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OK, I was wrong on that "versatility" thing. (sorry, Andy)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flatwound, Apr 14, 2003.


  1. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Some time back, there was a thread about basses having a versatile sound. My justly famous quote, "Versatility is over-rated™", pretty much summed up how I felt. And while I still feel that something like a P-Bass has more versatility than is sometimes supposed, I've had my eyes opened a bit.

    I now have a bass that has a multitude of sounds available, and I find most of them usable. It's Jazz-ish when the blend knob is turned toward the bridge, and somewhat P-ish when the blend is toward the neck, and I can truly get a blended sound in-between. I am truly amazed.

    So, therefore, I take back some of what I said, and must think of a new motto for threads about versatile-sounding basses. :)
     
  2. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    We are all so very proud of you! :D
     
  3. I still believe a P-bass is all anyone ever needs.
     
  4. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Well, if I had to get by with a P-bass, I'm sure I'd survive. :D
     
  5. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    It's all anyone DOES need. These Jazz people just have their heads all twisted around. Same with those fretless folks.

    Strange times, strange times...
     
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    it's all i ever need - whenever that pesky mutt comes around looking to root through my garbage, just one smack with that p-bass sends him reeling.


    now, as far as _playing_ goes, a pbass would be all i needed if that p-bass had 3 more strings, a few more frets, and about 3 more tonal options. not much more.
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Whatever. But I'll bet most of us P bassers can play Free Bird...

    :D
     
  8. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    Illinoize

    :p Ha! That's a good 'un. :D
     
  9. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Yeah, but a Conklin doubleneck would fix that problem permanently.

    ;)
     
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, i need the exercise. :)
     
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    A lot of people forget that versatility comes from the player as well as the bass. I will go so far as to say that those who consider one-pup basses to be "one trick ponies" are actually revealing their own limitations. Now I'm not saying a P-bass will give JacoTone™, but it will give a wide variety of cool tones to a versatile player.
     
  12. I've noticed something about myself recently. While I've been a multiple electric bass owner over the years - owning usually a half dozen basses or more at a time, and flipping switches, changing pickups, using different strings, etc. I only have one double bass that I use for all of my orchestral playing and although I have 3 good bows, I generally only ever use one of them all the time. My point is, I'm generally expected to come up with a far greater range of tone colours from my double bass at work, I use one good bass and bow and the entire rest of the sound comes from me. I never think of looking elsewhere for my tone.

    Maybe its because the extraordinary cost of good double basses and bows that I don't usually even think about switching instruments like underwear or having 6 double basses. Electric basses are so much cheaper that it's easier to get a pile of them, but do I really need all of them, or even the fancier ones? Probably not. I'm sure if all I had left was my G&L SB-2 (the most basic bass in my collection), I'd probably be able to do just about everything I'd ever want to do with it.
     
  13. I heartily dispute that notion. An electric instrument's tonal range is restricted by its electronics, no matter how much people want to talk about "the tone is in your hands," and there are situations where the tone you need is not within the range of tones that can be produced by a Precision (or a Jazz, or a Stingray, or a coffee table bass, for that matter).

    It's really apples-and-oranges to compare SLAB to REALBASS in this situation, too--the fact that a double bass is an acoustic instrument, and a fretless one at that, necessarily means that the control over tone that the player has is much, much higher.

    If there weren't a desire to have tones other than those produced by the Precision configuration, there never would have been a market for non-Fender-style basses. Granted, I think people go a little overboard with having 20 different basses to get 20 tones whose differences are barely audible to a trained listener, let alone the average concert-goer, but I think it's a bit narrowminded to say "A Precision is all you need." A Precision may well be all you need, but don't tell me what I do and don't need. Let me figure that out on my own.
     
  14. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    No.
     
  15. Wrong. The double bass's versatility has nothing whatsoever to do with its acoustic nature. It is more versatile because the bow is virtually an infinitely versatile tonal tool. If my double bass were properly amplified, I could still get as many tone colours and articulations as long as I had my trusty bow along. If I didn't have my bow, a fine double bass would be equally versatile as say, a single pickup electric bass. In other words, a plucked double bass and a single pickup electric bass should have about the same ability for different tone colours and articulations. Take away the bow and I'd say the electric bass is more versatile since you can always dial your amp settings.

    The fact that it has no frets doesn't make it more versatile tonally either - it is just a little different sounding than a fretted double bass would sound(yes, they do exist).

    My whole point for bringing up the double bass in the first place, was that my whole way of thinking and my training on that instrument was that the player is the one creating the bulk of the tone colours (assuming your equipment is at least to a certain standard to start with). It just seems to me that most of us pick up the electric bass thinking we can just change a pickup setting to change our tone rather than simply playing the instrument differently.

    I also think that most bass players are largely the only ones who need to have that really specific tone. I think even the bulk of the rest of the musicians we work with are less particular about that really specific tone in your playing. They want you to sound good, but you're probably a lot pickier than they are. There is the odd producer or conductor that wants something really specific from an electric bass tone, but I'd say also that the bulk of the time they'd be plenty happy hearing a well played Precision bass. How many more tone colours do you really need other than what your hands can do?
     
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I've not come into a situation where I "need' that one tone, whatever it might be. I usually make whatever I want to play work for whatever I'm playing. I play each of my basses for what it is, I don't modify them (with a couple of exceptions) and I keep my amp settings static so the sound is ultimately between my hands and the bass. I have basses that have several great starting points and some that nail one range of sound perfectly. Either way I just try to have fun.
     
  17. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Hm. I agree with the first part of Brad's post, but I don't mind twisting my amp (preamp actually) knobs back and forth to find a more pleasing sound, or one that fits room acoustics better.
     
  18. I said what I believed. And I didn't tell you what you do and don't need.
     
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Actually there's a method to my madness. I rotate several basses (I know, that's an understatement;)). Imagine having a bunch of basses that required me to tweak the amp for each of them. I came to a very simple conclusion years ago... get an amp that sounds great and only keep basses that sound great with it.
     
  20. I've encountered a fair number of people--here, on other bass forums, and in the real world--who say things like "Anyone who uses anything other than a Fender is just a fretboard wanker and will never get a gig. Don't use that coffee table bass." (Remember Scott from AGB, Brad? Or Rich Koerner?) I've seen it in music stores, heard it from other bassists, and heard it from non-bassists who probably couldn't tell the difference between a Fender and an Alembic without looking.

    Strangely, I've also encountered people here who feel that it's their need to dictate what other people should and shouldn't listen to. I often catch myself doing it.