bass for jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jdub2, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. jdub2


    Jul 30, 2003
    Any thoughts on a good bass for jazz (and please don't say a DB, I'm too old to switch). I'd like something fretted, 4 strings, but with good tone for jazz. Price range is under $500, if possible, but I'm open to suggestions. Thanks.

  2. MIM Jazz Bass.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Yea MIM fender jazz.
  4. It's in the freaking name my friend...

    Fretted Jazz:) (Copy or Fender,your choice)

    You can probably score on a nice used Fender Made in America...

    Good luck:)
  5. Like people have said a MIM (made in mexico) fender jazz bass or a used US made fender jazz bass.
  6. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    What type of jazz? -- be-bop standards, or more modern fusion-style? (not that those are the only two types...) If you're looking to emulate an upright tone, I'm not sure a j-bass would be ideal...but it'd definitely be great for the more modern stuff.
  7. jdub2


    Jul 30, 2003
    Closer to an upright in tone. More cool jazz (Miles, early Coltrane, kind of stuff) than bop, but the same sound.
  8. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Hmm -- I think a P-bass with flatwound (or even nylon tapewound) strings might be a good place to start...but you should experiment with different bass/string configurations. I would avoid roundwounds, though, if you're going for the upright tone. I think an MIM P costs about what an MIM J would...maybe cheaper.

    If you haven't already, you might also try muting the strings with the palm of your right hand while plucking with your thumb. Anthony Jackson uses that technique and it sounds quite upright-ish, though it doesn't NAIL the tone obviously.

    Good luck!
  9. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    i definitely second the flatwound strings suggestion.

    but a lot of that psuedo-upright tone is in your hands. i know a guy who plays a modulus jazz with active electronics, and he has an amazing right hand touch, playing over the neck area... big bad thump thump walking basslines.
  10. "dont suggest DB, I'm too old to switch"
    Bollocks! I purchased my first DB at age 42. I'm now 56. Are you suggesting I was too old? It was the best musically oriented thing I've ever done. Jazz on a bass guitar? Forget it! The bass guitar has no business in jazz, IMO. (apart from a small handful of wonderful exponents) You can palm-mute your flatwounds til the cows come home, and call it an approximation, but it aint ever gonna sound like a DB!
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with Marty - you are never going to get close to that sound from the Miles/Coltrane period with an electric bass.

    I go to my local Jazz club each week and see some excellent bands - even some with BG. But it is only the ones that are all-acoustic with DB that get anywhere near that sound.

    So the bands with BG are great and make some wonderful music that sounds fantastic - it just doesn't sound like Miles/Coltrane etc.
  12. jazzy J

    jazzy J

    Aug 8, 2003
    Bass guitar has nothing to do with jazz? Man, are you nuts? Give me - any type of bass guitar - and I'll play jazz. It will sound GREAT. And it will be a bass GUITAR. Get a life.
  13. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I agree that upright is ideal for the type of jazz that Jeff is looking to play, however, it's not always practical for everyone.

    I've been an upright player for probably 17 years (which is a bit longer than i've played electric), and now because of where I live, I can't practice in my apartment...I've already gotten a notice to desist and risk eviction if I piss my neighbors off too much. It also may pose a logisitcal problem for those such as myself who have to rely on public transit (taking an upright with an amp and your charts isn't terribly easy on busses, etc, though it can be done with a lot of planning). Whatever the reason, I don't think people should be disuaded from playing any type of music simply because there's a better (or rather, more accepted) way to do it. Nor do I think they should they be forced to learn an instrument that is impractical for them for whatever reason.

    Also, as a listener, I'd MUCH rather hear a solid electric bassist play jazz, than someone fumble around on upright.

    JMHO ;)

  14. jazzy J

    jazzy J

    Aug 8, 2003
    "Also, as a listener, I'd MUCH rather hear a solid electric bassist play jazz, than someone fumble around on upright"

    That's exactly what I meant.
    AMEN !;)
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'm in the same situation as you and would never tell anybody what they should or shouldn't play - but I also wouldn't ever kid myself that an electric bass guitar sounds anything like Miles/Coltrane period Jazz!

    Heavy Weather - yes, Kind of Blue - no way!!
  16. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Well I agree with that if you were to stay completely faithful to the original style. But there are many interpretations of these standards that lend themselves to different sounds/instrumentation. You won't believe it, but I heard a terrific interpretation of So What played on electric and up tempo. Did it sound like the recording? No way. But IMO it still captured the vibe of the tune because the players were excellent.

    Obviously as a session player one would need to be proficient on upright to be called for these types of gigs. But I definitely have seen people pull it off on electric, with good audience response.

    I actually just remembered a gig I played at a benefit polo match in the Hamptons years ago. I started on upright with an amp, but because we were playing in a gazebo in the middle of a field I HAD to switch to electric. No one (myself included) could hear what I was playing until I did that, and the overall sound of the band improved markedly. People loved it and many approached us between sets to try and hire us for other engagements.

    Anyway, Jeff seems to be looking for a bass that has a 'good tone for jazz' and is 'closer to an upright in tone', so I think he's on the right track with those suggestions if he's dead set against switching to upright. It won't be perfect, but it should serve its purpose IMO.

    By the way, Bruce, do you mean you're in the same situation regarding practicing in your apartment? Have you thought about how to rectify the problem? PM me if you have any ideas or you want to brainstorm, because not practicing is KILLING me. I have a few ideas but i'm not sure if they'll work.
  17. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Hey! Knock it off!!:cool:

    Fender bass can sound totally appropriate for playing jazz in it's many variations. In some cases, its impact and timbre are on the money, and even in straight-ahead or hard-bop style, if the player has the correct attack, it fits.
    Does it sound like an upright? No, because they are 2 completely different instruments.
    Bob Cranshaw w/Sonny, Ray Neopolitan w/ Joe Pass,
    dozens of others as examples. & anybody who has their head up about Carol Kaye should listen to her play jazz on a Fender, then check what they're
    As to your ??-
    Lots of choices- I get a great sound from my
    '69 P-Bass, a lot depends on the amp- One with a nice, round tone-Clarus, WW eg. or tubes are always good!
    OTOH, I use a GK MicroBass for a lot of small club
    standards type gigs, and it sounds very good.

    Good Luck in your search- Have fun playing any style of JAZZ on your FENDER (style) BASS, and you know what?? If you're very careful, you can even slap just a little bit!!!
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yup - I play EUB into my home Hi-Fi and can have it at whatever volume I like, so as not to upset the neighbours, or even play though headphones! :)
  19. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Do you play classical or use the bow at all on your EUB? If so, does it 'feel' like bowing an upright -- does it respond in the same way? I had considered going the EUB route with a Yamaha Silent Bass, but I haven't been able to track one down.

    I tried to PM you but your mailbox is full. (Sorry for the thread hijack)

  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well that's all that I was saying - so I have seen BG in straight ahead Jazz and of course you can do it - I was just saying it sounds nothing like Kind of Blue period Miles!

    So - there's nothing wrong with playing BG in Jazz - but it just won't sound the same.

    The original poster said and I quote :

    "More cool jazz (Miles, early Coltrane, kind of stuff) - but the same sound."

    You just won't get that sound with BG - no point in pretending or raising false hopes.
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