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Is amping expected?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Mike Crumpton, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. Jealous :crying: I might just steal the fuses from the band PA - amping is addictive and its seriously hacking me off, but not as much as the request to play a sort of trance/ambient/funk poo.

    Get this: buskers in connecting London underground tunnels (ie no more than 3 people wide with solid floor and tiled arch walls) all turn up with small amps.

    What's goin' on - it strikes me that bands themselves think amping is necesary to everything. Even the smallest venues have amps unless it is a band that makes a special point of playing acoustically.

    Ed keeps telling New York tales of no-amps but I wonder if this has more to do with the logistics of getting you, your bass and your gear around New York.

    Is everyone going deaf or what or is it that bands are getting lazy? Or is it that the sound of the amp is the sound of music now - just like at one time people came to beleive that soup wasn't real unless it came out of a Heinz can.

    I'm not talking about amping basses here or trying to compete with a room full of dancers. Why do bands use PA - and like I say - I think they think it sounds right and that accoustic sound is what you get in school - sad innit?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Naw, if I need an amp, I carry an amp. I have a bass that projects well, I play with high (but very playable) action and I work at getting a big sound out of the bass.

    Savino has a beautiful bass (La Scala), but with his set up I couldn't get the projection I get from my bass.
  3. Savino


    Jun 2, 2004
    howdy, I just saw this post
    just to make a few comments.
    I almost always use an amp in most gig situations. In NYC you can never rely on a soundman to give you the sound you want from a mic.
    I dont have my string height cranked up anymore and although i love that sound, it caused physical problems for me. I drag my GK all over the place. Sometimes it sounds good, other times :spit: I play in a lot of bands with two percussionists including my own band. My relatively new bass would not cut through and I definately would not be able to hear myself which is the most important thing. I definately think of it as a sacrifice because i love the sound of my La Scala but how can you lead a band if they cant hear you. In my opinion, if your audience cant hear your music from the bottom up, they're missing the most vital part :smug: amp or no amp.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I play without an amp for the most part in NYC, but a bad room and a loud crowd just buries you and puts you at FFFF all the time. Not a lot of fun. I get a decent amount of volume with lower action, but then again, this is what I'm told. I've never had the chance to run out front and hear myself play. I also lament that I have a habit now of playing at the top of my dynamic range and don't often get as pretty a sound as I like -- but work on this as I can.

    My general philosphy is and has always been that the amp is a necessary evil and your best bet is to get out of it what you can. You also -- and firstly -- need to get a good sound acoustically. And then learn how to get that same sound out of the 'gear'. It's two different things.
  5. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I think that most of the time people just think that playing through an amp is a given. I live in Denver-CO, and you'd be surprised how many gigs around here can be played without an amp.
    Just last night I was playing up in Greeley-CO, (about an hour northeast from Denver) and although it was a pretty big room, the piano didn't have mics, so I started to turn down my amp so much, that half way through the first set I was ampless.
    I try to do it as much as I can, I also feel that the guys in the band play with more dynamics!!! OooH what?1 did I say Dynamics??? what is that!??? :D
    Anyway they seem to enjoy it too. I guess it makes them play differently.
  6. I've played a few gigs without an amp, in one situation the drummer of all people encouraged it (it was his gig). Another situation I play in, the drummer doesn't understand that the drums can be played lightly and the trumpet player just bitches about not being able to hear me, so I use the amp on those gigs.

    My personal feeling, if you need the amp, use it. I do because if I can't hear myself I just dig in to hard and get tired quickly. Plus the less right hand strain I have the better the pulse.
  7. jazzbass72


    Jun 26, 2003
    New York, NY
    Hey Ray,
    check this out. I played this gig at the Greenwich Village Bistro last night, with drums and guitar. I was planning on going to Smalls after the gig, to check out the Jonathan Kreisberg Quintet. When I was about to leave from my apartment with bass and amp (on a cart), I saw myself schlepping my stuff down Smalls' tiny staircase, then back up on the way out. That one thought made me leave the amp at home.

    The gig at the Bistro went great. My newly acquired Kay bass was loud enough to keep up with drums and guitar, au naturel. And going up and down the stairs at Smalls after my gig was a breeze, since I was just carrying my bass. Not to mention the three sets of stairs at the West 4th St. subway stop.

    You know what, I think I'll be leaving my amp at home more often...now that I can afford to do so. Kays rule! Maybe one day I can afford an "Isabella" too. Have you been treating her well?

  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Tal Ronen's Kay is a screamer, too. Those old beaters are not to be underestimated!

    'Bella is doing great -- and she gets the best I can provide :)
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was present at a very interesting concert, where there was a performance of a Double Bass 'concerto', written for Dave Holland, by contemporary Classical Composer Mark Anthony Turnage, who is a big fan of Miles' electric period.

    So - this was written for a small orchestra and electric group either side of the stage - with Dave Holland centrally, as featured soloist...

    What was interesting was that Dave Holland played his bass through a GK 150 watt combo - while the "Chamber" Orchestra's String section had one DB player who played unamped (of course) but was actually louder!!

    So - his bass was noticably much bigger than Holland's - almost like the difference between Bass and Cello - but the sound was hugely different as well - louder, bassier but less distinct.

    So - Dave Holland's amplified bass lines revealed a lot more "acoustic" detail, while the unamped orchestral bass was just a low homogenous whole....:meh:

    Of course you might say that's only to be expected as the difference between Jazz and Classcial techniques - but Dave Holland as a "trained" Cellist did play arco a lot and the Orchestral DB player had pizz bass lines as well, as part of the ensemble - so anyway it was an interesting comparison of sounds.

    And I think it was partly deliberate from Turnage, who was contrasting the nature of an acoustic ensemble with something like Miles' band on "In a Silent Way".
  10. Nice post Bruce - and where I was coming from - that its not the issue of amping for volume necesarily, but its the "sound" of amplification that people have in their heads rather than the sound of the natural accoustic sound as well as the desire to be too loud.

    I'm not that suprised that a classical pizz player sounds ill-defined - they want to blend not cut through - Mingus would have definition and probably be louder still.

    Mingus would sound nothing like the cds I'm listening to at the moment (Tord Gustavsen Trio) who's bassist to my ears sounds obviously close mic-ed and soemwhat thin. Many cds do sound so. The natural sound of the accoustic bass is not what is getting recorded so it seems.

    However, there is a long ignominious history of recoding nasal twangy peizo pickup sounds on bass. It just doesn't have to be so. But the same could almost be said for the bright metalic sound of a mic-ed piano - it seems few trust that to speak for itself. As for putting reverb and etc on saxes I despair.

    There is many a discussion on this site about the grail of getting the sound to be the bass but louder but is it? Some wags have pointed out that just amping the bass has to alter the quality since no bass could be at such a volume. But mainly, it is always and has to be close mic-ing or pick-ups and no matter what we pretend, it can never be the voice of an accoutic instrument in the same space.

    Consequently, no matter what the instrumement, it seems to me that the sound expected of it, live or otherwise - audience or performer, is increasingly the sound made when an instrument is processed by amplification - and like the busker on the tube - it isn't necesarily a volume issue.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    RAYBIRD - When we were trading tunes at Boccachio, I didn't have any problem hearing you out front at all. I dig what you're saying about loud venues, it's a drag losing the subtlety of what you're doing with the shading.

    SAVINO - don't get me wrong, you get a wonderful sound out of your bass. And, as you say, you wouldn't be happy playing my bass with it's current set up. I just really like to play acoustically as often as I can and I'm happy that I have a bass that projects well enough (without being a bear to play) that makes that possible.

    I think TEEN CRUMPETS has a point when he talks about the expectation (given by many many years of popular music with the bass frequencies enhanced) of where the bass is going to sit in the mix.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think this is part of why I'm still playing an EUB, as it is so much easier to get a decent sound - whereas a lot of the student-level DB players I meet at workshops/classes etc. are getting horrible sounds that would put me off playing at all - thin scratchy sounds or booming low feedback and nowhere in between!! :meh:
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This comes up at the Jazz Summerschool I've been going to for the last few years - so each week they set aside a session where the tutors (Jazz pros) play to all the students (120 or so) in a quiet setting.

    This proves very popular for various reasons, but for me, it is just wonderful to hear small groups of great players, playing Jazz, entirely acoustically - in a quiet setting.

    So - OK they play every evening of those weeks, in the Jazz club and I often see most of them playing at my local Jazz club - but it is so different hearing a duo of say Trumpet and Double Bass with nothing else going on (They usually play in random duos or trios) - nothing else like it! :)
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Dave's GK amp is used strictly as a monitor. He also has a mike mounted on his bass and that's what goes to the PA.

    I assume there was no PA at this show :D but I'm sure the amp was still only for Dave to hear himself better.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You are right that there was no PA at this concert - but I think the amp was needed to balance the sound - as he was the featured soloist against a Chamber Orchestra and electric band, which included Rhodes piano and full drumkit.. without the amplification there would have been times when he would have been swamped?

    For this concert, I was sitting right in the middle, in about the 2nd or 3rd rows - so had the perfect position for listening to what was a complex sound-stage

    I've also seen him play with his quintet and then he added a Hartke 4 X 10 cab as an extension to his GK amp - but he was still lost for me, behind the drums...:meh:
  16. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I've also seen him play with his quintet and then he added a Hartke 4 X 10 cab as an extension to his GK amp - but he was still lost for me, behind the drums...:meh:[/QUOTE]

    That is very odd, I'vee seen him several times with his quintet, and if anything I thought the bass was a bit loud and electricki.
  17. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    They might be doing this to avoid injury. Pardon me for being graphic, but I have attached a close up of my finger, taken today, 3 weeks after a 5-hour busking engagement in the subway. Also note that I have played a show for the past 8 consecutive nights (a blessing from gig Gods!)

    While it doesn't really hurt that bad, my middle finger gets caught on the strings very easily, on both upright and pork chop. I've been favoring the side of my index finger for upright while the middle finger heals, but this has put a speed limit on my playing. On the bright side (pun intended), my pick playing on the P-bass (with flats, of course) is getting pretty funky. Think Average White Band.

    Having been fortunate enough to witness Ed's playing a couple years ago, I can say that it also has a lot to do with his skill, experience, and common sense. Had Ed been doing my busking gig, I imagine he would've showed up with a car battery, or at least kept on eye on his chops. I honestly didn't notice how badly I was hurt until I had two grapes.

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  18. Yeowch! :eek: and when you enlarge the picture! :bawl:

    I must admit I hadn't thought that they might be playing for hours but I didn't say they were bass players ;) (they werrn't).

    Hope you made enough to make it worthwhile - dedication or what.

    It remeinds me of a plonker I played a street festival with. He said "do you know you've played in front of 30 thousan people". "Que?" says me. "Well we know for a fact that 30 thousnad people go up and down this road in a day. "In that case I'm going bsking at Euston Station" says me. "It would make playing Knebworth with Whitesnake a gig for sissies."

    Guess in a Chicago station you've played infront of the Hollywood Bowl ten times over! :D

    As for how Dave H sounds amped its gotta be the amps that are part of the problem - that they emit directional sound and it just depends where you are as to how you hear it. AI get round this with their downward firing woofer, but not for the higher fequencies where the speaker is on the deck. And if it loud, the audience still hears the amp but the player starts not to. :rollno:
  19. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Sorry for misunderstanding. Yeah, actually, we don't do bad down there at all. The dough is similar to what I would make working at 7-11, but keep in mind that I was playing R&B with a very hot singer and drummer, and the crowds are only that sympathetic if you're really throwing down. While the avant garde clarinetist in the next station is artistically more satisfying, he doesn't make as much money.

    This is an excellent point. Add to that the fact that when you are busking, you are competeing with iPods, books, schedules and even other musicians for ATTENTION, not to mention dollars. I maintain that any group that can cause hundreds of people to miss their train on a week day morning is doing something right.
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    When I first moved to NYC, I played street hits. Our most regular corner was 6th Ave between 52nd and 53rd Sts. It was GREAT for endurance training, you usually played one set from about 11am til about 2:30 or 3 to hit all the different lunch hours and then another from around 4/4:30 til 6:30 to hit evening rush. It was usually a quintet with some great horn players, and (the great thing about NYC) all straight ahead jazz. Yeah, you're on the street so you are keeping it pretty upbeat (no ballads), but no stupid tunes.

    Sigh, good times.

    Anyway, I was playing my old Kay then and we did use a generator and amps (for the keyboard/guitar). Now though, I would (depending on location) do most acoustically. Especially if I could get next to a wall or corner...