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Any Thoughts on playing Arco in amplified situations?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by mellassie, Apr 29, 2004.


  1. I Play UB in a variety of situations, using a fishman pick up and a Gallien Kruger MB 150 and generally get pretty good pizzicato results, but I'm finding a real challenge in bowing in hyper amplified situations like large rooms with big sound systems or while playing with pop bands. Exerting more pressure on the strings when I have trouble hearing myself seems to result in ugly top end, "the Itchy and Scratchy show" Any feed back or anecdotes to share?
     
  2. McBass

    McBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Is it the BP100 you're using? I've never liked that pickup for pizz or arco. The design and placement is such that it's picking up mostly string noise and none of the body of the bass. It was designed over 20 years ago. Anything designed in the last decade is bound to work better for you (full circle, realist, shertler etc...).
     
  3. I agree with McBass. The old style clip-on Fishman is probably the worst pickup available as far as reproducing arco. In general, the closer the pickup element is to the strings, the worse the sound is going to be for arco. You really need a pickup that is close to the wood of the top to get a good amplified sound with arco. IMO, the Gage Realist is the best one available for arco work, however several members here have given the new Fishman full circle high marks in this regard. My experience with the Schertler Stat-B was that it tends to be microphonic (i.e. feedback) in higher volume situations.
     
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The Realist is a real feedback problem at higher volumes, too. Especially when you're sawing away you and can't mute unused strings with your right hand...
     
  5. They all do if you get them loud enough, but I still think the Realist is less prone to acoustic feedback than the Stat-B when used on the same bass and same amp in the same situation. However, YMMV.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Really? That thing must be awful to use!

    With the Realist I start getting feedback problems about the time the amp is up loud enough that I can't hear any acoustic sound from the fiddle...not too good. Maybe my bass is a bit more live than some, but I've seen everyone using the Realist having the same problems. To add to that, as your volume increases you also lose clarity.

    I'm dying to get a FullCircle, but have to wait until they have one that fits into the holes of wooden adjusters or until I have the cash to pop for a new bridge. I'm not too interested in running up to the hardware store to start rigging stuff together...
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Just to be clear first - I have no experience of playing arco DB - but I go along to Jazz gigs every week at my local Jazz club and see some great DB players at reasonably close range as well, as other gigs at larger venues in my home town and in London.

    So - over the last 4 or 5 years and literally hundreds of Jazz gigs, virtually every amplified arco solo has sounded pretty horrible and scratchy to me - with more noise than actual pitched note coming through to people like me sitting in the audience.

    In fact, there has only been one occasion where I have heard amplified arco DB and thought - hmm that sounds nice - and that was John Patitucci playing with Wayne Shorter last time he toured the UK - and this was at a pretty big venue - several thousand-seater!!

    So - whatever he's doing, is my recommendation!! ;)

    {speaking as an audience member of course!!]
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    BRUCE - did you have a chance to listen to any of those guys play arco unamped? I ask because my arco tone amped is about the same as my arco tone unamped, neither of which could even charitably be called "cantibile".

    Ray, I haven't had a feedback problem with the Realist and my rig and, playing with Nick at Merchant's in the past, I quickly got to points (especially when he started doing a lot of funk stuff) that we were well past any hope of hearing the actual bass. At those volume levels I actually kind of gave up on getting close to my bass' sound and just tried to get a good solid sound that you could still hear definite pitch with, so maybe that had something to do with it.
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've heard a guy called Simon Woolf play arco solos unamped and as far as I remember he sounded pretty good, falling into the scratchy camp when amped... although better than most?

    I've also heard some amazingly good, bowed, unamped, bass sounds at concerts with orchestras like the Berlin Philharmonic etc. :D
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Naw I meant sort of A/B, like with Simon Woolf. Cause if you came to see me play and I had the poor judgement to play an arco solo (and it was on a rare gig that I was using my amp), you would walk away saying "His bow sound sucks through an amp" when the reality of the situation is that my bow sounds just sucks.

    Ray gets a nice sound, but I don't think I've ever heard him play amplified. HEY RAY - you still using the AMT mic oryou got something else going these days?

    Oh and when you gonna put something up on the TB/DB sampler page?
     
  11. Agreed that playing in a loud sitation makes people do weird things with their technique that they probably wouldn't do in the practice room ie digging in with the bow to the point of harshening or dulling the tone. In your particular case, the Fishman clip-on certainly doesn't help. I've been having favorable arco results with the new Fishman Full Circle, thoug I never play at terribly loud volume levels. Naw, it doesn't sound "just like" my bass unamped, but its a lot warmer than the Underwood I'd been using.

    I'm repeating myself for about the fourth time here, but I ran the Full Circle direct into the board for a show that was about 90% arco and I got positive comments from the soundman and from all the musicians who saw the show (I was in a different room from the sound system, so I couldn't tell).

    But to paraphrase Ed, garbage in, garbage out. No pickup or amp in the world will make a bad arco tone good -- just louder.
     
  12. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    IMHO, the ONLY thing I've ever heard other than a mic (Disclaimer: I've not heard the Full Circle) that sounded truly natural arco was the Schertler Dyn B. I have had sound men use it in orchestral situations and had great luck with it for that purpose. Used it during a pit gig at a mega-church for a Christmas musical when it was too crowded to get a mic stand in, and they loved it. I can actually say it may be better for arco than even pizz, although obviously I use it mainly for that purpose.

    Monte
     
  13. McBass

    McBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm with Ed. I've never had a feedback problem with the realist. I also agree with Ed about the A/B'ing of arco performances. If your amplification is performing properly, it should just be a louder version of what you're producing on your instrument. There is inevitable coloring of the tone, but I don't think a functioning pick up is actually creating a scratchy tone.
     
  14. McBass

    McBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Here's a scary idea. How about arco demo's on the TB/DB sampler page. Each bassist plays with the bow and maybe even with and without amping. Probably should find a different site as Damon's already done more than his fair share of work.

    I said a scary idea, not a good idea.
     
  15. Nick Ara

    Nick Ara

    Jul 22, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    In August of 2001, I had the good fortune to work as an assistant to the artists performing at the Verizon Jazz fest. at Columbia U. I recall the John Pattitucci had an AMT mic (not certain which model) clipped on to the bass, as well as a Realist. Now, there were cables coming out all over the place so its difficult to figure how these PU's were being used and what the blend ratio would be (if there was any in the first place). Tone-wise, John sounded GREAT, arco or pizz, from near or far. I'm thinking the AMT was the reason. There had to be a coupla thousand people in the plaza that day.

    BTW, if any TBDB folks caught that show, could anyone help me identify Abbey Lincoln's bassist? Young guy, light brown bass, fine musician!
     
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I may submit a couple of things pretty soon. I don't really have anything recorded from the last couple of years, and I feel that my playing has changed quite a bit, blah, blah, blah. Freakin' neurotic musicans...

    Back on track:

    When I'm talking higher volumes, I'm not talking jazz volumes. I play some with singer/songwriter types and also some blues gigs, etc. When you're hanging with those crowds, what they consider to be low and reasonable as far as volume goes is beyond where you have to be with a big band on Kenton night. This is where I'm running into feedback issues. I've been in situtations where I actually have to reach down and hang on to the bridge to keep the thing from feeding back between tunes...
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    You've heard my definition of arco, right?

    ARCO - Italian for "end of a ballad"

    Mike, I'll do it if you want. But it'll just be as a negative example, you know, to sort of scare the children. We oughta get Ray Parker to post some stuff. He plays nice arco.

    But coming out of NTS, you had either Jeff Bradetich or Lynn Seaton, right? Jeff, of course, is a legit player but even Lynn has a pretty well developed arco approach. Maybe you could post some stories about what you worked on, how you approached the whole Stick O'Pain thang...
     
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think such a page would have to have a parental rating so as to save harm to young children...
     
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sorry Ray, we was posting at the same time. You know if you wouldn't practice alla time and work on stuff you wouldn't have to worry about your playing changing.

    "holding your bridge" - keerist that's scary. And these are fun gigs? Hey the lineup at the Stinger is holding right up there, I may have to fall by...
     
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Black guy, white guy? I know Eric Lemon was playing bass with her for awhile, but I don't know what his bass looks like.

    This is some photos from a buddy of mine's website (great drummer, Scott Napoli - he's back in Minneapolis now) there's a picture of Eric with Scott and singer Barbara King about 4 or 5 down.


    Oh, and here's Richie Goods