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Stand Up bass sound from a fretless electric

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tonylevinkix, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. tonylevinkix


    Sep 24, 2010
    Currently I have a Squire Jag PJ body, wired w/ an active SD pup system with a fretless Mighty Mite neck. I'd like to get a more of a stand up sound out of my fretless. I've noticed that the Hofner violin bass gets a thump tone like a stand up and I think it's got a lot to do with the wooden bridge. I've thought about taking a Squire Jazz body I have, putting a wooden Hofner type bridge on it and then putting an acoustic pup on the bridge, put my fretless neck on it. No trapeze tailpiece, maybe string through the body? The Jazz control plate can easily handle another pot for acoustic pup volume, if I run the plug through the side of the guitar.
    Problems? The Hofner bridge string height looks too high but I haven't actually bought one yet to see, there are cheap ones on Ebay, perhaps it could be sanded down? If I remove the metal bridge, where would I ground to? Maybe I could use another type of wooden bridge? I think a combination of tape wound strings and a wooden bridge with a piezo bridge pup might give me more of a stand up sound; thoughts?
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Instead of buying an acoustic bass with a good piezo, the right electronics (some are better than others) and tapewound strings?
  3. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    This is a Wendler Bass.. that gets real close to an upright.. but that sound is just about impossible to replicate. Weight is around 5 lbs.
    Good luck with your project.. 5CE2ECBF-B6F1-40DC-B90B-421A26A428C5.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  4. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings, Aguilar Amplifiers
    They are literally different instruments; the way energy moves through an acoustic bass and a bass guitar are fundamentally different, and so they sound very different. If what you're after is "dark and tubby", put a set of flatwounds on your Jag and start there. Wait until they get good and dead before making any real assessments.
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Easy things:

    Raise the action and increase the relief.

    Turn down the amp lower than you normally would.

    Pluck up near the end of the neck, much harder than you normally would, to make up for the lower amp volume.

    Work on your plucking technique, sweeping your fingers sideways. Like upright bass players do.

    Switch to flatwounds. Not absolutely necessary, but flats don't have that high end twang.

    Yeah, I know, this won't sound exactly like an upright bass, but it will get you close. It's mostly about the plucking technique, particularly plucking harder to get the percussive pulse and the dropoff.

    Edit: A wooden bridge isn't going to make your bass sound upright-like. At best, it would slightly soften the sound. Nothing close to what the things I listed above will do.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
    TwentyHz, RustyAxe, Ikkir and 13 others like this.
  6. grrg63


    Dec 14, 2005
  7. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    Ashbory rubber bass.
  8. mojomike001

    mojomike001 Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    South Florida
    As suggested, first try flats or tapes. Also try stuffing some foam or a wad of felt under the strings right up against the bridge. Roll back the tone a bit and strike the strings over the neck near the area where the the neck meets the body.
    TwentyHz, ElGoodo and FugaziBomb like this.
  9. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    ...or you could do what I did, buy an upright, my fretless Jazz doesn't sound the same at all, so it gathers dust
  10. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    What a pretty bass...congrats!

    I've heard a few electrics that have come shockingly close to an upright, but usually cost as much or more than an upright and they're not solid bodies. You can get close in spirit though. I often palm mute slightly while playing with the side of my thumb on flats or tapes. Get as much skin on the string as you can.

    Have fun in your search!
  11. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Thank you.. it’s not mine I own one and it’s pretty cool. Weight is about 5lbs.
    dukeorock likes this.
  12. IMO the closest you'll get to an upright sound without an actual upright is with a Kala u-bass.
    TwentyHz, greggster59, Ikkir and 5 others like this.
  13. mojomike001

    mojomike001 Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    South Florida
    Sadly, my upright doesn't fit in my car, so it doesn't get to go out of the house.
    dukeorock likes this.
  14. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I'm not sure the bridge change is required, but it might be the easiest way to put a piezo pup on it.

    A fundamental difference between electric bass and upright is sustain, so the mod that helps as much as anything for replicating upright sound is reducing sustain. I use a strip of foam wedged under the strings at the bridge for that. Dead flat wounds or tape wounds also help. The advice to raise the action will also help reduce sustain on a fretless fingerboard. Your technique will probably be the most important factor in getting the sound you want & you may have to experiment with both modifications and technique to get what you're after.
    TwentyHz and Levin like this.
  15. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    On facebook, I was accused of pretending to play bass on this.

    J-Bassomatic and bobyoung53 like this.
  16. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Truth. The Ashbory was closer than anything else I've ever tried. I've been playing fretless my whole life and had an upright for many years, and I never could make one sound anything like the other. If i were to really try with an electric, wouldn't change the bridge, just put on flats, play them for about a decade until they die completely, and play quieter.
    VoodooJazz likes this.
  17. Dabndug


    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    There's a reason why upright bass is still played in settings outside orchestral music 65 years after the advent of the EBG. There are unique intrinsic qualities of the upright in terms of tone and responsiveness that can't be satisfactorily emulated by the EBG (or ABG or EUB for that matter).

    Modifying your existing bass may get you a little closer - and that may well be enough for your purposes. Flatwound strings, a mute and fitting non-magnetic pickups (the less invasive the better) will probably move you along a little. You may need to invest in something with a true hollow body to get closer still. My advice would be to do things iteratively and see how far each change moves you towards your goal. Have fun!
    TwentyHz likes this.
  18. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Sorry tonylevinkix but no electric bass gets an upright sound. I have uprights, electrics and fretless electrics, and played them for almost 5 decades.

    You hear all the time guys say they get an upright sound on their electric, but they don't. The sound is lame compared to a great upright. You might get close to an amplified plywood Kay bass. A decent upright has a sound that no uke, fretless or flat stringed fretted will ever really get. Just the way it is.

    A carved upright may have 42" string length, 50 or 100 year old wood, ebony board and a player who has spent hundreds and even thousands of hours figuring out how to play it.

    If you want a good upright sound get a good upright.

    Way better to concentrate on getting an awesome electric sound on your electric.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
    tonequixote, Holdsg, Honch and 12 others like this.

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