Looks matter...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by matthewbrown, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. I'm looking into buying my first "real" upright. I just got a Big Kydd EUB, but folks out here in Central MA seem to like their double basses to look like...double basses. That being so, I'm thinking of getting an Azola Baby Bass 5-string, with a high C string. Will the fact that this is not a full-blown traditional acoustic hurt me in getting gigs, do you think?
  2. dvmweb


    Apr 20, 2002
    Atlanta MI 49709
    Can you play? That's what will get you gigs.

    Walt MI/US
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I think there are plenty in the old school jazz arena that wouldn't like the idea of their player using an EUB. Same would go for bluegrass and folk.

    Of course, if you are really good, it won't matter.
  4. I play fretless electric quite well, but the jazz and commercial "jazz" folks around here don't seem to go for it. I think I can make a good go of it on upright -- my partner, who directs the jazz program at the university here thinks so -- so sadly I have to consider looks...
  5. dvmweb


    Apr 20, 2002
    Atlanta MI 49709
    :D I have been playing URB for about 2 years. I played electric for over 30 yr. People really like to see the URB. It seems that I've almost discovered a new me. How tantric! But it is just a very nice thing to do. Once you begin to play a regular URB, and if you like it, you'll prefer to play it whenever you can.

    When you play in a small group you don't need an amp. It is just more cool to play the real thing anyway.

    If you look at Items for sale on this forum you will see that there are lots of them for sale.

    Good luck to you.

    Walt MI/US
  6. moped10


    Apr 9, 2003
    Wilmington, NC
    Why hasn't the sound of an upright vs. slab/EUB been mentioned? I went back to upright playing from years on slab because I wanted a spot in a small jazz combo (30's era) and a Hawaiian combo- I auditioned for the Hawaiian one on slab and got the job- But I could never get the right thump and presence that all of the old recordings had- The band didn't mind, but it bugged me and I kept having to rein in from overplaying- That's when the jazz combo slot came open and I put up the electric and went back to the big bass- I'm not saying looks don't count for anything, but they definitely don't count for EVERYthing- The Hawaiian players were blown away by the sound difference and once I got my chops back up, I got the jazz gig- But that's just my story, I'm sure there are many others on this forum who'll back me up: sound beats looks any day-
  7. So I'm looking at an Azola Baby Bass - but with a 39" scale -- would that suit, do you think? What do the URB players think?
  8. Moped10 brought up some very good points. It's not the looks, it's the sound of a double bass when it comes to jazz. Look around the net and see what type of basses the players in major jazz groups are using. I think you will find, by a large majority, that they play real double basses. BTW - If you think it's the looks, do you really think a Azola Baby Bass looks like a real double bass?
  9. basstuhd


    Apr 9, 2004
    Most serious jazz musicians probably would frown on a baby bass or EUB unless your on the road, even then... There is a stigma on them because they don't sound like acoustic basses, and you can't replicate the percussive nature of the attack of an acoustic bass. In the end, no matter how well you play, the quarter notes aren't going to sound the way they do on an acoustic instrument and that means the feel is going to suffer. On the other hand, if you play baby bass, a whole world of latin music is opened up to you. That said, if the sound you're hearing is closer to a EUB and you don't mind getting locked out of certain gigs, you can make an artistic decision to go in that direction. If you're just choosing EUB because of logistical convienience or price, I'd recommend rethinking. Go with the sound that you're hearing.
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Cause I just got my coffee, gimme a minute.

    MATT - I would step back and maybe rexamine my motives here. If the only reason that you want to pick up an upright is because somebody says you might get "more work", you may be doing it for the wrong reasons. You gonna start playing drums or singing or juggling to get more work?

    I mean the reason some of these guys are willing to put up with a bad upright player instead of hiring a good electric player is because nothing else sounds like an upright bass. There are any number of electric players out there that can cop Bach on electric, chamber groups around the world are not going to stop using acoustic instruments. Because that's not the sound of the music.

    If you buy an EUB , do it because that's the sound you hear in your head. If you buy an upright, do it because that's the sound you hear in your head.

    But if the sound you hear in your head is fretless electric bass, sh*t, why not just stick to your guns? If your voice is on electric, then people will have to deal with that. If all you are doing is buying into something for "more work", not only are you going to have a hard time developing a convincing approach, you're going to have a hard time getting any personal satisfaction. And the first time somebody who does hear upright and does get a lot of personal satisfaction out of the sound and puts a lot of time into the instrument comes along, who do you think is going to end up with those gigs?
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    This seems to be a conversation that happens a lot. Could it be that we're taking it too seriously on a micro level, when what is happening is the blooming of another upright player from the ranks of cocoon-istic Slabdom?
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just what we need, another blooming upright player.

    Well, how was it for you? (Since I left the Slope, we never get to talk anymore). You started on slab, right? What was your progression, how did you get from horizontal to vertical? Was the decision primarily internal, economic, peer pressure, parental imperative?

    I guess I'm just discouraging half stepping, if all you really want to do is stay home, kinda thing. If Matt really wants an upright, he should get one. If he really wants an EUB, he should get one. If what he really wants is to play electric, then why not just do that? If he's buying an upright cause his guitar player wants him to, well I said alla that stuff before. He's going to do exactly what he does.

    I guess my subtext is - I don't see EUB as some kind of "larval" stage between the slabcocoon and the uprighterfly.

    Even if they do kinda look like worms.

    Oh, wait a minute, doesn't it go larva, pupae, adult?
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I'd like to agree that it all depends on the voice that one is looking for. For instance, an EUB like an Azola Baby Bass might be good in situations where you're playing loud or want to use a lot of distortion. In those situations, you want something that doesn't feedback, but most likely you won't be playing straight-ahead jazz. Either that or you're playing salsa and maybe you want that percussive Tumbao sound.

    I do still like the looks of an Azola baby bass, but besides Ed's argument, the price it's just not economical anyway. $3200 for a acoustic baby bass... why bother when you can get a Chrissy Hybrid for $2500. Better yet what if you were to buy used with that money. You get the real DB sound for less money than an Azola. My busetto actually isn't all that big, so things like size it's not really an issue. I can still seat 2 people along with myself and my bass in my subaru.

    I can see myself getting something like an Azola later on (for fun and experiementation or playing something different than straight-ahead) but I'd rather work my chops on the real thang.
  14. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    I think the larva of the uprighterfly is more commonly known as the plankapillar.

    Other than that I agree. There is no natural progression at all. I think a fair comparision would be alikened to showing up at a bluegrass festival with a Stratocaster. Nothing wrong with a Statocaster. I happen to like them, but you'll get a few stares from the masses.

    And as mentioned, it may sound great, but you'll never in a million years make it sound like a D-28.
  15. I think it goes egg, larva, pupae, adult. I was in mosquito control for awhile...What are the chances of my finding a 5-string upright 1/2 scale? That's why I'm looking at the azola. BTW, this isn't the fiberglass one, but the acoustic plywood bass.
  16. The chances of finding a 5 string half size bass are very, very slim. It looks like you are trying to find a double bass with about the same string length as your plank. There aren't any shortcuts! A half size DB not really going to make it any easier for you to learn double bass, and the sound coming out of it will not be same as a standard size (3/4) or larger double bass. Sound is what you should be looking at - not looks. If you don't care about the sound, save your money and stay with your plank.
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I started on Slab, but went straight for The Bass after about 6 months. The first two things I learned to do on the Slab were to walk blues (in F) and Rhythm Changes. With a jazz player for a father, the path was there and I just followed it.

    I did play a Chimera the other day that really did feel and sound enough like a Bass to deal with. Gage had/has an Alter Ego on the second floor. It was set up a bit too light, and the balance/lack of body thing was a little strange, but I got used to it after a few minutes. What the Alter Ego folks did right was to use the right string length (adjustable, but around 42" on the one I played) and had all of the angles right, as far as the neck, string angle across the bridge, etc.

    I wasn't suggesting the Chimera itself as the progression from Slabbist to Bassist, but
    rather the whole line of questioning.

    The Slope, Ed, is still The Slope. As soon as I have the cash flow, I'd like to make it back in to Mahattan or at least to Williamsburg. Too many old people (my age) here. If I have to step off the curb to let one more double-wide stroller pass I may go postal.
  18. See Goldsby's jazz bass book for Ron Carter on buying the right size bass. There's a reason it's taken me this long to come to buying an upright. I'm getting the impression that I've landed on the planet of double-bass purists. Isn't the sound the point? And shouldn't each player be able to pursue an individual sound? I've been doing that on fretless for years, listening to upright bass and learning to make the smaller instrument work as though it were a larger one. Meanwhile, I hear Gary Peacock and any number of other upright players make tinny, crappy sounds come out of big boxes. 'Nuff said.
  19. Hey - this is the double bass forum. What did you expect?
  20. McBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Wrong. Gary Peacock gets an incredible sound out of his bass. Maybe the "tinny, crappy sounds" you're talking about were from isolated records in the 80's when pretty much every bass player had to deal with "direct" and poor amplification. Have you ever heard Gary live? He gets a deep, rich tone from the bass and uses very little amplification. I suggest reserving judgement until after you've heard a musician live. If you don't have access to Gary in a club, check him out on Keith Jarrett's "At the Deer Head Inn", or on "In the Evenings Out There". His sound is amazing. And, upon further listening, you'll notice that Gary is coming from the tradition and has a serious quarter note.

    Don't be quick to assume that a bassist who's soloistic and who plays with low action hasn't or can't lay down a "real" quarter note feel or get a great sound. A bassist like Gary, who played through the 60's before amps, became popluar because of his great sound and feel and his musicality. Even Eddie Gomez got a great sound out of his bass on his first record with Bill Evans, "A Simple Matter of Conviction."

    I think you're missing the point of the suggestions you're getting. You can't make a fretless electric bass function as an acoustic bass. At best, you're approximating a sound and a feel. Search out the best jazz drummer you can find and ask him about this. Ask him if he prefers the sound and feel of an acoustic bass when playing quarter notes. If you're hearing something different and want to interject that into the traditional jazz instrumentation, great, but don't try to reproduce the established sound and feel of the bass in jazz on the wrong instrument. Why not use a Chapman stick or a keyboard bass? It would sound like a caricature of the real thing. There's a physical component to playing the double bass that just can't be reproduced on other instruments, and it is heard and felt by discerning musicians.