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Double Bass v. Bass Guitar

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by bdengler, Feb 8, 2004.


  1. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    :help: Dear users, I have a confession: How can I survive with an upright bass in a "bass guitar" world? I've been playing double bass (or an EUB) at Church for almost 15 years. The music director at our church really hates double basses; he's really into praise music (although ironically he like the arco sound for certain pieces). He insisted I play bass guitar for one piece; so I picked up my old bass guitar and started to do scales on it. I really don't like playing the thing. I'm so use to finding my way around the neck on those damn big instruments. Plus, being an amateur, I don't have time to practice more than one instrument. Can I survive with an Upright? Can't the electric uprights accomplish many of the same things? Are there uprights used in contemporary pop (I'm thinking of Bare Naked Ladies). Should there be contemporary players on the upright that I can listen to in order to get ideas? Do some of you have the same issue and have come up with solutions?

    Thank you, Brian
     
  2. Hmmm - sounds like you should change your Church...


    …sounds like you should change your religion…

    ;)

    - Wil
     
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have played EBG for many years and only took up string bass about two years ago. I also play in a praise band and have for a few years.

    It's rarely I have a practice that I don't suggest bringing out the DB for a tune or two. I have yet to get a "yes."

    I think there is a fear of the perception more than the sound. I think it's tough for them to equate the DB with being young, hip and "contemporary." This isn't unique to praise music however.

    I have also had music ministers cringe with the idea of playing an electric bass guitar in the Orchestra. Even if in the context of the music, it contributes to the sound quite nicey.

    The only disadvantage I see to playing the DB (or even EUB)rather than slab is sustain. We do a great variety of styles, so the long sustain ability of the BG really helps fill the bottom end. And a distorted guitar can overshadow a bass easily. Especially in the case of dealing with church sound issues. I really like the bite and midtone hump of a fretted BG to cut through the mix. I find DB MUCH more sensitive to mix when trying to get a good sound. Often inexperienced people don't real with it well.

    I agree that you should pursue opportunities to play with other musicians and with other leaders who share your sylistic interests. Maybe you can also have a quality conversation on what it is about the DB that he doesn't like. Maybe you can reach a good compromise.
     
  4. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Thank you for your comments. The music director likes the arco; but he says, as you noted, that a DB doesn't have the sustain or the "punch" that he likes to hear from a bass guitar. The guitarist next to me said I should look at a bass guitar as "another tool". It just when I picked it up, it seemed so foreign to me. I guess I'm being stubborn; however, the inability to get familiar with the bass guitar truly depressed me.

    Brian
     
  5. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I play on Sunday's in a church orchestra. On the praise type stuff when the drummer is playing, I just dig in and play rock rhythms. Everyone seems to like it.

    IMHO, church music directors are some of the worst at knowing anything about music, and can be very close minded.

    Stick to your guns, and if they want bass guitar, let 'em find someone else.
     
  6. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    If you dont see yourself as a electric bass player and you dont really feel confortable to play it, they dont play it... i don't , when i get work , people know i only play DB...
    Its no good for the music and for the orchestra to have somebody playing an instrument when that person doesnt feel confortable with it...
    And about the fact that DB doesnt have the sustain and punch that your director likes to hear...well, maybe you can work on that, different strings, different pickup......
    but of course this is just my $0.02
     
  7. This has been my experience as well. They often know just enough to be dangerous and there is a dictatorial streak as well. I wouldn't say every director fits this mold but it seems pretty common in my experience. If I were in your position and they didn't like what I offered, I would gladly step aside and let them find someone who fit their mold. Life is too short to get bogged down in something like this.
     
  8. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    I have to echo Monte re the church md's...I've turned that gig down several times just because i was afraid of being pigeon holed as an ass.

    On the issue of doubling I guess that I'm fortunate to have played both almost from the start. I suggest you not be closed minded to the bg because then you are practicing the same closed minded-ness that we are talking about these md's having.

    Yes, it is a tool, but, if you do not play it, then you do not play it.
     
  9. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have found most to be very gifted musicians, but as you mentioned, they seem to know very little about music. That is, all the intangibles that happen within a performance group setting.

    I also agree about the closed mindedness. I think the big issue is their willingness to take chances. IME, most are hesitant to break away from formula. Whether they are labeled as traditional, blended, contemporary or whatever, they all have a somewhat limited view of what those labels encompass.

    I don't know if it comes from a fear of not meeting expectations of the congregation, or from the fact that limited rehearsals are typical so they don't want anything impacting the norm. But, they certainly seem to have a model in their head and don't care to stray.
     
  10. Albeit, I'm sure that's dissapointing, some people aren't cut out for certain instruments. If it makes you feel any better, I'm playing clarinet right now, and it really is (as my friend puts it) the swizel stick of doom. At least for me. I can't wait to a) figure out in a divine relevation how to play the clarinet, and/or b) get a stringed instrument into my hands just as fast as I can.

    I'd say give it another couple of months, if you still aren't going anywhere, well, no love lost, aye?

    Beth
     
  11. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    I beginning to think part of my mistake was parting with the NS Design EUB that I once had. It was a punchy instrument that really was a nice cross between a bass guitar and electric upright. It wasn't the best for arco, though.

    Brian :meh:
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A thought: Perhaps reflect (and record, if you have the equipment) and make sure that you understand the music and that you are getting the sound and feel right. I agree that you can play Disco on the big fiddle -- IF you can play Disco on the big fiddle.

    This is something that I deal with quite a bit. I get hired for Motown, blues and Singer/songwriter things, etc, here and there, and though I initally show up with the requested slab, I will in, longer relationships (longer than one-nighters) talk employers into trying the fiddle, after which I've never been asked to go back to slab. Of course, I've worked at this...
     
  13. Disco on a DB...I love it. :D
    I too play on Sundays. We have a 50-piece orchestra so the DB is welcome. We do 1 or 2 orchestra pieces each Sunday to about 5-8 rhythm section stuff (praise & worship). I bring the DB and EB every week and switch back and forth often...sometimes during a song.
    We do a huge variety of stuff and I make a judgment to which bass would fit the tune. My heart is with the DB and I rarely "practice" the EB but I think as a single bassist working such an important event, it is good to be versatile.

    Playing for 4000 people every Sunday, I must remind myself that I'm not there for my personal kicks. Same if I were to play for 1.
    I would suggest working the EB into your arsenal. It should be a piece of cake compared to DB after a few weeks.
     
  14. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    :hyper: Farmerdude, thanks for the encouragement. I dusted off my Alembic tonight and figured out a bass part for a quasi-South African praise piece. Playing on the ax is slowly coming back and I can't figure out why I stayed away from it so long!

    Brian
     
  15. Bonus!! You failed to mention that your old dusty EB was an Alembic. :D I actually have alot of fun with the EB.
    Does the "quasi-South African praise piece" happen to be Lord I Lift Your Name on High (Call Me Al "feel")
     
  16. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    :) Actually, the piece is "I have been Annointed" by Steve Warner, who conducts the Notre Dame University Folk Group.

    Brian

     
  17. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    That song has to be the most "stylized" (AKA butchered depending who is doing the stylizing) song in the praise song catalog.

    I have heard it as you mentioned.

    I have actually played it fast, slow, pretty and flowing, very driving and rocked up, reggae and as sort of a new age feel instrumental (piano and sax solos) with a lot of chord roots changed and using some of chords with relative minors.

    I guess that's better than playing it the same way 500 times.
     
  18. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Chasarms, well said. Well, I'm getting more comfortable with my Alembic. But right now, I'm not playing "I have been anointed" fast, slow, pretty or flowing....I would call it more or less "choppy." :crying:

    One thing I forgot to mention in this posting is that I have arthritis in my left hand that's making the upright more and more difficult to play. So the bass guitar is quite a relief. I sold all my big dawgs and I'm temporarily renting a half-size all carved bass and putting a Realist pickup on it to see if it will work for my needs (I have to amp the DB at church even when I bow because of the poor accoustics). I hope the combination of EB with the smaller DB for bowing will work out.

    Brian
     
  19. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Ever tried an EUB? I have played a few of those with action about as low and soft as a bass guitar. I don't have much of a sense of how they sound when you put a stick on them, but I know there are plenty of people who do.
     
  20. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Yes, currently I have an Azola Lightning Bug bass. Very nice and playable. That's my standard ax these days. I use to have an NSDesign, which had really low action, low tension, and sounded pretty much like a bass guitar at times (it had similar sustain to the electrics, probably because the neck and body pretty much were one piece). Our music director still prefers a bass guitar over the Azola. The Azola has more of an upright sound and note decay like an upright.

    Brian