Doublers: Using bass guitar when you'd rather use your upright

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by brianrost, Sep 12, 2001.

  1. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Sometimes I am at my wit's end with amplifying my uprights. I play mostly in blues bands so stage volumes are pretty high and I need to turn up more than the average jazzer.

    I have two ply basses, a no-name strung with Helicores that I can get a usable sound of in most rooms and a Juzek strung with Velvet Garbos that sounds great unamplified but is harder to dial in a good amplified sound in lot of rooms (yes, I've been through almost every pickup on the market).

    I have a weekly house gig in a room that is sonic hell. It has a strong resonant peak around 80 Hz that I have to notch out with EQ, even with bass guitar. I am thinking about going without any upright bass at all, playing only bass guitar because I have had miserable experiences every week I've been in there (four months!) and am sick of it. The Juzek has been a total disaster there and even the no-name sounds anemic by the time I EQ out all the feedback. Then I plug in a P-bass and the sound is OK right away :) Of course, the band WANTS me to play the upright :eek:

    What I'm going to try tonight is to take my Godin Acosutibass to the gig. This is a sealed hollow body fretless bass guitar with piezo pickup that sounds a lot like an amplified upright.

    I'm curious as to how many of you "just say no" to using your upright on some gigs because of sound hassles :confused:
  2. I'm sorry if some of these suggestions seem obvious, but I don't know your starting-point. What are you using for an amp? Have you tried moving the amp, or pointing it in a different direction? Are you just using your amp as a monitor, and going through the FOH system? Are you micing the amp or are you going direct? Have you tried moving the bass - i.e. play in a different position on the stage?

    Have you tried the Acoustic Image system? I've found that with my DB that combination is much less-prone to feed-back than using my GK-150ES with my DB, but that's in a jazz environment - haven't tried the AI at rock-volumes.

    Hope this helps -

    - Wil
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Wil's advice is right on. I play a couple of rooms that are just horrible, but runing a direct out into the board has helped tremendously. Also, for loud rooms, have you tried using extension speakers to give you more coverage? Example: I normally carry a single 8 ohm cab to most gigs. For louder rooms, I'll bring 2 (with 2, my clarus is running at 4 ohms). If the room is completely insane, I'll add a 3rd cab, which makes the system run at 2.67 (?I think) ohms. I play mostly jazz and fusion stuff, but I've not yet met a situation that this setup won't handle - although I'm sure it exists.

    Also, with any luck, (ALL HAIL) Bob Gollihur will check in in a minute with some insights.
  4. Rockinjc

    Rockinjc Guest

    Dec 17, 1999
    Nice topic!

    I have been in a number of louder situations, I regret to say. I have used feedback eliminators, raised cabinets up towards my head, put mic to the pa and a pickup to the bass, used a volume pedal and so on and so on…

    I wish I knew now what I didn't know then. That is to find people or gigs that aren't so loud even if it means less dough. Your ears are taking a beating if you are trying to compete with a drummer and someone trying to get just the right amount of sustain via feedback on a tube amp driven Strat. I will admit it looks nice no matter how futile the experiment. I am tempted to get an EUB for this kind of thing.

    You can try to remedy the problem, but in the end if the volume is enough for the lead guitarist to get nice warm sustain, you will be feeding back or at least on the verge. Doesn't your bass stink when you take it back home after playing a smoky bar where no one listens anyway.

    Call me jaded, but that’s how I feel. It seems you need to buy gear and go to elaborate setups to get hopefully a good sound on the upright. Not to mention the wear and tear. I'm fed up. I don't hang around those scenes very often, but it seems a horizontal bass such as the Fender P makes for a better solution and saves wear and tear on your upright. Unless you are being paid more than the rest of the band to marshal all the extra gear to make it work, forget it.

  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Thanks for the comments.

    The starting point is I've been playing amplified upright for almost 20 years now (the first bass I bought actually had one of those ancient Ampeg pickups in it!). I've been through one pickup, preamp and amp after another, refining my setup as better gear comes on the market. I know all the tricks but there are still "rooms from hell" out there.

    So, in short, I'm not asking for tech help, I'm quite satisfied with the sound I get MOST of the time.

    But I AM curious if the doublers amongst you have sworn off using your upright for certain gigs just because it was too much trouble to get a usable sound.
  6. Rockinjc

    Rockinjc Guest

    Dec 17, 1999
    Am I invisable?

  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Nah, I read your post rockinj.
  8. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Brian, my question would be: Does the band want you to use the upright because of the look/vibe it creates onstage, or because of the sound? If it's the sound they want, seems they'd be happy enough with the Godin or a P with flats, doesn't it?

    If it's only the look/vibe, I wouldn't worry too much about it...use what YOU choose since you're the guy that has to put up with all the hassle.
  9. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur In Memoriam

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    It's stage sizes that has ruled out the URB for me in perhaps two or three situations - just not enough physical room.

    There was oner stage that I played perhaps 20 yrs ago that drove us all crazy and made me want to play ebass - it was basically a little box with a curved ceiling inset into the wall. It caused me to build a Hot Spot style monitor, a little box with a pair of Radio Shack 5" speakers and a mic stand mount that I powered with a second small amp head, so I could put my bass amp at the edge of the stage and put the monitor ear height facing across the stage. It wasn't volume in that room so much as the fact that you sounded very loud in the damn hole in the wall, and feedback was easily achieved, but the sound on stage couldn't escape out in the room. Oddest place I think I've ever played. If I could have gotten away with it I would have played electric, but the "big bass", as the owner called it, was one of the main things that kept us employed there.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    OK, here's the followup:

    I took my Godin Acoustibass to the gig last night instead of an upright.

    I got immediate feedback :p from everybody that they could really hear me, I sounded great, etc. Noone said anything about the look which was nice.

    *I* could hear myself a lot better so had a better time playing. However I definitely MISSED playing the big girl, the feel of the Godin is like that of a P-bass and does make me play differently.

    I guess I'll see how it feels after a few more weeks. I did appreciate the simplifed setup and teardown :)
  11. Has anyone experimented with any of the larger-bodied acoustic bass guitars (such as Taylor)?

    I was thinking that a fretless version of one of these instruments might be an almost acceptable substitute for those gigs when the upright just won't work.
  12. ColonelZulu

    ColonelZulu Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I recently tried a Zeta educator EUB. I don't know what you think about those, but I think it has great tone. I'm seriously considering getting it.

    As far a good UB-ish tone from a BG, I like the Rob Allen and the Rick Turner fretless basses.
  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If you have to plug it in, I'd just suggest the Godin, Rob Allen or Turner Rennaissance instead. All are designed to be plugged in and have good upright like tones. They are also way cheaper than a Taylor bass!

    The acoustic BGs are feedback monsters when plugged in (just like the DB) and the larger bodies make them much less comfortable to play.
  14. For many years my Ovation elite acoustic/electric was my main bass, Before I moved to upright. I have nothing but good things to say about it. Now I don't know how you feel about roundbacks, but I found it much more comfortable than the Taylor and the Martin. And the Epiphone elCapitan and Washburn acoustic basses simply suck (sound wise).

    Seems like you found a good comprimise though.
  15. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    My Azola Bugbass has been a great "bridge" instrument for gigs that would otherwise require an EB. Sounds great, looks cool, everybody's happy. Mine is a floating top 5-string, which is way better than the lower end model I'd tried earlier. Last year, I played it in a big sports stadium in Tahiti, through a big subwoofed system, as the sun came up(!). THAT was mindblowing.
  16. fretlesschris

    fretlesschris Guest

    May 26, 2001
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    To reply to your original question../<grin>/...

    I am in a 3 piece jazz group with a female singer. I started with them playing an AUB. When I messed up the bass by shaving too much off the bridge trying to lower the action a little, I was "forced" to use my Elrick 5 string.
    I got a bunch of complaints from the cats in the band before we started playing. Once I put a chunk of foam under the strings (to deaden) and rolled the highs off, they were extremely enthusiastic. Complimented the sound, my playing was much more confident (and in tune!!), and all in all, they now "allow" me to use my strap on and just leave the AUB at home!!
  17. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Interesting...I gotta try that foam trick sometime on electric. For me, if there's any doubt, I bring (in order of preference), double bass, electric upright, or an electric. Most people seem to prefer the double bass, but the Bugbass is gaining on it, especially in the acid jazz circles that seems to be popping up here. In all fairness, I've spent a long time and lots of $$$ getting my upright rig sounding good onstage; no doubt I pissed some people off with bad sound in the beginning. I think maybe it comes down to what one really wants to spend the most time playing; for me it's the double bass, but I love them all.