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Making my EUB sound more accoustic

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by brianmmulligan, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. brianmmulligan


    Nov 14, 2010
    I have a cheap Stagg EUB that sounds quite good when I play at home but when I play with others the accoustic tones don't seem to come through. I'm wondering what recommendations in general people have to improve it.

    Can you get any sort of effects pedal that would simulate accoustic effects - something that an DB player might use if they wanted to get an accoustic effect?

    I have the original strings on it (3 years old) - should I get better strings?

    Is there anything I can do in terms of setting it up - for instance to damp it more.

    Perhaps I should be modifying my technique to damp notes that seem to last too long. In relation to technique, does anyone know of any Youtube videos on EUB that might show how to modify technique? Perhaps a few of you might consider putting a few up.

    A friend has suggested that I get a more powerful amplifier/speaker - I'm using a bass practice amp which has plenty of volume for where I'm playing, but perhaps it is losing a lot of the subtler sounds.

    Thanks for any help you can give me on this. I'm saving up for an accoustic 3/4 DB.

    Brian, Sligo, Ireland.

    PS. I play bluegrass with friends but I do want to play more jazz.
  2. If you don't play DB but BG, you might have the action too low. Put the bridge a bit higher by turning the adjusters.
    The stock strings are not bad, but may be at the end of their sonic life. There are better strings. Try to get a set of Thomastik Spirocore Weich 4/4 (S42W) or Spirocore Solo 3/4 if you cannot get the former one.
    They last really long, so you might not need other strings for the next ten years. It might take some weeks to months until they settled to a nice sound, rather bright at the beginning.

    Either damp the notes (a good idea to learn this technique) or get something like Wheedwackers or gut strings (too expensive for a Stagg). You can either damp fingered notes by removing the force a bit, so the string is no linger in contact wth the fingerboard or for open strings put the inner palm of your right hand on all four strings. Similar to slapping a double bass, but without pushing the strings on the fingerboard.

    Don't use too much bass on the amp and do not use the bass boost of the Stagg. If you do, it sounds like a bass guitar.
  3. brianmmulligan


    Nov 14, 2010
    Thanks DoubleMIDI.

    I will take your advice on raising the action and turning down the bass boost. I tend to damp anyway and try to avoid open strings, but i must try that technique with the inner palm across the strings.

    I am presuming that ther are no suitable effects pedals available.

  4. If you play a line across the strings to the upper strings you will damp the lower string when your plucking finger lands on the lower string after plucking, so it damps itself. In the other direction use the (free fingers of the) left hand. And there is always the possibility of using the palm of the right hand (if the tempo is not too fast).

    Use open strings if the note is rather short and try to use fingered notes if the notes are longer (so you are able to play a bit of vibrato to give some life to the note).

    I hope you pluck with the finger parallel to the string landing on the next lower string, like double bass players do. Otherwise it sounds more like a fretless. Maybe get a few DB lessons for the basic stuff. The Stagg EUB is not a bass guitar.

    I tried to check things with my Stagg but unfortunately broke the nut (this bad plastic stuff) during tuning up with different strings (the G could have been a bit thicker) and lost the broken part (could easily glued back using special glue for plastics). So I cannot check the playing techique on the Stagg at the moment. But i still have my Clevinger 5-string EUB and my 5-string acoustic DB. So I need to make a new nut from ebony for the Stagg now.

    Effect pedals for what?
    You can use almost any pedal that you can use with a (fretless) bass guitar. But it might sound closer to a bass guitar then.
    Typical effects for EUBs are flanger, chorus, reverb. With these effects you can get the special Eberhard Weber kind of sound.
    You can also use some overdrive and similar stuff, but mostly together with a compressor. The only thing that's different from a fretless bass guitar then is to be able to use the bow.
    But you need to practice a lot with effects before you can use them in a performance (unless you use the same effect from the beginning to the end of a piece).
    Bowing close to the bridge gets a lot of harmonics, so it sounds like Hendrix without using any effect pedals.
  5. I used to have an Aria Lite One - the Stagg is essentially a copy of the Aria.

    I found that swapping steel core strings for synthetic (eg. Innovation/Velvet/Obligato) helps to reduce the extra sustain that solid EUBs have. With steel strings, the extra sustain can make the sound a bit zingy and thin but the natural shorter sustain of synthetic strings gives a more natural acoustic sound.
  6. Without proper DB technique, you won't sound "acoustic" even on a real acoustic DB.
    That said, the choice of strings, and the setup, will greatly influence the tone.
    If the action is too low, you'll get more fretless mwah.
    Raising the action will give more thump. (within reasonable limits of course)
    I'd first look at technique.
    Get a teacher maybe?
  7. brianmmulligan


    Nov 14, 2010
    Thanks folks for all the great advice.

    I'm an amateur guitar player and have taught myself EUB over the last 2 years - I've never played EB. My fingers are generally at right angles although sometimes I try to play parallel - I'll work on that. I do need lessons but my day job is crazy these days.

    Any idea on how I can tell if the strings are steel core?

    By effects pedal, I meant that I was wondering if anyone had designed a pedal specifically to generate artificial acoustic bass tones. Perhaps it might allow EB players to get a DB sound. As I said, I'm quite new to this stuff.


    PS - turning the bass boost worked well although I got the impression the sound was a bit more metallic.
  8. If the original (from new) strings are still on the bass, then I'd say that they're steel core.

    There isn't really any pedal that generates an authenic DB sound, though the Line 6 Bas Pod has a go at trying!

    A lot of the tone in Db comes from the right hand plucking technique - if you're using the tips of your fingers you're going to get a more bass guitar type tone. Using the side of your finger to pluck will go a long way to generating a double bass tone,
  9. brianmmulligan


    Nov 14, 2010
    So between, turning the bass boost off, lifting the action a little and using the side of my fingers (damping as appropriate) i have plenty to be working on.

    Thanks again everyone.

  10. maxito

    maxito Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2006
    To echo eub_player's comment, this is really the key. (Good to see you back, Francois)
    Proper technique will unlock the sound that no pedal can achieve. I understand that not everybody has access to a good upright bass teacher, and you may be one of those folks. If so, there are several really good online lesson options.
  11. I get a more acoustic sound out of my E-cello by using one of the following:

    Sansamp Para Driver DI (the "blend" knob all the way up, drive moderately low, master volume medium)

    OR, the cheap option:

    Behringer ADI21 ("blend" knob all the way up, most other controls at 12:00, master volume 12:00 to 3:00)

    The Sansamp Para Driver DI is the updated version of the older Acoustic DI. The Behringer is a cheap clone of the old Sansamp Acoustic DI. These boxes take an under-bridge pickup signal and simulate the sound of a miced-up instrument.

    Technique is part of it, but these pedals go a long way towards making these sound more like they have a real body, and indeed make saddle pickups sound more "acoustic". I refuse to play my E-cellos except through one of the above.

    What I very specifically do _not_ use, is any of the SansAmp boxes designed for bass guitar. They're voiced differently.

    The posters above _are_ correct in that you will need to learn the proper techniques, in addition to using electronic aids like these.
  12. Felix Habel

    Felix Habel

    Mar 28, 2006
    Hi Brian, hi to everybody!
    Is was reading this thread with particular interest. I'm a Cremona trained violinmaker in Italy and I build EUBs since 2003 (check out my website!). To make it sound more similar to a DB I came to develop a construction detail called "active top" which works quite fine. Then I thought about a possibility for making other EUBs sound more acoustic. The result is the String Damper:
    It is an adjustable felt damper that kills excessive sustain. I think this could be a solution for you!
  13. Interesting, but I'd get orchestral strings if I was looking for a muted tone.
    Maybe a nice use of this damper would be to mute an acoustic bass for practice purposes?
  14. Felix Habel

    Felix Habel

    Mar 28, 2006
    I think it works fine. But I don't think ti'll work with bow... will try it!
  15. scojack


    Apr 1, 2009
    That mute is really cool....
  16. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    My first thought is new strings. I don't know what the Stagg's ship with, but I had an NS bass with, what I would consider, long flatwound electric strings. I would suggest looking through the classifieds here for used string sets. A nice set of strings goes a LONG way.

    As others have said, raising the string height and adjusting your technique will help. I would caution about searching through YouTube. There is a lot of good info there, BUT there is an equal amount of very very bad advise too. The internet gives everyone a soapbox, whether they know what they are talking about or not. The DB technique sections on TB generally have good info. I think that is the best place to ask for video recommendations.
  17. brianmmulligan


    Nov 14, 2010
    @maxito - would you be able to point me to some of the online lessons for upright bass?



    PS Actually, online learning development is what I do for a living so I need to practice what I preach.
  18. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    For a great introduction to good right and left hand technique, check out Chris Fitzgerald's YouTube lessons via this thread. As has been said plenty, technique is the first thing to get down, and you can't do better than these.
  19. maxito

    maxito Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2006
    @brianmmulligan, of course!

    The series GrowlerBox refrences is new to me, but looks like it presents some clear well presented guidance - absolutely check them out!

    Other places to find DB lessons are at www.mikesmasterclasses.com - lessons are around $30.

    And the best online system I have seen is John Patitucci's Jazz Bass School via Artistworks. He starts right at the beginning, with video and accompanying PDFs - and gets as deep as you want to go - with an option to interact via video directly w/John P. For about $30 a month, it's an absolute STEAL of a deal.
  20. Bungee


    Sep 23, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    This is good advice.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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