effects: URB-like sound

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Steve Crowe, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. Steve Crowe

    Steve Crowe Guest

    Jan 14, 2009
    Because of advancing age I have to give up playing my 1946 Kay URB. I still play my Fender J-bass with flatwounds occasionally. I know the hand techniques to mimic an upright sound. Is there an effects box that would convincingly EQ and/or add the woody harmonics of an URB to my guitar signal?
  2. akmusicfreak

    akmusicfreak Guest

    Sep 6, 2008
    IMHO, no. you'll probably have a hard time getting a Fender to sound like an upright.
    I have a frettless jazz bass that I've fiddle with to make sound like an Upright.
    I also had a Palatino EUB, a lot of messing with to get it to sound more like an upright, but never was really happy with the sound.

    You might have some luck with your Jazz bass if you change out the pick ups to something warmer sounding than the stock pick ups, maybe throw a set of tapewound strings on it and run it through something like Fishman Platinum Pro EQ.

    Something I just thought about would be the Dean Pace Bass, it's a 35" scale, flat fingerboard, vertically played BG that has a neck that resembles an upright.
    If you have a music shop near by that has one you might want to check.
    I have never played a Pace Bass I can't give any info on sound or playability.

    Good Luck
  3. Steve Crowe

    Steve Crowe Guest

    Jan 14, 2009
    You showed a great degree of concern. I had a Fishman platinum once - maybe that would be good to try again. I can't go with another guitar - I've just played the old Fender too many decades. I use Thomastiks on it, action is high, and I don't really get any finger squeak or fretted sounds happening. If anyone else has any suggestions please feel free to chime in.
  4. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    If you're willing to look silly, an Ashbory can be a reasonable fake URB.
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    In recent months, I have abandoned "doubling" in favor of focusing on DB. Still, I gave some thought and effort to the DB emulation problem because I was always curious about it. There are guys on the EB forums who swear that they can emulate the DB tone. I don't believe it. In the final analysis, I abandoned the pursuit, and settled on a general approach:

    1. Stick within variations on gear that are "honest" to the electric bass, such as a passive P pickup, fretless, old flats, and leaving the volume knob wide open while rolling off the tone knob. Or whatever you've got.

    2. Stick with your DB amp rig. Don't let the amp do too much of the work. Back off on the volume knob, so you can dig in a bit more.

    3. Most importantly in my view, take advantage of what you have learned as a DB'ist in terms of technique and style, listening, and thinking. This will help more than any other measure.
  6. IMO, Ashburys are pointlessly tedious and difficult to play. You have to put some powder or something on your fingers and the strings every time you play it, and when you play the strings, they vibrate out to like almost an inch, so I doubt you'd be able to get much dexterity without buzzing (for want of a better word for rubber strings).

    IMO, The only benefit of the Ashbury is talking-point value and portability.
  7. JtheJazzMan

    JtheJazzMan Guest

    Apr 10, 2006
    its just my opinion but i think youre better off trying to emphasise the strengths of the instrument youre playing.

    if youre playing a bass guitar, then aim for a killer fender tone, and youll probably enjoy it much more then constantly being dissapointed with a almost-URB sound that youll never truly reach
  8. Something I have tried that works fairly well is muting. Not palm muting per se, but using some type foam between the strings and the body. You will have to experiment with this, and I believe a softer foam works better. But it really helps emulate that upright like "decay" and it can be easily removed. The original fender jazz and precision had these mutes already on them in there original production. Give it a try, you might be surprised.
  9. ezrs


    Sep 24, 2008
    my rob allen mouse sounds as close to an upright as it gets, plus its under 5 pounds and effortless to play!
  10. If you're looking for an effects box, Several manufacturers make acoustic guitar modelers. Some do a great job of turning an electric into an acoustic. Unfortunately no one makes one for bass.

    The Roland VB-99 looks promising. It's expensive, and not available in the US yet. And it does way too much other effects that it sounds like you'd never use.

    Another option is the Axon AX guitar to midi. It would convert your signal to midi to allow you to trigger an acoustic bass sound. Midi is not going to be the same technique in your hands but with practice it can do a great job.

    Another option is your amp, you could look at building a bass cabinet to sound woody. There's no books or references on this but I saw a picture somewhere of somebody building one. They basically used wood and construction that you'd use to build a bass. It'd only be good at relatively low volumes.

    Mentioned above, the Ashbory does a great job. It too you have to practice with. Search youtube for Ashbory to hear various players.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    +1 I have one and may end up selling it because it doesn't sound "electric-y" enough. When I want the DB sound, I play a DB. When I need an electric sound (rarely) it's hard to get that from the mouse, although it can do a damn good "fretless BG with huge stones" vibe easily.
  12. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    I used those black tapewounds like akmusicfreak mentioned on a PRS fretless for several years for jazz and jump blues gigs. I also tried the Thomastiks and halfwounds or ground roundwounds, but the tapewounds were different. Might be a worthwhile experiment, not too expensive.

    I like aluminumbassguy's idea of foam / sponge under the strings idea too. Like he said, controlling the decay is critical. And its a cheap trial. Never tried it conjunction with the tapewounds. Works well on my Lakland Bob Glaub (with LaBella flats) for that Motown vibe. :)
  13. akmusicfreak

    akmusicfreak Guest

    Sep 6, 2008
    I stole this idea from a guy I saw playing at a cooperate party I was working at. He had a DB-esqe sound, so I had to ask him what he was using.

    He had some boutique kind of frettles bg.
    The bass had bartolini ceramic magnatic soapbar pick ups,
    with piezo pick ups as well some were, he had this funky wooden bridge thing going on, I think the piezo was stuck underneath the bridge. He was also using tapewound rotos.

    Now this player also had some serious chops as well, he probably coulda made a tin can sound like a DB
  14. Steve Crowe

    Steve Crowe Guest

    Jan 14, 2009
    I'll give a little long-winded reply to your generous responses and then check to see if there are any last thoughts. Continuing to play my Kay isn't an option cuz my hands are getting weak. I always had a somewhat URB tone when playing the fender - it's all in the hands, as they say and I always had the action somewhat high so I could dig in. I've used either Duck's LaBellas or Thomastik j-flats exclusively unless someone requested roundwounds or whatever (I never really liked roundwounds). I use an old GK Microbass amp with the Kay so it's ready to accept the fender. I can A/B the two of course.
    I've done the foam thing before after hearing about it on Carol Kaye's excellent website. I tried the Ashbory once - what a joke. Although I do understand how various little Frankenstein inventions can emulate in the studio or even live, I have to have the scale and resistance that I'm used to. Playing around with a piezo is an excellent idea to try I think. I'll also keep my eye on Roland VB-99 type developments. I liquidated an analog Rhodes and a Hammond a few years ago and was impressed with the digital emulations on the current Rhodes pianos and the similar emulators that are used in recording studios. Specifically how a bassline played on a piano can be URB-ed to get the overtones and mimic the physics of playing higher on the neck. It's that little chip put into a box for me to tweak that I wish existed. Thanks for writing everyone!
  15. Pentabass


    Dec 11, 2007
    Very interesting. What string length?
    What pickup?
  16. Dave Irwin

    Dave Irwin Guest

    May 11, 2002
    Alexandria, Ohio
    I've played an ashbory for years and they are a great alternative when you can't play upright
    The trick is you got to play with a light touch. Get use to it and you can make it growl, thump, whatever.
    I agree it's not the greatest solo instrument so if high flying solos are your thing the Ashbory might not suit you, but for providing bottom, I don't think there is a better bass out there.

  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    A long time ago I (before going to DB) I almost sprung for a Carvin AC40 with Fender or Labella Black tapewound strings.
  18. Pentabass


    Dec 11, 2007
    Thanks for the link -- supercool!

    But Polyurethane strings? I wonder where I can find replacements?
    They look similar to the silastic strings of the very good sounding Ashbory, except black colour.

    Anybody know more about these strings?
  19. Another thing: the Kay produces a lot of sound on it's own, right? So the little GK doesn't do all of the work.
    But with the Fender, it does. So, my thinking is that maybe it would help to have a larger amp for the Fender, to help make up for the missing acoustic sound. Something with a larger cabinet, and a 15" speaker maybe. Ampeg B-15 for example? It's not the loudest, but it's probably the warmest, fattest tube bass amp ever. Tubes rule for fat tone.