increasing volume

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Classical_Thump, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Classical_Thump


    Jan 26, 2005
    A few years ago I moved up to a moderate level upright from my beginning bass, and I am well pleased with my new bass. The only qualm I have however, is the volume. The bass plays well, but I can never get loud enough. Playing pizzicato is a little easier, but I still have to work my fingers dead to get a decently loud sound. Also, in orchestral settings, this isn't as big an issue, but I would still like to increase my volume. So I was wondering if there was anything I could do or add to my bass to increase its volume. I already have a pickup, but using an amp all the time is just not an option. Also, if there are any certain bowing or pizz. techniques to create a louder, fuller tone, please suggest them. Thanks
  2. Try setting your pizz stroke from your arm, not just your hand and fingers. The weight of your arm will help create a bigger sound. You may also want to experiment with where you place your right hand (towards the end of the FB or closer to the neck block). You could also try rasing your strings, higher strings = more volume. You should also talk to your teacher. BTW how old is your bass? It will open up with time
  3. Besides playing techniques, strings and a good ebony fingerboard, one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to open up your bass is sound post adjustment. If you want to read up on a search, get a SP kit or better yet, pay your luthier to try to find that "Sweet Spot" for your post.
    Technically, jazzers pull the strings INTO the board. in effect 'squeezing' out the tone. This, coupled with Mikes suggestion of raising your action should make a big diff. Hopefully, you have adjusters on your bridge. If not, it's money well spent.
    Good luck!
  4. Besides the besides Paul mentioned, make sure your bass doesn´t have a stiff coathanger type tailpiece wire. If it does, replace it with a decent cable, you´ll notice the difference.

  5. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I'll echo the suggestions before, especially the tailwire one. I put a flexible wire from Lemur on my American Standard in my ongoing process of reviving it and it made a remarkable difference. Another small thing that helps, along with the other good things said here, is to keep from getting a too-low action on the nut(top). It seems to quiet down the string if too close to the fingerboard. Also, you might as well join the rest of us in the neverending quest to find the right type of string that works best on your particular bass. Strings are a very important component of this instrument. I sometimes think of the bass as merely an amplifier for the strings I'm playing on.

  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Higher = more volume if your strings are way too low, but super high action != loud.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Also, from another Ray Parker post

    "It took a couple of years of ampless NYC playing for me to arrive at what I get out of the bass acoustically -- this after about 20 years on the instrument."

    There's a lot going on - setup, the instrument itself, the efficacy of the player's physical approach. It doesn't matter how high your action is, if your left hand technique isn't spot on, you're not gonna get the maximum sound out. How long you been playing, what kind of playing are you doing? You cite some orchestral playing, are you still studying? Have you spoken with your teacher about your concerns?
  8. Classical_Thump


    Jan 26, 2005
    Thanks for all the help guys, all have to check with my luthier about soundpost adjustments, and I have to buy some adjusters for my bridge. Also, I play both jazz and classical, but slightly more classical (about 40/60), so this creates a problem beacuse I need to find a happy medium between each in the way my bass is set up as far as action/strings/etc goes.
  9. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Are any of you guys able to cut it unamplified when playing with a drummer? I can't do it when he plays with sticks...but something in the back of my head says I should be able to do it withou an amp.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Depends on the bass, the room, the group and, of course, the drummer.
  11. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    The volume of my bass shot up when I replaced the end-pin with a tubular one
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  13. cabin dweller

    cabin dweller Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Ridgeland, WI
    I machined a metal sound post at work for my EM-1. Its a redneck way of gaining and easy 20% increase in boom. I can drown out the rest of the band if I want.

    cabin dweller
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Damn, dude! Add to that a 'Stars 'n Bars' paint job, the beer holder and you'll be ready for the next meetin'.
  15. :D
  16. Oliebrice, when you say you put in a tubular end pin, do you mean a hollow tube? Can you elaborate a bit?
  17. cabin dweller

    cabin dweller Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Ridgeland, WI
    I do have drink holders on my bass stands (ha!). The best redneck I've done yet is I CNC'd a airplane grade aluminum bridge for my china bass. If you want the body of your bass to shake nails out of the walls.... Try It!!

    cabin dweller
  18. Olie must be busy. You can buy tubular end-pins. You'll have to check around...Lemur has 'em and maybe Gollihur.
  19. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Damn, I have played an aluminum bass with a wood bridge but not the opposite! Whood of ever thunk it!

  20. BrandonEssex


    Feb 21, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    One thing to remember is that your bass sounds very different from 15 feet away than it does when you're standing behind it (playing) I've played basses that seemed quiet while playing them and loud when listening, and others that were the opposite. Also, depending on your bass, the string height ratio (high = loud) may not apply directly. I play a Juzek that seems to respond much better to a moderate string height, and I use it unamplified on a gig with drums and electric piano. The piano player says that he can hear me better than the guy who plugged in. So whadda ya do?
    A couple of suggestions, the room you're playing in makes a huge impact on the sound. If you can't use an amp, and the room is huge, try to get in a corner or next to a wall. This will help you hear yourself better, and also help project your sound into the room. Sound designers use this trick with subwoofers all the time.
    Dig in! there's no substitute for introducing a lot of energy into the string. I've also found that believing that you are being heard (even if you're not sure) and relaxing into the music can allow you to pull more sound from the instrument, digging does not mean being tense. Like Mike the Mook said, pull with your arm , let the weight of it pull the sound out of the bass.
    I like to ramble, good luck, keep pulling!