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NBD-slightly strange bass of unknown provenance, also first upright bass ever

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Zoa, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    First off, I'm a primarily electric player, though I've played around on uprights often enough. I have recently come into possession of an upright bass of uncertain provenance.

    From my small knowledge of the subject, it sounds and plays well. It appears to be ply, with an aftermarket bridge. The weirdest thing about it is that it has a high C string added after the fact, using a Rickenbacker bass tuning key.

    If any of y'all could determine the brand, quality, condition, strings, and any possible issues concerning this bass, along with general DB advice, and give it to me, I'd much appreciate it. I'm basically trying to figure out what I've got, how good is it, and what I need to do to have a decently operating bass. Also, I think I might be in the market for new strings. Any recommendations?

    I am going to be playing primarily lively folk music and some rockabilly/rock'n'roll, both slapping and plucking, probably not bowing. Unamplified, so more volume is good, low tension for my wimpy BG hands would be nice. Thanks so much!







  2. Wow...
  3. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Your bass and your hands will be much happier with 4 strings instead of 5. Have a local luthier take off the extra tuner and string and then do a modest setup for you. Some easier playing light tension strings might make the transition to a doublebass much more fun. Welcome to the club!
  4. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Welcome to the dark side! I agree completely with Steve that you'd be much better off getting rid of the appendage and having a "modest" setup performed. The question is whether it's worth it. No label inside? Without more revealing pics, it's hard, for me anyway, to say what it is but it looks decent enough. I'm confident saying that it's not a very high-quality ply bass. Kinda reminds me of the low-end Eberle plys or something related. I hope you came "into possession" economically. :)

    More difficult will be the requirements for your style of play. Low-tension strings, "wimpy BG hands," and a bass of this sort will not yield much unamplified acoustic power. Assuming this is the bass you'll use, in order to get a decent unamplified output, you'll need substantial strings and a reasonably high string-height. That won't be easy for unconditioned BG hands to handle. You're a BG player so you obviously have a rig. I suggest that you slap a K&K BassMax on and run it through whatever amp you have. That is, until you can build up your hands for the setup that will do the job unamplified.

    I'll repeat what's been said here many times before. Forgive me if you already know all of this. The switch from BG to DB is not trivial. They're two related, but very different instruments. Most BG-only players have no idea how to pull a powerful acoustic sound out of a DB. That's especially important for you, given your desire to play unamplified. You'd do well to grab a lesson with a real DB teacher to set you on the right path and to help you avoid injury. Injury is far more likely than you might think.

    That's my $0.02.

    Enjoy the ride! :)
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I seem to recall this exact bass being discussed here before.
  7. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    Thanks! There is no label inside, apparently it's fairly old. It cost me a couple gallons of gas, an hour's car ride, and a six-pack of craft beer.

    I'll probably end up doing what y'all advise and getting rid of the fifth string, it seems sort of pointless. On the other hand, though, would restringing it to have a low B instead be remotely feasible? Or just a terrible idea?

    It has been set up recently by someone who I gather is a quality luthier (Bob Beerman of the Bass Violin Shop in Greensboro, NC). What I want out of this bass is something I can drag around to campfires, festivals, jams and small outdoor gigs, sound okay, and not worry too much about smashing it up. I'll probably upgrade if I get to the point where I need quality performance, but in the meantime, I'm hoping this will do fine.

    As far as strings go, I've liked the feel and sound of some of the synthetic-y strings I've played in the past. I've been digging through the FAQ's and string threads here, and I find my self liking the idea of Innovation's Slap strings, either Silver or Psycho. Would these work? How would they compare, feel, sound, and volume-wise to the steels on it now?

    I'm going about setting up lessons at the moment.

    Again, I very much appreciate y'alls help.
  8. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

    Mar 3, 2010
    Nice deal for some beer.

    The bridge looks like its already cut for a four string setup. Maybe you can go back and forth painlessly.

    I would not recommend the low B.

    Have fun! As said, taking at least one lesson will be the best thing you can do for yourself!
  9. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    + several to all this, but a great place to start with getting good acoustic volume and tone is with some video lessons produced by TB-moderator and all-round wunderkind Chris Fitzgerald -- see this thread (http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f23/new-jazz-bass-video-tutorial-series-891553/).

    Have fun. :)
  10. I'm fairly new myself---I bought a set of Corelli 370M s and I like them a lot. They do sound better arco than pizz but they are considerably thinner than my other strings and the switch definitely increased my practice time (by decreasing both pain and fatigue). And most importantly, somebody had a set for like $60 bucks in the classifieds recently.
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
  12. lol...I guess I was thinking more about the learning to play upright bass side of things than making sure he sounds great live right away. (Although one could argue that learning well and properly will benefit his acoustic sound more than having thick strings on his bass right away.)

    and the Corellis would be great for the wimpy hands he mentioned. I guess I just know that my fingering form got a lot better when I switched to thinner strings...it was worth it to me even though I lost acoustic volume that I desired.

    but you are right...that wasn't exactly what he was asking for.
  13. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Thanks for not being offended and for noting that :). I think you make a good point. Perhaps the OP should do as you suggest before he goes for the ultimate acoustic power setup. I'll fall back on my suggestion for a pickup and amp if it's possible. If it is, it would, perhaps, be good for him to break into things by using strings of the type you suggest.

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