Is an EUB a good instrument to start learning UB?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by bobono, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. bobono


    Nov 30, 2018
    Berlin, Germany
    Hello there.

    So I have been playing bass guitar for a while. Although I mostly listen to jazz, where obviously bass guitar has limited use. I was just playing along a Vijay Iyer song with my bass guitar, and thought ugh ... this sounds awful, I should be playing an up-right.

    One practical problem is that I will have to move quite often the next year-- across countries. I would rather not carry around an acoustic up-right bass with me. EUBs seem compact, but is a EUB a good instrument to start learning the up-right?

    If so, what affordable EUBs would you recommend? Stagg seems to have some reasonably priced models.

  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    My analogy has always been, if you want to paint the barn red, does it make sense to paint it blue first? Moving around is something many of us do with double basses, but I understand your concern. If this is still the direction you want to go and this is to be a simalcrum of double bass, the things that you want the closest reproduction of are overstand, arc of the bridge and mensure. You want it to FEEL as much like a double bass as possible. Many EUBs are made to be an instrument that a bass guitarist can easily play and so they replicate as much of the feel of a bass guitar as possible, just vertically. So you want to look at those that are presented primarily as a "travel" option for double bassists. Just a quick pass at the Stagg website, it looks like those are primarily the first category.
    I don't know about the market in Turkey, but in the US the Eminence, the Kolstein's Busetto travel bass get a lot of play. Both come with a "neck-off" option that makes air travel a lot easier.
  3. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    How much can you learn about sex from a blow-up doll?
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  4. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Actually, the two or three minutes I spent with a Stagg once, indicated to me that it's dimensionally quite similar to a real upright in the ways it can be. But it wasn't a serious evaluation.

    As far as learning how to play upright bass, keep in mind that the EUB is still using electronics to simulate the sound that comes from the big hollow wooden box. And the response of that big hollow wooden box, and the feel of that, is not duplicated in an EUB (at least the ones I have played) - even when the overstand/string height/mensure, etc., etc., etc are "very close" to an upright. I think that if you want to play upright you should play upright. The EUb has its place, and one of these days I'll probably buy one, but I don't think it replaces the upright.

    Frankly if I were a bass guitarist faced with wanting a more upright-like sound, I'd either get a Fender Precision, put flat wound strings on it, a piece of foam rubber under the strings next to the bridge and the tone control rolled all the way down - or I'd get an upright bass. I'm by no means an experienced professional but those are the two options I use. Mostly I use the upright, but occasionally when a load-in is too insane or there's some other factor, I use the P-Bass with flatwounds.
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  5. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Hi! With a EUB you can get a feel of some aspects of DB playing, but not much more. EUB is vertical and has the mensure of DB, so you have to reconsider your left hand approach comparing to much shorter and horizontal bass guitar mensure and technique. Also your right hand would be in different angle and you`d have to adjust your plucking technique. You can bow most EUB`s, depending on the setup, and I think that for a slab player that`s where it comes closest to the real thing.

    With that said, no, never. You can only learn playing the DB by actually playing ( and going thru all the necessary hassle with ) one. This is because the physical variables are everything when you try to sound like anything on a acoustic double bass. It`s basically a massive violin tuned in fourths and played vertically, seated or standing and technically it has nothing to do with a guitar. You need so much more physically and aurally to play it comparing to EUB or slab, and that`s impossible to learn from playing strings and pickup on a stick, which a EUB basically is.

    If you`re really into it and can`t help yourself, in your life situation with moving and such, get a decent EUB. I think that the Stagg ( et al propably ) is cheap-good-looking but a money, nerves and time-eating piece of s**t that should be avoided by everyone. It will turn you into a part-time luthier by not beeing playable if you`re anything like me. Get one of those in 1000€ -ish range, a NXT or whatever NS product, or similar. These have everything you`ll be ever wanting from a EUB, including playability and ease of adjusting. And now, you`re looking close to the prising point of a starter DB. Add to that at least a setup and a bag. Furthermore, a bow, cake of rosin, pickup, teacher.

    All this, there are no cheap-a** ways to get into to world of DB. You can get along your whole life with a single Squier P or J just fine as the guy with the 100 000£££€€€$$$ collection of boutique versions of those Squiers ( with active electronics and bumwhinga wood that got into extinction after the last one was made in 2015 ). You need a decent instument that keeps up, doesn`t implode, and a luthier to work his/her magic to make it a playable one that sounds like something you can live with. Workhorses tend to cost 1500 - 20 000 -ish, depending on what you`re after.

    Nothing will be easy, you have to want it bad enough :) Good luck and greetings from Helsinki!
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  6. donotfret


    Jun 11, 2018
    As a pure EUB player, both hollow body (MK Classic) and stick bass (NS Design NXT5a), my opinion is you should only get an EUB if you want that particular sound and feel. It's not a replacement for an acoustic bass.

    Personally if I wanted to play an acoustic bass I would get one. If convenience for moving around is your only argument for an EUB, you should look into a full-scale double bass with a removable neck instead, like the Chadwick folding bass. They are not cheap, but neither are good EUBs.
  7. bobono


    Nov 30, 2018
    Berlin, Germany
    Thanks so much for your input!

    My current bass guitar can produce p-bass tones, and I have flats on them. It does sound good! Btw acoustic bass guitars, and semi-hollow bass guitars with piezo pick-ups like Rick Turner Renaissance or Rob Allen basses too produce upright-like tones too. Stomu Takeshi uses such instruments to play jazz with the likes of Myra Melford and he sounds just great.

    As @Ed Fuqua rightly points out I want the instrument to feel like an up-right bass. I understand from your comments that an EUB cannot replace a DB. I have checked out travel-friendly DBs. While they seem just great, they are also expensive. David Gage has one at 4K and that's the cheapest I could find. Kolstein and Eminince seem to have more expensive models. I can't seem to find a portable entry level DB.

    So I guess I'll go for an entry-level double bass, and deal with its size and weight.
  8. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    I have had a NXT for about four years and it has alot of good qualities. Playable, portable, decent sound (with a good pre and cab), very stable, stays in tune well, takes a beating and is not fragile at all (even with the admittedly poor gig bag that it comes in). The people I've played with and for seem to like it, it has a DB scale length and the notes have sustain and decay much like a DB (not exactly but close enough that it works), Is it a real substitute for a DB?, no, Will I have a learning curve if (when) get a DB?, yes, Does it fit (with all the rest of my gear) in a Mazda Miata?, yes, Will a DB fit in a Miata? Ha.
  9. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    The experience of playing acoustic double bass will propably change your assumptions on the whole concept of sound and tone producing. It`s like playing the drums, you hit there and the sound comes out. You hit harder, a harsh loud sound comes out. You hit softly a soft lyrical sound comes out. You use your your full relaxed body and great sounds come out with freaking floors and windows resonating. It`s the s**t that has been in our DNA since the dawn of our kind.

    This is something that any given device can`t reproduce. A P bass with flats and foam under the strings is still a slab, stick, strings, pickup, foam. A beautifully made acoustic bass guitar is just that, it has nothing to do with anything but aesthetics that would normally require a slab with a pickup and amp, a P bass. Nothing wrong in the aesthetics, P basses and amps, it`s just nothing to substitude huge resonating chamber and over a meter string lenght. When going acoustic in tone, you need the dimensions and force to produce those low frequencies effectively. A P bass with flats and foam will sound like certain aesthetics that want`s to sound like something double bass-y. For the floor shaking experience you need the real thing,
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  10. bobono


    Nov 30, 2018
    Berlin, Germany

    Sounds seductive!

    Although it brings up another problem. How much of a problem does playing a DB in a room with no isolation create with neighbors? Is it advisable to practice say at home even during mid-day? On a scale from a piano to an acoustic drum kit, where does the double bass stand?
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  11. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    A lot. Not because it`s loud loud, but because it resonates thru all the building constructions. It`s not like a set of drums with short loud sounds that cut thru everything, more on the piano side but softer. It fills the house, which basically is something you need to happen :) You can get sordinos as well, but I`ve never played one. If you live in a block house like I do, get in touch with the neighbors and talk about it. Best, however, is to play anywhere where you don`t have to think about it. Playing on a heavy carpet helps some, all padding over the room helps some. A isolated room helps a lot. I don`t practise in my flat anymore, but I did that for a couple of years.

    Otherwise, there are guys from everywhere around the world of crowded capitals in TB. Propably plenty of threads on how to practise in a block house.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  12. bobono


    Nov 30, 2018
    Berlin, Germany
    Great! Thanks so much.
    Reiska likes this.
  13. BlueP


    Jan 29, 2017
    I recently purchased an eub and I am so glad I did

    I don’t subscribe to foam mutes flat wound strings on a p bass in an effort to replicate a dB

    In fact the main thing that pushed me over the edge to an eub was because I always felt something significant was missing in trying to study upright walking material on a eb...

    Moving from bass guitar to an eub has been eye opening for me

    It certainly is nowhere near a double bass for several reasons explained above but as a transitional instrument it is also not like an electric bass guitar

    The neck on my WAV 5 feels great to play on, the dots are a handy guide when starting out and the more I play it I find myself relying more on my ears than the dot markers

    The tone is clearly fretless and yes it is electronic and of course it will never resonate like a good quality and somewhat expensive option for a decent double bass

    But I can say from experience, that having a vertical full long scale fretless neck is transforming my whole understanding, interest and playing bass ....

    I have many bass texts including Ed,s walking bass text book and it is great to practice these on the EUB

    In offering these comments, I am in no way critising dB... I love dB..and have deep respect for the great players from previous and current generations ... but my journey started as a young child on classical guitar, I then naturally developed to eb, now late in life I finally reached from a guitar playing background perspective, eub makes sense to me....

  14. Up and Away

    Up and Away

    May 16, 2015
    I agree with most of what BlueP has posted. I also went from EB to EUB(5 years ago) and then last year to DB and I found that the challenge of the upright technique really made me work and also improved my ear a lot.
    The best thing about going to upright was that I started to think differently and play a lot of lines that I would not have used on EB and became much more adventurous with my playing. I also started to listen to more of the great players and have developed a new enthusiasm and interest in playing.
    I think for me part of it was the novelty of playing upright like a "real" bass player so I tried a lot of things that I would not have done on EB.
    I'm not particularly good but the bands I am in have noticed that I play differently(and better) and I am having a lot of fun and learning some amazing things, and at 73 that's a good thing.
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  15. An EUB plus weekly lessons on a real double bass with a teacher is a great way to start - provided it is a bowable EUB set up like a double bass with double bass scale.
    When you get a decent bass, an EUB is far more useful than the usual entry level double bass. Also, you can get a much better instrument for the money.
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  16. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Like all topics on TB, many different points of view. I own and play both an EUB (eminence) and a DB. While I do most of my practice time on the DB, I most often use the EUB for gigs. Most of them are outside, with a loud NewGrass band, and often space is limited. No question that DB is preferable, but in my experience the feel of the eminence and my DB are pretty similar. No question that I can pull a better, bigger sound from the DB. But the necks are almost identical (41" scale), same strings, both bow well (my own limitations notwithstanding), and I can practice interchangeably without feeling like I am compromising, although of course the DB sounds better and is more satisfying to play.

    If I did not have room for a full-size DB, I would do fine with the Eminence. I would not say the same for most of the "stick"-type EUBs, but there are a few out there that are close enough. Honestly, if I had to choose between a low-end DB and the Eminence I'd probably take the Eminence. If I had to choose between a mediocre EUB (stick-type) and a low-end DB, I'd choose the DB, but would expect to spend some $$ with a luthier to get it set up well.Given where you are located, I do not know if you can find a decent EUB. I was able to purchase mine used for under $1500.
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  17. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    The problem for me with these instruments is that they don't have upper bouts to connect with your body like a double bass does. I wouldn't go with a stand, that many of these instruments feature, either.

    If you want to go the EUB route something like a Volante, Clevinger, Merchant, etc that have upper bout "bars" would be better, IMO.
  18. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Yeah, that's the one thing about the Eminence that I don't like - the extension that jams into your ribs. Better than nothing but that's the tradeoff for a skinny body!
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  19. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    Used to be a pilot. Away from home 2 to 3 weeks at a time. I was taking lessons at the time but was frustrated trying to advance with all the interruptions for work. Schlepping a DB through security checks and customs every other day and finding space for it on the planes wasn't going to happen. So I got a full scale removable neck EUB. Seemed the perfect solution to putting all that wasted layover time stuck in hotels to good use. But the best I could say was that maybe the EUB helped me not lose too much between lessons, but it never helped me advance. It's just such a sterile alternative to the real thing. Awkward, not inviting, not cuddly, not fun. But sometimes there's just no realistic alternative.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  20. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast