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Bass For Latin/Jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stefeb, Jun 9, 2002.

  1. stefeb


    Jun 9, 2002
    Bethlehem, PA

    Looking to get a bass to play Latin music, and some jazz. Am a keyboard player, turned guitar player, aspiring bass player. I know next to nothing about the different kind of basses available and was wondering if one type of bass lends itself better to latin/jazz than another.

    In the guitar world there a jazz guitars, etc. Is the same true for bass guitars? If so, any recommendations would be appreciated.

    I'd like my first bass to be my last so I'm willing to spend anywhere from one-two thousand (course if I can get a great instrument for less that would be good).

  2. BassFelt


    Mar 26, 2002
    There no such thing as a "jazz bass". But a Fender Jazz Bass -being the alround bass it is- could be your first choice, until you find out enough about basses to know what you want.

    A lot of Jazz and Latin is played on uprights or electric uprights of course, but I assume that's not your thing, coming from guitar.
  3. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    A Fender Jazz bass is a good choice for that music and even better when strung with flatwound strings.

  4. stefeb


    Jun 9, 2002
    Bethlehem, PA
    Thanks. As it turns out, before I went to my local guitar shop and they had a Fender Jazz Bass in stock. The guy at the store played it, among others, and I liked the sound of the Fender the best (totally subjective). Then, I played it a bit and really liked the feel. So, I bought it along with an Ampeg amp for the house.

    Turned out to be a good Sunday afternoon. Even better knowing I made a good choice without even knowing I made a good choice.:D
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think this is right - if you are looking at the typical bass for Latin/Jazz it would be an upright bass - most Jazz and Latin music started out on Double Bass exclusively - the "Baby Bass" - electric upright, has become a sort of standard in Latin music.
  6. stefeb


    Jun 9, 2002
    Bethlehem, PA

    Maybe I'm a bit confused (not an abnormal state for me).

    My cable company has a Spanish music channel, and most of the groups I see on it have a bass player playing some brand of bass guitar. I really haven't seen any baby basses being played. Perhaps my "Latin" category was not quite the right word to use.

    Since I'm spanking new to the world of bassess, what are some companies that produce a baby bass?
  7. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    To cover most Latin music, I'd recommend an Azola Bug Bass or Ampeg Baby Bass. These are electric uprights that you'll see/hear used rather often in more traditional latin music.

    Aside from that, if your sticking with a standard bass guitar, just about anything will suffice but I'd go along with having flatwound strings. A Fender Jazz would be a good pick. You pretty much can't go wrong with that.

    More imporatantly, IMO, is to be sure to get a powerful amp. To get those smooth clean undistorted booming lows. I'd also look toward 15" or 18" speaker cabs.

    All this should get you the sound of the Puerto Rican nieghbors who lived in the apartment downstairs from me when I grew up.
  8. stefeb


    Jun 9, 2002
    Bethlehem, PA
    Thanks John.

    Looks like were neighbors. I live in Bethlehem, PA, and Guitar Villa is where I part with most of my cash.
  9. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    John at GC is a great guy. He's about to open another shop in Q-town too.

    The guys in his store are a great help too.

    BTW, I'm supposed to do two Musikfest dates. One with my band on the 5th with this WZZO show (see the link) and another on the 3rd with Grupo Sentir Latino. They asked me to fill in on htat date. I'll be using my Thumb B/O 5 for the latin stuff. I'll have the low mids boosted and the on-board treble way down too.

    Stop by Plaza Tropical during Musikfest. It is mostly MEGA Latin shows. You'll see a lot of the equipment the latin bands use to get the sound they want.

  10. Good choice, the J will serve you well in just about any style. A couple suggestions:

    1) Get some noise-free pickups, so you can solo the neck pickup without that lovely single coil BZZZZZZ. Using the neck pickup will emphasize the "boom & thump" you want for latin stuff.

    2) Learn to palm-mute, it will make your BG sound like a Baby Bass, all attack and thump, no sustain. Acutally, most of good latin tone and sound is note choice, placement, and duration - not equipment.

    3) It's not always good to cut your note values short. For the more ballady things, pluck the string over the neck and let the note sing a bit. It's not "traditional" but it is useful.

    4) The flatwound string suggestion is good, but you can get great tone without it - I use roundwound stainless steel strings, and they work just fine for most of it. The rest of the time I'm using my NS Design EUB and making it sound like a Baby Bass :D.

    Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
  11. BassFelt


    Mar 26, 2002
    Many salsa bands use a baby bass or similar, but certainly not all. And of course not all latin is salsa. I bet there is a lot of latin pop on your channel as well.
  12. BassBaron


    Jul 20, 2001
    San Jose, CA
    I think you mean Norteno/Cumbia/Banda/Salsa-type music, right? I've been playing in these bands for years and have seen bassists use just about anything that's handy. Most use 5-strings, but that's the only common thread.
  13. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    the latin comes from the fingers ( and the soul) - the Ampeg baby bass is the staple for salsa, but you can use just about any electric. You made a good choice- but for example, on teh Calle 54 DVD- there are many uprights being played, but also a Warwick ( the Paquito D'Rivera segment) and of course the Anthony Jackson Fodera- if you can find cd by a Cuban ( yeah!) band called Klimaxx, get it- i think theyre available at descarga.com - their bassist in my opinion is the standard for salsa/timba playing- he is ridiculous!! also, listen to Cachao- the Godfather-
    have fun!! a gozar!!!
    by the way, the Mex-Tex and Norteno bands make so much money, they can afford anything, and often i would see 6 and even 7 string Ken Smiths, Sukops, all kinds of exotics, but they ususally ar only playin 2-3 notes on the thing!! nothing against that music, but when i think Latin bass, im really not thinking Norteno music- im thinking Caribbean and south American-
  14. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    As far as bass is concerned, you can play just about anything on just about anything. Some people here will tell you otherwise, but it's just rationalization for having more gear. :)
  15. BassFelt


    Mar 26, 2002
    Semantics do cause confusion. For some latin is anything from South & Middle America. Others make the distinction with Tex Mex and Norteno. For again others, Latin music means Caribbean but not Brazilian for instance.

    Anyway - it's just words.

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