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Is There A String Bass Effect Out There?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by brians356, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. brians356


    Oct 14, 2014
    I play electric bass with a few groups, and there are many times an upright string bass thump would be welcome. 10-piece (6 horns) swing band, and some small combos (drums optional), playing American Songbook standards. Guys ask me eagerly "Do you play upright?"

    I mostly play an Epi Viola Bass, GHS flatwounds, mixed pick and fingers, through a Fender Rumble 200, also have a Gibson SG bass and a P-Bass in reserve.

    Is there an effect out there to emulate string bass?
  2. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Try a foam mute in front of the bridge on the P bass. Roll back the tone to taste. If that seems like it’s headed in the right direction to you, string it with some tape wound strings.
    If that’s even better, put a fretless neck on it.
  3. Jonny_Orange likes this.
  4. Robertron


    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    Even if this isn't what the OP is looking for it would sound amazing with that bass and strings regardless. :roflmao:
  5. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    1. Get a piezo-equipped bass guitar, or install a piezo pickup on the one you have.
    2. Install string mutes. A piece of dense foam shoved up against the bridge under your strings will work well.
    3. Get an acoustic guitar preamp pedal. I use the Boss AD-2 Acoustic Preamp. I also own the AC-2 and AC-3 Acoustic Simulators. They can also work, but they are noisy. I also own the tc electronic BodyRez.
    4. Get a compressor. I use the Boss BC-1X Bass Comp *after* the AD-2, or the tc electronic SpectraComp, if I am using the BodyRez. You might prefer the compressor first, or not.
    5. Play using the side of your finger, like an upright bassist.

    You will not sound like an upright bassist. You will cop something of the upright bass tone, but you will still obviously sound like a bass guitar. If you want to actually sound like an upright bass, you need to go to the 41-3/4" scale length, and get yourself an electric upright.
    saabfender, Rumbles and Mili like this.
  6. brians356


    Oct 14, 2014
    Thanks, folks, several good ideas. I need to spend some time digging into this.
  7. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Try messing around with a gated reverb, with a little tweaking for the sweet spot I’ve approximated the note ‘bloom’/quick decay effect, but I was also using a fretless. If you can adapt to fretless, check into a longer scale bass Uke, like a Goldtone(yeah, I have one). You’d be amazed at what you can do, once you get used to the rubber strings.
  8. BOSS over time has naturally marketed a few pedals that just didn't go over.

    In the late 70's and early 80's there was the 'Slow Gear'. Think Auto Wah, but instead of cycling the phase in and out to get that automatic wah-wah on each note, couple that circuitry to a gated volume instead, the idea it would automatically make the sound of a volume pedal going from fully closed to open, you could vary how fast it would bloom.

    You can manually do this with a volume pedal where you open it and in slow songs with the right tone, it sort of approximates a bowed upright or cello with no other pedals in line, can be very interesting. Anyway, they could hardly track anything even remotely fast, and now they're pretty much collector's items, but that fade in on slow notes really sim'd bowed upright pretty well, something I did not expect.
  9. slagbass

    slagbass Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2005
    From a 1999 Bass Player interview with Will Lee..." Here's a technique I've used in the studio for years....I asked our engineer to give me a short (1.5 second) reverb while I rolled off a little treble on the bass and muted the notes with my left hand so they rang just long enough to reveal the pitch."

    I've done this live using a MXR reverb pedal and can attest it works well. The muting technique and short note duration takes a bit of practice but IMO is more effective than a foam mute when trying to mimic an upright sound.
  10. brians356


    Oct 14, 2014
    I've just stuck a foam mute in front of the bridge, under the strings. It's a start. I'm fairly new to bass (guitar player) and while I can palm mute, I think I like the "baseline" decay the foam provides. Already it pays dividends for arpeggios, in reduced workload. I'm still not used to how hard it is (compared to guitar) to stop a bass string, once it's rattling.

    What are a couple of reverb boxes, with selectable decay, you folks like? I don't want a pedal, just a simple small stomp box with a couple of controls, which is known to work well with bass.
  11. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    I like to set the action really low on a P Bass. That takes some of the “frettiness” out of the sound by distributing the energy along the fretboard more. I hope that makes sense because it sure was hard to write.

    All the work isn’t done by the fretted fret. One of the hallmarks of a DB attack is its somewhat nebulous nature. A finger on a wooden fretboard is less convincing of a mechanical connection than a finger on a metal fret.
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I once saw a guy stuff a hand towel under the strings instead of foam. Sounded good, too :thumbsup:
  13. thumbslapper

    thumbslapper Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    San Francisco
    playing like an upright player is probably the biggest way (side of your finger, pluck on the neck) and with turning down tone control.

    You can also use a cab-sim pedal and use an IR file of a double bass - i use a Mooer Radar and a 3sigma german double bass IR thats meant to be played by a bass guitar with my NS NXT5a to make it sound more uprighty and less fretlessy. It does a good job, def giving it more of a wood tone. That Radar is a pretty cool pedal as well, it has a pretty good built in EQ.

    cheapbasslovin likes this.
  14. brians356


    Oct 14, 2014
    Such a device was more what I was seeking with this thread - an imitative waveform, not just attack, EQ, and decay. I'm not conversant on IR files, but I will look into the Radar and start there.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  15. brians356


    Oct 14, 2014
    Ok, read up a bit on IR files, watched a demo 3sigma video. It's obvious there is some market out there for upright bass sound from bass guitar. I didn't hear much woody upright sound from the P-Bass using the German Bass IR example (through 3sigma's box) but it definitely punched it up, and gave it more "life". It might actually sound better with my Epi Viola Bass, won't know unless I try it.
  16. thumbslapper

    thumbslapper Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    San Francisco
    there is some good info in this thread as well:

    Upright modelling used withEUB In it Jobbo explains how you can manipulate existing IR files inside a DAW (mix with EQ and verb and other IR files)

    I've used the TC BodyRez and it helps as well, but is too much when bowing the EUB (not a problem for you tho of course).

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