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Don´t URB players ever use effects?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Haderian, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. Aloha!

    I´m pretty new to the search for the perfect URB sound. Have played a slab for 24 yrs without any extra effects. Now it´s mostly upright (and I´m a rather mediocre, un-talented although enthusiastic musician). But I still listen to my old electric bass heroes, like Claypool, Flea, Bootsy and others. I especially like the weird bubbly sound of the Q-tron, but haven´t bought one for myself yet.

    All kinds of artists always try new things just for the hell of it, so how come we never hear about URB players messing around with distortion, octavers, flangers, wah-wah or whatever? Sure that natural warm sound of a URB is the best thing there is, but I´d sure like to knock my audiences on their asses once in a while with something they´d never expect. Maybe only for a few seconds, to keep `em on their toes, you know what I mean? In my quartet we always go for the weird, although (arguably) tasteful, unexpected stuff.

    Tried checking out www.rockabillybass.com but there were no tips there either. Will I be the first upright player with a bunch of pedals in front of me? Or should I forget the whole idea, and in that case, why?
  2. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    Upright basses tend to sound there best unamplified, played strictly acoustic. Upright players in general go to great lengths a.i. finding the right amp-speaker-pickup combination, to try and get there bass to sound the way it does unamplified only louder. So putting effects on it kinda defeats the purpose. It's like haveing a beautiful sounding grand piano and some how making it sound like a moog Synthesizer. WHY?

  3. Well, just like I said... to knock the audience out of their socks for a few moments. Sure, any kind of pedal could do that.

    But actually I´ve heard some URB sounds that seem too good to be true, like the anthem "Rockability" from Brian Setzer´s "Live Nude Guitars" (1988). Never heard such a fat, bouncy, reverbeating bass sound, but still very bassic... something like it was played in the world´s biggest tin can or something. That´s so cool it can´t be all natural. Or am I wrong?

    On electric bass, they all seem to use a little something to spice it up. I just thought I´d find out if there are URB players who add a little digital extra to their sound. Yeah, right -- just like they´d tell us their secrets...
  4. Danksalot


    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    The bass player from Medeski Martin and Wood uses tons of effects on his upright. You should check out some of their stuff, it's great!

    I don't remember if the bass player is Medeski, Martin, or Wood though.
  5. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    What I think would knock the audience off their feet more than an effect is a great sound (uneffected) combined with great playing!

    Just my feelings on the subject.

  6. Sure, you´re absolutely right. I will never be a great player though...
  7. Eberhard Weber, Miroslav Vitous, and the aforementioned Chris Wood all spring to mind immediately as players that have long used effects with upright. Weber, however, has been playing an electric upright with a high C string for years.

    Back in the '70s, Charlie Haden and Buster Williams did some stuff with effects on DB. Both men, however, went back to playing fairly clean by the end of the decade.
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    What are you waiting for?

    In an attempt to be a little more helpful here, I remember hearing a recording that one of my high school band directors gave me. I have no idea who they were, I think some band that lost members in a plane crash, but there were 4 trumpet players in the band. All of those guys wailed, and there was a song that had them going through this delay effect. They used that delay like Brian May does in Brighton Rock. It was incredible, and I think the song lyrics had something to do with Greek mythology...way, way out stuff. Knocked the socks off me for a few moments.

    My own favorite effect is the bow, and I use that all the time.
  9. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    music is art.

    there's "good art" and "bad art" out there, though that's all very subjective anyway. regardless...

    innovation comes from pushing the envelope, from asking "what if," and trying it. it's what induces evolution & growth; it's what makes you stand out in sea of sameness. of course, a lot of crap comes of this process as well, but you just may surprise yourself. forget the standards, the norms, the things you "should" do; do what you want to do - it's your stuff, they're your ideas, go for it!
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    That band was Chase. They had 3 LPs out on Epic.

    Basically a Chicago/BS&T styled "horn rock" band but they used only trumpets, no woodwinds.

    All Music guide link:
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thanks very much Brian.

  12. Thanx 4 all the advice. I have already started checking out Medeski Martin & Wood, good inspiration.

    This could be a new thread, it may be an interesting topic: I totally love playing my Swingmaster in my weird little quartet, in which I´m also the lead singer. And I have to keep my bass lines pretty simple to lay down the foundation for the violin, harmonica and guitar solos, and also to be able to sing, and to keep the audience´s legs moving.

    Some of us weren´t born to be the new Jaco or Claypool or Mark King or whatever. My singing would be pretty much OK if I didn´t have to wrestle that bass around, and my bass playing would improve if I didn´t have to sing. But I love what I do and it puts some bread on my table and we drive our audiences crazy. I don´t have much talent or tenacity, and I have a thin little nasal voice. But we have to work with what we have. My band looks weird enough to make people start talking, we put on a helluva show, and my URB playing is as good as I can make it --which isn´t much.

    I just thought I´d put a little more weirdness into our performances by screwing around with effects, and maybe someone could pass me a hint or two. I love you guys, but please have some patience with us happy-go-lucky amateurs...
  13. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    Ok, even though I think a bass shoud sound like a bass, call me old fashion if you want, I would never want to intentionally stifle someones spirit for adventure or creativity. So here's a coule possibilities. An echoplex or some other kind of looping device. I used this effect back in the day with bass guitar on occasion, just for soloing really. You play a bass line and get it looping then solo over it. It's actually more of a live two tracking kind of thing than an effect really. But it sounds impresive to the average joe in the audience. The other effect on bass that I never really minded (this is also going back to bass guitar days) was a bit of chorus or flanger. Nothing to drastic. It can give a nice sound if used moderately. And then theres the digital delay, strictly for soloing stuff. It can be a trainwreck or you can sometimes get something intresting happening. Have fun.

  14. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    if you really wanna get nasty, you could try the whole sonic youth/snowpony/sebadoh/guv'ner - type big muff-on-the-bass thing, sparingly. i'd played and seen in bands in which a big muff was used in conjunction with a rat to a surprising, mildly frightening effect...

    kevin puts it best -- have fun!
  15. Blaine


    Aug 4, 2001
    new york area
    Effects I use on upright,
    Dod bass grunge
    digitech bass driver
    akai sb 1
  16. Someone mentioned that Chris Wood and Eberhard Weber both used effects, but I have not heard either of them do so. Both definately have some tone shaping equipment but they also both know how to make all sorts of wierd noises without needing effects. Eberhard Weber uses an electric upright but I dont think he does anything but comression, which is sort of an effect, but not of the type that would "knock an audience off their feet" he just has great finger technique and a cool intrument. Mr. Wood also just makes all sorts of wierd noises on his bass but I dont think any of them involve effects. He uses them to some extent on electric but not on upright (I dont think). If you disagree tell me on which albums each of these guys uses effects.
  17. I'm pretty sure Weber uses some chorusing and perhaps some sort of envelope filter on his solo album Pendulum. I was under the impression that he used a phaser fairly often in the '70s as well.
  18. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    The bass player in EST plays DB through various effects. Personally I think he sounds great when he just plays, and a bit silly when he uses effects, but what do I know.
  19. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Some guys turn on the chorus effect on their GK MB 150 combos. Probably by mistake.
  20. Now that I think of it it is possible that he might use a phaser or whatnot on "Pendulum" but I do know that he has great left hand technique and so I"m not sure. Its surprising what you can do with good technique, I'm just starting to experiment and the amount you can change the volume and tone is amazing. Anyway, I'll have to listen closely again, not that my word is final in any way.
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