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NS EUB megathread

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by FretNoMore, Jan 27, 2002.


  1. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'm still undecided, as I don't think an Eminence is going to be a practical buy in the UK and much as I like the NS, I do think there is a sort of "snobbery" in the Jazz world.

    So that a "proper" DB is acceptable - even if it has pretty low action and sophisticated amplification, "bolted-on" rather than instrinsic. But an EUB doesn't seem to be acceptable - I've never seen a pro Jazz group using one in the UK.

    So - I've been to see loads of Jazz gigs in the UK (off to another tonight) over the last few years and the vast majority have included DB and a very few have involved Bass Guitar - horrors! ;) But not one single Jazz gig, no matter how small, has involved an EUB !

    As my only reason to progress to DB is to get more into Jazz , It doesn't seem like a good idea, except as a "transition" instrument, but every Jazz pro has told me not to bother and go straight to the DB...?
     
  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I think there might be at least two simple explanations. One have to be sound - the EUBs do sound different. The other is image. I'm not so naive as to think I'm immune to what i believe other people think about me either, even if I try to go with my own choices primarily. It is hard to go against the norm though. A jazz band "should" have the usual instruments... A performing band is a lot about the visual as well as the sound, and a DB is a pretty nice thing to look at on the stage too.
     
  3. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    In the best of worlds perhaps. My guess is he wouldn't get hired because of "the wrong image".

    That is not really the point I was trying to make. It would be snobbery if I were to play DB just for looks, or if a DB player looks down on me for playing jazz standards on my Fender. I'm sure both players above play DB for the sound primarily, and they have chosen to live with the transportation problems. I'm equally sure they don't look down on anyone for making other choices.

    In my case there is no talk of transition. I want a DB-like sound for blues and jazz, and I want to try upright playing to get some variation for my neck and back which has been troubled for some time by heavy EBs, but I can't accept the inconvenience of a full size DB. To me the EUB is an instrument in it's own right, with its own sound, be it DB-like or not.

    I can also feel some derision, but only when the term "transition" is used for "moving to something worthier". That suggests snobbery to me.
     
  4. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    OK. Lets simplify. Can and is the term "Double Bass" also applicable to an EUB (not an AMPLIFIED acoustic)?
     
  5. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    IMHO, "doublebass" can never describe EUB. That's a perversion of centuries' worth of musical nomenclature.
     
  6. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    My gut feeling is no, Double Bass is the acknowledged name for that big violin shaped acoustic bass, IMHO.

    Most EUB's are solid-bodies and not really of the same family. I'd call them electric (upright) basses. Some can even be played horisontally, so that name isn't always correct either. :)

    The Eminence Upright Bass is something in-between, and as it can be played unamplified - albeit at limited sound levels - it could perhaps be called an acoustic bass in a pinch. But I think it is meant to be amplified, so it's also an EUB.
     
  7. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    I'm not pro or con on this topic (even though I started it....sorry). I've also seen (in rockabilly shows) acoustic uprights played horizontally. One guy even had it strapped on for several songs. The only time I've seen an EUB played horizontally is when it was one of the smaller scale basses (example: 34" scale Zeta "Crossover Bass').

    OK. How about this:
    I've frequently seen the term "Contra Bass" used for Double Bass. Anthony Jackson (and many others) call the 6 string Bass Guitar (tuned B,E,A,D,G,C) a "Contra Bass". Any Thoughts?

    Oh, and one last thing. I will be the first to admit my NS does not sound exactly like a good DB, however it sounds better/warmer than a lot of DBs I've checked out and it sounds a lot more like a DB than several CDs I have with N.H.O.P. and Ray Brown (among others) on them. I've recorded with this thing (piezo pickups only) and a lot of people thought it was a acoustic DB.
     
  8. Klimbim

    Klimbim

    Mar 3, 2001
    I was thinking the same thing. Might it not be argued that the term "double bass" might have arose for the convenience of English speakers, and has nothing to do with the accuracy or authenticity of the instrument, and has prevailed due to sheer numbers? I mean - I'm asking here....I don't really know the history that well....but when did the contrabass become the "double bass"? Was it when English composers started getting recognition?

    Sure, it might be argued that it's a direct translation, (though I'm not sure contra translates directly to "double") but why bother with a simple translation of one word, when we could have retained "accuracy" and just have everyone call it contrabass or kontrabass? (and "contra" and "kontra" are variations of the same word, with the exact same meaning, while "double" might not be so exact in terms of terminology.

    Don't get me wrong, I call my bass a double bass, or just bass, but I also don't really care if a bass guitarist, or anyone one else for that matter, calls it an upright or acoustic bass. I know what he's referring to, he knows what he's referring to....isn't that really enough?

    I've never had the interest to play EUB though. I think those are the only links I've never looked at on Bob's site.
     
  9. Yeah, this doesn't make any sense at all. "Contrabass" refers to the range of the instrument. Any plain old four string electric bass is already a contrabass instrument.
     
  10. I decided to do a little research and consult my copy of _A New History of the Doublebass_, by Paul Brun. (Does anyopne remember when he had the ask the pros forum on DB history here, I guess there wasn't any interest!)

    On page 25 he discusses the use of the the names "doublebass" and "contrabass". I must admit that in past threads I was wrong. I always thought "double" translated from "contra", and both were a reference to the instruments pitch.

    He begins by explaining that in the 1660's Bolognese string makers developed the string technology to make a bass violin a reality. The bass violin later become known as the violoncello (which it is noted elsewhere in the book means literally "little bass"). It was not long afterwards that the contrabass violin was reality. The Contrabass, a transposing instrument sounding a full octave below the 'cello in the 16' range, was built twice the size of the bass violin (violoncello). The instrument was called "doublebass" when referring to its size in proportion to the cello, and "contrabass" when referring to its pitch.

    I'm not sure how this fits with another part of the book where he gives evidence that the contrabass violin was also called the Violone (as was the contrabass voice of the viol da gamba family of instruments) and that the bass violin was named violoncello (little bass) as though it were in some sort of reference to Violone (doublebass).
     
  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
     
  12. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    No that's OK. Report it to that guy you mentioned who plays "real bass". ;)

    How about we give this a rest and go back to playing bass - of any kind, with any name?
     
  13. Klimbim

    Klimbim

    Mar 3, 2001
    Was just curious Don...not looking to open a can of worms cos I know I'll just be beaten into submission if I tried anything here....but out of curiosity - if accuracy is such a strong factor for the name of the instrument, why use the english variant for an instrument that grew up and evolved in places that didn't speak english? As we now know (though history is always a bit iffy) double bass does not translate directly into contrabass, why not always call it what it was called when it was born, and not some approximation in another language, just because its been used for some time now? I mean, no one calls the cello "little bass" do they. For accuracy's sake. Like I said, I really don't care what people call it as long as everyone in the conversation understands it - but you've made the points of accuracy, so was just wondering.

    For all you know, they might have sneered at "double bass" when it came out....:D
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Double Bass? Contrabass? String Bass? Upright Bass? Acoustic Bass? Bass Violin? Doghouse? Bass Fiddle? Bull Fiddle?


    Is it any wonder we're all neurotic?
     
  15. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Only those of us that take this discussion as anything more than curious fun.
     
  16. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    An old Swedish proverb: "Kärt barn har många namn" = "The beloved child has many names"
     
  17. Klimbim

    Klimbim

    Mar 3, 2001
    Exactly....as long as we all know what we're referring to...does it really matter at all what it's called? acoustic, upright, contra, kontra etc etc...just feel that all this pedantic issues with what The Bass is called, and related attitudes sometimes hinder the BG guys from coming over to learn a little more.

    No I don't want a bunch of weird off-topic threads appearing in DB land, but I love my kind of bass, and if more people picked it up, so much the better...the ones with discipline and determination will stay with it, and the ones who realise it's too much work will just fall away by themselves.

    All I'm saying is that perhaps we could just be a little bit nicer and more considerate in the way we say things. I'm sure there are alot of double bassists who call it the upright (Ed does). These guys care more about the sound and music than about the name, don't they?

    Some people just can't get a double bass, or a teacher, for various reasons. Money, health etc...but they love that sound and want to get as close to it as possible....cheers for trying..and more power to them.

    But somehow I think this post is prob quite futile so I'll end it here. It's just a variant on "can't we all just be a little bit nicer"? It's probably a bit too idealistic to think it'll work. I mean, to me, if you know your reply seems cranky, just don't say it. Or say it in a more polite way. But now this is just so idealistic it's pathetic. Heh....

    --------------------------------------------
    Aufersteh'n, ja augersteh'n wirst du,
    Mein Herz, in einem Nu!
    Was du geschlagen,
    Zu Gott wird es dich tragen!
     
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    What you say makes a lot of sense Ed and is what I hear from al the players - i.e. Jazz pros I meet.

    But I suppose, I'm sort of schizophrenic, as when I'm thinking about DB it's as a member of the audience - a "fan"! So, you mentioned the Dave Holland thing and the "sound" was something that struck me. So the "orchestral" DB player had a very different instrument that was darker, louder and less defined, it was so much larger than DH's DB that it might have been a different member of the family!

    So, Holland was playing fast and expressive solos on his smaller instrument that stood out from the orchestra, by virtue of amplification and more clearly defined mid-range. His instrument appeared to be easier to play and get around - but this may be an illusion created by his technique. I was thinking that his instrument was as different from the orchestral one - maybe more so - than an EUB is from any "normal "DB". I was thinking it was more a case of degree than any discrete cut-off point?

    When I was talking about snobbery - again I was thinking audiences - so I go to my local Jazz club on Fridays and talk to people a lot. I also remember talking to the guy who makes his own stick basses and he said that when he plays the "proper" DB, the audience knows it's supposed to be Jazz. Anything else an they expect rock and roll or something else. Maybe we have less-educated (in terms of Jazz, anyway) audiences in the UK?
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Just wanted to say that the advice here and in other threads was very useful to me in actually helping me get what I wanted.

    I did actually buy a piezo-only NS CR5 on Tuesday and all the things I've read around here were used in the decision-making process.

    So I was able to try several of the NS EUBs and confirm what PB - says. So one was set with a low action and another with a bit higher action and it definitely sounds more like an acoustic DB this way. Also I found that it was the magnetic pickup that sounded more like fretless BG - hence I plumped for piezos-only and am very happy with what I now have.

    I have also found that your approach to playing has a big impact on how it sounds - the more you play like a DB player the better it sounds. So my girlfriend mentioned that she wouldn't be able to tell the difference in sound between this and the "real" DB players we have seen at our local Jazz club. But she was suprised when I demonstrated how I could make it sound completely unlike a DB , just by playing in a different way!

    Anyway - thanks to everybody on the DB side - even the detractors have helped me in my decision and made me really think about it! ;)
     
  20. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Quote: " Also I found that it was the magnetic pickup that sounded more like fretless BG - hence I plumped for piezos-only and am very happy with what I now have."

    Yes, I too wished I had saved some $ and got the piezo only model since I get almost no use from the magnetic pickups.
    Have fun with that 5.

    PS. When raising the action I found that raising the bridge rather than increasing neck relief made the notes in the higher range "sing" better (This increases the angle of clearance of the fingerboard when you are freting).
     

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