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Does Anyone Use Several Basses During Their Gig?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by peabody, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    I'm definitely not a newbie (I'm 45 and this is my 200th post), but I played bass back in my high school/college days and literally put it away for 20 years. I picked it up again about 5 years ago and have been having a blast ever since. About once or twice a year my old bandmates get together to put on a show, for no better reason than we love to get together and play...we've remained best friends over these years. (I hate to say it, but I think we sound better now than we did back then).

    Anyway, here's my question. When you play live, do you ever switch basses between sets or do you pretty much stay with the same bass for the whole night?

    Over the last 5 years I've been through quite a few basses (GAS and a decent paying job can be a bad combination). Right now I have a Sadowsky MV4, a MM Sterling, a Lakland Bob Glaub (with the Jazz taper neck), and a '74 "A" neck P-bass on the way.

    When I practice, I have discovered my favorite bass is the one I'm currently playing. I like all of my basses for different reasons and because I don't play live very often, I'm not sure what I'd call my "main" bass. I really want to play them all.

    In a couple of weeks we have our annual get together...a Friday night gig at a local bar and Saturday at one of the local festivals (for about 3000+ people). We've been looking forward to this weekend for months and it's big deal for us.

    I'm thinking about switching basses as we go through the sets, but I wasn't sure if this would screw up the sound tech or not. Each bass will have a distinct sound and I don't want to screw up the mix every time I pick up a new bass.

    I know that in the big scheme of things this is pretty minor, but I'm trying to make the most out of the time we get to gig. I'd love to hear some opinions.
  2. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    With my tropical music band, I carry my Bongo and my electric upright (sometimes, when I feel lazy about taking the upright, I take my fretless instead). Depending on the song, I switch basses and it was complicated at the beginning because my BGs (my Carvin BB75 and my Bongo) have a high output, while my EUB is very quiet. Fortunately, I get used to the switching: When I'm going to play the upright, I turn off the amp's pad (don't remember how many Dbs less) and turn the gain knob to maximum. The upright sounds OK. The soundmen know my instruments and are aware of changing my basses' output through the PA speakers accordingly.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Now and then I'll bring 3 or 4 basses to a gig, but if I use two it's a rarity. I think it's hard enough getting through a night without making things needlessly complicated by switching basses all the time.
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I have brought two basses to gigs, one standard and one drop D. I used a bassbone to quickly switch between them.

    I am of two minds on this. For the most part, I do not think the audience even notices the subtle or even not so subtle differences between basses.

    However, if you are more comfortable playing one bass or the other on a certain song, then that can be important. The problem is switching quickly. You don't want to "lose the momentum".

    I only ever bring one bass now. I just tune down when needed and it is up the singer to talk while I do it. Since I generally only have to do it once per gig, it is not too much of a hassle.
  5. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Peabody, your backgound sounds almost identical to mine, except I took a 16 year break, not 20. I run sound for our band, and we run sound from the stage, so it's a fairly simple PA rig to keep things manageable. I switch basses throughout all three of our sets. The bulk of our songs I play a fretted bass, but there are at least 2 songs in each set when I play my fretless. One of my fretted basses is a "twin" of my fretless, same pickups,etc. so it's easiest to use that bass to keep the levels matched. Other times I want to play one of the other fretted basses, so it requires a little more work from the soundman (me).

    I run all my basses through an outboard Sadowsky preamp/DI. I send the DI out through a dbx compressor and into the PA, while the line out goes into the stage rig. I leave my stage rig set up alone and tweak the Sadowsky pre to change the levels and EQ if I'm switching between basses that require it. I leave a strap on each bass, and hit the mute on the pedal, unplug and switch basses in probably no more than ten seconds total.
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I tend to play one bass per gig. I could change I guess, but I find for me and what I do, one bass is just fine.

    I may use a different bass for a different gig - say fretted or upright, etc. - but not usually on the same gig.
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I rarely switch. I think I'm too lazy to subscribe to the idea of particular basses for particular songs because that means having to carry (and look after) a number of instruments on every gig. Anyway, I enjoy approaching each song afresh, recreating it within the limits and opportunities of how I feel, the situation I'm playing in and the instrument I've got in my hands ;)

    If you are going to switch, it just means a bit more time setting up and soundchecking - you need to check each instrument rather than just each musician.

  8. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I take one bass and a spare... the spare only gets used in the event of broken strings
  9. bassontherun


    Jul 9, 2005
    I'm with sb69coupe-- I rarely take fewer than three basses to a gig. In fact, went to a large keyboard amp last year so I'd have an independent input channel for up to 4 basses. It's been working very well. Set each channel volume during setup and soundcheck, and the show usually goes off without a hitch. Our band writes in standard and drop-D tunings. I play my 4-string on most of the songs, but I'll switch to a 5-string for the drop-D stuff. Also carry and acoustic/electric for a couple of tunes.

    I'm also with you on wanting to get several of your basses out there for gigs. Back when I was gigging more, I had about a half dozen axes that I would rotate to shows ("It wouldn't be right to leave your best girl home on a Saturday night.") On occasion, I'd take several with me and use them as Kharma dictated. Heck, I ended up using a wacky looking $70 pawn shop bass at one of our CD release parties one year. My $1600 Warwick sat on the stand all night!
  10. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    i have done gig's were i play fretted and fretless bass gtr AND keyboard bass,i have a a/b/c switch box into whatever rig im using although the key's sound better to me straite into the P.A.
  11. I switch between electric upright and bassguitar. Sometimes I like it, sometimes it's a pain. The audience always seems to appreciate it, though. I use an a/b.
  12. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I usually use a fretted and a fretless bass in the same set. I like the smoother sound of the fretless for slow ballads and mellow expressive songs. The way I switch between them involves creative use of my rack tuner.

    I have a Korg DTR-1 that has inputs on the back and on the front. I connect the back end through the Effects Loop of my Alembic FX-1. That's the way my fretted bass comes in. I connect my fretless bass through the "Input 1" connector on the front of the DTR-1, but I don't push the connector all the way in until I need to play it. Then I have to pull it part way out to go back to the fretted bass.


  13. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    I use all of my basses(7). Different feels for different songs. I also use different tunings so I need all I have.
  14. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    Not very much in recent months, but yes. Fretted and fretless. I use a Raven Labs USIP so each bass can have its own channel and EQ while only sending one signal to the board. (Or I can send each bass independently to the board.)
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I used to use 2 or 3 years ago but it was always such a hassle switching I gave up.

    I now only carry more than one when I am on a doubling gig...one upright, one bass guitar.
  16. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I have plenty of basses, yet I only bring at most two to a gig.

    I find that I'll gig with one for a while, and then gig with another, and so on....

    I also tend to bring different basses for different gigs, but I'm too lazy to ever bring more than two.

    Crap, lately I haven't even been bringing an amp to my gigs.
  17. flange


    Feb 22, 2005
    Cochrane Alberta
    Personally I take a least two basses.
    One is a five string with a 35 inch scale.
    It covers most everything but I always bring
    a four string. The shorter scale makes a difference
    at the end of the night when my hands are starting
    to tire (getting old is a bitch, but better than the alternative). Other than that if the gig requires it, I'll
    take a fretless along.
  18. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    I switch between my fretted and fretless. I do about 80% of the show on the fretless.
  19. I ALWAYS take a 4 and a 5... Lately I have been taking my Sadowsky modified Marcus Miller 4, Sadowsky NYC Vintage 4, and Warwick Thumb 5 NT (a friend loaned me his after a fire destroyed mine, I have a Lakland DJ 5 on order to replace the passive Fenders I lost)...Worth the extra work for me as they all play differently and have a different flava....I realize that the crowd is oblivious for the most part but I know the difference and subconsciously, I think they realize something is different, they just don't know what...


  20. RLT


    Jul 10, 2004
    South Central OH
    Yes the crowd can't tell the difference from a washtub or a Sadowsky.

    But! The group locks in tighter and swings better to the subtle mix of different insterments,

    Sometimes certain songs just flow better with certain insterments. On some sonngs I will play a Jazz to the leads Les Paul. On others it's a fretless P with his Sheriden.

    The crowd can feel the over all dynamic of us groovin tighter. So yes it makes a difference to the crowd even if they have no ideal why.