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Piccolo Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Klondike, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. Klondike


    Dec 22, 2014
    Joliet, IL. USA
    Seeking knowledge because this just seems weird. Exactly what is a Piccolo Bass?
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    A piccolo bass is a bass that is tuned higher than a regular bass. Reasons why you might use a piccolo bass include soloing or playing chords. The most common tuning is EADG, one octave above standard tuning, the same as the bottom 4 strings of a guitar.

    Piccolo bass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
    Klondike and Garret Graves like this.
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I had the same question. There isn't a lot about it on TB, but the search engine is your friend.
  4. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    It's a bass that lets you set your guitar in the corner more often.
    Hopi76 and Fat Freddy like this.
  5. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Or for playing extreme tessitura parts in a more comfortable part of the neck.
    Or for orchestral/textural parts.
    Or because you play in an ensemble consisting entirely of very high instruments and you don't want to leave such a huge gap between your register and theirs.
    Or to trigger finicky pitch-tracking devices that have trouble reading the fundamental of extreme low frequencies.
    Or because there's already another bassist in your band and you'd rather not run the risk of registral conflicts.
    Or because they sound cool.
  6. amerbs38

    amerbs38 Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2012
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I got one to try out. Here`s a vid...
    If this link does`nt work just search Spellbinder Mando Piccolo Bass on Youtube . Pretty fun to play but haven't used it much
    Klondike and HaphAsSard like this.
  7. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    This feller knows his way around a piccolo bass.
    Recommended - YouTube

    I don't particularly like his stuff but he's got skills.
  8. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    A Piccolo bass has thinner gauge strings tuned an octave higher than a normal bass.
    The thickness of the piccolo's low E is about the thickness of a regular D string.
    It's low open E string is the equivalent of playing the E on the seventh fret of the A string of a regular four string bass.
    Klondike likes this.
  9. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Partly OT:
    oh - my - frigging - dog, I so love this one... Thanks a huge lot! :)
    Tuned standard, this is now officially my recommendation for an electric player looking for something that looks the part in a bluegrass ensemble (assuming they even let him/her bring an amp of course).
    (This, or this one if money's tight.)
    After all who says that, in that sitch, absent the doghouse the bass guitar is fine but only if it resembles the acoustic guitar? why not the banjo, the dobro, the fiddle or, case in point, the mando?
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Easier to think of all of them as aproximately half the thickness of normal bass strings.
    Klondike and gebass6 like this.
  11. I use them for songwriting. You can convert any bass to piccolo just replace the nut.
  12. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    sillyfabe likes this.
  13. Daedraziel


    Aug 19, 2013
    Toms River NJ
    if you have a cheap extra bass laying around, its a fun thing to string it up with piccolo strings. Sounds neat!
    couple of notes about it:

    -The Daddarrio Piccolo strings have a SOLID high G string.. not wound like the others... I didnt like it so I bought a single matching wound string.
    -The nut in MOST cases should be swapped out with a new one for the thinner strings. I managed to get away with it on the cheapo Ibanez Ergodyne bass but it made the setup quite a pain.
    Bob_Ross likes this.
  14. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    Would a standard 34" scale, or a short 30" scale be better for a piccolo bass? Or does it just depend on string gauge?
    Also, would one need a regular guitar amp, or will a bass amp still work?
    Will standard bass pickups still work?
    How many more questions should I think of?
    Klondike likes this.
  15. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    A seven string bass can reach into the Piccolo bass AND guitars range. Snapshot_20151101_1.JPG
    Klondike likes this.
  16. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    Yeah, and a ??? string ??? can reach into the ??? range, ??? range, and play all of the other ranges that have actual names.


    I have no idea???
    gebass6 likes this.
  17. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    The Dreaded Warr Guitar!I bow to my superiors!
    But mine is about a fifth or the price of yours.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  18. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    The first two questions can be bundled into a more general one: how different do you want it to sound from a six-string Spanish-tuned electric guitar?
    Please note I'm not implying either way is better. You might be content with making guitar noises with two-finger pizz bass technique (or pick, why not?), just on a more familiar, four wide-spaced string instrument. In case you might not, I suppose a long-scale, 34" platform, and fatter strings than the typically used sets for electric, might be (marginally?) better for getting a more electric-bassy sound - but perhaps a harder one for solo gymnastics and chording. On yet another hand, it's only two frets' worth of difference we're talking about: if you don't need to stay in first position I think the overall feel of the neck and bass in general trumps scale. In your shoes I'd just try a piccolo set on a bass I already have (keeping the existing nut, for the moment or forever if it turns out working fine) and decide if I like it or not and, only then, try the other scale length.
    As for amps, unless you are a picky EQ fiend I think the head portion of a regular guitar rig would serve you well enough; guitar drivers, OTOH, break up easily and start rolling off highs at around 5-6 kHz: if you like your bass clean and bright you may want to use a bass cab or combo with a tweeter (or a PA cab), just to get additional sheen between said guitar driver rolloff and where drum cymbals start drowning it all (10 kHz -ish, or so I've read), if there. Good news is, you would get away with less power than you'd typically need for regular bass gigs: a smallish combo or micro head+cab, and crank it up, with the amp portion free from the power-consuming task of making the lowest octave audible.
    As for pickups, I believe bass single coils, or bright HBs, are good to go.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
    hondo4life likes this.
  19. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    (^Ninja edited here and there for thoroughity.)
  20. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Either scale will work. I like 30", other folks like 34".

    Until you know for sure you like the tuning use a bass you already have with the existing nut, existing pickups and the bass amp you already have.

    You'll probably want to throw some kind of effect in there, even if its just a little reverb to soften the tone a little. That tuning straight into a clean amp is pretty harsh otherwise.

    All that is depending on what kind of music you want to play, of course.

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