My band goes unplugged! Which bass do I bring?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Axstar, May 11, 2019.

  1. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    My band is doing an acoustic set tomorrow, for the first time. I reckon it will be one acoustic 12 string guitar and one Dobro six string guitar.

    I don't own an acoustic bass, so I have two candidates.

    1) Old reliable, is my sunburst Mexican P bass.


    I currently have it strung with Fender flats, and the pickup is a Kent Armstrong Alnico unit. It looks oldschool and inoffensive, and should EQ well.

    Option 2:


    Dearmond Starfire II. This has Guild BS-1 pickups and Thomastik Infeld Jazz flats. It lacks the forthright mids pump of the P bass, but has a broader spectrum of tone, fits the acoustic brief relatively well, and I get a nice Jack Casady Hot Tuna/Phil Lesh Dead unplugged vibe from it.

    Wildcard option is the Mustang in that photo, but I'm pretty set against this.

    I've never played bass on an acoustic gig before, so not sure what I'm looking for here.
  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Nobody will hear you, so bring the one that looks cooler. I think that Dearmond looks sexy, so that is my vote. :)

    Another suggestion is to leave your bass at home and bring a small hand drum or percussion instrument. This is what I used to do (bring my bodhran drum for acoustic jams and gigs), before I started playing acoustic bass.

    If you had more time before the gig, I would say, rent an acoustic bass. Renting a student-grade acoustic bass for a month is not terribly expensive. :)
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  4. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi Axstar :)

    A P bass is always right!

    Second thought:


    Fretless it is even better! :D

    may the bass be with you

  5. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016

    Double sacrilege! While my bandmates are probably itching to break out Come out ye Black and Tans, (one is Irish, the other has tenuous Irish ancestry, which is apparently enough) I'm not sure I'm ready to ditch the bass yet. :bassist:

    My toenails aren't that bad! Give me a break! :laugh:
  6. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    As stated previously...Starfire

    Will fit in visually even though it technically is not an ABG since it has magnetic pups

    Plus tons and tons of Mojo!

    Just maybe do a dry run for possible feedback maybe?
  7. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I've gigged the Starfire before. It has a center block, so it isn't too prone to feedback. What feedback I've encountered has been musical and, during a soundcheck, I made a mental map of the 'hotspots' on the floor where certain notes resonated. Being able to sustain a nice solid 'E' or 'A' once during a set has its advantages.

    The Starfire gets me into this territory, I just need to find some hair somewhere:

  8. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Definite sacrilege bordering on heresy of the church of bass :rollno:

    Taken tongue in cheek of course :smug:
  9. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    I played tons of "acoustic" gigs with an Ibanez Artcore semi hollow or a vintage viola bass. Looks right and sounds right.

    There is real stage value to something like the Starfire that the audience will "read" as acoustic. I wouldn't bother borrowing an ABG though. A true unplugged acoustic set with bass and two acoustics is neigh impossible anyway as you'll be nearly inaudible unless you have a doublebass, guitarron or one of the very few "better" acoustic basses with loud enough volume such as a thunderchief.

    Bring the starfire and the smallest amp you have or just go direct if there's a PA. Not a bad idea to mellow your tone a bit maybe even try a mute.

    If I may offer one last bit of advice, generally it's better for the bass to err on the side of playing less in an acoustic setting. Not always the case, but I've seen some acoustic sets ruined by overplaying.

    Best of luck for your group's first acoustic gig! Let us know how it goes.
  10. All attempts at cleverness aside. I think either bass works but I vote the Starfire as well for the same reasons other people have stated about vibe and look.

    I also vote no cajon. As a "real" drummer and one who studied afro-cuban playing on set and on congas, I find watching people ineptly tapping these thing to be defamatory to what are actually noble instruments. Kind of like if you all went to a gig like this and the drummer was handed a Kala bass and without knowing major from minor or a I chord from a V chord was childishly plucking at it anyway.

  11. Lance Bunyon

    Lance Bunyon

    Jul 17, 2018
    Starfire. I gig with a 5 string Boulder Creek Solitaire acoustic into a Zoom acoustic creator into the P.A.
    This bass has been a lifesaver. Our band fizzled out as these gigs turned into duo and trio shows with no amp and only our little P.A. I've now done over 25 shows with the acoustic bass in less than a year.
    This is the future of local live music.
    Live it.
  12. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Option 2
    kohanmike, B-Mac and Axstar like this.
  13. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I agree with everyone on the Starfire. My choice in this situation is my Carvin AC50 semihollow. Same idea. The central block eliminates all the massive feedback problems of ABGs and yet still maintains a hollowbody tone that does it for "unplugged" gigs. And as Eilif noted, the "acoustic" look helps give the right appearance vibe that helps cover that the bass is not really "unplugged". I have a triangular piece of foam that goes under strings to mute tone (triangular because low strings need more muting material than high strings). It easily comes in and out and works great.

    Can't help with the hair thing, tho.....:)
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  14. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I play my Jazz bass with an acoustic guitar player and mandolinist in a living room jam every two weeks on old 20 and swing jazz tunes and other stuff through an amp designed for acoustic guitar.
    Miles_ONeal likes this.
  15. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    To be honest, I'm really excited at the prospect of this. We had a good drummer, but things change. We've spent a lot of time working on vocal harmonies, and these tended to get lost on electric gigs.
    Miles_ONeal likes this.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    it looks the part good luck with your acoustic gig! :thumbsup:
    kohanmike, B-Mac and Axstar like this.
  17. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    My band goes unplugged! Which bass do I bring?
    The one that sounds best for the situation.
  18. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Starfire :)
  19. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    B.C. Rich Warlock through Darkglass 900-watt to 4x10 with 15 inch extension cab
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  20. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Agreed. You already have the right strings on it as well!
    kohanmike and B-Mac like this.