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Okay DB purists, talk me out of getting an EUB..

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Yamarc, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. Yamarc

    Yamarc Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    Okay DB purists, I want to hear some good reasons why I should go with a traditional DB over an EUB (spec. an NS Design CR4). There seems to be some definite positives...for example: 1. easier to transport, 2. easier to learn on (fret markers), 3. cheaper than most decent DBs, 4. sounds fairly convincing and lower register technique is nearly the same(arco and pizz). However, It does seem to lose that "romantic" quality that DBs radiate. I need some more reasons to go DB before I up and buy a used CR4 very soon. Thanks, Marc
  2. its a love thing. you'll have to fall in love to really understand.

    i am serious, unfortunately. I might buy an EUB someday, but only for convenience, without ever selling my DB.

    But if you want something to sound like a DB and gig with, but don't give a rip about falling in love, an EUB is cool.

    Heck, I dunno, maybe you can fall in love with EUB's too.

    Now I am confused.
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    We have a 5 string and 6 string version of that bass at my office. It sounds NOTHING like a DB. Nothing.
  4. Answered your own question.

    Look for Bruce and Gard they will have positive views as a NS/DB player.
  5. scott reed

    scott reed Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2002
    I'm far from being a db purist as I have a few
    eub's for travel purposes (ie. jazz festivals too
    cheap to pay for db transportation).
    About the positives: 1) a fretless bass guitar is
    just as easy to transport, 2) fret markers are
    there for your eyes and dufus the ear and muscle
    memory essential to playing db especially if you're reading music, 3) good laminated basses
    can be had for a comparable sum, 4) you don't
    learn how to balance the additional size and
    weight of a db.
    imho the technique you learn on eub does not
    transfer well to db - specifically the ability
    to develop a strong tone without an amplifier.
    Additionally, all you hear from the eub is the
    sound from the amp. I miss the added resonance
    from the body of the db and other musicians on
    the bandstand will too.
    Going from db to eub is easier than vice versa.
  6. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    A contrabass is a real music instrument. It has been around for quite some time, and there is a fairly good understanding of the relation between construction and acoustic quality. Luthiers can rely on that body of empirical knowledge to build and repair our instruments. Those guys are craftsmen, not techs.

    And what Scottie says is right to the point: DB has this huge resonance chamber which is what's mostly missing in EUB. The more I play, the more I appreciate and use those "little corners of tone color" in my instrument. I suffer when playing thru an amp because the electronics’ resolution tends to flatten and fade all that gorgeous and sophisticated sound.

    Now, EB and EUB are ersatz, substitutes for the real thing. You use them as a result of a compromise for more transportability, ease of amplifying, sturdiness, against just LESS MUSICALITY.

    Life is too short...
  7. Hey, KAWASAKI,
    I have nothing against EUB´s, generally. I guess nobody would make them, nor play them if they did not manage to do what they are meant for...
    BUT it all depends on what You´re gonna play on Your bass.
    1.) a Real DB is an acoustic instrument
    2.) if You are 100% sure You´ll NEVER play anything in any acoustic situation, You don´t need one. Ever.
    3.) by that decision You´ll cut out 99% of your chances to participate potentional musical combinations, including all classical music for instance
    4.) if You are still happy with that, makes one wonder why You wanted to play an upright bass in the first place
    5.) ´cause a slab would do the job anyhow
    6.) without painstaking process of studying, practicing and learning a completely new instrument
    7.) with which Your musical chances are still limited
    8.) because [ get back to 1. ]

    Sorry, all You EUB players, this is not to offend any of You, guys. I don´t hate You. I don´t hate Your instruments, either. I just got a bit angry because of that "c´mon, talk me over.." -stuff.
    If ya don´t get it, you just don´t get it.

  8. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I don't care for the NS designs. They don't sound or feel anything like a DB. No neck heel. Weird. I agree with those who said you may as well get a really nice fretless EB. (It worked for Steve Swallow, after all)

    I have an Azola bugbass I do like a lot- I think of it as the P-Bass of uprights. Indestructable, and great for travel or practice or playing at high volumes. The floating top versions have all the ruggedness of the standard Bugbass, plus a surprisingly acoustic tone.

    But I'll tell you what I told a friend who bought an NS 5 string: Eventually you're going to want a real bass. He did, too.
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It's the difference between playing something dead, and playing something alive.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The price issue is a red herring. While Steve Azola tried to get the Bugbass out as a $1000 instrument, he couldn't make any money at that price. You can't buy a new EUB for less than $1500 but you can buy a decent laminate DB for the same money. Most EUBs sell for well over $2000.

    The fret markers issue is also a red herring. You don't see violinists and cellists playing with dots all over the neck. Heck, they often can't look at the neck, they're reading music :cool: If kids in elementary school can be taught to play in pitch on a fretless instrument, you can learn it too.

    I play both DB and EBG. I've owned two EUBs, Ampeg BabyBass and Zeta Crossover...sold both of them. For what I wanted them for (portability, ease of high volume amplification) I found my fretless EBGs worked just as well.

    Basically if you want to learn to play DB, get one. If you just want a fun axe for gigging, get an EUB.
  11. Has any tried a fretless acoustic bass guitar as an alternative to upright in a jazz situation?
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have tried several ABGs, both fretless and fretted. I actually bought two and sold them shortly after. Personally, I think the whole concept is flawed.

    Unless your jazz band consist of a severely anemic drummer and horn players who smoke 14 packs of Camels a day, chances are, they are going to blow you away. They produce almost no volume.

    I was in a coffeeshop/bookstore not too long ago and there was a foursome of tenor, acoustic guitar (archtop), ABG and a trap set. Nothing amplified. I am fairly sure they were trying really hard to play something jazz like in nature. The bass player might as well have been playing his solid body bass unplugged. Although I admit I didn't hang around long enough to pull up a chair real close and wait for the solo break.

    I have been to many Bluegrass jams where someone tried to use an ABG. One D-28 and a Mastertone will bury them in a heart beat.

    As far as tone, you get what you pay for. IMO, the Tacoma Thunderchief sounds the best and projects the best, which makes sense if you have ever seen it, being that it is nearly the size of a 1/2 DB. Plywood top ABGs sound like cheese. They are completely lifeless.

    Of course, I think a fretless ABG best emulates a DB when strung with flats, but flats further contribute to the volume issue.

    That being said, if you have a nice amp and the right ABG, you can get a decent tone out of some of them.

    All and all, if you wanted to play something in the guitar family, I think the band would sound better (and you would as well) playing a fretless jazz EBG.
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I have to agree about ABGs being a flawed concept. They don't like it when I say that at MIMF...

    The problem is volume. Almost all of them sound kinda dead and too quiet. Players plug them in to get volume and then they just sound like an EB with potential feedback problems. I've also heard that the Tacoma ABG is a decent instrument, though I've never played one.

    At a big bluegrass festival last year, where Martin and Gibson and all the gang had display tents, I had the opportunity to play all the ABGs there, by myself and with others. I listened to other guys playing them in ensembles. The only time the ABGs sounded any damn good at all was when playing by myself. In an ensemble, they are gone, gone, gone...

    The guitar is not a bass violin. There are a few archtop ABGs out there, again not sure how they sound. At MIMF, I've heard archtop guitar maker Bill Moll -- who's built a few archtop ABGs -- talk about this. In his opinion, the more work you do on a guitar design to have it make good acoustic bass sounds, the more your design tends to the bass violin.

    So, why bother? I won't make any comments about "real basses" versus some unmentioned putdown category (let me hear the music before I start putting down the tools), but I will say that only a double bass REALLY sounds like a double bass. NOTHING else makes the sound in the same way.

    Bite the bullet and get a real DB. The EUB is only going to lead you there eventually....
  14. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    1. Volume. You won't always have an amp handy. Also, it helps with your technique to be able to pull as much acoustic sound out of the instrument without the aid of an amp.

    2. Tone. Regardless of construction, a lot of EUBs still sound like a fretless bass guitar.

    3. Appearance. This still matters to a lot of people, esp. in genres like jazz and classical where DB is prevalent.

    4. Training. If you play strictly EUB, your playing style will develop idiosyncracies that won't translate well if you're in a situation where the EUB isn't handy and you have to use a standard instrument. Note that the NS doesn't have any of the physical positioning cues (neck stop, shoulders) which a traditional DB provides, which makes the position markers more or less indispensible.

    The only reason to get an EUB, IMO, is for ease of transport and space issues.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I've been though this myself - but now having spent a few years looking for a decent DB and giving up it is about a year and 3 months since I bought my NSCR5.

    I go along to a Jazz jam/workshop every week (with rotating personnel - whoever turns up) and I still get comments about the EUB every time!

    So - there are those, at the beginning, who stare and say wow - that's a work of Art!!

    Then there are those who come up after and say - wow - that sounds amazing - how does it sound like a Double Bass when there is so much missing?

    There are also people who have known me for a while as a BG player and they usually come up and say - that sounds so much better than your other bass!!

    Even Jazz pros have mentioned it and asked about it.

    Another guy who I play Jazz with as well as being in the Latin band (so he knows my playing well) was saying to me a few weeks ago that the EUB has had a big impact on my playing and that I play simpler, better lines that fit the music more.

    Of course I can tell the difference - and I go to my local Jazz club every Friday night and hear great Double Bass players, getting a completely different sound....and I will buy a DB one day :

    When I can retire and devote all my life to practicing enough to play DB well and getting the necessary muscles and co-ordination. ;)

    But in the meantime, my experience over the last 15 months, tells me that EUB can be accepted in Jazz, that you can have a lot of fun with them - they do change your approach and help you appreciate how DBers think about playing. You can get a great sound, that works in a lot of acoustic styles, but you don't have the problem of feedback or boominess at high volume.

    Oh - and it's easy to play and get started - I played my first gig in a few weeks after I bought it! Easy to transport and very durable and stable! :)

    I have also found that "proper" DB strings help (I got Pirastro Orchs) and using Piezos only - not magnetic pickups - and raising the action helps make it sound more like an amplified DB - although it will never produce a perfect imitation!
  16. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I am carefully trying not to sound snobby about the whole DB / EUB thing (I'm a purist, I'll admit it), because my bottom line is ALWAYS the music.

    I just wanted to address the "physicality" issues of the double bass. The claim is that the EUB is easier to play with respect to your body. Not as hard on the hands, the arms, the back, the whole shebang.

    All of that's true, but only to an EXTENT, and I think the extent is small. Fact is, people learn to play the DB without DYING or anything. Young folks, old folks, weak, strong, male, female, anyone, really. Let's not play that factor up too much.

    Anyone new to EUBs or DBs is gonna get blisters and funny new pains at the start. If their instrument is playable and they've got gumption, they'll stick with it and learn how to play it. Most will never be anywhere near Edgar Meyer, but they learn.

    If you're already a bass player of the slab variety, the short answer is, YES YOU CAN learn the double bass.

    You may not be able to find one or afford one, but you sure as hell can learn to play it.

    Whether you decide to learn EUB or DB, it still takes determination and effort. Neither one is simple to learn, but both are learnable by anyone.

    So, why not go with the REAL bass? ;)
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I posted many detailed descriptions of my fruitless search for a decent DB in the UK - so I won't repeat that.

    The other reason for me, is that I live in a busy city in a small first floor flat - I don't have room for a DB and would be struggling to practice one most of the time - EUB is great - compact and virtually silent practice.

    I did manage to try a few DBs - but could get nothing out of them. Whereas, I immediately found it very easy to play the NS CR basses a few minutes after trying them in the Bass Centre - and believe me they sounded much better than my attempts to play the DBs I was presented with!! ;)

    So - my dilemma was - shell out a few thousand £ (about $3k)for an EUB that sounds great and I can play now


    Pay out a bit more, for a DB that sounds horrible, I can't play at all and have no guarantee that it will ever sound any good

    Hold out for a good DB at about 3 times the price - still with no guarantee, I will ever be able to make it sound great or have the time (I have a full-time job) to devote to getting/projecting a great tone on DB.

    My decision was to go for the least outlay and best likeliehood of being able to play the thing, based on my actual experiences!

    If I had ever been presented with a great DB - I might have fallen in love with it - but I never have - still!!
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Not sure a Godin Acoustibass fretless counts, it looks like a P-bass with no pickup or pickguard and the bridge off a Martin flattop. It's really a hollow body with no sound holes. It's not meant to be used acoustically, you still need an amp.

    I can get a very credible upright tone out of it (better than either EUB I used to own) but can turn around and make it sound like Jaco, too. It feels like a Fender bass when playing it instead of a D-28 on steroids.

    It's a very clever compromise instrument, well made and inexpensive to boot.
  19. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    There's a guy in the UK called Toby Schennell (sp?) who builds ABGs that can be bowed in an upright position. Aesthetically, it's the one of the best looking instruments I've seen. Never played one, but I like the idea.

    Now stop this nonsense and buy a DB.
  20. As far as the ABG question goes. I have a Taylor AB1. I love it for some situations, but it doesn't come close to a DB. Without amplification, it's useless. If I'm playing bluegrass jams, I play my Kay. If I'm playing at my church, I usually use either my Carvin or the Taylor. To me, the Taylor has a sound that is somewhere between an EBG and a DB. I'm glad I bought the Taylor, and plan to keep it. (The Tacoma Thunderchief is also a very nice ABG.) But don't buy one if you're thinking it can replace a DB. I imagine an EUB comes closer. However, I think if I needed portability I'd goe with a fretless EBG. I can't see much difference between those and an EUB.

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