Plusses and minuses to an acoustic bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lloccmttocs, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    I'm actually a double bassist but I've recently thought about picking up an acoustic bass guitar because I hate how my electric requires me to plug in and then it's really loud and if I want to just play on the streets, it's just too much of a pain to bring my double bass. Plus if I ever wanted to I could practice in my dorm room working out fingerings or just hearing how things sound when they are fret perfect intune. I just wanted to hear what people had to say about acoustic basses, the pros and cons and what ones people would recommend.
  2. Waspinators


    Jul 22, 2007
    South Florida
    -Practice anywhere.
    -Cool, upright-ish sound.
    -Looks better when playing with acoustic guitarists.

    -Usually have to be enormous to be heard.
    -Might be awkward to play (depending on the person and bass).
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Pros: seems like a good idea.

    Cons: terrible in reality. They're just too quiet with no amplification.
  4. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    In my experience, acoustic bass guitars are mostly for looks. You still have to plug them in for any real volume. They fit right in for an "unplugged" set (looks-wise) but you will still need an amp to be heard, especially if you're playing outside (e.g. busking). Plus, they just don't sound that great, unless you spend a LOT. Kasha-style ABGs sound good but they are not cheap.

    Taylor's discontinued ABGs are built on the Kasha designs, and this guy also builds Kasha basses:

    Watch out, they are ~$9k.

    There are battery-powered amps but you might as well go with an electric if you're gonna do that.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Pretty much. Takes an expensive ABG to compete with the volume of a cheap acoustic guitar.

    The body thickness can change wrist angle on your right hand. A friend of mine had an acoustic gig and he's now experiencing numbness issues in his right hand.

    Acoustic instruments also need the bridge to be about 4-5" from the edge of the body, which is essentially making your left hand reach 4-5 extra inches.

    Semi-acoustic or chambered piezo basses won't get lots of volume without an amp, but do a great job with the acoustic sound plugged in without the extra size or feedback problems.
  6. lowend1


    Feb 15, 2005
    If you're just noodling around at home, the acoustic volume thing isn't an issue. If you're playing with just an acoustic guitar next to you, the smallest of amps will get you where you need to be. There are even some battery-powered units that will do the job if you don't have 'lectricity nearby. Keep in mind also that not every acoustic guitar is a volume machine either.

    With regard to quality, if you don't get too picky, you can get into something serviceable for a few hundred bucks. This is an example of something on the lower end:
    It may be better than you think, and Rondo's return policy is pretty fair.

    Above all else, be sharp and shop wisely - the deals are out there if you put some effort into looking.
  7. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    in my experience, I've only tried 3 different acoustic basses, but we always had to use a small amp anyway, just to be heard over the unamplified acoustic guitars I was playing with.
    stick with your electric, get you a small portable amp for playing on the street, and get you a decent set of headphones for the dorm room.
  8. LOL, this is exactly why I'm a loyal Rob Allen user. I remember trying a Dean 5 string after I got my MB2. The MB2 has me absolutely spoiled! I get all the benefits of an acoustic bass or EUB, but don't really need to compromise my technique.
  9. K.Ross


    May 19, 2008
    Dave Wendler also makes a NICE sounding acoustic bass...(look up it comes up,click the top that says Ozark Instruments.) Check out his sound clips. You WILL need an amp....I'm not aware of any that don't need amps,and MANY of the cheap ones sound....CHEAP. For $1100 Dave can build you a nice guitar.
  10. If you're using this for a gig situation, you better invest in a hybrid (electric/acoustic) or some acoustic pickups to get put in there, because it sounds fine when you're playing by yourself but ask any bass player in here, you THINK you'll be loud enough at practice till you get there and the guitarist is beating your 1x15 and 4x10's with 1x12 at 50w while you're cranking out 300w with a stack the height of an average teenager.

    Don't be afraid of electrics, you can get lots of practice amps that aren't very loud or just get a headphone amp w/ a DI box. And if you're looking to do some busking, this guy seems to be doing ok with a little peavey combo:

  11. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    It's all been said here.
    I really want to love my ABG - it's pretty and portable.
    But I need an amp to be heard, and I'd rather play my electric, by a long shot, if I'm going to need an amp - it has better sound and playability.
  12. What about hollow body basses? any input on those, I know I'd need an amp to play with them but at least I could be somewhat audible for practicing in a dorm.
  13. Like many people here I have not had a positive experience with an acoustic bass guitar... yet. I keep looking though.

    When I was in the Army, I used to practice on my P-Bass in the barracks without an amp.

    Check this out:

    I played one at a party once... I loved it. I recently saw a guy play one at a local gig. It has a really nice tone. I am sure it would cover your need for quiet practice. It also looks great. You will need an amp of course....

  14. Funny, I was looking at that exact bass. 13 seconds ago.
  15. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    Check out the album, "Garden of Eden" by Paul Motian. It's Jazz, but the bassist (the name momentarily escapes me...) plays an ABG. The liner notes and photos indicate it. Strangely, it's a fretted ABG. I don't know of any other jazz albums where the bass player plays an ABG. Maybe someone else does.
  16. theory028

    theory028 Really Loud Hamburger.

    Jul 4, 2007
    Cedar Falls, IA
    I've been wanting an Ibanez AEB for a while now (just a little bit now and then). I have a Dean 5 string that isn't that bad. It is, as many have mentioned, mostly for the looks. I'd like to have a black acoustic to compliment the black acoustics that the guitarists play. Or maybe one of those nice natural brown Ibanez basses (wood grain, not like the yellowish gold acoustics).

    The good thing is that if you are playing an acoustic bass, it is typically with acoustic guitars (otherwise, what's the point). A small practice amp can cut through nicely and sound great. My only experience with that was playing with two acoustic guitars and a Peavey combo (MAX 115, which is 50 or 60 watts driving a 15" speaker). It didn't take much to fit in nicely.

    Now that I think of it, I was playing along with the guys. It was a slow acoustic song, very nice sounding. I had a fun bass part (simple but complimented everything nicely). Later that night my brother mentioned to me that he really liked the sound of the bass with the acoustic guitars and how the bass made it a lot better. I figured it may have been his way of being nice to me, but I think he really felt that way. It felt great receiving that compliment.

    That just goes to show that acoustic guitars and some soothing low end goodness are a great combination.

    That is my current line of thinking. I can't imagine using an AEB in a large setting. It'd be great for a coffee house setting; as long as you can dig the feel and sound.

    Now I want a small but nice sounding practice amp. :( I don't need to be spending any more money.
  17. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    For practicing in a dorm room, stick with your electric and get yourself a Tascam CD Bass Trainer (or the MP3 version). It has built-in bass tones and a headphone jack/mixer, plus of course the ability to loop, slow-down etc parts for transcription.
  18. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    I've really tried hard to find an ABG that I really liked. I've tried Taylors, Godins, Carlo Robelis, Tacomas, etc etc.

    I must've played about 100-150 different models, new and vintage, when I was looking for one I liked.

    Well I found one, but I haven't seen another in person since. The Fender Victor Bailey Signature. Its very slim, very warm, and surprisingly loud. It kept up with an acoustic guitar player without anytrouble. The neck was also a dream to play. This bass is honestly one of the most overlooked basses ever. I mean, Fender only makes Ps and Js right?

    My only gripe was that this bass belonged to a friend and he wouldn't sell it to me.:(

    I recommend you try it if you can find one.
  19. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    Buy a keyboard amp- I use a Roland for small and coffeehouse things. Plus, you can use it for just about everything (electronic drums, acoustic guitars, keyboards, vocals, basses of all kinds), except electric guitars.
  20. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    Do yourself a favor...

    Search: ABG, acoustic, Michael Kelly, Takamine, Playmate...
    Read the posts from all the people who love their ABG's.

    Get out and try one. Wrap your arms around the jumbo body and dig in.
    It's no slab.

    Understand and accept the instrument for what it is. It's not going to stand out in a fifteen piece ukulele band, but it will hang with an acoustic guitar or two, depending on the players.

    Oh.. and the people who say "if you have to plug in, just bring your electric"; man, that's such a load of crap.