GASing for an acoustic bass guitar

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dougness, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. I've been wanting an acoustic bass guitar for a long time, but I can't seem to justify spending the cash. Mostly, I'm not convinced that it will get much use. Maybe some of you can change my mind...or talk me down.

    I've played every one I can get my hands on and I'm really liking the Fender Victor Bailey bass for it's size and playability. I've only played the four-string version, but like it well enough to be getting that gotta-have-it feeling.

    Some questions:

    * If you own an acoustic bass guitar, do you use it much for gigging or is it mostly an around the house kind of a thing?

    * Can you put other strings on these basses besides the bronze acoustic sets without pulling the bridge off of the bass? Are there any flatwound sets that will work on these basses?

    * Is anyone using an acoustic bass guitar to get a more natural acoustic tone for jazz playing? I know it won't sound like an upright, but the closer, the better.

  2. Matt R.

    Matt R. Supporting Member

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    I've always had luck with any decent low tension non-bronze strings on acoustics. I usually use Ernie Ball .45-.100 with no problems. Just don't use stainless steel high tension ones. Good luck.
  3. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    I use a Tacoma Thunderchief, and I use it for coffee shops, jams, and around the house playing with my roommate, as well as playing at parties, etc. I almost never plug it in.

    Make sure you play with an acoustic guitar before buying, to check the volume levels. In my experience, the Tacoma and the Taylor are the only ones that are even close to keeping up, and it's still a battle.

    I use labella nylon tapewounds on my bass.
  4. Thanks, Dan. I wondered about using tape wounds. I've never used them on my electrics and wasn't sure if the tension was low enough for an acoustic. It's great to know that's an option.

    I figured I'd play through an amp, so keeping up acoustically wasn't really my intention. I'm mostly thinking about getting a more acoustic tone.
  5. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    I bought a rather inexpensive Stagg acoustic/electric. I don't plug it in much, but it's great for playing unplugged with my acoustic guitar playing friends. Mine came with stainless steel strings, I have to adapt my style a bit to play loud enough to hear it myself, but from talking to other people who listen in they say that they can hear me just fine.

    I actually think it has helped my playing overall, forcing me to play "crisply" I guess would be the best way to put it. Having a strong attack that is also clear.

    It's great for sitting around the campfire and jamming, and I do that a lot so it was worthwhile for me.

    I think flatwounds are just going to make your playing sound like a dull thud. (ETA: But give it a try if you are just going to play through an amp, it might get you closer to an upright tone, but as you already know, it won't get you all the way there. )
  6. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    My tacoma with the nylon tapewounds, acoustically, is one of my favorite bass tones, period. It's very responsive to touch, and can be really mellow and thuddy, but suprisingly, can also be very growly and "rock and roll." I've been thinking about trying to mic it and use it in a rock recording.
  7. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    If you're planning on playing through an amp all the time, look into the Godin acoustic electrics. Fantastic for the money, great acoustic sound through an amp.
  8. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004

  9. canshaker


    Dec 15, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown/ESP/Dunlop/Line 6/Normandy.
    I have (and LOVE) this one.
    A Martin 00C-16GTAE
  10. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    I feel your pain! I've been gasing for an Alien Acoustic for quite some time now. Hopefully by the end of next month I'll have one!


    The Victor Bailey is pretty damn good. I've played a couple of them and liked them alot. Their tone plugged in is the real selling point.

  11. I'd kind of forgotten about the Godin basses. I don't see them around much. Hmmm, but this makes me wonder if maybe I am a little attracted to the acoustic guitar quality of the thing. I do play through standards now and then with a guitarist and it would be nice to not have to lug an amp over to his place for that kind of playing.

    I also haven't seen a Tacoma around in the local shops. I'm in southern California, so I may have to drive to Los Angeles to explore more of the options. Seems like you can find most everything up there.

    The Fender Victor Bailey has suprising volume for that little body. It is quite midrangey acoustically, but I can live with that. And it's local.

    I guess I'm trying to decide if it's worth the effort to find the right acoustic BG. You guys are starting to make me think that this may be worthwhile. It'll definitely be fun.
  12. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    I just recently bought an old Yamaha ABG. I bought partly because it was such a unique piece, but it also fits in well when I'm jamming with some folk and bluegrass guys I play with. It isn't loud enough to play with more than one guitar and since I put TI Jazz Flats on it it's even quieter. Tapewounds would be great. I have them on my Rob Allen MB2 and they sing. BTW the Rob Allens are great semi-acoustics. They're pricey, but the sound and playability beats just about everything out there. I use mine in most contexts and can get anything ranging from Upright to Pbass to JBass tones out of it based on where I pick.
  13. Great for plugging in, great for rocking out solo, great for small jams.

    my Ibanez has a pretty nice Preamp: Shape, phase button, 3 band EQ, built in tuner.

    It's nice to get that acoustic-esque tone.

  14. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    If you can play the Tacoma (it'll make a man out of you, that's for sure) and you can afford one, I highly recommend one! It's my favorite sounding ABG, and some of the electronic models sound AWESOME. I picked mine up for 600 used here on TB, and that's not so bad. Expect around 950 new.

    If you're going to be playing plugged in all the time, the Victor Bailey is nice (it has GREAT electronics), but if you're going to be doing any unplugged playing at all, I think you'll find it's too quiet, and has zero low end. It was definitely not satisfactory for me. ALWAYS bring an acoustic guitar player along when testing these out. It's really easy to convince yourself it's loud enough, because it's right against your chest, and you forget how loud acoustic guitars are.

    Per above, Rob Allens DO kick some serious tail. Especially the fretlesses. I wish I could afford to have one.
  15. Okay, you've talked me out of the Victor Bailey ABG. Considering everyone's input, it makes sense that an ABG should hold it's own with at least one acoustic guitarist. Otherwise, I might at well get a Godin or Rob Allen or just take my Jazz Bass.

    Geez, there are so many choices. Thanks for all your input. Looks like it's time to play as many ABGs as I can get my hands on until one comes home with me.
  16. papajune

    papajune Guest

    Jan 5, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Schroeder Cabinets, Ashdown Amplifiers
    I have a Talkamine Jasmine for about 6 years now and have rarely if ever used it on a gig, in fact I can only remember using it on a gig once and it didnt go smoothly.

    I do use flats on it, but get little volume when playing with other acoustic guitars.

    I use it mainly for farting around in the woods or at the beach, but i can say with confidence that it is the most useless instrument i have ever owned. id sell it but ive cracked it a couple of times and dont think id get anything for it.

    get one if you like, but get a thunderchief if anything, so far they are the only worthwhile ones, volume wise that ive come across.
  17. bottomzone

    bottomzone Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2005
    The Godin is very nice!!! I attended a high school jazz festival a few years ago where the bassist alternated between an upright and a Godin acoustic/electric fretless. This girl played and sounded AWESOME!!! The Carvin AC40/50 fretless basses are at the top of my list, followed by the Godin.

    A Groove is a Terrible Thing to Waste! :cool:
  18. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    I don't mean to dis on the Victor Bailey, but try it out with an acoustic guitar player. Maybe it'll work for you, if you play with people with a lighter touch. I play with flat pickers playing on dreadnoughts. They sound really great, plugged in. Plus, that little logo victor on the headstock is awesome.

    Try a tacoma. You'll dig it, I promise.

    If I'm plugging in, I'll usually play my fretless or my p-bass. My acoustic? meh. It's really hard to play comparatively.
  19. 6jase5

    6jase5 Mammogram is down but I'm working manually

    Dec 17, 2007
    San Diego/LA
    I loved the Tacoma and Taylors I tried, but went with a much cheaper Michael Kelly dragonfly and I have to admit, I love it. I've used in on many gigs and open mics and it always gets attention for the big round sound from other musicians. LIke any abg I tried out live, if you are standing directly in front of a loud monitor or speaker it may feedback. I love everything about it except the overdone inlay on the neck which is a bit flashy for me.

    I pick that bass up all the time around the house and I think it made me a better player.
  20. envika

    envika Guest

    Nov 27, 2007
    Bronx, NY
    If you're going to get an acoustic bass, I suggest putting flatwounds on it and fingerpicking--otherwise it'll just sound like a rubber band. Listen to "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes for an example of dreadful, unforgivably bad acoustic bass tone.