Making an electric sound like an upright

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tbplayer59, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    Does anyone have any tips or tricks for making a solidbody fretted bass (Jazz) sound more like an upright?

    I'm already using flatwounds.

    Any suggestions for getting an arco sound? Any effects that can give it the hollow sound?
  2. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Flats and sponge rubber over/under the strings at the bridge gets close.
  4. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    This, but I can get even closer with tape wounds instead if flats.
  5. ReiPsaeg


    Dec 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    Palm muting and plucking with the thumb give you a lot of the weight and the fast decay typically associated with the sound of an upright. However, it won't give you the snarl of the string vibrating on the fingerboard.
  6. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I play db, and also have an Affinity P with flats and foam under the strings, as well as a Dean ABG with tapewounds. Now, don't get me wrong, the P sounds great in that configuration, but nothing like a db. The ABG with sounds close , but to really get the sound you gotta have a fretless. That "mwah" sound is the money when trying to get that db tone, and fretless is the only way to get that.
  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

    +1 and make them old flats!

    Seems to me there are two parts to this: "thump" vs. "hollowness".

    For thump:

    Foam under the strings helps keep the note from ringing out. The tighter the fit, the faster the decay.

    I've listened to many older recordings and the fast decay of each note is most important to getting close to the upright "thump".

    Even with foam I add palm muting to get even faster decay.

    For that hollow sound:

    If you're trying to get the "hollow" sound for a recording, my suggestion is to pickup a Hofner. Nothing like a hollow body bass.

    My first good bass was a Hofner that I gigged for about two years. I switched to a '64 Fender Jazz due to getting tired of the Hofner neck dive.

    The Hofner sounded great, was very light, easy to play and had very powerful pickups. Still, the Fender had great tone that sat in the mix perfectly, still easy to play and wish I had never sold it.

    I used a pick with both basses and FOH, due to venue acoustics, IMO, no one could really hear the difference and none of my musician buddies ever pointed out any differences.

    I could add palm muting to the Jazz when needed and just left it at that. I did use a scooped tone with a pick and palm muting and that was about as close as I could get to the "hollow" sound of the Hofner.

    My G.A.S. list still includes a Hofner! :)
  8. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    I do have a Hofner, and yes it has that hollow sound, but the music I'm going to be playing has some really fast parts that I can't execute on that close string spacing.

    Are there cheaper electronic alternatives for digital modelling than suggested by the 2nd poster?
  9. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    It's possible for a slab bass to sound like an upright about as much as it is for a keyboard to sound like a trumpet.
  10. It's easy.... been doing it for years.

    Fretless, humbucker, lots of bass and mids, palm mute, play with edge of thumb, careful left hand, occasional slides, avoid fancy chords that aren't plausible on upright

    If fretted then add to the list no slides, no misfrets, and finger ON the fret, not behind it, and obviously no vibrato on fretted since its very different sounding from pitch up and down wrist or arm vibrato.

    Been doing this for 25 years and fooling people the whole time.

    Or my Roland vb99 upright model is pretty useful too, but I still follow all of the same rules in my playing technique.
  11. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
  12. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    IMO- Ur never gonna get an electric fretted or fretless bass to sound like an upright. U can fake it by solely dialing in ur peiso p/ups. Its still gonna sound like a fake version of an upright. Start playing upright is the only answer.
  13. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    I use the neck pickup with the tone and volume knobs rolled back a good ways. I'm not trying to fool anybody, just create a tone that's plausible for the part.
  14. RyanJD


    Apr 19, 2011
  15. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Acro sound? You need arco chops and a double bass, don't believe anyone that tells you different.
  16. Closest I've heard is the line 6 variax bass. Its a modeling bass. Simulates a Kay upright, 8, string, 12 string, fretless. They are discontinued now but pop up for sale here and there. I've been wanting to get one to transplant the electronics into a warmoth build. A lot of folks here on talkbass wish line 6 would sell those electronics separately.
  17. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca

    I agree with this 100%. All people are going to say is "oh that dude's trying to sound like an upright, why doesn't he just play an upright."
  18. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca

    Yeah it's really cool but you have to have very clean technique or it sounds like garbage, you'll get mis triggers and glitches. I bought one and then sold it because my technique wasn't as clean as I thought it was, I just picked up another one last year and now that my technique is cleaner it's very useful.
  19. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    A fretless j is going to sound like a fretless J. Period. It will never sound like a double bass. That's not a bad thing. A fretless J sounds pretty nice. People who think they are coming anywhere near the tone of an upright with a J are mistaken. Rob Allen's seem to get the closest to an upright tone and even there it is noticeably not a double bass. Once again, who cares, it sounds good.
  20. ^^ This. I can't get my upright to sound like a Jazz bass either. :D