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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Grove, Mar 18, 2006.
What would the best electric bass guitar be for bebop?
I don't think there's a "best"; pretty much any bass that has a clear, well-defined, but not overly harsh or "zingy" tone would do the job. You could put flatwounds on just about any bass, even something as trebly as an Alembic or Modulus, and get a good sound.
Traditionally, bebop is played on an upright bass, but I would imagine that one of those woody-sounding semi-hollow bass guitars would do the job with a nice set of flatwound strings. One of the biggest challenges in making a bass guitar swing and lock in with a drummer is simulating the physical tendencies of the upright and what an esteemed TalkBass member whose name I can't recall descibes as the "swell" or "bloom" of the note as you play a walking bassline on acoustic bass. Some might say that it ain't bebop if you're using an electric, but I do think that it is possible.
Paul Motian doesn't have a problem playing bebop with the very capable BGist Steve Swallow handling the bass chair--and his sound doesn't have much in the way of "swell" or "bloom," IMO. On the other hand, Motian isn't exactly your average bop drummer.
If you want to try to sound like Jaco playing Donna Lee: Fender Jazz Bass.
If you want to approach the sound an upright bass: Takamine B10.
I am a bebop alto sax player. My piano expertise bridged to fusion-symmetrical when I was with Dick Grove. I just started bass being attracted to Gary Willis a couple of weeks ago with a 4 string P-Bass Special using flat wound Infeld 100's. I have burned through the Hal Leonard beginning bass. Picked up Dean Peer's harmony and Willis' books for shapes. I can easily see with the piano Peer has bridged the gap to piano more than Willis but appreciate the shapes of Willis. Although I am a bit more contemporary than the Bud Powell voicings leading to bebop then scalar then fusion - symmetrical. My springboard working with anything starts with fundamental triad harmony that started it all. Then bebop and then dorian voicing of the 4th and so on. I just want to make sure I have the right equipment for this. All guidance will be apppreciated. Although I had considered the double bass, Aebersold, suggested trying electric bass first because of the strings being able to lie closer and additional strings allowing greater flexiblility - there is "validity to modern equipment and approach."
If only Aebersold's views were more widely shared.
I realize that the scale approach he uses as well as the marketing approach is not the zen type approach and the correct approach of it all - it really is in the recordings which I adhere to - throwing away the sheet music. There are tons of mistakes and I do believe his machine is driven by economis but I do believe he is sincere in trying to further jazz education - however faulty his logic is driven . I used him as reference because there is attention payed to him and because of something new to me when I was a 14 year old at his summer camp opening a new world to me - although I am 51.
Maybe the space I need is in a 3/4 Hoffner bass. I need to get facility with what I have and go out and try I guess.
The Fender Precision with flatwound strings and a small amount of foam muting under the strings will get you the bass sound for real bebop.
A lot of the upright players who switched to electric in the early days used this combination.
I played jazz, modal and bop stuff mostly, on a Koa Carvin, 5 piece Koa-Maple Neck, with Koa sides, oil finish, piezo bridge. I could get a very warm, woody sound, even with round wounds. I was complimented numerous times on my tone.
This was a 5 string strung E-C, and Mr. Swallow was an inspiration.
I have an old (early 80's) Kramer precision type bass guitra that has been modified (ebony fingerboard, no frets and piezo's in the neck and body, plus bartolini pre-amp and piclups). I play saxophone also and the upright.
For strings, I use the Fender or Labella flats and the action is set high and the pickups set low. I get a woody sound out of it. Instead of a ramp like Willis, my extended ebony fretboad ( I get a Bb past secong octave G) just hangs like in an upright and I pluck there and the piezos amplify a bit of the woody thump in that area. This setup definitely gives me a close approximation of the upright bass but not quiet. However, I've played straight ahead bebop with a six string Yamaha TRB or MusicMan stingray 5. both strung with DR roundwounds and fretted. It still works. Just make sure your amp is not set to be trebly or too deep sounding and a little muted. Any of those small combos or better yet a Polytone can tame any bass and make it work for bebop and "acoustic" jazz.
The blooming lows or low mids can also be enhanced by using a thin piece of foam sponge under the strings by the bridge. You want less sustain.
Look into a fretless. It is the bestest. Er.
I have been really working on my fretless skills lately and I agree
Thanks guys! This has to be the best forum. I play piano, trumpet, alto sax, and still trying my hand at solo jazz guitar and I have not seen a forum like this.
An old friend of mine whom I played personally with for years died last August, Keeter Betts. He told me if he had to start over again and a kid he would go fretless bass guitar but he started when bebop blossemed and he was a double bass player.
I roamed around a couple of music stores today in the DC Metro area and though I have only been trying my hand at bass for a few weeks I am attracted to the fretless as well as the Bartolini pickups. The exception is the Peavy Cirrus, I have never been attracted to EMG pickups in the past with the exception of the Music Man Luke guitar, and I do not care so much for the sustain and maybe where I want to be with jazz the length of strings may not be for me. But this Cirrus is a well built instrument and I actually like the sound of the pickups.
I have tried the foam between the Jazz pickup and the bridge and I am going to stay with it with my Fender P Active Special. I seem to have an intonation problem on second and third position as well as adjusting to tuning to the 12th fret. I have given up on my own device. Tomorrow I am taking it to a set-up guy for an estimate. In the past I have learned that the best instrument to start with is the best instrument you can get but perspective of bass is so much different than the others. The feel of the instrument seems to be most important in bass and one's happiness with it to get it respond closest to what you want to get out of it.
Paul Motian is a great drummer and Jazz player/composer - but I've heard a lot of his work and I wouldn't describe any of it as "Bebop" - he mostly works in a modern "European" Jazz tradition...
This is pretty "ironic" ....
As although I have nothing but the utmost respect and have bought and used many of his books ...his approach is seen as "old-fashioned" at best and even : "misguided" by many of the Jazz educators I have met and worked with...
Even the "Electric Bebop Band," eh? There's some serious trad-boppin' going on at times with that group.
Funny that you call it "European" jazz given the huge debt owed by its practitioners to a pianist from New Jersey, a bassist from Western New York, and a drummer from Providence who happened to have a damn good Sunday afternoon at a club in Lower Manhattan.
Oh, his way of teaching improvisation is definitely old-fashioned. But this
is not, and the fact that it's not more widely shared is emblematic of the stultifying conservatism of the Marsalis-Crouch school. On the other hand, the LCJO has priced its brand of jazz out of the reach of young people, so the views it represents are increasingly irrelevant when one considers that most of the young people who get into jazz (at least in the United States) are coming from the jam band scene.
Motian was emersed with bebop but got his big gigs and studio work with free form. He understands the feel of swing and understands bop but the free form has made him a very electic player throughout the years.
I look at it as a frame of reference of Bud Powell voicings. Modern players make fun of triad theory and 3rd to 7th resolution. But yet they do not understand simple triad theory and I, V, VII. Let alone the substitutions. I guess this keeps bass players in the contemporay scene with a job!
I have no doubt that Motian in all my recordings of him has the fundamentals down which is the most important. He is probably one of the most reliable players out there for a trio.