Looking for small travel instrument - not a travel bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by RMales, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. RMales


    Jul 10, 2017
    Looking for suggestions for a small acoustic fretless instrument that will allow me to practice some bass patterns while I travel. I have a Shen upright and a fretless electric, but would like something uke/mando sized to take on vacations, obviously needs to be tuned the same as standard UB. I have seen a bass uke, but the one I saw needs an amp. Fretless desired but not critical, size most important, not really interested in the standard acoustic guitar-style basses, too large.

  2. Anything that size will need an amp.
  3. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
  4. Have you seen the new Taylor mini-ABG?
    svlilioukalani and Jason Hollar like this.
  5. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    I picked up an older (late 90's?) Godin A4 a while back. It's a 34" scale acoustic bass guitar about the shape of a Tele bass and maybe 3/4" thicker. It's well made and the neck comes on and off easily for travel with no readjustments necessary. It has enough acoustic sound to be satisfying to play unamplified and the amplified sound is very good. For the $375 I paid it'd be what I'd use over any of the sub 30” scale ABGs. I’ve been unimpressed with the Taylor and all the tiny rubber string things.
    Tom Lane likes this.
  6. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I've owned most of the options, in pursuit of a reasonable fretless practice instrument while traveling. Didn't find any of them to be all that great. The U-bass and Gold Tone (slightly bigger body, longer scale) to be better. But the strings on both are weird. Ultimately I've decided that none are that good, and when I'm travelling I just take a break from playing.

    It was easier when I was focused mostly on electric bass, lots of better options for short scale, fretted basses.
  7. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I've use a Kala fretless uBass as a backup for my DB, it's very portable and fun to play. It makes some usable sound for practice without an amp, but I wouldn't try to use it with other people or in front of people without an amp. With an amp and being fretless it sounds good, similar in many ways to an amped double bass, but also somewhat like a caricature of a double bass. I have learned to modify my DB playing styles to work with my uBass and the uBass pulls it off relatively well (except for arco of course).

    That said, I go out of my way to great lengths to bring my DB with me when I know I'll need to play bass. It's just so much more fun to play. The one firm exception is inclement weather, I won't play the DB outside in rain or in very cold weather because of my own mobility issues. And other possible exceptions may include situations where I have to fly or travel in some other way that would be overly expensive or difficult with a DB, or in situations on stage where there just isn't room for a DB.

    A real example: We've been asked to assist with jam hosting a 7-day bluegrass cruise this year, and we will have to travel about 1200 miles to get to the port. We're driving partly because we've never seen this part of the country, and partly because it's cheaper. We are bringing my wife's guitar, my banjo and mandolin, and the double bass. We probably still wouldn't try to fly with this combination, but we might consider taking a train if I was bringing the uBass.

    Having fun with the DB can be more difficult and even more expensive, but under most circumstances for me it is worth it. I like the uBass, but I like the DB more.
    Kickdrum likes this.
  8. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
  9. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    Kickdrum, RMales and JC Nelson like this.
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    I don't understand how any of these ukes are going to be a substitute for practicing on a double bass... Maybe that's not the goal.
    carl h. likes this.
  11. RMales


    Jul 10, 2017
    Thanks to all who have replied. I am going to the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop this coming week, and then to the beach for a week later in the summer, possible other car travel. I want to be able to keep working on the patterns/concepts from the workshop while on vacation, but can't bring the DB along (at least not if I want my wife to also fit in the car).
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    You can successfully do that mentally without an instrument. Try it!
    RMales, Jason Hollar, carl h. and 3 others like this.
  13. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Not fretless nor acoustic and not really what you asked for, but, IMO, worth considering. Works well for me for traveling. Light, compact, sounds great.

    RMales and Jeff Bonny like this.
  14. aesopslyre


    Oct 27, 2007

    This should do the job... Chennell bass uke
  15. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    This .
    Of the things I bet most of us need to do better in our practice is effective visualization.
    The Critical Importance of Visualization in Music Practice | Modacity
    Great time to do that is on vacation . I’ve been playing scales in my head with the Dr. Drone app and rep with Amazing Slow Downer. Easy to do in the odd bits of downtime.
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  16. svlilioukalani

    svlilioukalani Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2012
    Seattle, Wa
    As an other has said, check out the Taylor mini-ABG. Guild and Ibanez make a similar bass that costs less. I got the guild model and love it. It is useful for practicing scales and things when I am on the road. It is also a blast to play. What makes em work is the strings that were developed for these instruments.

    I do not like the uke basses. They are just not for me.
  17. ctrlzjones


    Jul 11, 2013
    Altough I am totally friendly with 'visualization' and et al brain training exercises ... the quoted article seems to lack a deeper understanding about what's going on under the surface.

    "You’ll be able to feel a mistake coming up before it happens, micro-practice it in that split second, and fix it before it occurs"


  18. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Dunno, works that way for me . Did take some initial effort at accessing "mental representations" to use Ericsson's term. I think this agrees with athletes who do visualization - If the error is not clear in your "tape" or you can see it in your mind, catch it before it happens is much better than erring again and going back.

    Motor planning in music performance is analogous and works in parallel to motor planning for speech production. Brain centers for music are being identified now but motor planning as part of theory of mind for language has been very well established, and for decades.

    Sorry for hijacking the thread, but OP said they wanted to practice while on vacation.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  19. I think the fretless aspect is the primary misunderstanding here. Plenty of us don't even think playing the actual double bass pizz is all that helpful for your intonation - arco is the best way.
    A fretless bass uke is going to be its own instrument with its own issues to pull together that will not translate to double bass.
    A fretted instrument will actually help your ear a bit more and keep your fingers moving. It will ALSO help you work on hear chords better. I think those bass ukes are really cool, I just wish they were cheaper!
    dhergert likes this.