Pros and Cons of EUB?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by thrash_jazz, Oct 3, 2002.

  1. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I've been through the Newbie-Link EUB threads here but I wanted to get some expert opinions - ie, from those that play or have played both DB and EUB.

    I am currently renting a DB and I am quite happy with it, but I am starting to wonder whether EUB might be a better way to go, for the following reasons:

    1) Space. Not such a big issue right now, as my home will always have a free corner where the bass can go, but I feel it will be a worry when I move next. Also I play in some VERY small places, and some people have already asked me not to bring the DB, supposedly because it takes up too much room.

    2) Portability. I don't own a car and it isn't practical for me to own one right now. Thus, I must use the bus and my own two feet to cart around the DB. I don't mind this so much as the fact that I live downtown and some nefarious character might well decide one day to target the slow-moving, double bass-toting musician.

    3) Volume. I don't have a pickup yet, and even when I mic the DB, it is cumbersome and barely loud enough. I figure if I'm going to have to plug in all the time anyway, why not use an instrument that was designed specifically to do that?

    Just wondering if anyone had ever had similar issues, and how they were resolved (especially #3, which is the big kicker)
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I own to DB and one EUB. I don't like the EUB much:

    If you play in a place that small, think about playing DB with great sound and no amp.

    EUB is the hands-down winner there. They travel great. Plus, for those of us in Maine & Ottowa & suchlike, "portability" includes, "It doesn't crack when you take it out in the winter." But again, the con side is that you are required to bring the amp.

    That, Thrash, is where we're going to part company. I've never had feedback or volume issues -- and I play with a mic a lot, too. My experience is that any gig where you're gonna be that loud, you're gonna have a sound system.

    Most importantly, though, is this: IMO an EUB sounds a lot like a DB at high volume, through a sound system. The more you can actually hear it, the less it sounds like a DB. For me, the EUB resembles a DB as Dominos resembles Italian cuisine: You can tell where it's aiming, but it doesn't get all the way there.

    Many will, no doubt, disagree. Bruce?
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think Thrash might at that point where he is struggling with the dedication that the future requires if he is going to be one of the few, the proud, the chiropractically challenged, The Bass Players...


  4. As Samuel said EUBs come close to a double bass but for most of us it's not close enough. Samuel and I both own Carruthers SUB 1s. The SUB is constructed very well and the neck feels like a DB. My fingerboard required some dressing as it was cut very unevenly. The sound is decent but it ain't no DB. Its a little midrangey, kind of like an Underwood pickup. I have found it sounds very different depending on the amp I use. I bought it for a few reasons 1) I wanted something I could travel/fly with easily. 2) Sometimes if I get a call for a cocktail/dinner gig and the band goes in one car. No one in the audience will (unfortunately) notice the inferior sound but we can save travel expenses/the environment if I bring the SUB and take up less car space.
    There is also a huge difference in sound between different EUBs. Some sound just like a fretless bass and others sound close to a DB. Out of all of the EUBs I have tried/heard, the Azola floating top Bug bass has the best DB-like sound.
    You live in Ottawa, you're only an hour and 45 away. You are welcome to check out my SUB if you are ever in Montreal. PM me.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Not at all - they do sound different - the question of what sound you like is where it all becomes subjective.

    So - I have never owned a DB, but go to my local Jazz club every week and see/hear some great DB players - I've also been privileged to sit a few feet away from some great Jazz DB players - like Dave Holland.

    What strikes me is they all sound different and have varying amounts of acoustic "noise" and for want of a better word - "fundamental" tone.

    I think my favourite tone is NHOP - that is pure sound that I have heard live or on recordings - but I know a lot of people around here don't like his sound - so this is where the subjective element comes in.

    And I think each person can only determine this for themself - so go an listen to the EUB you are planning to buy - does it sound great to you? Yes -end of story!!

    But if you are hankering after a tone/sound that cannot be reproduced by an EUB then you might as well get keep the DB and forget it.

    To go back to my listening experiences - some DB players I've heard have sounded really awful amplified - scratchy and lacking in bass - no projection of sound - can't be heard in solos and I have come across players who get feedback if they turn it up loud enough for the room.

    Although I can see they are great players - they are suffering from their amplification - it does seem to be problematic and a big hollow thing does not react best to certain amplified situations. But I guess that these players persist, because they really like the sound they hear and will put up with any shortcomings because this is the only instrument they want to play.

    I see it as a personal choice that can't really be made by internet committee!! ;)
  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Thanks for your opinions folks. I plan to take this question to my teacher as well, but I also wanted to get some feedback from the old hands here. Much appreciated!

    Admittedly, I have never tried an EUB, but from recordings I have heard, it doesn't compare to the DB sound. I will probably get a chance to check one out around here shortly (and thank you very much Randy for your kind offer)

    The main issue thus far as far as I am concerned is volume, so perhaps a pickup would be a better investment. I guess the answer is to try both and see.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it's a good idea to do this in conjunction with your teacher.

    I did concentrate on the sound question in my post, in reply to Sam, but there are certainly more advantages to EUB. So like you mention, I have a small flat in town and I really don't have room for a DB - my girlfriend would throw it out!! ;)

    Also - the EUB is much easier to play and especially to play higher up the neck so you can do convincing solos - I notice that less-experienced DB students hang on to the lower reaches for grim death and end up sounding quite muddy in solos.

    Transportataion is very easy and I'm not sure I could fit a DB and my amp/cab setup in my car - I nearly always have to give somebody a lift to gigs - usually our percussionists -those congas take up a lot of space!

    The disadvantage, that worries me is that you never see anybody in Jazz groups in the UK using EUBs - it's all DBs and the very occasional BG virtuoso. I think it's hard to get Jazz players and audiences over here, to accept this instrument.
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I don't find my Azola Bug to be easier to play than my DB. Though it's a great bass in its own right, and the action is slightly lower than the realbass, the ergonomics are a bit of a nightmare; the thing is just too close to my body. I also can't approach the level of control over dynamics that I have with DB. Finally, it isn't that much more portable than my DB, especially when it's in the road case, as it usually is when I'm touring. It does sound great in really large venues, but the DB sounds better. I'm glad I have it to use when I'm touring someplace where there aren't any decent DBs available; but I don't think I'd use it as my primary instrument otherwise.
  9. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I raised the action on my Bugbass to where it's the same as on my UB. Plays better, and sounds better, too. Less thump and more sustain and tone.

    I don't think of the Bugbass as the equivalent of my UB. I bought it mainly as a more portable and weather resistant instrument that would double as a spare for when my main instrument was in the shop, but I find myself thinking now that I'd really prefer a plywood bass for travel in nasty weather, or playing outdoors, etc. Still, I do like the Bugbass, especially for late-night practice with a headphone amp.
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I'm going to try raising my action on the Bug; it has a bit too much "mwah" for my tastes right now. The side extension is too short for me, even when it's fully extended, it puts kind of a nasty bend in my left wrist. It helps to move the bass more to my right, so that my left forearm is a little more extended.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Try a pickup. I'm assuming you started on DB because of the sound, right? You won't get that with a popsicle - they tend to sound like big fretless slabs for the most part. The sound of a DB is all about the vibrating top and moving air. You can get a great pickup/mic combination with a blender for around $300, and solve your volume problems without losing your tone.

    Think of your favorite DB player, then think of your favorite EUB player. What does that tell you?
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well that just sounds like you got the wrong EUB!! ;)

    The NSCR5 I have is very easy to play and I find no problem with control of dynamics - a lot of professional bass players that I like, are using them - like Pino Palladino, Tony Levin and a few others whose names escapes me for the present.

    It also takes up practically no space in my car and is very solid.
  13. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Ask Steve Azola, I'm sure he'd make you a special longer side extension.
    If this can help: I always play EUB seated, on a drummer's seat. Did that with the old Ampeg Baby Bass, then the BugBass, and now with my Carruthers.
    It's the most comfortable setting for me.
  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Bruce, I seem to have the same problem with EUB's in general; I tried some others with the same results. BTW, I played the NS after I bought the Bug, and liked it a lot. The Bug sounds great and gets the job done, so I guess I'll stick with it for road work. I'm just too slim to get the bass to position itself where I'm totally comfortable with it; maybe I should come visit you and drink good UK beer for a couple of months, in order to get the proper waistline.;)
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - the NS basses are not free "floating" although you can position them at many many angles - so I can't see why anybody would have a problem? I have seen loads of skinny people having no problems - the shop assistant who sold me the bass being a case in point - he was like a rake!

    Whereas, I must say that just about every Jazz Double Bass player I've seen (with one or two exceptions) have been pretty "portly" guys ! ;)

    PS I don't drink beer - hate the stuff!
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    One of several reasons I sit while playing: no gut on which to rest the bass.
  17. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maybe it's the neck angle, then...Idunno. I just get some pain in my left hand during the first set, which I play through, and then things improve as time goes by. I still like the bass, and the fact that it allows me to play some kind of upright in situations that I couldn't otherwise. I get no pain and better sound on the DB. Go figgah...
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But on the NS basses you can change this to any angle! :confused: You just need to play around with all the bits and pieces.
  19. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I got a chance to try out my teacher's mic a few days ago. (When I said I was using a mic before, that meant a crapola dynamic vocal mic running through a cheapo PA). This was only a small $100 mic, but when properly placed and EQ'ed it sounded GREAT. I'm going to go and look for one sometime soon!

    As for the portability... ah well, I could use the exercise... :)
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The mic thing is problematic - I have heard people have big problems and I have heard great sounds from mic'd DBs. So I do a lot of Jazz workshops/jams and there's nothing worse than a DB feeding back across the room, when it's your turn to play!! ;)

    But I suspect the people with problems, haven't researched teh subject or paid as much as the ones with great sounds ?