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Need reco for first standup

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Zapp, Apr 4, 2006.

  1. Zapp


    Sep 4, 2005
    Gruene Texas
    I have been playing e bass and acoustic guitar a long time. Have a renewed interest in bluegrass/ early american string music and want to pickup the standup bass.

    can some of you recommend a couple of good basses for me to get? I can afford a good one but I also love a great VALUE so let 'er rip. Sound is everything to me .... that and feel, but action can be worked on I guess. I have a good luthier who is also a string bass player

  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
  3. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I love my Kay, if you can find one in decent shape it's a damn good instrument.

    And it's double bass, not "standup" bass.
  4. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Oh, c'mon now, lets not start pluckin' eyebrow hairs here.......a "Double Bass" IS a "Standup Bass" and IS a "Acoustic Bass Violin" and "Bull Fiddle" plain old "Bass" ect, ect.

    I always think of "Double Bass" as a European name. I like that one. Haven't seen the term "Double Bass" used in bluegrass literature though, which is where many Kay Bass Viols are used to wonderful effect. (I love mine dearly!)

    Yes, we ARE in the Double Bass Forum. A very nice title.

    What did Ray Brown and Jimmy Blanton call it? The bass I mean! "Doghouse Bass" is what they used to call it in the joints those cats learned their trade in.

    But I think everyone knows that it is acceptable to refer to our wonderful and noble instrument as "standup bass". I once heard Roy Husky Jr. (RIP) use that term in a conversation I had with him.

    "Standin' Up in the Shadows of Love Bass", yeah I love that name too!
  5. Noir


    Mar 14, 2006

    Nonsense, it's contrabass.
  6. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Bass viol!
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    It's "the bass". Anything else......isn't.


    Aug 26, 2005
    Get the best bass you can afford, and try not to sound like 90 percent of bluegrass "bass players," who in my estimation consist of: 60 percent unemployed guitar pickers, 20 percent roadies/bus drivers; 20 percent old lady (or other relation/neigbor) of the band leader who are there because they either 1)look great, 2) sing good or 3)know how to hold the bass and act like they know what they are doing or 4) they just "have to be" in the band, or else-- or a combination of all of these.

    Focus on the 10 percent who really play their a-- off, have some training and some technique (Mike Bub, Missy Raines, Gene Libea, Mark Shatz, Todd Phillips, to name a few). Yes, plywoods are good-- not because their tone is anything to write home about but rather because they'll take the knocks of the road and are'nt sensitive enough to go out of tune while you are performning at some Mud Fesitival in the midst of a rainstorm.....Kays work ok. An old American Standard or vintage King Moretone is a far better plywood, IMHO (and I owned a Kay for over 30 years, and currently have a King). Needless to say, this forum is full of praise for the New Standard Bass; enough so to pique my interest about them....they are receiving universal praise everywhere you look. And UNLIKE a vintage plywood Kay/AS/KING, which may take you some time to locate, the New Standards are available. I advise students and young players to avoid Chinese instruments.

    But I say this: Would Tony Rice play a dimestore guitar? Of course not! Would David Grisman or Chris Thiele be caught dead playing a cheap mandolin? Heck no! They play the best instruments they can afford and cherish these instruments like they were little babies...So should the bass player....If you can get a carved bass they work exquisitely for playing the 'grass, but you may not want to sacrifice the instrument to the rigors of the bluegrass scene.
  9. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Good points on bass selection, Strongbow! BUT.........

    I don't understand your remarks about "90%" of bluegrass bass players.......

    Those 90% are the people that are keeping the music alive by playing it everyday for freinds and family!

    The other players you mentioned are seasoned professionals who do a damn good job at making records and setting standards for other players to strive for. Setting a good example for others to study. And the "90%" make it possible for that other "10%" to have a great job.

    But I think that the music would live on without the "10%", simply because the MUSIC is much bigger and more important than the music BUSINESS. Wouldn't you agree? Or maybe I've got it all wrong.

    Zapp, I'd find a local teacher who can steer you towards an instrument that will work for the music you want to play. A good teacher will be more that happy to do this for you. It's worth the price of some lessons! Just trust your instincts when trying an instrument, respect the music and the people involved, and you will do just fine.

    I hope that you you are going to have alot of good times playing stand-up bass!


    Aug 26, 2005
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That sounds like Tom Wolfe, alright...but Tom Wolfe is a pretty cynical guy. My guess would be that he doesn't feed his soul every day by playing the music that he loves without worrying about what others might think of that.

    And speaking of closed minds...:rolleyes:
  12. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Right on, STRONGBOW. I'd agree that the music business is a shallow trench filled with all kinds of sticky business.

    And on the subject of basses for beginners, aren't there a least a few Asian instruments worth considering? Most of the entry level ones I've tried have been very bad, but a few have really surprised me with their sound and playability.
  13. steve in tampa

    steve in tampa

    Jan 11, 2006
    I am very happy with my new Engelhardt.

    Using it in a newly formed acoustic group playing Jack Johnson, Wilco, Bon Jovi, James Blunt, Richard Ashcroft and a bunch of other stuff the whippersnappers groove on. We gig weekly, and get paid 100.00 per hour for the trio w/our PA. Not top dollar, but makes it worth hauling the gear around.

    I agree about the low pay/no pay bluegrass. The genre is overrun with hobbiests. Lots of fun, and a good way to work up your chops, but not neccesarily a way to buy chops.


    Aug 26, 2005
    ...my apologies for soapboxing when the question at hand is a a recommendation on an instrument for bluegrass music. That was a bit out of line......The short answer is yes, there are good Chinese basses. I've played a few....the carved ones seem inordinately heavy to me. They have a lot of wood in them. Remember, that entire instrument, from the scroll on down to the endpin needs to be vibrating to get a decent sound. The more wood there is in the bass, the more wood has to vibrate. And you can have a vintage American-made plywood for less cost. I've also seen a lot of the Chinese ply imports and I think most of them are sloppily assembled, cheaply varnished and awfully set-up-- that's enough to discourage any aspiring player. If you've been playing slab bass and guitar, you are used to picking up on the tips of your fingers-- now you are going to have to "dig in" with the flat of your right-hand fingers, and if the action is bad, you will work yourself to death trying to make it sound decent. And you'll probably say, "nuts to this." If you get one of these cheaper inports, then take it to a good luthier to have it set up-- or make the adjustments yourself.

    . I think you are going to have to spend between a grand and three grand to get something decent for even folk music. Really, there are enough Kays around on the market that fall in that price range to satisfy one who would like to transition to the upright. Sort of depends on where you live. I read these horror stories on this forum all the time about guys who bought a mail-order Chinese bass.....I'm wary of them. Whatever you invest in-- Chinese, Bulgarian, Hungarian import-- try to find one that has been in the U.S. for a year and which has already adjusted to North American climactic conditions-- otherwise you may find it cracking or a seam opening after you have invested good money in it. Good luck.
  15. speedster


    Aug 19, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    I'm surprized that you consider yourself such an expert of a genre of music that you can make blanket statements such as you have on this forum regarding bass players in bluegrass bands.

    It's obvious to me (someone who has lived and breathed the music since childhood) that based on your comments you really are no expert at all of the music when you make blanket statements like you do.

    If you truely understood the music and took the time to perhaps play it "properly" you would understand the reasons that in a GOOD Bluegrass Band the a "GOOD Bass Players" job is too play the 1-5.

    Where the good comes into play is the timing, tone and taste the same as any other genre of music.

    The 1-5 is what drives the good bands and maintains the strong rythm which is what this music lives and breaths on.

    With no drummer the Bass player holds everything together.... and when a band or a jam has a good bass player it is immediately noticed by the crowd as the music has a pulse and flow.

    Throw a bad bass player like the ones you state are 90% and you certainly will not get that pulse and flow.

    Boring to play 1-5 yes but necessary in this genre....

    As to the question put forth regarding a bass for bluegrass playing from my many years of being in and around the music I would certainly recommend you stick with a plywood bass, those mentioned by Strongbow are good options.

    There are also many other good German and Czech plywoods in the 50 - 60 yr old range that are great units for this music.

    Bottom end tone is what your looking for in bluegrass to fill out the big hole left by not having that big bass drum beating out a rythm.

    I've seen more than one or two solid carved bass's and a hybrids self destroy over the years due to the climates they encounter at festivals, jams and concerts outdoors where 90% of this music is played.


    Aug 26, 2005
    Hmmm...interesting comments. But since you've lived and breathed the music since childhood I'm mighty surprised you somehow managed to miss the recordings of Tom Gray and George Shuffler, huh? Two pioneers of walking bass lines in bluegrass music, and two of the most recorded....
  17. relacey


    Sep 18, 2004
    "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench. A long plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side."
    - Hunter S Thompson

    As cynics go, I'd put Hunter S. Thompson alongside the best (or worst) of them. From what little I know of him there were some unfilled spaces in his soul that a little music could have helped.
  18. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    Actaully i've always preferred the term 'big guitar'.
  19. After patting everyones back on the great Teddy Kotick thread over in the Bassists subject heading...I was very proud of the great way we all stepped up to honor one of our un-sung heros and then reading what I consider so much tripe on this thread.
    You cats are still arguing about what the hell to call our instrument...this is funny as hell.:eyebrow:
  20. I've known Ray Brown for many years, and i've never heard him, or any great bassist call the bass a dog house or for that matter, the stand up.I think both of those names tacky and undignified.

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