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Gigging with an EUB

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by bobbykokinos, Mar 4, 2005.

  1. Hey guys.

    I'm very close a purchasing an Eminence EUB. For me, I think the sound offers the best bang for the buck.

    The is the problem I am running into. I've got it in my head somewhere that I'll loose gigs because its an EUB and not a traditional DB. There are alot of "old school" cats that dont want to see anything but a DB on the stage. The thing is, both of my playing situations (quartet and big band) both allow, and almost prefer, an EUB.

    I don't plan on doing Orchestral stuff. The main thing keeping me away from a DB is size and $$$. For $2400 I can get a pretty nice/great EUB. For $2400 I can get an average DB. Then tack on the price of a pickup and the problem of finding a vehicle to carry an electric, DB, amp, and whatever else I need for a gig.

    Anyway, has anyone ever had experience being turned down for a gig because you have an EUB rather than DB? Or am I not giving people enough credit to be open minded about it?
  2. I own an Eminence. While there may be some truth to what people are telling you (re: a preference for a "proper db"), I've never had any trouble showing up with my darling "Emmy." One thing that may help is that the Eminence still LOOKS like a db, albeit a skinny one, as opposed to those EUBs that resemble something else.

    I'm curious to know what others think about this topic as well, since the notion has occurred to me from time to time.
  3. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I play a BugBass in a blues band...mostly small stages and a URB is out of the question. The times I've tried, feedback and stage space have made a EUB seem very appealing. And the EUB sounds more like a URB than a URB can under those conditions.

    I'd say work on a good sound and let the skeptics judge the EUB on its sonic merits...the Eminence will likely sound more URB-like than my Bug, too.
  4. I see what you are saying. Thankfully the people I play with now know that the sound of EUB's has gotten ALOT better. I just would like to keep my options open for future gigs.

    Now, having said that, am I right in the statement where a $2400 you can have a GREAT EUB but $2400 will get you an average/beginner upright?? I went shopping for uprights yesterday in Indianapolis. The only thing I could find in the $2400 range was an average german bass. Dont know the maker. It was nothing "stimulating" per say. Just like playing any other DB. But, I've had past experience with the eminence having played on in college. Maybe my ears are wrong but I think the eminence sound just as good as any $10,000 upright on a pickup (on a mic is a different story). I just can't justify spending $10,000 on a great FEELING DB just to put a pickup on it.

    It all makes sense in my head. Hope its making sense to you guys. I LOVE DB, dont get me wrong. If I had the space and the money, I would love to get a beautiful one. But, to me, its like going backwards in quality buying an investment bass ($10,000+) and then putting a pickup on it. Even though you have a HUGE body you arent getting all of the sound anyways.
  5. I absolutely agree with you but the problem is I do not know any situations I would play strictly acoustically.

    Honestly, for looks, a DB has a more "authentic" look no doubt. But I dont know, for me, if that out weights the cons of a DB such as portability, storing it, and the added extra cost of amplifing it.

    The DB I was talking about in Indianapolis is a rent to own. I was considering renting it for a couple months and lugging it around to see if its something I would want to do. Problem is I dont want to invest in a pickup if I'm going to not keep the bass.

    Edit: If I do get an EUB, it'll be the Eminence. I played it for 2 years in college and fell in love with it.. For me its the most comfortable and natural feeling of the EUB's I've played.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    When you say "gigging" what kind of playing are you refering to? Stadiums, coffeehouses, touring 200 dates a year, playing every other Thursday at a local club? Jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass? Bulgarian death prog-polka?

    Oh, quartet and big band, so I'm assuming it's "jazzish". I don't think you'll have a problem keeping a gig, at least until somebody who plays an actual double bass comes along. There are any number of people on this site (Ray Parker, Marcus Johnson, a few others) that are actual professional double bassists who also have EUBs, you might want to talk to them directly about their preferences. My sense is that the ONLY reason they even have an EUB is because it's easier to tour than their real bass. Ray even drags his heavier, more fragile, more expensive real bass around NYC (and Lawn Guyland!) on the train, you may want to find out why.

    "For $2400 I can get a pretty nice/great EUB. For $2400 I can get an average DB." See for me, the equation's a lot different. I can get an EUB that sounds like a badly amplified real bass for $2400 OR I can get an actual acoustic instrument (the New Standard which is in this price range is not an "average" DB) for the same (or less) money.

    I know that it's popular to think that it's "old school" or "snobbism" that's behind the reasoning for people preferring the actual acoustic instrument. I think that it's easier to rationalize not wanting to do a lot of the work necessary to get a good sound out of the double bass, if you can blame somebody else's "prejudice". But, as I continue to say, if I could get the sound I want out of a kazoo, I would. If a piano player could get the same sound out of a keyboard, that's what you would see in concert halls across the country. An acoustic instrument produces richer and more 3 dimensional aural "picture", than an electric instrument. And, for better or worse, the "feel" that has defined straight ahead jazz was developed and involved on this acoustic instrument, so that the typical sound of the attack, swell and decay of a quarter note walking line is as readily identifiable as the "sound" of this music as a gamelan is of Indonesian music.

    The only reason that you should by an EUB is if THAT IS THE SOUND that you hear in your head (or because it's gotta go under the bus). If you really hear electric and the only reason you want to play EUB is so that it "looks" like you're playing upright, why not just stick to your guns? Should I play mediocre electric bass just cause some people would rather hear electric bass in a band?

    If you HEAR the sound of the DB in your head, just cut to the chase and get an acoustic instrument.
  7. Maybe the solution is to rent the URB for awhile and spend some dough on a pickup (a value-priced K&K Bass Max, perhaps?). If the URB doesn't fill your needs you could return the bass, sell the pickup, then pursue the Eminence. At least you'd know whether an URB is preferrable to a EUB.

    Just a thought.
  8. Jeez Ed, everyone knows that "Bulgarian death prog-polka" is done with synthesizers....
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And playing an electric instrument, you'll never find out either.
    I do about 80-90 gigs a year (yeah, I know, a light weight) and I only used an amp on about 10% of those in 2004. I haven't used an amp on a gig in 2005 yet.

    Look, sailing a boat is harder than steering a motorboat. They both go from point A to point B. One puts you in closer touch with your immediate environment and you have to develop your knowledge, your skill, your self reliance etc. The other you have to turn a key. Sure it all depends on what you want, but being able to take this big giant hunk of wood, cloth and metal and make it go somewhere that you want it to go just by your ability to make it interact with the wind and water is kinda cool.

    Kinda like still being able to make music if the power goes out.
  10. Well, I think I'll go to the sail boat. I'm going to rent it for a few months and see how I like it and see if its worth lugging it around. My main concern is some of the places where we play are quite cramped, but I'm sure I'll figure it out..
  11. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Hey bobby, have you checked out "About Music" in broadripple? From what I've seen, He's the authority on Double Basses in Indianapolis. He has an eminence too. It's left handed, but you could do a little bit of side by side comparison at his shop. (BTW, you should finish filling out your profile).

    But about the original question. I am auditioning for the jazz band at purdue in the fall, and I am definetly feeling a little leary about walking in there with my EUB. It's hard to judge the musical preferences of a group of people I have never met, but I know the guy in there now plays Acoustic. I guess all I can do is hope for the best.
  12. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Oh yes, this has (and will) happen from time to time. What really matters is your committment to your chosen instrument.

    Acoustic bass is a beautiful instrument, designed and devoloped over the course of about the last 400 years or so. What a wonderful sound....... Putting a pickup or a mic on it changes and distorts this sound.

    EUB is a beautiful instrument too. It requires alot of dedication to make it shine in situations that have traditionaly used acoustics. EUB doesn't have nearly as much history as the acoustic bass. (but it has alot more than some realize) For this reason, sometimes there will be resistance from certain musicians and music fans. You will have to out on a hair shirt when comes to interacting with some persnalities, regarding using the EUB! That has been my experience, anyway.

    I love and feel privileged to be playing both instruments (URB and EUB) these days.
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    IMO, even a DB with a pickup still sounds 10 X better than an EUB. EUB's just don't have that depth that a big body chamber can give.

    Pricewise, $2400 can get you alot of bass for the buck. If you shop around and find something like a Christopher, Eastman, or Shen in that price range you might be surprised. My teach regularly gives me compliments on my Chrissy, and he's one that usually favors older/seasoned basses and usually not new, much less cheaper basses. A good setup and the right set of strings can go a long way.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - if you're prepared to change your mind completely, because of a few comments on an internet forum, then it would suggest to me that you didn't have much conviction in your original idea..?

    Or you are Ed's 'patsy' in disguise, colluding to show all us EUB players, the error of our ways!! ;)
  15. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I own and gig both an URB (New Standard Cleveland) and an EUB (Azola Bugbass II) on a fairly regular basis...average 10 gigs a month. My URB is first choice, until space or gig conditions make it necessary to take the EUB along.

    I play in some of the most traditional styles, where you'll always get lots of funny looks and comments about an EUB...until I start to play. The proof is in the playing, IMHO. If somebody is going to deny you a gig based on your instrument choice (and not what you can do with it), then it wasn't a worthwhile effort anyway. They both have their uses, and a good player can do well with either.

    If you have to have one or the other, I'd suggest you take Ed's frequently-stated mantra to heart...go for "the sound that's in your head".
  16. I have been gigging with either of two one of a kind custom made EUB's that I had made for me by an outstanding luthier (Karl Hoyt) located on Cape Cod . They are both 5 string EUB's (with a high C string as opposed to a Low B) and both basses have a 41 1/2" scale length. Both basses are equipped with Thomastic Spirocore Weichs and two pickups (a Fishman full circle and a K& K Sound Bass max). I usually utilize only the Fishman pickups with the Bass Maxes there primarily for redunancy if needed.

    I play strictly jazz and have had absolutey NO negative inputs or comments about using these instruments as opposed to my "trusty" 60 year old Kay acoustic URB which I still use on occcasion - but usually only if the gig requirement is strictly "acoustic". As a matter of fact, many listeners have commented that "if you close your eyes it's very hard to tell the difference between either of my EUB's and an acoustic upright equipped with a pickup." I believe that unsolicited testimonials like that "tell a story" that if the EUB is well designed and is used with quality electronics and speakers (a very important part of the total "equation") that these useful instruments have a place in the wonderful world of music.

    I find that at the ripe "young age" of 75 using and enjoying these beautiful instruments has numerous advantages:
    * It saves my back!
    * There are virtually NO feedback problems - regardless of volume levels because they are both solid body instruments.
    * They work nicely in small venues where the space for playing is at a premium.
    * So far I have never had anything other than positive, enthusiastic comments about how good they sound and look.

    Yes, there will ALWAYS be those that will be "anti EUB ers" and
    I believe it is true that an EUB can never totally duplicate the
    acoustic properties of a good URB, but I'm finding my two EUB's to be totally "soul satisfying" in every respect.

    When I get a chance I may post pictures of my 2 instruments as examples of what kind of outstanding work is being done by many good luthiers.
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    But -- How long have you played real bass? And, do you think that this has any effect on the sound that you get out of the EUBs?

    I think that's the rub.

  18. Hi Ray,

    Assuming you were referring to me, I'v'e been playing "real bass" (acoustic upright) for over 58 years. Therefore I think I have a fair idea as to the sound I'm trying to emulate with my EUB's. Good question though and thanks for the comment.

    Bob McHenry
  19. No, actually, reading other threads convinced me I should get an EUB for portability.

    So, yesterday, I went to a store that had an eminence and an URB side by side. First time I've played on right after the other. Althought the Eminence is GREAT, and I may eventually get one, I just couldnt let go of the fact of how great a full bodied bass felt next to me. So that, for me, sealed the deal on getting an URB. I shopped around, found a bass I liked for a great price and I bought it.

    I still love the Eminence bass and I think its GREAT. But, going back and forth between the Eminence and the URB, the URB just had something that the Eminence didnt have. I dont know exactly what it is or how to explain it but I'm sure you guys know what I'm talking about.
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Uh huh... that's exactly it! :D

    Come to think about it... you know what a DB really has that an EUB doesn't? Cojones!!! I think that's my problem with EUB's, they look like they've been castrated! :p