Dark Sounding Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bdengler, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    I'm giving up the double bass because of health reasons, so I'm going back to where I started: with an electric bass. I've been playing at church. Any recommendations on an electric bass model that has a nice, warm, dark sound? I don't necessarily want to mimic an accoustic bass, but I'd like a pretty warm, dark sound bass. I've been out of the loop so long on electric basses I don't even know where to begin.

    Thanks, Brian
  2. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    I absolutely, 100%, disagree.

    What you want is a bass with ancient floppy flatwound strings, the older the strings the better. I'd suggest a P, or even better a double P, active elecronics prefered so you can kill your treble output.
    Then a big fat 18" driver in your cabinet, avoid 4x10's, etc.
    That should get you close.
  3. Sounds like P bass your lookin for.
  4. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Find yourself a nice P bass with an alder body and a rosewood board. Done deal.
  5. wildsponge


    Oct 21, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Geez, he doesn't want the thunder fart of god! He said a nice, warm sounding bass. Ancient flatwounds through 18's seems way way overkill.

    I say these peeps are right on with a standard P, but there are tons of options if you want to branch out from fender. The more details you can give us (budget, type of music, bands you like the bass tone of, etc, etc) the more and better reccomendations you'll get.
  6. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Actually, a jazz bass would work just as well as a P bass. It would just be a tighter sound. Again, find one with an alder body and rosewood fingerboard and you're good to go. Flats help too but aren't necessary. Just avoid steel strings.
  7. IotaNet

    IotaNet Supporting Member

    + 1
  8. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
  9. Passive P-bass, fretless, alder body, Labella deep-talkin' nylon tape strings. yes, that would be the ticket.

    "Dark" isn't the term I'd use to describe it...mellow and rich is a better description.
  10. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    You won't go wrong with a rosewood fretboard P-bass and flats, but I say get a Lakland Hollowbody, either USA or Skyline. Those are very warm and dark, and if you want something even closer to an upright, go fretless. They're gorgeous basses, and there's a nice gold USA model on eBay right now.

    Barring that, an Epiphone Jack Cassady signature or Ibanez Artcore semi-hollow might do the trick. I usually recommend my semi-hollow, a DiPinto Belvedere, but with single coils and an ebony fretboard it's brighter and more cutting than the others.
  11. I think Mahogany has a nice dark tone. Perhaps that combined with a rosewood fingerboard would do the trick.

    Putting it into a 15 inch speaker or two would help.
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    This is very sad. I'm sorry.
  13. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I had to do the same man. Don't you worry, just listen to a lot of Steve Swallow and you'll be fine.
  14. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Mr. Pants and fellow bassists,

    Thanks so much for such quick responses. I would be using the bass only for church. I'm 52 years old and merely an amateur. At church, they use to call our service the "folk mass" but more and more contemporary music is taking over. Usually, I would accompany an accoustic guitar and a piano. Sometimes there are flutes. The church is big; it seats 1,400, and it's new. We have a bank of 6 speaker cabinets hanging from the ceiling; each cabinet has two twelves and I don't know how many smaller "tweeters." The bass would go into an amp (which would act as our "floor speaker") and then there would be a patch going from the amp into the soundboard. As for equipment, I have an SWR California Blond and SWR Strawberry Blond (I would run the Underwood pickups from my double bass into one of those amps). A lot of people (including myself) like the dark, warm sound provided by the double bass; however, given the configuration of the church, the double bass would sound muddy, especially in the low range and when the other instruments got louder for dynanmics. I want to be the bottom end and I want to project a warm, clear tone. Nothing fancy. In another mass, the bass player has his EQ set so that the midrange and treble are high, so, IMHO, his bass sounds like a juice harp (boing, boing, boing). I don't want to sound like him (he runs his MusicMan through a Sunn amp and Acme speakers). Price range that I'd like to stay in? Under a $1,000 if possible.

    Thanks for the advice.

  15. a G&L Tribute (or a regular G&L) with the treble cut and the bridge pickup off is about as dark as it gets

    A set of flats will make that even moreso
  16. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Emjazz, Charles, thanks for your kind thoughts. It's the bowing, classical style of playing that killed me. I was originally taught a 4-finger technique that basically ripped up my left hand and then arthritis set in. I took up classical playing because the music director at church wanted me to bow, and that took years of training. I didn't have time to learn other styles of bass playing, namely jazz or other contemporary music. I can't build a bass line worth a damn. The physical problem may be a blessing in disguise; it may help me go back to learning how to build bass lines. One option I had thought of was getting an NS Design, an electric upright, that is about the closest thing I every heard as a cross over bass between a true electric and upright. It was punchy enough to sound like an electric, but the longer string length gave it a warmer, more round tone. But they still have a 41 inch string length, and it may be fun to go to a regular electric bass and be able to use all four fingers again.

  17. beadgc


    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    One direction you should look, IMO, is the Rob Allen acoustic/electric. Feather-light, warm as heck, as close to an upright sound as i've found in a bass guitar.

    Here's what Joel at The Groove Shop, who's a player too, says about them (he's a dealer, so take it with a grain of salt. But if you do a web search of Rob Allen, you'll find he's not alone):

    "Remember that old “rabbit out of a hat” magic trick? Well, the magicians performing that trick have nothing on California Luthier Rob Allen. Upon first playing one of Rob’s basses I realized that he had, in essence, provided the average, working-class musician with a means of performing a far more complicated trick: Pulling an upright out of a gig bag.

    After many years of lugging either a EUB (Electric Upright Bass) or a traditional 3/4 size upright from gig to gig, I had given up on the possibility of making a single trip from the car to the stage at load-in. I had accepted the fact that I would first carry the upright into the club, followed by an electric bass and amplifier, before returning a third time to roll in a caster-equipped speaker cabinet. And as most of you know, this scenario is assuming the best case; many gigs you’re forced to also bring along music stands, guitar stands, laptops, keyboards, etc.

    Enter the Rob Allen MB2-5 string: The MB2 sounds so much like an upright that it has become my absolute first choice when an upright tone is needed on a gig. Granted, jazz or classical purists may argue that the MB2 will never replace the traditional upright. These folks are not wrong in their observations; there will, and should, always be a need for a proper acoustic upright bass. However, if you, like me, are a working musician who often needs a serious and convincing upright sound quickly and easily, the MB2 is a godsend. When I’m at a club gig I don’t have time to fuss with microphone placement or temperamental transducers in an effort to achieve good upright tone. The MB2 allows me to simply plug in and play. Which is exactly what I need 95% of the time.

    Using a double gig bag, I can easily carry both a fretted bass and my MB2-5. Combined with an Epifani 210UL and a Walter Woods head, I can finally achieve that elusive “single trip from the car” load-in. Not owning one of these instruments is truly doing yourself a disservice."

    Here's what they look like:

    Best of all, they're not even that expensive. Brand new, the four string is about $2,000, and used ones seem to go very cheap, anywhere from $1,000 on up.

    I have no affiliation with either the groove shoppe or Rob Allen, and I don't think this post breaks any rules. But I have an MB-2 six string, and it sounds to me like an MB might be just what you're seeking.
  18. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    That last one is headed in the right direction. Another fine choice is the Lakland Skyline Hollowbody. Man, I loooooove mine. They're hard to find used, but can be had new for ~$1400. They pretty tonally flexible sinced the dual humbuckers also have single and dual coil pole taps. Even with flatwounds, it can be really birght, or with the tone rolled off a little, it big fat round Motown bottom end. I actually like the Lakland with flats much better than a P bass with flats. The hollowbody brings a nice round woody fullness to it much as the Rob Allen does.
  19. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Please, for the love of God, post some pictures of your Rob Allen 6 string!!!!!!!!! :hyper: :hyper: :bassist:
  20. My $.02...

    I really think Mahogany gives off a real nice warm deep tone, and greatly adds depth to many cheaper basses, as well as alot higher end ones.

    Active electronics sounds to be a plus, a three band eq would help you dial your tone in to fit the acoustics in your church and justify for the PA system's sound distorions.

    IME, Bartolini gives a great deep dark low thunderous punch of a tone to any bass they're in. Pair some Barts up with the Bart 3 band pre, and you should be set.

    Seeing as you're coming from playing double bass, you may want to consider looking into a few fretless basses. For your price range, the Warwick Corvette is a great option, and I've never heard any owner of an Ibanez GW bass say they're unsatisfied.

    However, despite all my rantings.... It's sure as hell hard to turn away from one of those Rob Allen's... Just one beautiful creation, and a true piece of art. That's what I think of when I picture the most beautiful bass in the world ;).