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In Search Of - videos of exemplary right-hand technique, no amps

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Xanderzb, Jul 28, 2017.


  1. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Upon deciding to make the switch to upright bass, I'm now seeking decent quality audio/video recordings of bassists in small ensembles, who demonstrate impeccable right-hand technique without amplification. In other words, representative samples of a variety of different sorts of ensembles in which purely acoustic instruments work together effectively. The key is no electric amplification.

    There are hundreds of YouTube videos of bassists who are relying on their amps to keep up with the other instruments, and therefore haven't striven to develop the particular skill I am looking for.

    I'm picturing a group that is probably smallish, with anywhere from about three to seven players and/or singers, so that the unplugged upright bass is prominent, and not lost in the mix. Genre is of no concern.
     
  2. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Here is a video of me from Sunday, the pizz playing starts around the 5min mark. Your left hand is most important in projection. The right hand needs the strength of opening a door more or less. If you can't hold the string down and make them resonate until the end of the note, you won't have any power in the right hand. The left hand is best built up arco.
     
    DaveAceofBass and Xanderzb like this.
  3. You'd be making a grave error to assume that the bass players in those videos haven't "striven to develop that skill", and considering you don't even play the upright bass, your statement is particularly ignorant. The large majority of the gigs I do I use an amp, but it's not from any lack of ability to project a quality controlled sound. In fact I did develop that skill and played many a gig unamplified, and still do when the situation allows it, but the reality is that on most gigs I use an amp to be heard, by myself, the other musicians, and the audience, depending on the size and acoustics of the venue. And for the record, being heard acoustically is as much about the left hand as the right, if not more
     
  4. Impeccable right-hand technique is only one of the my specialties :woot:
     
    Xanderzb and Seanto like this.
  5. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    RVA
    Jazzgrass...i like it.
     
    Xanderzb likes this.
  6. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Thank you for your video! I really appreciate it.
    My point in the OP wasn't really to debate whether or not the right or left hand is more or less important in the projection. Rather, the reason I mention it, is because in most of the videos I have seen on YouTube, it's obvious from the right hand that the player is relying mostly on the amplifier. Clearly, if they weren't using adequate pressure in their left hand, there wouldn't be much sound at all!
    Again, thank you!
     
    damonsmith likes this.
  7. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Hey man, if the shoe fits ...

    I'm not too concerned here with whether or not players who use amps have developed whatever skills. My point is that it's apparent from most of the videos I have seen, from watching the right hand, that they are relying on amplification to do their projecting for them. It has nothing to do with whether or not I "like" their music, or whether it's "wrong" or "bad" to use amplifiers. It's just not what I am asking for in this post.

    Rather, the point is to obtain a representative sampling of a number of different ensembles in which an upright bass can be heard, prominently, completely unplugged. Naturally, this assumes a sort of intimate environment; it's unrealistic to expect this group to fill a stadium.

    Thanks for your post!
     
  8. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Thank you, I certainly intend to keep looking. Meanwhile, if you happen to stumble across any videos of the sort I happen to be looking for, please don't hesitate to post a link, here!

    :)
     
  9. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    A soft pluck in the right hand will still project if the left hand is strong enough. Any video from the 90s on that has a good amplified bass sound they are generally using the same technique they would for an acoustic show. There are exceptions for sure, but you know, garbage in, garbage out and all that.
    I use an amp for speed when I play with a great drummer, not volume.
     
  10. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    "Effin' Microphones...How Do They Work?"
    FYI - Any YT video that you'll view and hear has been recorded using some form of microphone - whether just a s**tty iPhone (ick!), or an expensive $3000 Neumann u8. The proximity of that recording device to the bass, will play a HUGE part in capturing the sound of the bass. It is very difficult, and pointless, to judge a player's pure acoustic sound based on a YT video/audio, whether amateur-ly or professionally recorded.

    FYI - in the old Big Band days, before bass pickups and dedicated bass amplification, the house mic was often placed in very close proximity to the string bass so that it could be heard in the dance hall.

    FYI - in the really old days of wax cylinder recording, (using a single horn-like device), the string bass was often placed closest to that device, with the drums and louder brass instruments much further away, so that the "mix" was "artificially" balanced.
    Any recording has a least a small amount of audio/mix deception, (whether intentional or not), in capturing what was actually occurring "live".
    IMFO.
    Thanks!
     
  11. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Is your bass louder when you play with an amp? If not, please clarify.
    Thanks.
     
    damonsmith likes this.
  12. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Haha, it certainly occurred to me that all recordings are done through some sort of sound capturing device. Hence why I'm asking for representative samples. Generally I'm assuming some people here are familiar enough with un-amped bass recordings to recognize what I am really looking for. Perhaps there are bassists here who have done some recordings themselves of this sort, and are willing to share their own recorded material that they believe conveys a genuine and natural feel for their raw acoustic sound.
     
  13. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Sure, it is louder, but most of the drummers I play with I could do it without, but it would be slower. I love the acoustic sound, but I love playing fast with a great drummer. With the amp the drummers usually push the volume a bit, but the horns are generally acoustic. I use a volume pedal and cut the amp whenever possible.
    I end up being surprised at how little I use the amp on some gigs.
     
  14. oren

    oren Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago
    Watch Chris Fitzgerald's latest video:
     
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  15. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Thank you for taking the time to post. That is indeed a good video to watch, and I intend to when I've got a couple hours free.

    I wasn't actually asking for videos about right hand technique, despite the OP title. Rather, I'm seeking videos of upright bass in the context of a wider ensemble, wherein they are relying solely upon their technique rather than any electric amplification to project clearly and prominently in the mix.

    As has been mentioned before, in the post about microphones, that mic placement is a huge deal in the way the bass in a video ultimately sounds. In response, I have tried to clarify that I'm specifically looking for videos that feature an *accurate* representation of the way the bass sounds in the overall context. Mic placement tricks sort of defeat the purpose.
     
  16. In the end, learning good right and left hand technique is what's going to help you better achieve what you are after. Videos are nice to watch and all, but if you don't spend the time strengthening your technique you're not going to get the results your after.
    Also, when it comes to playing without an amp you need to play with musicians who can be sensitive to that. It's a whole team effort if you want to be heard in a band without an amp. If the rest of the band isn't sensitive to you and your dynamics when your playing acoustic, you're just not going to be heard.
    If you want to listen to a really good raw acoustic sound in the context of a recorded album, just listen through ECM's catalog.
     
    Xanderzb likes this.
  17. oren

    oren Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago
    Sorry I misunderstood! It would've helped if I had actually read your post before replying.

    I occasionally sub in a local Big Band, and I've been told that their regular bass player doesn't use an amp. I don't know how he does it - it gets pretty loud.
     
  18. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Most of the videos on Youtube of me with no amp are fairly accurate in terms of balance.
     
    Xanderzb likes this.
  19. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    We all did that as a matter of course in the olden days. It was often tough. The famous saying from the other players was " the bass is supposed to be felt, not heard " Bull crap! I've never known one old timer that wanted to go back.
     
    oren likes this.
  20. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Thank you for your post!

    Just this weekend, I was able to spend some time playing upright bass alongside an unplugged acoustic guitar in a living room, and had no trouble keeping up, volume-wise. It was an amazing experience! From what I could tell, I shouldn't have any trouble adding a ukulele and a cajon to the main core group, with no need for amplification.

    I'm still looking for videos in this vein, for inspiration purposes. Please feel free to let me know if you find any!
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017