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Amp in the pit?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by tornadobass, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I'm playing a musical in the pit next month and am thinking about using my Epiphone bass into my AI Contra. Those of you playing musicals on double bass...do you tend to use an amp? I've mostly gone acoustic in the past with a carved bass but often can't hear myself, especially in the loud parts.
  2. vivifiction


    Jan 22, 2011
    I think that this question would be best asked to the conductor or the musical director. I think they'll make sure that whatever is going to sound best ends up happening.
  3. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Tornado Bass,
    If you're doing something like Camelot, Sound Of Music, or Showboat, then I would think the AI contra should do the trick and blend with the orchestra just fine. Since you're playing Double Bass, I'm assuming it's an older show. Orchestra pits are funny beasts, sometime it's like playing in a vacuum chamber. Doing the acoustic, acoustically always depends on the drummer.

  4. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    We're doing Gigi, a show I don't know. This theater group mostly does classic shows, so I'm expecting this will be the same. I did play Secret Garden with them, which required doubling on acoustic and electric.
  5. Ross Kratter

    Ross Kratter Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2010
    New York, NY
    Artist, RS Berkeley, La Bella Strings and Phil Jones Bass Amplification
    Ask the conductor. 9/10 times they'll probably say to use an amp. I've played some 40+ shows now and I think the only ones I didn't play amplified on were Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me.
  6. I can speak of my own experience. Years ago I subbed for a friend on a couple of dates for Into The Woods on double bass. We both played un-amplified, and I ended up feeling like I was playing more for the band rather than the audience or cast. The venue was an old repurposed movie theater, and I felt like I wasn't cutting through the mix.

    On the other hand, I recently played a production of a new show, Spring Awakening, where I doubled on bass guitar and double bass.
    My setup was:
    Fender P > SansAmp > direct to FOH and a line out to a small combo I kept on stage for monitoring.
    Double bass w/Realist > Fishman Pro-Platinum > FOH, and they put a monitor in front of me.

    After some dialogue with the sound man to get the monitor level right, this worked perfectly for me. That score is a challenge for the double bass; some songs call for a strong, rock-style bassline to support the entire band, some songs have you blending with a string quartet, and some songs go back and forth between both. I don't know if the theater you're working in has the capabilities to do something like this, but it really worked for me.
  7. Bassguyrob

    Bassguyrob Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2003
    Spokane WA
    I can't say I have ever done a show that had a drum set without an amp. As someone said above, pits are weird environments, sometimes adding too much volume for the audience and sometimes being vortexes that suck all sound eminating from them. As long as the rest of the pit can hear you, and the cast can hear you, do whatever the sound engineer tells you to do.
  8. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choiceâ„¢ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I've played both ways and always left that decision up to the musical director and/or sound crew. Sometimes they've miked my double bass and sometimes they've taken a line from my amp. I've played shows where I played through my amp for pizz numbers and turned it off when I was supposed to play arco and blend with the other strings. I really hate doubling in a pit, but when I have I used my GK MB150 and an A/B box.

    - Steve
  9. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Commercial User

    Aug 17, 2010
    Manufacturer: Tech 21
    I've played for a number of Broadway musical productions in NYC as well as numerous road gigs. Amps are getting more rare with shows. On the U2 Musical "Spiderman, Turn Out the Dark," there are two bassists. One goes direct and the other uses an amp but it's in an isolated room. That's really rare for bass. He plays upright, but we're all using headphones and Avioms.

    These things are usually decided by the musical director and sound designer. Don't assume ask.
  10. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    The collective advice here is to ask the musical director...and that it also depends on how sound is managed in a theater, with some houses going direct and some providing no sound support for the orchestra.

    The musical director I've usually worked with generally doesn't like the sound of amplified double bass, even in a 30+ piece orchestra for a concert version of a show when I'm the only bass. Another musical director preferred an amp and was even fine with my BugBass.

    For Wonderful Town (where the orchestra does double duty as a nightclub group on stage), I used my EUB into an EA Micro, with Wizzy speakers pointed left and right to hold the group together in a stage-width layout. The keyboard ran through my amp, too.

    So..."it all depends" seems to be the best answer!

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