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Imitating an acoustic bass revisited

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lovethegrowl, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    I was reading an old thread about attempting to get as close to a string bass as one can using an electric bass. Lots of theories & suggestions. Someone recommended a fretless rondo bass (Douglas). I looked into it, & I once played in a fashion band (on trumpet) w/a bass player that had a fretted Hofner. My recollection is that it had a distinct "oinky-boinky" chambered body sound, using flat-wound metal strings.

    It would be interesting to see how a fretless version with nylon tape wound strings would sound. I looked up Rondo, noticed they had a fretless model w/no fret markers. Not good for me, I'd never play it I'm tune. Damm! Also, the fretless model only comes in sunburst, whereas it's counterpart has a stained violin type finish available.

    Anybody here have any luck w/a fretless viola bass? Rondo does also have a cheap 30" short-scale fretless jazz bass that I could conceivably turn into my poor man's Jaco bass, but that's another story. I won't get both fretless sounds out of one bass.
  2. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Again,my androids predictive text/spell checker changed "fushion" into fashion band
  3. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Again, sorry. I meant to write that the fretted counterpart to the fretless Douglas bass does have a red stained violin finish available as well as the guitar sunburst. The fretless version only comes in Sunburst! One would think that the owner of a fretless viola bass would want it to have a red stained finish. Pulling the frets & filling the gaps is too overwhelming a task for me.
  4. VarlotTheHarlot


    Dec 12, 2013
    I think I have this right, you want to imitate the sound of an acoustic bass with an electric, to do so you are willing to buy a new bass and re-string it, but not the one recommended, because of the colour?

    If you're buying a new bass anyway why not just get an acoustic and be done with it?

    Am I missing something?
  5. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I had that Douglass fretless violin bass. It was beautiful and well made. I got rid of it cuz I stink at fretless, but it was an excellent bass.
  6. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    I am trying to imitate the sound of an upright acoustic. Buying one of those at about $10,000 & learning to play it at age 57 is kinda not an option. I always have HATED sunburst, but I would consider putting up with it IF it had fret markers! The point about the color is the incongruity of having a fretless bass that's painted like a guitar, while the fretted version is stained like a violin.
  7. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    You can get a perfectly playable decent upright bass for less than a tenth of that. But it doesn't matter if you don't wanna learn it anyway.
  8. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    And readers, please don't write that I am not going to sound like a contra bass
    That's right, it's a matter of coming as close as I can.
  9. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    As 3234718 pointed out, learning to play fretless as an adult (when the mind isn't as malleable as a child's) is more than difficult. Fretmarkers make it possible.
  10. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    At the end of the day a bass guitar won't sound like an acoustic upright bass any more than an acoustic upright bass will ever sound like a bass guitar. Two different instruments. But music is an exploration of sound, so why not simply get an inexpensive fretless bass guitar and see if it speaks to you? Try nylon wound strings on it. Try flat wound strings on it. Talking about sound is like dancing about perfume.
  11. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    A lot of the time, difficult things are worth doing.

    This is one of the greatest things I've ever heard.
  12. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    I bought my fretless less than 3 years ago and I'll turn 57 in April- if you can play well on fretted, you should be able to play well on fretless, but it will take practice. It's less a matter of muscle memory than mind, IMO and the one thing that made it hard to hit the notes correctly was the bridge needing adjustment- I had to hunt for just about every note. Once I set the intonation, it fell into place the first day (not perfectly, but workable) and mine doesn't have fret lines, just small dot markers on the edge. I wouldn't worry about fret lines, but markers are good to have. How closely it is to the sound of an upright depends on where you pluck the strings- it won't, if you pluck next to the bridge, but it can if you pluck near the end of the fingerboard. Go out and play a bunch of fretless basses and find what sounds right.

    Whether your mind is malleable, or not- that's up to you. If you want to, you can.
  13. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I know it would be nice to be able just to buy some gear to make this happen but it has lot less to do with the bass than with your hands. Yes things like flatwounds (or dead rounds), a fretless, a neck position p.up are going to help but since you're never in a million years really going to get that sound out of a solid body bass guitar to be at all convincing you need to play it like a double bass. Listen to guys like Ray Brown really carefully. Cop their articulation, raise your strings and play close to the fingerboard.

    I just posted this in another thread but Chris Brubeck comes as close as anyone I've ever heard on a solidbody. Well worth studying.
  14. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    I hear those Douglas viola basses are neck heavy! I haven't given up yet. I'll call NH to see if there's an unadvertised version with markers. Maybe I should seriously consider pulling frets & filling them in. The price is right.
  15. aquateen


    Apr 14, 2005
    my brother-in-law gave me an upright bass and to get used to the scale, I put strips of tape on the side of the neck where the frets would be. I used a tuner to determine where to put the tape.
  16. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    "A man's gotta know his limitations", Dirty Harry-- Magnum force.

    I was talking in terms of learning to play a big bass fiddle at my age. I know for a fact that we all have to deal with limitations. Has anyone learned to speak a foreign language w/o a trace of an accent past 9 or 10 years old? There is a reason for that, in the developmental stage the human brain sheds billions of cells at ages 7-9, again at puberty, then once more at ages 18-21. Too a large extent our proclivities & aptitudes do become solidified. That first period of synaptic pruning deals with language & music. Have you noticed that in a a family of immigrants, the older siblings speak with accents, no matter how hard they work at it. The younger ones speak without accents. Willing or wanting oneself to perform a task proficiently itself isn't going to make it happen. If that were the case we could all play like Brian Bromberg. I do have to say that learning to play contra bass (in tune) late in life is more feasible than violin playin
  17. Yep.

    I play both, and honestly the closest i can get to a doublebass sound on electric, which is not very close, is a plain precision with LaBella tape wrapped strings, a bit of very light muting, and a lot of the side of my index finger. A doublebass is not a dead-sounding bass guitar, it's more about the attack and decay characteristics
  18. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars

    LaBella tape wounds go along way towards making anything sound like an upright and a p-bass with a little foam under the strings at the bridge is my personal preference, but the way you play with you right hand is a huge part of getting close to that sound.

    Moonshine :bassist:
  19. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I had good luck on a borrowed 1973 Rickenbacker 4001, roundwound strings that had not been changed in many years. I don't know what the engineer did to make it sound like that, but it was his bass I was playing.
  20. Steveman


    Jun 25, 2010
    A lot of it has to do with technique / EQ imo. Here's how I do it.

    Left hand: slightly mute strings with last two fingers to help cancel out the fret noise

    Right hand: Play closer to the neck, you get a much fatter sound that way.

    EQ: Boost the bass, treble all the way down.