New To Upright Rockabilly Bass - Questions

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by Alan G, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. Alan G

    Alan G

    Mar 13, 2018
    My band mates showed up with an upright bass. They asked me to learn to play it and to leave the Danelectro at home.

    The bass has Weed Wacker strings and 1 Shadow pickup mounted on (not under) the bridge.

    Of course, they play very loudly. I can barely hear myself, I'm getting blisters from hitting the bass so hard, the tone sounds thin to me even though the amps at the studio where we practice are typically around 300-350 watts and I'm battling feedback.

    I stuffed foam under the neck and tailpiece. Ran strips of velcro through the strings between the bridge and tailpiece. I'm using a 7 band Boss EQ and a digital reverb pedal (since we are a trio) although I might switch over to a delay pedal for slapback instead.

    My questions:
    Are there any preamps that anyone can recommend that will work well (louder and punchier sound without feedback) with the strings and pickup that I am currently using?

    Am I going to have to change strings/pickup?

    I'm going to be using a GK-MB800 with a 4x10 cabinet.

    Thank you!
  2. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    1) Get at least a couple of lessons. Upright is a demanding instrument, technique is important, and tendinitis sucks.

    2) Weedwackers pretty universally sound like garbage. Get real strings.

    3) Blisters are a fact of life.

    4) the Shadow RB-Pro preamp is the current gold standard. Gotta think that reverb pedal is the source of a lot of your problems. Effects on upright are something you add after you sound good (and even then very sparingly), not something to make you sound good.

    5) That's not a bad amp.
    salcott, Jim Carr, Alan G and 2 others like this.
  3. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Tell your bandmates to grow up and turn down, or use small amps cranked to get the sound they're after. The physics of an acoustic bass are what they are, and will always limit how loud you can play.
  4. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Tell your bandmates you'll learn to play upright if they pay for the lessons. Seriously, the assumption on the part of these guys that you can (or would even want to) just pick up double bass because you play electric is incredibly naïve. Same role, two different instruments.
  5. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    All of this. To build on #1, check out Chris Fitzgerald's reply (post #3) in this thread:
    How do I get the most sound out of my bass?

    His tutorial videos are amazing and well worth your time. For instance, here's one on right hand technique:
    DixieC, Alan G and JonnyFishbone like this.
  6. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Were your band mates trying to subtly tell you to play more quietly? You might be able to accomplish that without learning a new instrument (which is actually what an upright bass is in this case, despite the similar tuning).

    DB is fun, but it isn't for the faint of heart... There's a lot of real, physical blood sweat and tears.

    If you are serious about wanting to learn to play it, keep the weedwacker strings on just long enough to build some calluses, because metal wound strings will literally eat your fingers up. Once you are playing enough that your fingers are not bleeding all the time, start thinking about better strings. When you do go to metal wound strings, don't be afraid to use duct tape on your fingers if you feel them getting hot.

    Get some proper preamp hardware so you don't have to play hard to play loud and so you can stop the feedback, and have the band pay for this hardware (and yes, there are preamps that will work with your current strings and pickup). That, or tell your bandmates to play more softly or you'll go back to electric bass. We're talking about debilitating hand (and possibly arm and shoulder) injuries if you force your hands to play too hard.

    Lessons are good if you can find someone who knows something about RB DB playing and who will watch you and teach you proper techniques that work with your hands -- not just book learning, but actually watching how your hands work and showing you ways to play that won't cause you injuries.

    [Edit:] Oh, and don't forget hearing protection!!!
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
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  7. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Krivo Pickups
    You have a nice amp, and that shadow bridge wing pick up is actually pretty high output. I would add something like the FDeck HPF-pre, which has a high pass filter and phase reverse. Simple, but very handy for cutting out useless rumble, stringy brittleness, and fighting feedback without having to resort to extreme eq settings. They’re about $50 shipped, so a pretty cheap date. Ditch the other pedals for DB and continue to enjoy them with your dano. You have a shot at getting the wackers to work if you’re 100% slap player who always plays amplified, but they aren’t very practical strings for anything but straight up rockabilly.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
    Zoa likes this.
  8. Alan G

    Alan G

    Mar 13, 2018
    Thank you for the very informative video.
    old spice likes this.
  9. Alan G

    Alan G

    Mar 13, 2018
    Thank you!
    old spice likes this.
  10. redwookie

    redwookie Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    + what HateyMcAmp said
    BTW, using a distortion/whawha pedal with upright is frequently a shortcut to feedback at loud volume although there are effects which play well with UB.
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