Bowable Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BassMan1012, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. lakefx


    Sep 14, 2012
    Having been through that search myself, I don't think you can find a decent EUB cheaper than the Ergo. Most decent bass guitars are more expensive than the Ergo, which is part of why I recommended it.
  2. IronSpatula


    Dec 13, 2003
    Northern CA
    IIRC Jesse at ergo has even made electric violas de gamba. That would probably be closer to the Omni's scale than one of his EUBs, which are 42". Plus I think you can get one with metal frets installed.

    FYI, if you want to experiment with frets on a fretless bowable instrument, the appropriate size of zipties from a hardware store will work as a stand-in for tied gut frets.
  3. morgan138


    Dec 10, 2007
    Two problems you're gonna have are
    1. a bass that sounds and plays like an upright is not going to sound and play like an electric. The string spacing, high action, curvature, and bow-friendly pickup will make it a different instrument.
    2. a bass rig that's set up to sound good for bowing is not going to sound good for regular electric playing. Bowing puts out UNREAL deep bass compared to a normal electric, along with a ton of heavily distorted upper midrange. When I tried bowing my electric upright through a Sunn 1200 (1,200 watts) into two Aguilar 2x12s (pretty deep cabs), I had to zero the bass knob and low graphic EQ sliders or the rig would sound like it was eating itself alive.
    As someone who has played electric bass and amped/acoustic upright a bunch, I think you're gonna have to let go of the idea of finding a bass and amp that'll let you switch between the two easily. Realistically you may have to commit to either playing electric upright through an electric upright-oriented rig, or playing electric with some less-than-optimal bowing.
    RSBBass and Seanto like this.
  4. morgan138


    Dec 10, 2007
    I dunno, I haven't had an electric upright in years but Azola used to make some decent ones in the ~$1,000 range.
  5. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!

    You guys find basses hard to bow?
    morgan138 and Jebberz like this.
  6. lakefx


    Sep 14, 2012
    Those were a bit more than that when I was looking. I would have loved one though!
    morgan138 likes this.
  7. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    Honch and morgan138 like this.
  8. Have a look at the Dean Pace bass : 35" scale normally played upright but I presume it's not too much of a troublr to have it played horizontal. Price is around 600 $. I don't know whether you can have a magnetic Pup added to the piezo.
  9. 2GBTG


    Dec 3, 2014
    Pittsburgh Pa
    Arco acoustic bass guitar.

    morgan138 likes this.
  10. morgan138


    Dec 10, 2007
    You know what, I was thinking of what they went for used. If we're comparing new instruments, they're probably not much cheaper than that Ergo (if at all). :thumbsdown:
  11. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I am not sure why you would think this. Are you thinking a double bass is tuned in fifths like a violin?

    This is correct, the double bass is unlike the other instruments in the violin family. It is tuned in fourths, EADG, just like an electric bass guitar. Or rather the BG is tuned in fourths just like the DB because the BG was meant as a replacement for the DB. When the BG was invented bands were struggling with the problems of transporting a DB and with dealing with its bulk on stage. Bands were getting louder and the DB was not. It could be amplified but there are a lot of problems with feedback when a DB is amplified. Guitarists who could not find work as guitarists were trying to convert to bass to get work yet the learning curve of a DB is pretty steep. So Leo Fender found a pot of gold when he addressed all these issues with the Precision Bass....

    Now, if you like you can tune any BG in fifths, CGDA like a cello for instance. Some of us do that because we like the tuning and in fact some DB players do that too. You start just a half step above the low B of a five string bass and you end a whole step above its high G string. Thus you get the range of a fourths tuned fiver plus a half step from four strings. But you do have to re-learn your fingerboard and you may have to rework your bass lines and your approach to bass lines because some things get harder to do while others get easier. I switched to fifths a few years ago and I really enjoy playing in that tuning. It is not for everyone however and you do not have to tune in fifths to have a bowable BG.

    Last I knew Ergo Instruments would make 34 inch scale upright basses. He did not recommend that, he feels that cello and DB strings bow better than BG strings but he was giving in to demand for 34 inch instruments using BG strings. A cello has a scale of about 27 inches (similar to a baritone guitar) and a DB is around 41 to 43 inches, btw.

    I've played around with bowing occasionally. I bought a dirt cheap violin bow from eBay, or rather asked for and got one for Christmas one year. The rosin is messy but it causes no problems with a BG. I've got an eBow which I don't find to work very well for any of my basses including the high strings on my Squier VI. I don't know what the secret is. Some people do marvelous work with them, I just don't get it. The Gizmotron looks very interesting, in fact my failure with the eBow and the problems of using a real bow had me thinking about building something similar. It's nice to see that someone has done it and it works. If they were around a hundred bucks I would buy one in a heartbeat. At three hundred sixty some and more I will put it on my list of things I would like to try some day if I get the money. Hmmm, I wonder if I could buy some of their BG bowing wheels and make a hand held, single string, electric bow???

    If you want to just test out the concept of the electric upright bass (EUB) you could undoubtedly make one yourself. It might not look pretty, it might not last long, but it should be fairly cheap to do using spare bass parts you have, a nice straight 2x4, and spare parts you can buy from places like Rondo Music. A split Precision pickup would work fine, you can just angle the two halves so each covers two strings. You can do piezo pickups too but that is a bit more work. It probably won't play real well but it will play well enough to give you a taste of what you could do with one. It will give you something to practice with while you build, or save up the money to buy, a better one. If that is the sort of thing you like to do just go for it!

    BTW, I love the idea of using zip ties to make frets! The spirit of the viola de gamba lives on!! Opinions are divided as to whether the DB is a descendant of the de gamba family, an extension of the violin family, or a hybrid of both.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  12. Ductapeman

    Ductapeman Ringmaster and Resident Geriatric Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2016
    The West Pole
    I started life as a drummer, but I got better
    This issue bothered me long enough (30 years or so) that I broke down and bought an Ergo electric upright. It is physically closer to an upright contrabass, and the pull is 42" instead of 34", but it is a serious kick in the slats to play. I have a lot of work to do before I can call myself proficient, but my tonal palette just became immensely wider. Should have gotten one twenty years ago-- best part was, watching the Classifieds here for a while, found one for less than $500-- and a five string yet!
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  13. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Bowing requires an arched bridge as has been pointed out to give the bow access to the inner strings, but in order to be playable with left hand (assuming you are righty) you need to arch the fingerboard in the same radius, just like you do on an upright. As has been pointed out rosin is necessary for the bow to grab the string. While I don't the the electronics are necessarily in peril, the bass body would be glazed with very sticky rosin and it would be a mess. NS Designs makes a 34" scale EUB called the NXTa. If you want to bow a bass with the same scale to an electric, that is a better bet IMO. Remember, a bass guitar is a member of the guitar family and double bass is a violin family member. Guitars were not designed to be bowed, Double basses were.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  14. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    The problem with the pace is that it has fingerboard like an electric bass. Which only allows for plucking and no bowing except of course on the first and last strings. The pace is an interesting and potentially very ergonomic fretless bass guitar that is played upright, but it is still essentially a bass guitar on a stand.

    Dean does make a real bowable EUB (I think it's a rebranded/modfied Palatino?) called the "pace Contra"that is quite affordable (around 7 bills I think) but it's a full 42" scale upright and if it's like the Palatino I played it's probably not manageable on a strap.
  15. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
  16. lakefx


    Sep 14, 2012
    Yeah, I picked up my used Ergo for less than $600 on the classifieds here. Used Azolas were going for more than $1000.
  17. Didn't know the pace had an electric bass fingerboard. Thanks for the info
  18. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    This. I'm not sure how you would actually bow the bass if strapped and horizontal. You'd have to cook up some weird version of bowing technique. I've never seen a bass made with an arched fingerboard/bridge that you could strap on.
  19. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    The NS bass mentioned earlier is arched and bowable and has strap that allows you to wear the bass and rotate it between upright and horizontal playing positions.
    Seanto likes this.
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