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Old fashioned Country

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by countrybass5, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. How many of you play old fashioned country/country rock and what basses do you use?
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I do. I play bluegrass, old cowboy songs and old country. Just a couple of my buddies playing acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica. No drums, no PA, I'm the only one with a small amp. On the sidewalk in front of the town bakery. All of us singing. That's how I like it. I just did it for two and a half hours this afternoon. That's musical enjoyment.

    I play one of my fretless Scroll Basses, 35" scale, 12 year old Chromes flatwounds, through a little old Carvin combo amp with a single 10" speaker. Moderately high action, plucking hard old school style. That warm, percussive, constrained tone that could almost be a battered old upright bass. To me, that fits the music. Not a modern Nashville bass sound.
  3. I didn't think too many tbers play old school country...thanks for the reply. I miss my dad playing his steel guitar. He died at age 94 and played right up to the week before he passed. He had a family band that used to do live radio show in the 40s.
    lowdownthump, Haroldo, dmt and 4 others like this.
  4. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I don't, but I'd love to. :)
    lowdownthump likes this.
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Wow, the response is underwhelming.... I guess I'm more of an old geezer than I thought.

    I really enjoy the acoustic combo music. Acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, bass. Lots of heavy singing, 4 or more part harmonies. Sometimes rhythm folks join us, shakers and spoons and thump boxes. We particularly enjoy playing outdoors on a sidewalk or in a living room. An audience of maybe 30 people, joining in singing with us. No PA system, no messing with mics or big amps. We can all hear every note that each other sings and plays. It's a fun, pure kind of music.

    I sing bass, and have worked hard on developing my deep singing voice. Tim Faust is my hero. I sing lead (down in the baritone/bass range) on most of the cowboy songs and lots of the old country. Johnny Cash, etc. And I sing bass harmony on everything else.

    It's fun exploring the old (prior to the 1930's) cowboy songs. Music that was created on ranches around the turn of the 20th century. Passed down through generations, and barely written down. That evolved into the Hollywood movie-style cowboy music and what we now call Old Country.
  6. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    Two bands, both play old country, and one also plays old western (back before it was "country and western" or "rock and roll"). I use whichever bass I happen to bring, although I do have an old p.o.s. Hohner (definitely not "Hofner") acoustic/electric that I use more with the bluegrass group.
  7. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    When I played “old country” I used a P bass with old flats. I play a little old country today but mostly nu country and use Active fives mostly my Laklands.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  8. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Previous band did a fair amount of this. My #1 (the white P) with roundwounds. If I can contribute anything to this thread, it’s that you don’t need flats for anything. If you like ‘em, that’s cool, but the notion that you need flats to accurately perform any kind of music (classic country, trad country, Motown, jazz et al.) is erroneous.
  9. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    Mountain West
    I play a Hofner in an originals band inspired by 50s/60s country.
  10. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    I play some bluegrass, and old American and British Isle folk songs, and some old country - mainly Johnny Cash. I mostly use guitar and sing on that material.
    One bass I tend to reach for if I know I don't need a modern sound is my 30.5" scale hollowbody, that one has old flats on it.
    I also use an ABG mic'd. If I use the P/J, I'll solo the P and roll back the tone.
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    First, IMHO, Traditional country is not in the same category as country rock. I see traditional country as Merle, George Jones, Hank Sr., etc and country rock more as the eagles. Country rock has much more in common with rock than country.

    Having said that, I did play in a traditional country band and used whatever bass I felt like. Primarily a precision with flats, but I'd bring a precision with rounds or a jazz and just adjust the tone controls on the bass and amp as needed. In three years no one ever said a single thing about any bass I was playing.

    This whole "what bass for X genre" is more of a TB thing than a real world thing. When I was starting out, I could only afford one bass and for the first 10 years I play rock, disco, Motown, soul, country and jazz all on the same bass. I never had anyone say a word about my bass and it was a Rickenbacker. Unless you are playing a hot-pink pointy 80's bass, as long as you play the correct style and correct tone on a professional grade instrument, I don't think anyone notices or cares.
  12. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I do and love traditional sounds. My main player for the past few years has been a 58 Precision with flats, although I just played a gig this weekend with a (new to me) 66 Jazz with rounds and it was absolutely fantastic sounding. So much so, I’m tempted to throw rounds on my Precision just to see what happens. All through an Ampeg SVT and Heritage 810 cabinet. Some TBers talk about “transparent” cause they want to hear the natural sound of their bass. I think the Ampeg is as much of that traditional sound as the basses I use.
    armybass and GrooverMcTube like this.
  13. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    In front of a bakery? So you guys are playing the Fillmore Yeast?
  14. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I play in a 7 pc old school country band and we gig a lot. Tons of the old classics with a few modern and some 90’s tossed in. Mostly play festival and corporate staged events with FOH sound crew. I play mainly US G&Ls, EBMM and Roscoes but I have a few classic Peaveys that come out from time to time.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
    68Goldfish and Burwabit like this.
  15. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    I first learned the basics of bass and drums in the late sixties, early seventies. I'd jam with a neighbor, his dad and my brother. The dad played in a traditional country band, he taught us the basics. The music was Hank Williams (the first one), Johnny Cash, Hank Snow... Sometimes I played bass, sometimes I played drums. As I got older and learned and leaned more towards rock I played drums and let bass slide. I didn't return to the bottom end until 2008.

    Back when I first started I played my neighbor's 1960s Harmony single pickup solid body. Eventually I owned a 1972 Tele Star (Teisco) bass of my own.

    When I first got back into playing bass I started with those same old country tunes to see what I remembered.
  16. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Hah! That's pretty funny! I'm going to have to tell Andrea that. We play in front of the Roan Mills Bakery, right in downtown Fillmore. Downtown Fillmore is only three blocks long. Roan Mills isn't just a small town bakery, it's a larger company that includes several farms and mills. They supply grains and baked goods at the wholesale level to restaurants and markets all around Ventura County. All high end specialty baked goods products. Andrea owns and runs it. She has a small retail storefront on the front of the main milling building, two blocks from my shop. Only open Wednesdays and Saturdays, selling to the locals. I'm there every week getting fine breads.

    Andrea loves acoustic music, so we've been doing this musical jam thing on the sidewalk in front of the store. I lead it and sort of run things. It's a free open jam session, for any local Fillmore residents to show up with an instrument and sit and play music for fun. No fixed performance, no band concerts, no open mic format. Folks coming in to buy bread are welcome to hang around outside and watch. Most days we'll get 4-8 musicians playing and 20-30 people sitting around watching us. We play bluegrass, cowboy songs, old country, early folk rock, whatever we think up (and can remember).

    It's been a lot of fun. I've drawn out a dozen or so folks who live here in Fillmore, and have some history as musicians, but are long out of the business. They don't play much any more, and have no interest in being in a band or doing a real gig. But it's fun for them to come out and jam with us.

    For a while in the fall, we were calling it Pizza Friday. It was Friday evenings, and Andrea was serving up (really good!) specialty pizzas. Now we've switched over to doing it Saturday afternoons, 12-3pm. I think we're going to start calling it Bread & Jam. If any of you are wandering around Ventura County on a Saturday afternoon, looking for some musical enrichment, you are welcome to join us!
    BassHappy, JIO and wraub like this.
  17. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yes, I agree that you don't have to play flats or some particular bass. You can play Old Country with just about anything. An old thumper with flats just makes it easier. Roundwounds naturally have a high metallic ring and a particular squeaky finger noise, which you don't hear in Old Country. Particularly in a small "acoustic" setting. That's the main reason for preferring flats. But if the roundwounds are old and greasy, and you turn the highs down a bit, they are fine.
  18. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Banned

    May 26, 2010
    Classic 50's Lacquer, Seymour Duncan SPB-1, GHS Precision Flats (45-95)

    Old school country, alt-country (hate that term) type stuff...

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  19. G-Dog

    G-Dog What a fun place! Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2016
    Recent years I've jammed some old time country with friends, and I've played in a regular modern country cover band (meaning country lyrics with rock music), which I really enjoy 'cause I've always liked rock.

    But my favorite lately is billed as "Bluegrass Jam". But you really gotta know your way around your instrument to hang with these old guys! I'm talking past and present state fiddle champs, flat pickers, mandolin s and banjos! I've never heard most of these songs before and they mostly start off simple enough, but then BAM! Where'd that chord come from? For that matter, where'd that time signature come from?!? Oh, good, back to the simple part, then BAM, again! It don't sneak up on me a third time, though. And nobody's using tabs or charts or nothing but memory!! Luckily I also play guitar and can see almost all the chords they're playing. But, mainly, it's great ear training to play with these guys. 'Course, my BG & amp is only welcome if no one else brings an upright!

    68Goldfish and armybass like this.
  20. lossfizzle


    Jul 8, 2013
    It's funny, but as a multi-instrumentalist who arbitrarily decided about 6ish years ago that he wanted to play more bass, and who had found a serious interest in vintage pre-1970s country / the steel guitar lifestyle / etc. a few years prior, I put out an ad looking to join an old school country band.

    The first cover band that contacted me said they were "working country into their sets." Played with them for two years; that did not ever happen.

    I've ended up playing bass in multiple bands and projects since, stylistically all over the map, including bands that billed themselves as "country" but were really just doing full sets of the most obnoxious modern Nashville stuff, and not very well at that.

    The only commonly accepted popular styles I haven't played live during my bass phase are a) vintage country and b) meaningful, prolonged, learn-to-walk-already-pal jazz (which I am differentiating from a set with a few Real Book standards thrown in between top 40 numbers). I really hope I get to be in a gigging band-- however briefly before they throw me out-- that does one, the other, or both before I die.

    So yeah, I'm jealous of some of you here.
    saabfender likes this.

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