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Rockabilly bassist that don't use an upright

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hopsbb, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. hopsbb


    Nov 8, 2014
    Anybody know of any rockabilly bass players that don't use an upright? I keep watching videos and it seems the upright reins supreme in rockabilly. For good reason of course but I don't own one nor do I have the funds or space. I do have a Dean Cabbie which is pretty good at the uprightish tone.
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    My Dean Exotica doesn't even come close to looking the part, but it sounds closer to an upright than anything I've ever played.
    At least you'd look good playing your bass in a rockabilly band.
    Interesting question you have here.
  3. Jimmy Davis plays electric. Bass player with Sleepy LaBeef and Jason D Williams. Plays an old Yamaha BB series bass. And just doing a quick check seems to show the current bass player with Sleepy also plays electric.

    Am fairly useless in knowledge of rockabilly. Only reason am chiming in is I met Jason (and Jimmy) last year when we were playing the same festival.
    hopsbb likes this.
  4. ack

    ack Why Can't We All Get Along?

    Nov 19, 2006
    Somewhere near Raleigh
    Nick Lowe.
    ...and although some folks don't think they fit the Rockabilly mold, Jeff Johnson from Jason & the Scorchers played an electric.
    Pdaddy1978 likes this.
  5. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis

    Dec 11, 1999
    If you're looking for upright tone at a great price check out a Variax 700 or 705. The upright tone from a Variax is outstanding. It doesn't look like an upright but it sure sounds like one when the upright setting is chosen.

  6. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy

    I don't even know if it's right in here-just couldn't help but fill it

  7. Not exactly rockabilly but Gavin Jay of The Jim Jones Revue plays a Retrovibe Vantage these days.

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  8. Gene Vincent's bass player Bill Mack played Fender bass as early as '57.


    Here's GV in '60 with Vince Cooze on bass, no upright in sight.

    EBG — Good enough for GV, good enough for me.
    (FWIW, I slap upright)
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
    BigThud, CatSquare, jd56hawk and 2 others like this.
  9. And it appears the guy who played bass with Jason before Jimmy also played electric -

    Also just an excuse to post Jason's version of "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On"
    Ed Bass likes this.
  10. mrb327


    Mar 6, 2013
    Nobody Knows
    I'm more amazed ol Sleepy LaBeef is still around. That guys has been on the scene forever
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I think that BB was Sleepy's bass...a guitarist friend of mine also played bass with Sleepy over 30 years ago and he said Sleepy gave him a Yamaha to play.

    Back in the 50s, the electric bass started to move into rockabilly just as it did everywhere else...easier to carry and louder. Sure, it never displaced the DB but it was used. Even Bill Black played one although there's a famous story that after his first time recording with a P-bass he threw it across the room in frustration.

    Playing BG in a rockabilly band is not impossible but real diehard bands will always prefer a DB player for obvious reasons.
    BassGreaser likes this.
  12. fenderbassman40


    Apr 7, 2011
    It doesn't matter if you play an upright or electric to 98% of the crowd at a rockabilly show as long as you're rocking a pompadour and dressing like an alcoholic mechanic on his way to meeting his parole officer circa 1954.
  13. sxaxsx


    May 23, 2012
    Harrisburg PA
    It all depends whether or not the rest of the band is okay with you playing electric. I think a lot of bass players switched to electric when the P bass came out, but the revivalist bands nowadays are playing up a certain image and I am sure there are bands out there that wouldn't hire an electric no matter how well it sounded.
    Bluegrass and even indie folk has kind of gone that way also, seems like in the last ten years certain genres have become obsessed with upright and you now see them far more often now than you use to.
  14. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Al Gare (Imelda May's bass player) plays both upright and electric....although he seems to favor the upright for the more traditional rockabilly stuff.
    kodiakblair likes this.
  15. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Marshall Grant (Johnny Cash) played an epiphone newport
    BigThud, bassbully and Pdaddy1978 like this.
  16. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    Haven't seen many, but I'm sure it could work visually as well as musically, if you used a hollowbody bass like the Epi Jack Casady or the Gibson Midtown.
  17. I think the hardest part of trying to mimic an upright is the dead note slap. On electric, but it doesn't have the same feel to it.
  18. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    In the '50s, the bassist with Jerry Lee Lewis played a Precision.
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    As a former bluegrasser who was playing BG back then, there's no doubt that in genres like bluegrass, rockabilly and jazz the DB had always been desired. What changed is that it's easier to buy and service DBs today than it has been for decades.

    When I bought my first DB in 1981, buying a bass or getting one serviced was like buying drugs. You had to know someone who knew someone, etc. Violin shops would not work on basses, nothing larger than a cello. Strings and rosin were always special orders, the only pickups or preamps you could buy locally were Fishman because some stores carried their guitar stuff.

    Things have changed for the better, perhaps because the Internet made it easier for players to hook up with merchants. Bob (all hail!) Gollihur started posting on Usenet, then created a resource webpage for DB players, then started selling pickups and today is a full service bass dealer selling basses, amps, pickups, strings, bows and accessories. Upton Bass in CT started out as a small repair shop, they now build their own basses and pickups. And so on...it's just a golden age for DB again.
  20. RussT

    RussT Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2012
    Matt Freeman from Rancid, while not techically a rockabilly player, uses a regular old bass. His bass lines are definitely rockabilly influenced and he is as good at it as it gets. IMO anyways.
    Crowd crusher likes this.

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