Bass Volume

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bijoux, Oct 15, 2001.

  1. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I've been reading posts on volume, and I wonder if you guys can play a jazz gig totally acoustic or if you know of anybody that can play with a loud drumer, trumpet, Guitar, piano etc, the reason why I ask is because every now and then I run into a purist that want me to do that, but if find it very difficult, you have to raise your action way too much so now intonation may suffer because you still don't hear yourself and on top of that is hard playing at fast tempos, I've been playing for over 20 years and I think that there is only so much you can give, I recently compared my bass with a Pollman and two Juzeks and my bass was considerably louder, even though that may not mean a lot but is the reference I have, thanks for all your help in advance.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've heard plenty of people talk about being able to play acoustically with a loud drummer, but have never actually heard anyone do it. When I saw Christian McBride playing with Jeff Watts last year, he had a mic on his bass and I still had trouble hearing him.
  3. Boppingtheory

    Boppingtheory Guest

    Aug 27, 2001
    Acoustically speaking, the sound pressure from a double bass can't compete with the sound produced by a drum; suffice it to say that strings are plucked with fingers and a drum is hit by sticks.
    I learnt from my experience that even if you have a good technique you have to support the sound with an amp properly adjusted near you and in many case it can be just sufficient for you.

    I've never seen and listened to great musicians in a real jazz situation without a good amplification system.
  4. Andrew_S.


    Jul 24, 2001
    Flagstaff, AZ
    I think it also depends on the TYPE of drums being played and what tool the drummer is using to hit the drums (i.e. sticks, brushes, hands...). I've played with and acoustic guitar and a snare with brushes (accoustically that is) and have no problem being heard. If I was playing at a club though, I'd use an amp or go through the PA.
  5. I've played un-miked with varying degrees of success. First, you have to have the technique, and that involves the left hand just as much as the right hand.

    You have to be in a good acoustical environment. One that's not dead and where the audience isn't trying to talk over the band.

    You also have to be performing with musicians who understand dynamics and how to acheive a balanced ensemble sound on their own. Most cats think a balanced sound is acheived by playing however they want into a mic and leveling it out using electronic controls. I find most drummers think they can play as hard as they like and the rest of the band should play up to their volume. They have no idea of how to control their stroke. Modern amplification capabilities have made a lot of musicians very lazy in regards to developing the ability to play with an ensemble naturally. IMO, that's a shortcoming in their musicianship.
  6. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Amen. Players who can't/won't adjust to the group dynamic level are inferior musicians. Period.

    And I'm always amazed by the brain-dead drummer who seems to think that by playing loud, he's transformed into Elvin Jones.

    When Mulligan started his first piano-less quartet (Carson Smith on bass), it was prior to the use of bass amps. He ordered the group to play at the dynamic level of the bass. No discussion.
  7. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Hi guys thank you so much for your help and for sharing your experience.
  8. That's interesting..My drummer always thought he was transformed into Art Blakey :)
    Seriously though everything Krackhouskey and Donosaurus said was on the money, If you are playing with people who understand dynamics, then acoustic balance is an attainable goal.
  9. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    "Players who can't/won't adjust to the group dynamic level are inferior musicians. Period."[quote/Don]

    I totally agree, Don.

  10. Boppingtheory

    Boppingtheory Guest

    Aug 27, 2001
    Personally I have great admiration for musicians who understand dynamics, are conscious that balance is an attainable goal and, most of all, are able to play in completely acoustic gigs also in large and crowded spaces.

    But, as musician and as listener, I often noticed, how can I say ..., an increasing sense of meager respect for the other on the stage.

    Not to speak about the audience towards musicians leading a jazz acoustic gig in small clubs.
  11. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Oak Park, IL
    Well it seems that the solution is to have the drummer hit his drums with his fingers and to pluck the bass with a stick.

  12. So what's the chicken-egg pardigm here:

    Did drummers feel free to play louder (as is their natural inclination) as bass amplification methods improved?


    Did bass players necessarily have to improve amplification methods as drummers got louder?
  13. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Jason, that's a perfectly valid opinion and approach but it's not the only one.

    I love playing with musicians who listen (as do all who posted above). I also love playing with musicians who are able to, and actually do, utilize the full dynamic range of their instruments. Drums, cymbals, pianos, trumpets, saxophones, trombones . . . they're all capable of playing louder than plucked, unamplified basses.

    I don't want my bandmates to duck down for me -- the fact that my unamplified volume is softer than theirs is my problem, not theirs. I hope I've found a combination of pickups, amp and speaker that succeeds in solving that problem. If you use a different approach that works for you, great! If your solution is to tell everyone to quiet down to match you, I suspect that you gain some things and lose some others.
  14. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    As I said in my prior post, this is precisely what Gerry Mulligan said to his quartet. So what was lost?
  15. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Both. We now have the ludicrous situation where drummers want their own microphones.
  16. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Others feel the same excitement playing their instruments at full volume that we feel playing our basses at full volume. Well, I can't say that drummers feel EXACTLY like bass players ;)

    It's great to work with drummers who know how to keep momentum and excitement moving at lower volume levels. Sometimes, though, I want them to bash like Elvin when I'm soloing, so I can enjoy that ride! I can't do it without an amp. If others can, my hat is off to them . . . I've simply chosen to spend my time developing other aspects (or, more accurately, hacking off and eating junk food while they were practicing).

    What I really hate is when the drummer ALWAYS drops the bottom out when it's my solo. If done without variation, it's not musical and assists listeners in yawning through my incredibly-exciting, earth-shattering, deeply-profound contributions to the jazz canon (yeah right ;> ).

    The bottom line is, it's good to play soft and it's good to play loud, as long as musicians are listening and music is being made.
  17. Loud, and playing sans-amplification aren't mutually exclusive.

    Also, if you're already playing loud, there's nowhere to go dynamically but down. But besides, with a good bass and good technique, you should be able to pretty much hold your own with any drummer except when he's bashing the crap out of his instrument.

    An un-amped band makes for a much more intimate listening experience too.
  18. Ed, thanks for articulating everything I failed to communicate in the course of multiple posts. You communicated my thoughts exactly.

    Congratulations on the pad! When's party?

    The gig went really well; maybe our best yet. Unfortunately the audience was tiny. The whole joint was dead.
  19. Remo should stamp this quote on every drum head they produce!!!!

    One of the drummers I am working with now just cant figure it out. After a year of me bitch'n about his volume and lack of dynamics- what did he do? He went out and bought a $3,000 electric set to "solve the problem".
    Now that he has a volume knob, he is still playing at the same volume as with his acoustics.

    Pay attention drummers, your ears and hands hold the key, quit blaming lack of musicianship on the wrong gauge of stick, the wrong drum size, "that guy uses brushes", etc,etc,etc. Learn to get your tone at different volumes. Listen to the music for a change. And yes, we hate those crazy drum shields.

    (This of course is directed only to those drummers with one volume.)
  20. It is good to vent.