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Newbie question, bass amp and bass to mimic stand up bass sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Tombolino, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Hi there

    Wondering....what combination of electric bass and amp can provide the best approximation to stand up bass sonically?

    Besides technique, I suspect that the resonance of the amps speaker is part of the key?

    I dont expect it would sound just like a stand up of course.

    Thank you!

  2. pHintz


    Nov 16, 2011
    hi Seb,
    You might enjoy doing a search on "upright bass" or "acoustic bass"...the general topic you raise has often been discussed and many of the longtime TBers have great advice. I'm an old jazz guitarist and wannabe bassist myself, so I've done that search, and enjoyed all the insights.
    The main point is usually that it is impossible to get a true DB sound from an electric bass. Various combinations of technique and equipment can get their own unique, useful, and attractive kinda-sorta thump.
    This forum is a great place. Hope you'll learn as much from it as I have.
    -pH in frigid MN, USA
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Here are the four standard answers, may as well get them out of the way:

    1) P-bass with flatwound strings and a foam mute at the bridge.

    2) It's all in the finger technique.

    3) It can't be done.

    4) Specialty short-scale bass such as Rob Allen Mouse or Fender Ashbory.

    Of course, proponents of any one of those will say the other three are not to be taken seriously.
  4. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    I have a fretless bass that I fool around with occaisonally that kinda gets you there. I don't see how you get that upright sound without at least starting with a fretless.
  5. :D

    my 2 cents:

    it is next to impossible to get a true upright sound....BUT, my son has a lakland 4-94 with an ebony fretless neck.

    he turns the neck pick up completely off and fools around with the bridge pick up.

    he eventually gets a fair to middlin' upright sound.

  6. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I can do it with any bass, any amp and cab. What I do is mute the strings with the side of my plucking hand near the bridge and then pluck with my thumb. I must use different muting pressure for each string, though, since each guage requires a different amount of pressure. I did it last night on songs that needed it, like "Last Date," for instance. "Crazy" is another good one for it. What I end up with is a very believable upright sound, no kidding. When I hit it just right I swear you can't tell the difference, believe it or don't. I play flats now, but can do it with rounds as well, even on a Jazz.
  7. rapidfirerob

    rapidfirerob Fusion rules!

    I'd love to see a video of you doing this if you could. Thanks.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    A foam mute near the bridge will get you close. When I say close, I mean close enough for the audience. Nothing will ever be close enough for those of us who listen to bass 24-7. But, then again, nobody in your audience is that guy. My point? Here, you will get great advice, but it's going to be tainted towards the critical side because we are all long-time listeners to bass tone.

    Slap a foam mute under the strings near the bridge. Use the side of your plucking finger almost on top of the fret board (not unlike real URB technique). Tweek your amp and bass settings to taste and off you go. It will be close enough for the audience, but it will never get close enough for many here, or many that you will play with.
  9. Neon Scribe

    Neon Scribe Supporting Member

    There have been many threads on this topic. Here's my simple but expensive solution:

    Rob Allen bass (Mouse for short scale or MB-2 for 34"). Fretless is not mandatory but highly recommended.

    Any Acoustic Image amplifier.

    This will get you a very nice tone that will work in some settings where a double bass is expected. There is more to sounding like a double bass than just tone, however. You will need to develop some technique as well.

    You may need a completely separate bass and amp to play in a setting where a "bass guitar" tone is needed, of course!
  10. philtoler


    Dec 3, 2009
    A semi acoustic fretless 4 string with ebony fingerboard and flat wound strings gets you some way towards it, but a very effective change I found was to take out the springs, gromets etc from the pickup mountings screws and then screw the pickup hard down onto the bottom of the pickup cavity, if necessary inserting a piece of wood between bottom of pickup and bottom of cavity to get correct pickup to string spacing. The reason why this works so well is because pickups are slightly microphonic so they transmit a little of the "woodiness" by being in direct contact with the body.
  11. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Cool. What kind of settings on bass and amp eq ? Any slight reverb ?
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    There's a VST that converts guitar to midi that is raising a lot of interest
    They're working on a bass guitar version, but guitars track fine now.

    You can get a small keyboard and play a Double Bass sampler. It never hurts to learn some keyboard.
  13. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Flatwounds, ideally on a fretless, and some creative muting (don't forget the possibility of left hand muting as well as right) will get you part of the way there. But one thing that hasn't been mentioned here is registration (changing the tone by plucking at different points along the string). An upright player is is typically picking the string closer to the half way point between nut and bridge than a bass guitarist, resulting in less first harmonic coming thorugh in the tone, generally speaking. Try firnly picking your strings close to the end of your fingerboard or even over the highest frets and you'll hear a big difference compared to "normal" playing position soemwhere down by the pickups.
  14. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
  15. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    That will get you the notes - but a lot of the feel comes form the articulations and stuff in between the notes. That's why it's so hard to replicate real bass (or drums, or guitar, or sax, or solo violin...) with live keyboard/controller playing. You can fake it a bit, but it's hard for any sampler to reproduce a single note in the myriad possible ways that can be produced from a real instrument by responding to real time signals from a MIDI controller, of any type. To get more authenticity needs considerable skill in sequencing samples of every tiny nuance of what the real instrument does.

    That said, the technology is getting better and I have heard some pretty convincing emulations done. The skill and understanding of the person playing the "model" is undoubtedly the biggest factor in this.
  16. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    I think it also depends on what upright tone you want. Are you looking for that jazzy, mwahhh kind of tone, or are you looking for a dull, kind of heavy thud, like a kick drum kind of tone. If you want the former, I don't see how you get it on a fretted bass. The later is easier to get with the foam mute, damping, etc. But, imho, I would still go the fretless route, no matter what.
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Bongo did such a good job of getting me started that I couldn't resist using his comments with modifications.
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Wish I knew how to do that, but alas. I guess if you put an upright alongside me you could find differences, but alone the technique does provide a convincing upright sound. Hope I don't sound haughty, don't mean to. It's just something I got good at doing. Took awhile, though.
  19. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    If you play the double bass, you know that the OPs request cannot be achieved.

    My EUB doesn't sound like my DB, how would any bass guitar be able to?
  20. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Listen to upright being played. What are you trying to replicate? The dull, thumpy sound of old recordings? Few upright players want to replicate that tone. The full capability of the upright bass? Time to do some listening. Arco?
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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