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Ampeg Baby bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MM, Sep 6, 2000.

  1. I've been getting kinda interested in getting one of these. I like the look, especially for playing rockabilly and swing gigs.

    Who's owned one? What are your impessions? What is the sound like? How is the playabillity? You know, the usual stuff. :)
  2. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    You might get more responses over on the DB side of this place.
  3. I figured they'd just mock me over there. :D "That ain't no real upright, boy. Get outa here with that toy!"
  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    MM, I played one for a while several years ago (still have it). It looks cool and has a great action. The sound comes up short of real good. They have a totally different pup than a bass guitar. Probably used more in reggae or island music than any thing else. Playing one is like trying to hold a greased pig. Hardest thing I've ever tried to keep in a playable position.

    I would definitely advise you to try it before you buy it.

    You probably could buy a decent plywood Kay for around the same amount of money but the Kay URB woul be MUCH more versatile.
  5. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You might have to get your Baby Bass direct from Steve Azola. He makes the new ones under license from Ampeg, which, I understand are much better than the original.
  6. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    The original Ampeg Baby Basses are thump machines- I owned one and later sold it for that reason. All big blunt attack with no sustain. Part of the problem is the pickup system, and many have modified their instruments. However, they are prized for Latin and similar music where the bass is also a percussion instrument.

    Several makers make reissues; Steve Azola made the reissue Ampeg Baby Basses, which had an improved magnetic system plus a wing pickup, the K&K Bass Max, which he also uses in his other basses. He also makes some very attractive variations from wood, as do others, like Ray Rameriez.

    They are big and still a pain to transport, but have a unique vibe.

    You'll find links to about 75 electric upright bass makers on my Bass Links page at http://www.gollihur.com/kkbass/basslink.html

  7. Bass Cadet

    Bass Cadet

    Jul 7, 2000
    I own an Azola Baby Bass. Bob is right, it's mainly popular for Latin music. It's usable for rockabilly and swing although a plywood URB is more common. Impressions: easier to transport than a 3/4 URB although still awkward, similar playing position as the URB but you don't lean into it as much and the vibrations aren't as strong, not suited for bowing (the main reason I bought my URB), and it requires an amp. The sound is more of a thump even strung with Thomastik Spirocores. Playability is very good. You can adjust the neck to change the action and the piezo pickups have tone controls. I do like the looks of mine: white body with black hardware and an ebony fingerboard. They are somewhat pricy: I paid over $2k with the case and stand.

  8. Thanks for the responses. Sounds like tonewise I'd be better served by a plywood URB, though I am going to check out some of the electric URB's on Bob G's page. I like the portabibility of the electric URB's. I'm afraid they'll be out of my price range, though.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've tried the Steinberger electric uprights and really like them. I preferred the one with magnetic pickups as well as piezo - the "piezo only" version lacked bottom end to me, but the blend of magnetic and piezo sounded great to me. It sounded like a good upright closer to the nut or like a fretless bass guitar higher up and because of the low action was really easy to play.

    I've heard the baby basses used in "Salsa" , and it seems to work well for tumbaos where you want a short decay. I would prefer a more versatile sound like the Steinberger :

  10. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Did you try the original ($++++) or the import (still expensive) Bruce? I played the import at NAMM in LA and was quite underwhelmed. I salivated over the NS Design online and was actually "inspired" by his design, which is somewhat reflected in the EUB I built. But the Czech model I played felt and sounded more 'electric fretless' than my URB sensibilities could handle. Of the basses I saw there, the Eminence really hit my button, and Azolas as well-- the Vektor was very URB-sounding, too, though also expensive.

    Just my .02.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I have tried two or three Czech models and I guess I have no "URB sensibilities" - it definitely did sound more and more like fretless bass guitar, the higher up the neck you went, but I quite liked this. I always feel that URB solos tend to get lost in Jazz gigs and I can see these great players putting huge amounts of effort and invention into solos that nobody ever hears. I would be happier to be heard rather then keep the "authentic sound".

    I felt that the CR4 is a compromise or somewhere between the two instruments, but I still really liked it. With the long 41" scale, I found that notes in first position did sound very "upright-like" and I could get some great sustain on these notes. I think it's probably aimed at the long-time electric player like me, who wants to play Jazz and feels that an upright would help walking lines and ballad feels, but is too daunted by the size and impractical nature of the DB. I find that acoustic DBs are too big to fit in my car, too hard to play (high action)and always get feedback when amplified at anything like an audible volume!

    So I can imagine the CR4 being anathema to experienced DB players, but I think it's an ideal first instrument for the Bass Guitar player who wants to do some Jazz, Latin stuff - I imagine it being absolutely useless for classical, for example.

  12. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    I've been slowly working on an article for one of the bass mags on EUBs-- there are definitely "categories" of EUBs, in addition to them being an instrument that occupies its own space, there are ranges from URB-like to more akin to fretless electrics in an URB suit. No criticism intended; the EUB I've built feels like an URB but can sound quite closer to electric with the mag pickups soloed, and is awesome when bowed. It really depends on the sound you're looking for.

    As far as 'the real deal' - I can't help you when it comes to fitting one in your car (though I have gotten pretty creative over the years), but action is a common, easily solved complaint. So often those right-out-of-the-box URBs in stores are never set up properly (not unlike electric basses in many stores <g>) and have the ultrahigh action and tall nut measures that beg a fix. And many players prefer that high action for the biggest bass 'not bloom' they can get. With the hand problems I have, both my basses are set with low action at both the nut and bridge and, and rather flexible strings. And with a K&K Bass Max I can get gobs of volume before feedback.

    Come over to the dark side, Bruce. Minivans aren't really that bad. <g>
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well, I'm not decided yet - the NSCRM4 is £1695 over here - which is a lot of $ ! And there is a shop in the UK advertising double basses from £450. The only problem with that is that this shop is at the opposite end of the country from me and I'm never likely to get there to try one - but this so cheap compared with anything else, I am tempted despite my better judgement about buying unseen.

    I still think the EURB is going to be the way for me to go as I don't ever intend to get a van, even if I could afford one! The deciding factor will probably be that the shop that sells the NSCR4s will give me 2 years "interest free credit" and this is the only way I buy stuff now. Also, I see in their latest advert that they have a 5-string version (still Czech) now and when I go in to try this, I might just *have* to buy it - I can see my hands signing the credit agreement now! ;)

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