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My weird taste in music has me confused about which bass.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ReIgnition, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. ReIgnition

    ReIgnition if you are the big tree, we are the small axe...

    Aug 10, 2006
    Hello folks, This is my first post.

    Quick history: I've been a drummer for 31 years, I started out in local drum corps, then DCA Corps, DCI in Garfield NJ, then set, Jazz lessons, double bass, prog stuff, fusion, etc.. I was a career Drum student because I couldn't learn enough. I learned to read and write music and play big band cold off horn charts. Tony Williams complex.

    8/10/2003 me and my motorcycle were run over by a car. I still got my legs but the right doesn't bend more than 30 deg. and the left barely works... It's actually hard to type this **** cause I don't talk about it. I can play the bass drum with my left foot... but it's tuff to meter / keep solid time without a steady hihat. DON'T EVER DO ANYTHING THAT MAY HURT YOUR ABILITY TO PLAY THE INSTRUMENT YOU LOVE.

    Anyways- I play a little guitar, but while playing acoustic jazz I fell in love with the bass. I would sit and stare at the strings... I wanted to play Miles / Ron Carter stuff all the time... and fast, My funny Valentine 4 and more fast. Bass players would be like "dude, take it easy". Then I got into the Hayden and Sun Ra stuff and no one wanted to play with me for a while:bawl:

    I can't play upright, at least I don't think I can, unless I use it to hold me up. So I'd like an electric bass that can give me that sound when needed... maybe not exactly but close.

    Now here's my other problem... I grew up a punk rocker, black flag, Agnostic front, minor threat, then Nausea, Extreme noise Terror, driller killer, casualties, mostly NYC and DC stuff, English stuff, then early primus with Tim Herb and other 90's prog stuff i.e. technical hardcore like Candiria or Iceburn. My mom and dad had me listen to gospel, jazz, and sam cooke stuff so in the 70's I'd listen to the Jackson five and Black Sabbath. I was all mixed up. - Drum Corps (Chops), Jazz (skill) and the ability to carry conversation musically by listening, Counter culture angst (artsy crazy).


    I have the slightest idea what kind of bass to buy. The whole fret vs fretless has me way confused. My jazz friends say buy 3 basses - but I can't play very well yet. I like contrast in sounds and range. I learned from listening and reading about Miles to play space. The bass has to sound good when playing open uncluttered compositions. I don't know. My last band was self indulgent Jazz-Core... I couldn't play bass in that band. I know I need a good teacher, and a bass, and an amp.

    You might say pick a style - I did that once and I was in five bands at one time. Then I quit them all for the one that let me play all kinds of ways with one group.

    I was thinking high-end used to start. I hate pop music and cheap instruments even if I can't play it. If it's hopeless for me let me know:rollno: Sorry for being wordy. Please move if required.

    ps. I couldn't tolerate sucky bass players as a drummer, Now I'm a sucky bass player:D I was like "don't come here to practice, practice before you come to practice...learn your craft!":scowl: I'm doomed to bass player hell.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I have a similarly eclectic background, and I was also a drummer and experimental musician before picking up the bass. I would say, don't let your background dictate the bass you play too much. I'm still trying to pull myself out of the attitude that "my style is unique, therefore my bass should be unique". Not saying you think that way, just setting up the idea that you maybe should pick a good solid working-person's bass, something with solid tone and good construction, probably in a Jazz or double-humbucker format for versatility, and get it a good setup from a pro. Yes, you can spend a bunch of money on something fancier, but you don't know yet what will be most comfortable and playable for you. Another thing to consider is an EUB, an electric upright; it may not sound exactly like an acoustic upright DB, but many of them have short bodies that rest on a tripod or long endpin, so you could easily position them at whatever level is most comfortable for you. If you decide to stick with bass guitar, keep reading this forum and you'll see many references to quality custom builders who can listen to your tonal and ergonomic needs and build you something sweet for (name your budget).

    But just based on what you've written so far, I would be inclined to steer you toward an electric upright.

    Keep us posted on your decisions!
  3. I'm sorry to hear about your accident, but I'm glad that you haven't let it stop you from enjoying your love of music. As far as the genre confusion thing goes.. I wouldn't worry about it. I think it's healthy to draw influence and inspiration from as many different sources as you can.

    As far as which bass you should get... Most people will come in here and tell you to "try them all and get the one you like the sound of". That's all well and good but as a beginner you often don't really know the sound you are looking for until you are a few years into playing. That's why I usually recommend that beginners shouldn't spend big money on their first bass - they may find that they prefer the sound of something else sooner than expected. But you've been around music for a while so you might already know what kind of sound you're after. If so, great!

    With all that in mind, I guess you are looking for something pretty versatile... I usually tell everyone to get a Stingray, but that's because I'm obsessed with them. As Bongomania said, you probably want something with a couple of humbuckers so you switch between the coils and get a greater variety of sounds. Perhaps a HH Stingray? :) Warwicks can do a couple of different sounds and are easy to play, you might wanna try some. Unless you are really keen on the fretless tone, I would suggest getting a fretted bass.
  4. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    Sorry to hear of your accident, but well done on keeping going.

    From what you've written, I would say get two Jazz basses, a fretted and a fretless, if your budget permits. Of all the basses out there I think the Jazz is the one that can be tweaked to suit any style of music. If you're not sure whether fretted or fretless is the way forward, this way you'll be able to try both without breaking the bank and you'll have a reference point, you'll be able to relate to fretted from the fretless and vice versa, since they'd be essentially the same instrument except for the frets. Should you want to mod the instrument to suit your needs afterwards there are plenty of aftermarket products tailored around Fender designs so the flexibility is there to do whatever you wish with your bass.

    Good luck.
  5. ReIgnition

    ReIgnition if you are the big tree, we are the small axe...

    Aug 10, 2006
    Thanks guys... I feel much better I got that first post out of the way. I had been reading on the site for a couple of months. You'all are very knowledgable. Thanks again.

    I was just thinking of that scene in 'Walk the line' the Johnny Cash movie were the bass player has the notes on masking tape stuck on the side of the upright bass. I can do that. The tape part.:eek:
  6. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    Welcome to TB!
    As usual, my advice is to just get to some music stores and play as many basses as you can get your hands on. You'll quickly get a sense of what you like and don't like about a bass.

    If you really want an upright bass sound, about the closest you're going to get while staying within the "normal" realm of basses would be a Rob Allen. http://www.roballenguitars.com/
    Make sure you've got some tapewound strings, and you'll have a nice fat bottom-end. Check out the sound clips on his site, specifically the Mouse or the Deep 4/5.

    And if you're really serious about double-bass sound, you've just gotta go fretless. If i were in your situation I'd get a lined fretless, and find a double-bass instructor who'd be willing to work with you.
    And if you learn on a fretless, you'll never have any trouble switching later. :D
  7. Completely agreed!
  8. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    If you want two basses I'd say a Rob Allen or Rick Turner for your jazz, and a '70s P bass for your punk side. If you can't find a good '70s P, then look into a lakland skyline bob glaub, or some other ash bodied P-bass to get the snarl.

    If you can only have one bass, I'd say get a PJ with a rosewood board, should be able to cover everything.
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Welcome to TB!! :cool:

    Double bass (upright) is often played seated on a tall stool.
    Lots of Jazz guys do it, and ALL symphony cats.

    I would post over in the DB Forum, too. Ask that tribe about playing
    upright, it you want to try it-----you never know till you try! :ninja:
  10. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Welcome! As klocwerk pointed out, try to put your hands on as many instruments you can. If you're in the NYC area it should be quite easy for you to check some beautiful woods. First you should discover which bass design works best for you in terms of feeling, weight, balance etc. Then think about sound.
    It's great nothing can stop your lust for music. Keep on groovin', bro! :bassist:
  11. ReIgnition

    ReIgnition if you are the big tree, we are the small axe...

    Aug 10, 2006
    The sound samples on the Rob Allen site of the MB2 Sound Awesome !... I could hear "Footprints" on that sounding soo smooth. I Guess with a GK Micro Amp.

    BUT - I also need something that can sound real angry and violent like Mudvayne or Candiria. That shouldn't take too much cash.:p

    I could learn on something like the Rob Allen without an AMP and get some technique down, some skills, go through a few books and just focus on sound and technique. It should be great to just pic up and practice on. OH my god I'm a beginner again.

    Once I can play a little better look for a 2nd bass down the road. I don't like to buy things twice so I don't mind learning on a higher-end bass.
  12. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    PM Sent
  13. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    to be frank, you really aren't going to get both sounds you're looking for out of one bass, except maybe as a MIDI trigger.
    I'd go for two, a thrashable fender or knock-off P bass for your punk side, and a nicer bass for the double-bass sounding side.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I'd suggest you get a fretted Fender Jazz Bass, it can be used in all the styles you are interested in.

    You can make it sound something like an upright. Most of the illusion comes from playing lines that are like what an upright bassist would play. Trust me, I do this all the time on gigs where transporting the upright is impractical or it's in the shop.
  15. ReIgnition

    ReIgnition if you are the big tree, we are the small axe...

    Aug 10, 2006
    I'm starting to lean in that direction. 1 now. Another when I can play a little better.

    Thanks again all.
  16. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Lots of great advice above, but to cover everything you want, a semi-hollow like the DiPinto Belvedere might work:


    With flats and the tone rolled off, it's very close to an upright sound for an electric. The semi-hollow configuration gives it some extra "air" and resonance, but it has some "thud" too. With rounds and the tone up, it's aggressive, and suitable for punk and metal, especially played with a pick. It's more responsive to changes in strings, technique, and playing position than solid-bodied electrics. The narrow neck provides excellent playability. My only beef is that its short upper horn creates a long reach to first position when standing, but it's certainly bearable, and if you have long arms it won't be an issue at all.

    You may want to consider others along these lines. G&L's semi-hollow ASAT comes to mind, and maybe even Lakland's Skyline Hollowbody with Dark Star pickups. I've never played the G&L. The Lakland is darker sounding than the DiPinto, and leans more toward the jazz/upright side of the equation, so I'm not sure how well it would do the punk/metal side.

    Edit: Just had another idea -- Fender's Power Jazz Bass, which has a piezo bridge pickup for acoustic/electric tones. Check it out: http://fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0136400503
  17. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    The Power Jazz Bass might be a good idea...

    But here's my $.02:
    Two basses:
    A Fender Precision with roundwound strings (maybe the Rotosound "Swing Bass" set) for the punk side.
    A Fender Jazz with flatwounds (maybe D'Addario Chromes) for the jazz side.

    The brands of string are rough suggestions-- others will have different opinions.
    Getting a fretless Jazz might be a good idea. Try one and see if it speaks to you. Lines on the fretboard are not illegal. But, as someone else said, even a fretted electric bass can imitate an upright, if you think upright thoughts (and have flatwound strings, roll off the tone knob, favor the bridge pickup, and pluck over the end of the neck).
    Go with the Standard (made in Mexico) line. You can get both basses used on eBay for a total of around $700, and they're perfectly fine for new bassists. (And for experienced ones... I have a Standard Fender Jazz that I love, and I've been playing for 36 years.)

    Good luck!
  18. I'd second that. I've got an active jazz, and I'd feel confident taking it to almost any gig.
  19. karrot-x

    karrot-x Inactive

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
  20. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    you want a P fretted now, and then you want a jazz fretless later.
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