all, with temp/altitude/humidty so an adjustable bridge would be unnecessary anyhow.
  2. Interesting review - thanks for posting it. I took a look a the video clips, and was intrigued by Buster Williams' comments - it's difficult to get an accurate idea of what the sound is really like, especially on small computer speakers. I was interested to hear his comment about the strings he would have preferred. I know from experience that nothing feels like a double-bass when it's being played, but I realise that's not the point - it looks as if the Alter Ego does what it sets out to do, and does it fairly well.

    I looked for information about price, but couldn't find any from the site…

    Thanks again -
    - Wil
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The price is about $5,500 now, I believe. It IS remarkably like a real bass when you play it. With your eyes closed you don't notice that much difference.

    The sound is damned good. In Buster's clip I see that they're using the G-side Realist-y and have the Schertler on the G side as well. That's not the way that I'd do it, unless I was trying to get that CTI sound.
  4. cabin dweller

    cabin dweller Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Ridgeland, WI
    Sounds like a great bass! I myself-could never aford something that cool. Thank for the EUB thead. It would take my all night to type as much as that! What kinda' amp system do ya choose to use with it?
    Bassstringsonly likes this.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I have a Walter Woods green light and an Ampeg PB112. I haven't tried it with my Bag End 1x15, but I suspect that this might work even better. On the road I was stuck with an SWR 2x12 combo at one point, which had depressingly little EQ. I still managed to get a decent sound. Another time I had my Woods but used a deep 15" cabinet by Eden, which sounded damned good when I finally found the knob that turned off the tweeter.
  6. Ray: Nice review. I have an Eminence & immediately noticed some preferences on the Alter-Ego after seeing the video. The shoulder & neck block look like they balance way better than the Eminence. Plus the end pin on the Eminence will probably be the first thing to fail. I wonder what strings were on the bass Buster was trying? He commented they sound like electric strings, but still the bass sounded nice.
    I flew with my upright for 20 years. Gave in & finally bought the Eminence about 2 years ago. The first thing I did was remove the Realist pickup, cut the wings on the bridge to fit an Underwood & 'viola'. It seemed like the silver bullet for my situation. The Alter-Ego looks way more playable as far as balance. Wish I could try one.

    I am new to the bass forum, but a very near & dear friend (& past teacher) Paul Warburton, has been trying to get me involved. I'm one of those 'tunes in 5ths' guys.
    I hope I can contribute.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It balances much like a bass. The real fiddle seemed a tad heavy when I got home, but I got past that in pretty short order. The only thing that seemed awkward at first was the transition of the neck as you near the body -- say F on the A string -- but this was over in a day or so of playing, and now I don't notice it at all when switching back and forth.

    The most dangerous part of it was, that because it does balance/play/feel enough like a real bass, you fall into old habits. Like letting the body fall against you while reaching behind and to the left -- like when adjusting the amp between tunes. If the shoulder piece doesn't hit you just right, the neck bounces (yes, bounces -- had three or four chances to study this over 5 1/2 weeks) off your right temple. Ouch!
  8. That's funny. I know the feeling. Been reaching for my amp with Eminence in hand. Lost balance & the bass kind of twirled into my lap like a slab.
    I emailed Paul this thread, but he probably won't talk to us when he finds out it's EUB's.
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You can tune these in 5ths, and they in come in 5-stringers as well.

    Imagine a low F string (at a baked-bean luncheon)!
  10. I didn't know they could wrap gut that thick!
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think you'd have to twist the entire sheep (or small child) to get a gut string that thick.
  12. Wow! OK you win. :crying:
    On a serious note (low C): Who's making and/or distributing them? I'd really like to see/ hear one.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I found the same problem with the soft cases provided with NS EUBs..

    But a fellow TB'er - Gard - who works at Bass Central (BG & EUB store) and plays BG and EUB - designed a much better case for the NS EUBs. It is a central core with a lot of protection for the main bass body and then separate pockets for all the bits & pieces!

    I bought one of these and it is a lot better from this point of view and I thought it might suit other EUBs, when disassembled - or as he actually designed it and got it made - maybe there is a market/need for Gard to design more EUB cases? :)
  14. Never mind. I found it on the link you listed.
  15. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton In Memoriam

    Aug 17, 2003
    Denver, Co.
    I don't wanna talk about no god damn stick basses, but I do wanna welcome my old friend Larry Holloway to TBDB!
    I've been telling Larry about our family here. As he said, he's a fifth tuner and won the Red Mitchell Memorial fifth tuning competition up in the northwest a few years ago. He can play too. And Larry, Ray's the cat I told you about on the phone last night who can play.
    Larry lived in my neck of the Denver woods for years playing with tenor sax legend Phil Urso. ( have we got some stories for you!!)
    Anyway, I don't want to go on more about Larry because it's off topic, and will welcome him in another more appropriate place and time.......Welcome Larry!
  16. lin fung

    lin fung

    Oct 9, 2002
    St. Louis, MO
    The USD/ euro exchange rate is not as favorable now as it once was, which put these basses farther out of reach. Those alter egos look laike fantastic instruments, but they are a serious chunk of cash-- probably the most expensive EUBs made. Does anyone have a used one for sale? Short of that, it's a long shot.
  17. Basso Musico

    Basso Musico

    Mar 10, 2006
    Boston, MA USA
    Former Endorsing Artist: AlterEGO instruments

    I know this thread is pretty old, but it's the right spot on the forum to tell you that I have finally joined the team and have a new AlterEGO Acoustic Figaro 4-string. The thing is totally amazing and has blown my mind every time I have played it in the 2 weeks that I have owned it. I don't have any sound files yet, but I posted a review of the bass - with pix - on my blog. Here it is:

    Rick McLaughlin
  18. Great blog Rick!
    And thanks for the comments!

  19. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    These things do sound great, if the clips on the website are any indication (the Upside Down Octave playing Piazolla!). What's the pricing like at the moment? I see that the Baby Ego is in the 1900--2400 Euro range, but I didn't find exact prices for the other versions.
  20. Bass for Beef

    Bass for Beef

    Aug 11, 2005
    This is so crazy, I was just looking at different EUB's to try and the Alter Ego one stood out to me. So I came here to post about it and if anyone had tried one...Anyone know where I could get one close to Nebraska?