Do you also play DB?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by foolforthecity, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. Yes - finger style (pluck/slap)

  2. Yes - bow

  3. Yes - both finger style & bow

  4. No - never had the desire

  5. No - but have thought about it

  6. No - would rather eat carrots with peas

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Vertigo Jones

    Vertigo Jones

    Jun 13, 2013
    I started out on upright by accident in 1990. It was the only way to get into my high school band. Thankfully the band director was a bass player himself, so he showed me the rudiments. Today, I double in my main band. Keeping two double basses in an apartment is no easy task. Interestingly enough -and despite my preference for upright- a lot of people who hire me ask for electric bass.
  2. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Can you add an option for "yes, but don't own"?

    Given the opportunity, I could play double bass somewhat decently. I was in orchestra all through high school, but not since then (six years ago).
  3. Vertigo Jones

    Vertigo Jones

    Jun 13, 2013
    Indeed. There is no Squier equivalent in the upright world. $1500 is considered entry-level.
    Hahaha, fdeck and josiah goldfish like this.
  4. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    If I had the money I'd get an Upton hybrid. Seems to me that bang for buck Upton is a very good way to go.
    Hahaha and JimmyM like this.
  5. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    yes, I play DB in a bluegrass band, and occasional pickup gigs doing americana/roots/irish/folk stuff
    yes, I play BG in a rock band, and there is no overlap between gigs/venues, I've never actually "doubled", i.e. brought both to a single gig, never had the need, and that's a lot of gear to schlep.

    My experience on DB seems to parallel some other comments on here.
    Having long been infatuated with the upright sound, but hesitant at first when I started on bass 12 years ago, I tried several options: fretless BG, acoustic BG, Kala u-bass, Rob Allen (I still have a Kala, mostly in backup role), but never really was satisfied.
    Also bought/flipped used NS Design EUBs, have owned a CRM and CR, still own the CR as my primary backup, and it serves that purpose very well, also is my travel-on-a-plane fly-in gig bass (have done that all of one time).
    Once I got together with my current bluegrass band about 4 years ago, I had to go DB. Bluegrass people are verrrrry traditional, so I bit the bullet.
    Bought a used Eastman (Chinese, but reputable, as was mentioned, same with Shen and Christopher, those are the 3 Chinese brands I would trust) from CL.
    Later, upgraded that to an US-made but still value-priced used Englehardt, bought from FMI in Pasadena (good place to try lots of used instruments at once, plus some new Chinese ones).
    And just this week I upgraded that to a made-to-my-spec Upton Bohemian plywood bass. For the music and venues/festivals I play, I need a hardy instrument that can take some abuse, and the plywood basses are great for that.

    IMO, if you want the upright/DB sound, there is no real substitute. Sure you can get very "close" with several of the instruments I have mentioned, but only a DB sounds and feels like a DB.
    You can find good used DBs, but it takes patience, more leg work, and it helps to live in a major music market.
    Most EUBs I have tried in stores are far too compromised instruments (for me), the NS Design is the closest I have come to the real deal.
    bassfran likes this.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I have an Upton plywood, and it is by far the best plywood upright I've ever played. I've played some of their hybrids and carved, and they are amazing as well, though I would never have need for one being a bit of a hack.
    GKon and Marial like this.
  7. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Love upright. Played both for years. Sold my upright when I moved in 2010. Did not want to drive it cross country. ( Damage it )
    Hoping to get another soon.
  8. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    Hah, I'm a total hack too, on both, but waaaaay more so on upright. Doesn't keep me from wanting nice shiny things. ;)
    JimmyM likes this.
  9. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Never had the desire. I like them when they're played with a bow, but 99% of the time I'd rather hear a BG.
  10. Session1969

    Session1969 Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2010
    I went shopping for a DB for the occasional acoustic jam I was being invited to , last year , and the only ones that sounded good (to me) were $6k , plus. I had half that to spend so, I held off. That same day, I went with a friend who was looking for a guitar at a nice independent shop. I asked if they had any acoustic basses and they had a couple. One was a Martin and the other was a Tacoma Thunderchief. I had read about Tacoma's on this forum so I got a little curious. Unplugged, it had good volume compared to others I've tried and thought it would be nice to have something I could just grab and play with no amp. When I plugged it in , it actually sounded a little better than the cheaper DB's I had tried earlier that day. For the $700 I had negotiated it down to I figured what the heck.

    When I got it home I dug up some flat wounds I had and put them on. Unplugged, it had lower volume than the coppers but when I plugged it in I loved it. It totally satisfies my upright tone itch and people in the audience are the ones who tell me it sounds like an upright. I'm always asked what kind of bass it is. Pretty cool ! A big compromise but it has it's advantages.
  11. silvertone


    Nov 6, 2007
    SF, CA
    I am 51.

    I started playing guitar at 10, electric bass at 15 and mandolin at 25.
    I played Rock Guitar in bands in HS and College.
    Moved to SF, CA after college (1987) and played Mandolin in a Bluegrass and a Swing Jazz Band.

    I recorded several CDs, played many West Coast clubs, Festivals and Private Events and toured Europe 3 times as a mando picker...

    Eventually - with the demise of Swing Jazz as a "fad," I played more bluegrass and was in a sextet with other players 3 of whom played upright in other bands.

    Later on a friend left an imported "German" upright at my house and I started fiddling with it.
    I decided after a while to buy it.
    Now I play tons of upright and electric bass in different bands.

    I recently obtained and had renovated a 1954 Kay C-1 and am now looking to sell my other upright which has a lable in it from "Johan Koessler." It has a great fundamental - is easy to play and sounds great - comes with a heavy duty gig bag and Realist. I'd sell it for $1500 locally to someone in the bay area.

    I came to the upright as a bluegrasser but can play rock, swing, real book jazz and more - though my soloing and arco skills need a lot more work.

    I also play a lot of 4, 5 and fretless electric.
    The upright experience DEFINITELY made tackling fretless electric much easier and much less daunting. The natural tendency to dynacmically adjust my intonation on the upright carried over to the fretless and I love to play that thing...
    Holdsg likes this.
  12. bassfran

    bassfran Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    '41 K. Meyer Orcho 100

    Attached Files:

  13. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    my 90's era Englehardt M-1 blondie also had a rosewood fingerboard

  14. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    I still haven't seen an upright with a rosewood fingerboard. ;) But I stand corrected.
    bassfran likes this.
  15. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Yup, fingerstyle. Started playing seriously about ten months ago, practicing 20-40 minutes a day. it was so hard at first. Have played them before but was serious, bought a book, took a few lessons. Worked on easy tunes for a couple of months.

    My ears got better and my fingers stronger and then one day, after 4-5 months, I could play, probably 80% of what I can do on EBG but I could solo with some accuracy and range. Have kept it in the practice routine although I regularly work with it now.

    Bought a cheapie Asian bass, had to have a custom French bridge cut, and an transducer mic installed, and steel spiros. More money that I expected and it doesn't have a great tone by itself. I put it through the Tone Hammer and extract and amplify those woody tones. Sounds pretty good through my regular LMII and 12" cabs. Makes it easy to double with.

    Finally, I can say that after I played upright (again), I feel like I play bass. TalkBassAvatar Oct15.jpg
    GKon and Holdsg like this.
  16. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    It would be fun to know, but I can't really think of a practical application for me.
  17. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Yes. Ironically, even though I've played electric bass since 1976 and double bass only a few years, I have more Christmas party gigs this season on double bass than I ever had on electric bass.

    If you've heard the old chestnut that the UK and the USA are two great countries separated by a common language, then it holds true here: electric bass and double bass are two great instruments separated by a common tuning. Because of the longer strings, necessating a larger span of the hand, and the increased physicality overall of a double bass, it is imperative to get some lessons as to proper posture and technique so a player doesn't injure himself/herself. When I got into it, I bought a copy of the Simandl book and got a friend of mine who teaches to show me the bassics (pun intended) to make sure I approached the instrument correctly and avoided injury.

    Also - spend a thou or two with a shop that has a specialized bass luthier with a good ready-made-ready-set-up 3/4 model (Gollihur's website explains what what we think of as a "standard" double bass is actually traditionally called a "3/4" double bass). You can find references to several shops nationwide on the DB side of the forum. Do NOT purchase a CCBSO (cheap Chinese bass shaped object) off ebay. It will be unplayable without all the work that you have to have done that will wind up costing the difference in purchasing one from a reputable shop to begin with. Again, peruse the DB side of the forum and you will see my posts about what I did to make my bass playable, but I knew that going in, and I wanted to take the time and the effort to learn how it is done (including reshaping the bridge on my own band saw and belt sander, and that's just the beginning). If you don't have the skills and the tools to do the woodworking aspects, go with the shop bass.

    If you are not sure, see if there is a music store nearby that caters to student orchestra and rent one for a short time. If you like it, you may even get to put it on a rent-to-own contract to ease the payments.

    If you decide to go for it, you may find it hard to pick up your electric bass again! Good luck!
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
    fdeck and Holdsg like this.
  18. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    I played electric for about 25 years before I got an upright, but the only reason I didn't get one sooner was cost and circumstances. Now after 3.5years on the upright, I can almost say with certainty that I'd sell my electrics before I lose my upright. It has returned many fold what I paid for it (and put bread on the table and paid the mortgage at times), and the personal satisfaction that comes from learning how to make it sound good far outweighs any joy I get from playing even the best electric basses. There is nothing like feeling the vibration against your entire body while you're totally enveloped in the sound, even without amplification. However, even getting to that point (where it sounds REALLY good) takes many, many hours of dedicated practice as you figure out how to manipulate the sound with the angle of your pluck, how you stop the notes with your left hand, how to get the body geometry all right so that it becomes effortless and powerful at the same time... No matter how "good" you feel about pizz, throw in the bow and you'll quickly realize how much more you have to learn.

    I feel like I've learned more about how to play bass in the past several years of playing upright than I did in the previous 25 years on electric. Note choice, articulation, tone, intonation - they all come under the magnifying glass with upright, at least for me. I'm definitely a better bassist for it, and I think most of the people I play with would agree.

    Obviously everyone is different, but I wouldn't be were I am musically without diving into upright. It is an endless pit that will go as deep as you're willing to go.
  19. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    I have a Cremona SB-3, and it is pretty bottom of the line, but I had it setup by a good guy, he has to where it sounds as good as it is going to sound.
    I run it through the tone hammer as well, and it works OK. not great, but OK.

    I use it at mellow gigs like weddings, funerals, restaurants, etc.

    I am not super good at playing it, but I have some technique under my belt, and can walk a bit, some jazz standards down, etc.

    it's fun to play, but really, if I wanted to be a serious player, I'd have to really commit myself to it, because it takes a lot of practice to play it well and sound good.

    I'm using it at a wedding this Friday evening, but only for the 1st set.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Uprights are a money pit. But if you're doing music for the money, you might as well get out of it and go find a job that makes money :D
    Session1969, Marial and bassfran like this.
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