Best bass for Jazz?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JRBrown, Jul 19, 2003.

  1. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Today I decided to begin exploring the world of Jazz. I have this Sadowsky J bass w/TI Flats.

    - What's the best bass for Jazz music?


  2. Basho

    Basho Guest

    Depends on what kind of tone you want. A lot of people will have a lot of different answers. For traditional, straight-ahead jazz I think the best sound is still an upright, but as that isn't always practical I'm going to go with a nice J-style bass.
  3. demolition

    demolition Guest

    Jul 5, 2003
    You will find a million and one threads on this topic,and thats a low-ball guess.
    This question along with the "best bass for punk" one is the most worn out.
    And yes a jazz bass is the best for jazz would be a true answer if everyone played the same way and had the same taste in music and the same style ETC.
    A jazz bass will give you different tones than a p-bass than a thunderbird than a music man,you get the picture,its all on you and what you like,play them both and you decide :D
  4. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    it's all in the technique~

    (but if i had to choose)
    i think the best bass for jazz is the Fodera AJ6 in Anthony's hands.

    your sadowsky Jazz with TI-flats.
  5. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah. What a beautiful bass! If you can't make good jazz music with that, buying new gear won't help!

    (of course, you could always buy a fretless and an upright... and a five and a six... :D )
  6. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    It is very difficult to play bebop on an electric bass and maintain the feel that gives the music its energy. The upright bass has a completely different attack and decay which works better than electric bass for most jazz.

    I usually play upright on jazz gigs but can come close to the same feel on my Fender Precision strung with flats.

    If you can locate a copy of Brian Melvin's
    "Standards Zone" CD, you will hear some great jazz bass playing by Jaco. His playing on that recording is close to perfection in every way.

    Steve Swallow is another jazz bassist worth checking out. He has been playing jazz on electric bass for many years and he uses a pick. You won't believe it when you hear him. You'll swear it is an upright bass.

    That is a beautiful Sadowsky that you have.

  7. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    I second the Brian Melvin + Jaco suggestion and oh yeah, any of sonny rollin's recent records (past 10 years or so) has Bob Cranshaw (i think) playing electric. i saw him live playing a Fender P. It wasn't bebop like Pettiford or Ray Brown on upright, but pretty nice straight-ahead playing, and didn't detract from the energy or feel, IMO.

    When i play straight ahead jazz, i use just the jazz neck pickup and play with my right hand where the fingerboard meets the body (sometimes on the fingerboard itself - around the 20th fret or so)
    that should get good results from your Sadowsky~
  8. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Thanks! Those are the type of straight foward suggestions/answers I'm looking for--you guys are great. I did a search on "Basses for jazz" but could not easily locate what I was looking for.

    Yesterday, at practice, I stared going through some jazz scales; just Sadowsky and keyboard. I love jazz so it was very easy for me to find the groove. The Sadowsky sounded great.

    ChuckM, You wrote, "...Fender Precision strung with flats" Why Precision insted of Jazz. Is the Precision with flats closer to the upright sound? Or are you implying that "any" good bass with flats will do the job. No need for a 5-string?

    superphat, So you're playing a Jazz, right? Ever try anything else for jazz?

    I have the Jaco and Swallow CDs mentioned above. The Jaco CD is the #$%&%!

    What about the action? Low, med, or high?
    Neck-through or bolt on?
    Pickups? critical?

    I know these topics have been discussed in detail before, but I want to know how each applies to Jazz.

    I was thinking about a neck-through 4 (Ken Smith perhaps) or a Single-Cut 5 :meh:
  9. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I take bass lessons from Jake Kot. He is a very fine jazz bassist. He stictly plays electric and uses a Conklin 4 string bass built by Bill to Jake's specification.

    If you check Jake's website I think that he has a few clips there. Plus there are photos of his signature bass which is a real beauty.
  10. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Jerry J,

    Thanks, Nice bass he has. I even ordered his CD. What are you using for Jazz?

  11. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    You ought to hear that bass through an El Whappo.:eek: It's plain scary, it sounds so good. Much too revealing for my poor technique and lack of real talent.

    I'm not schooled in the art of Jazz. I just don't have the stuff to hang with it, yet. But for the things that I'm working on, funk and R&B, I'm mostly playing my F Bass or my Sadowsky or the new Geddy Lee Jazz.
  12. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    yeah, jazz is one of my main passions... especially fusion these days... i'm playing in a jazz/fusion/r&b band right now, and at church.

    i studied with reginald veal (wynton marsalis) for a while and donald bailey (victor bailey's cousin who played drums for jimmy smith) but i haven't been wood-sheddin' as much lately... really need to get at it again.

    as for basses, i've played various fender jazzes and a tune bass (japanese) - good times. But currently my favorite bass is an MTD heir5 with Barts and Aguilar obp-3. I really like the wide asymetrical neck and wide string spacing and it's pretty versatile for just about anything.

    i'd love to check out an eshenbaugh, though... ;)
  13. I'm surprised no one has said it is probably better to use a fretless :)

    Also, why not have more than 4 strings? I play jazz on a 6 string fretless Warwick Thumb...
  14. I know someone always has to say this, so it might as well be me.

    It really doesn't matter much what kind of bass you use. In the first place, there is no one "jazz bass" sound. In the second, everybody plays differently. In the third, all the upright players look down on us anyway, so nothing we do is gonna sound right! j/k but not entirely ;)

    Look at the basses played by some of the people mentioned already:

    AJ--Fodera 6 string single-cut contrabass
    Jaco--fretless J, duh
    Steve Swallow--5 string Harvey Citron with high C (used to play a custom Parker)

    I'll add a couple more:

    John Patitucci--Yamaha fretted 6 string (I know he tends to play straightahead stuff more on upright, but he can tear up bebop on electric too, believe me), and he used to play a Smith 6
    Alain Caron--fretless F Bass 6
    Jimmy Haslip--fretted and fretless Roscoe, MTD, and Tyler 5, 6, and 7 strings
    Victor Bailey--fretted j
    Mark Egan--Pedulla 4 (at least he used to)
    Bunny Brunel--Carvin 5

    And I've seen people playing jazz--and well, too--on things as different as Ps and Steinbergers.

    Now, if you see a firm consensus in any of that, you see more than I do. I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just saying, don't worry too much about the gear. If you like what you have, then you're golden. What you have is fine--more than good enough to get the job done. Worry about playing the music--that is about 8 zillion times more important than worrying about whether a Smith would be better for jazz than a Sadowsky or vice versa.

    IMO of course. Please take this in the spirit in which it's meant, which is more encouraging than otherwise. :bassist:
  15. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Noted. Bottom line is that there's really no steadfast rule on which bass is "better" for anything. And, as soon as you attempt to establish a rule [of thumb], someone is going to break it.
  16. 12notes


    Jul 15, 2003
    You're the musician. So, you'll have to decide what and how you want to do with your music.

    Just like the "genre" thingy. It's stupid and meaningless.

    It's like saying someone who's Italian, and he can only eat pasta and nothing else!

    It makes no sense at all.

    Like some others had mentioned. There's no rule.

    Also, forget what instrument, or setup Jaco, Anthony, or who ever is your hero plays. For the vast majority of us will never sound the same, even if we borrowed their personal gears.

    The tones are in their fingers.

    I believe it's better to absorb your hero's techniques, then, incoperated it into, and develop your own style. With whatever gears you already have, instead of forever chasing after the illusion of trying to sounds like somebody else, by non-stop upgradings based mainly on hypes, and hear-says.

    Music would be really boring, if everybody sounded alike. No?

    BTW. In my book. The greatest bass player still alive is Ron Carter (even he plays double bass, and not electric.)

    *Edited for typos.
  17. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    JR: For whatever it's worth, I would take that Sadowsky of yours over virtually ANYTHING for ANY type of music! Man I love that bass!

    By the way, I was born and raised & went to college in NC. What part are you from?
  18. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    That's right. That Sadowsky would handle anything.
  19. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    here's the best bass for jazz (in my op):


    yours would do in a pinch!

    :D ;)

  20. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Portland, OR
    I really should stop opening these threads, because my answer is, has been, and will be "P bass."

    Which makes the whole "Best for xxxx" thing sorta irelevant on account of my answer being utterly static...