1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

how to sound like a tuba?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by marijn van gils, May 13, 2003.

  1. marijn van gils

    marijn van gils

    Jan 23, 2002
    Since some years, I have been inspired a lot by balkan and gypsy music, especially by the fanfares (brassbands?). With my band, we only play originals and this influence is getting very noticable.

    I don't want to mimic exactly the sound of a (bass-)tuba (then I should learn to play a tuba I think), but I would like to get the same feel out of my bass and make it sit the same in the mix. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

    For your information: I play a Warwick Thumb n/t.


  2. RichBriere

    RichBriere Guest

    Jan 1, 2003
    Upstate NY
    I'd recommend eating 4 cans of Cambells pork and beans approximately 1 hour before the gig. I know a drummer who used to do that.......and he sounded EXACTLY like a tuba. We considered "micing" him..........but didn't want to go to th expense of paying for a new mic for every performance. :^>)

    Any other ideas?

    Onelessrant and Aqualung60 like this.
  3. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Well, I don't really have a great answer for you there but I just wanted to recommend a good CD that you might appreciate that uses electric bass instead of tuba...maybe it will be inspirational for you! You've probably already heard it but if not check out Ivo Papasov. I have his CD called "Balkanology." He's also got one called Orpheus Rising that I've heard is really good. Really amazing music.

    My guess for getting a tuba feel would be to favor the neck pickup or a straight blend (Actually not sure what the pickup setup is on your bass...Warwick is one of my weak points in common bass knowledge) and play near the neck with kind of a freewheeling, slightly behind the beat feel. I'd use a strong attack and then maybe cause a quick decay by muting lightly. If you mute lightly enough you might get a slight harmonic feel which could help to create the airiness of a tuba maybe. This is all off my head...never tried it so it might not be what you need at all. I really just wanted to recommend Papasov. :)

    brad cook
  4. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    this was done quite extensively a couple of months ago. Do a search for tuba and see what comes up.
  5. RichBriere

    RichBriere Guest

    Jan 1, 2003
    Upstate NY
    And now that I've done that, I'll recommend that you find an Ashbory bass......that little guy with the silicon strings.........You can buy them for $200 and they're capable of a plethora of sounds. Add a nice effects unit and you CAN come up with a tuba.

  6. marijn van gils

    marijn van gils

    Jan 23, 2002
    thanks for the answers, and sorry for duplicating the topic. I'll do a search now...

    Brad, thanks for the tip. I already have that same CD, ad saw him play life in Antwerp once. Amazing music, great concert (he is a true pofessional), but sadly the bas and guitar were absent and replaced by one guy on synth, obviously a temporary solution luckily. The drummer is amazing too, wouldn't mind jamming a bit with him...


  7. smakbass

    smakbass Smakkin basses for 25 years..

    Aug 6, 2002
    Vancouver Canada
    Not sure there is a good way to duplicate that sound just learn to play Tuba, I can play a bit of the old airBass myself.
  8. Many years ago when I was in high school, the band teacher used to like to have an electric bass in with the tubas (and he was a tube player himself!) to blend and add support. I spent a lot of time trying to blend and mimic the tone.

    The school had a Gibson Ripper with Dean Markley halfwound strings - which I felt had a really great tone for such a role. The Ripper has a really nice cushion of warmth to its tone and a good deal of clarity. It worked really well.

    If you don't want to buy a new bass, you might try some darker sounding strings - flatwound or halfwound. Also, avoid playing too close to the bridge and use more of the flesh of your fingers to pluck.

    You also are going to want to spend a lot of time examining how you finish each note. Listen to the ends of your notes to try to mimic how a tuba would end the notes.
    Flad likes this.
  9. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    Get a Tuba a play it instead of your bass....

    BassChuck likes this.
  10. atldeadhead


    Jun 17, 2002
    I've "discovered" this technique by accident and liked it so well that I use it in a song I do with my progressive metal band. Beleive it or not.

    Using my Jazz Deluxe I can approximate a tuba sound by tapping the note(s) with my left hand while doing volume swells with my right hand. (The Jazz Deluxe has a pickup blend knob and one volume control) In this way you get a much more gentle sounding attack on the notes that sounds a lot like blowing air into a horn. Of course any fast moving lines are probably out of the question but for quarter note type lines I think it works great.

    I've thought of getting a volume pedal to use so that I would be able to play with two hands, but in a pinch my technique works well.


    Good luck.
  11. 1st of all to get a tuba sound, you need to know what a tuba sounds like. Get some CD's of some German Oom Pa bands and polka bands that use the tuba. The sound is much choppier than an electric bass. The release from a tuba is much more abrupt and the attack is entirely different. The tuba being a wind instrument also phrases things differently than a stringed instrument. Again, find some tuba music and listen to it. When you get the sound into your head, experiment until you get the sound you want.
  12. terraplane


    Oct 14, 2002
    Italy, Palermo
    To have a "tubalike" sound on a SS amplifier, I use a hughes and kettner tube factor. Is a tube overdrive with two distorsion level. In the first level, it add a little tube harmonics, if you push over the strings, you can her a little tube distorsion, that is the "tubalike" effect. Naturally yyou have to use a good solid state amplifier to get a good sound anyway, but a tube factor can help you in the first overdrive level...the second level is a hard powerfull distortion, a little useless for bass players:)
  13. I was a professional tuba player until I got hit in the chops in a car wreck (rear ended leaving a jingle session) .. scar tissue in my lower lip ended my career, that is when I switch to bass full time.

    To sound like a tuba player you have to think like a tuba player in regard to the way you attack a note, how long you hold it, which notes in the chord to play, phrasing, tone, what NOT to play, etc.

    A lot depends on if you are a solo "artist" or just in the rhythm section.

    Listen to some tuba players (Red Callendar, Tommy Johnson, Jim Self, Roger Bobo) and get familiar with the tone and sound of the instrument.

    Listen to some records regarding style.. dixieland, polka, marching bands, wind ensembles, etc.

    Eventually, you will grasp the concept of the instrument and your fingers will find their way.
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  14. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    You know, Flea gets a great tuba-like sound at the end the RHCP's song "Funky Monks" from the BSSM album(1991). He accomplishes this by playing near the bridge which gives the sound more attack. You might want to add more midrange on your amp's EQ as well.

    To sustain notes: Pluck the string and then tap the upper horn rapidly to keep the string vibrating. Seems a little strange, but work for me when I'm doubling tubas in the concert band I play in.

    For fortepianos: Hit the fretted note with only your left note and then back off the volume control abruptly. Helps to have a volume pot with a smooth rolloff.

    Hope this helps and good luck. I'd tell you to buy a tuba, but a decent instrument will probably set you back several grand.:(
  15. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
  16. Maybe something like a P-bass with flatwounds and a really flat tone. I think a fretted bass won't sound as "organic". Just my 0.02$CDN.
  17. McCartney's tuba sound on Maxwell's Silver Hammer was accomplished by dampning the strings at the bridge (Rickenbacher) and using a slide, really. Good luck.
  18. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Eleven year old zombie thread.
  19. Flad


    Apr 18, 2014
    It seems to me when a noobie resurrects an old thread someone will be mad about it, and if they start a new thread with same topic some will be mad about it. It seems to me us noobies are stuck in a "Catch 22"! So it's been 11 years since this topic was brought up....so nothing has changed in 11 years and no one has come up with new questions in 11 years?!? I don't get it. I don't get it at all.
  20. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Read the thread. There was no new question asked. There was no new solution that wasn't available 11 years ago. Resurrecting a decade+ dead thread to tell someone to do what was done in the 1960's is not contributing anything new.

Share This Page