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How to get that electric sound out of gut strings!!!

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I've always strived for that gut sound. I hate nothing more than an electricky sound for playing jazz. However I'm now in a situation where for one specific song in a show I'm doing, I'd like to get an electric bass funk kind of sound. I'm doing a funk (think Maynard Ferguson) arrangement of a Negro Spiritual with a horn section and a gospel choir and I'm playing some groovy funk lines on upright but of course especially on my bass, it doesn't sound exactly like you'd expect it to. Before you ask, no I don't want to learn electric nor get another person in for this. My sound fits with everything else happening at this show but it's just this one thing. I was thinking there must be some cheap module I can insert into my signal chain temporarily just to get more of a nasal, metallic, electric edge to the sound. I have thought of using a crappy piezo of some sort but it needs to be something I can just install and remove easily.

    I see all these modules out there for warming up sound which are usually for making an electric, nasal sound warmer. But what about the other way? I know I won't be able to get exactly the kind of sound this kind of arrangement really calls for but just getting part of the way there might be interesting.
  2. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    There are any number of modeling effects boxes that would give you a horrible but passable approximation of an electric bass tone--Korg Pandora, line 6 pod xt--there are a lot of them. They all model the sound of, say, a fender jazz bass, and they will convert whatever signal they get into that model. You ought to be able to find one on ebay for cheap. The Behringer V-Amp is less than 100 bucks. Some people love these things. It would do what you want
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    What does it sound like if you crank up the mids?
  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I must admit that I haven't played with the EQ that much but it's a good point. PB+J, thanks for the lead on those boxes - I'll check them out.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Adrian, you might try messing with something that has compression before you try those FX boxes. My thinking is that if you start chopping off the tops of those waves, it'll sound more like a EB - flatter, even, colorless, and more sustained. :smug:

    I've messed with the compression dial on my Fishman Pro Platnum EQ Bass preamp. Turning the compression way up does make it more electric to my ears. Maybe give that a try?
  6. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    If you have a compressor, that might work, but buying a compressor would end up being like buying an effects box---the price difference is small

    Listen, it pains me to even imagine ways to make a good double bass sound like a slab. But I've done some work with modeling and although I don't like it on principle, it'll make a selmer style gypsy acoustic guitar sound remarkably like a les paul through cranked marshall. It would do exactly what you want. whether or not that's a good thing is another story!
  7. JohnThomasson


    Feb 3, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Supro, Mesa Boogie, DR Strings, Source Audio, Pigtronix, & Fishman
    I also think compression will go a long way towards getting that sound. That's what I use (Fishman Pro EQ platninum) and I do a lot of gigs that require that sound and then switching back towards an open, traditional sound. Also play with your right hand technique. You might find an adjustment will go a long way.
  8. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Yeah I am such a total purist for acoustic sound that I find it totally hilarious that I would want to do this but from my research after PB+J's hints, a modeller is the best way to go as it would also give me options to play around with to get something I liked.

    It seems the Line 6 boxes are crap from all the reviews but an old superseded model Pandora (PX3B) or perhaps the V-Amp bass may be the way to go.
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I don't think so. A compressor pedal sells for $100 new maybe less. A modeller like a Bass POD or vAMP sells for $200 or $300 or more. A Pandora is still like $180?!?

    Adrian, I have a Boss Compressor/Limiter lying around and I don't think I sold it yet. If I still have it, I'll try it out in my studio to see if it works. If so, maybe I can sell it to you for a cheap price. Just pm me. Hope you just don't need it right away.
  10. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    The behringer vAmp goes for $99 new at musician's friend, and as I said, I got a used pandora on ebay for around $70 as a gift for someone. Here's a line 6 basspod xt on ebay with a buy it now of $169

    the link
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Not to bicker PB but I was talking about new prices. Which means that you can pick up a compress for $10-25 off of e-bay, all things being "equal". Guess I wrong about the vAmp tho - but i't s a Behringer! Eek!
  12. How about going for a processed auto-wah funk sound (eg Bootsy Collins)? My old MXR Envelope Filter works well on my EUB. Or even try a wah pedal...
  13. In my opinion - forget about any electronic devices to modify the sound of acoustic bass in order to sound "funky". The acoustic sound of the bass is the funkiest sound by itself. Listen to some Christian Mc Bride stuff for example... Of course, the electric bass (bass guitar) is another thing, but in my opinion, the acoustic can groove like hell without any sound modification - the only issue could be the loudness of your sound, so I would recommend using a pick-up, instead of just mic. Just my point of view, of course...
  14. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    :eek: WOW! I never thought I'd read such a thing from adrian!

    That effects thing sounds like it could do the job and even be helpful for some other stuff. Also the piezo thing, I got a K&K and found that it gives you kind of a fat bottom (no pun intended) but at the same times, it keeps those scratchy high frecuencies that give the bass kind of an "electric" sound. There's also the K&K preamp that comes included, with gain, treble, mid and bass adjusters to tweak around in search for that sound.
  15. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001

    Hey Adrian, get a piezzo pickup, make some eq adjustments,add lots of highs and hi mids play that song and come back to our gut world :D , you're making me nervous, im afraid of loosing one of our gut mentors here.....did i read "...nasal, metallic, electric edge to the sound..." dont scare me.
    good luck man....

  16. Listen to the CD "Rite of strings" with Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, Jean Luc Ponty. That's funk on the upright allright!

    Here you can listen to some of the tracks:


    Try to pluck the strings as close to the bridge as your fingers allow. Do this gently! At first your fingertips need to get used to the rigid behaviour of the strings down there. When you keep trying you will end up getting a much more 'electric' sound. Try this one with your fingers in a 90 degree angle from the strings. Just like the BG players do.

    Good luck.
  17. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for all the tips guys. Wiro, I already play pretty close to the end of the fingerboard. No technique is going to change the fundamental sound of my current setup to the extent I want it to. I'm going to give one of these amp modelers a try - I don't want to have to install anything on the bass. Don't worry guys, this is a very special case. I'm playing the rest of the show with my usual setup and no amp!
  18. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I just got one of the Zoom B2.1u effect modelers. I think this might be the first multi effect unit I actually keep because it does a good job of maintaining the actual tone of my upright w/ the Rev. Solo PU. Lots of tone options and tons of flexibility to adjust the various parameters. But the main thing is that it has a high sampling rate so your original signal is not dilluted too much.

    The B2 model is cheaper- $100 range

    FYI :)
  19. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Have you considered investing in a psychedelic-print polyester shirt and pair of tight leather pants? Everybody will be so busy digging your funky attire that they won't even notice the sound of the bass! ;)
  20. Play yer double bass with a plectrum!