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Thinking of buying an EUB... advice please?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by FollowMeDown, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. FollowMeDown


    Feb 8, 2019
    So i'm thinking of buying an upright stick bass. I'm a total beginner with uprights, never played one before, other than a quick go on someone else's that was a surprising amount of fun and made me see the possibilities. When buying an instrument I generally prefer to start premium than first buy cheap/beginner, have to learn on a harder-to-play instrument and later lose money from trading up.
    I'm looking for something that sounds as much like a regular double bass as possible, or even warmer, growlier. The leader of one band I play with really wants me to play with a bow too, not only finger playing.
    I really like the appearance of the NS Design basses, has anyone got anything good/bad to say about their tone/playability in comparison to other EUBs?
    Beyond the things one checks for when buying a used bass guitar, what are the extra things to look out for when buying a used upright stick bass?
    Also, I love having a bottom B string on my bass guitar. I was recently given a 4 string bass guitar but can't get comfortable playing it due to that missing string. Am I crazy for thinking I should get a 5 string EUB?
  2. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I'd recommend that you ask a moderator to post this in the EUB section on the Double Bass side of TB.
  3. FollowMeDown


    Feb 8, 2019
    Woops I should have scrolled down on the forums tab window.... will do thanks.
    willtu likes this.
  4. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    5 string is totally fine, if that is what you want. The big daddy in the EUB world is the Yamaha Silent Bass, classical players even like it. Yamaha seems to be the closest to "getting there" with an instrument that feels and sounds like a real DB on its own.

    Eminence and Allegro EUBs have the feel of a DB, and are well liked by DB players, particularly for bluegrass and folk music. The NS and Ibanez options cater more to the BG player, and feel more like a fretless electric bass held upright - but you can still bow them and stuff.

    I was a DB guy (classical degree, the whole deal) and I have a Palatino EUB that was my road warrior for many years. People are mixed on them, and obsessively mod them,, but I never had a problem with mine stock. A couple years ago, I dug it out of the basement, cleaned it up, slapped new Spirocore Mittels on it, and played it through the "acoustic sim" model on my Rumble Studio 40. Between the new strings and some digital trickery, I think it sounds pretty convincing as a DB.

    I kind of like the NS sticks, too, and they even make a 34" scale upright (that is 1/4 scale for DB) that is very interesting. I may get one some day, but I tune in fifths and have no idea what kind of strings I could get on it for that tuning.
    carl h., pasmithy and Opus_Pocus like this.
  5. FollowMeDown


    Feb 8, 2019
    Thanks for your reply, that's very useful info. I've just watched a few videos on the SLB300. Of all EUBs I've heard so far, to me at least it's sound is by far the best. I'm wondering if it can be played without the shoulders fitted? It does seem damn good other than sadly I don't think they make a 5 string version.
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    In my experience one of the Yamaha Silent Basses is probably going to be the best choice by far if you want anything approaching an authentic upright experience. I have not tried any of the current line, but years ago I tried this series at Musik Messe and the top of the line models really nailed the upright bass vibe way better than any other stick bass I have tried, including the Eminence which I tried at the same show.

    I played a US series NS Design 6-string for about 15 years, and it was a fabulous instrument with a very unique voice. But I would say it was absolutely nothing like playing an upright. IMHO the sound and feel was most similar to a fretles bass guitar, but the NS Design has even less thump and more sustain if you can imagine that. Also due to the nearly 42" scale, the bass produced a super strong fundamental. The B-string especially was just mind-blowing.

    I used to tour with a traditional upright, the NS Design, and a fretted Yamaha TRB6P. I chose whichever bass I felt was best suited for the arrangement. The attack and decay characteristics of a bass guitar is actually more like an upright than the NS Design, so the NS Design was pretty much my last choice for playing swing standards. There were times when I used solely the NS design for entire concerts, but I felt it compromised the feel on the swing tunes. The audience didn't seem to mind though. In fact, they expressed a lot of curiosity about the bass and said it sounded perfect.

    The current NS Design EU6 is almost identical to the bass I used to play. I miss that instrument quite a bit, but it was never mine to keep. I had to turn it in when I retired.
    Bushmaster, Cartier76 and equill like this.
  7. I had a 4-string NS Design and really wished it had the shoulder. It was an ergonomic nightmare. It had plenty of mwah, but lacked "beef". I never really got comfortable with the tripod stand or the strap harness, which is rather stupid and expensive.
    Bushmaster likes this.
  8. Happy Steve

    Happy Steve Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    Mel-burn, Ore-stralia
    I went this route very recently ($$$ wise), arriving at a used Yamaha SLB200 via a Stagg EUB. Unfortunately I never had the funds when I first looked at EUBs. I missed the Stagg headphone output, so I got hold of a Vox Amplug which does the job OK on the Yamaha.

    I have been playing upright exclusively for quite a time now, and I can definitely say the Yamaha has reproduced the 'feel' of an URB right well (and works well with the bow). This is partly due to the 'frame' which I would prefer not to leave off. The frame encourages a relaxed grip, no need to hold on to stop the bass spinning on its end-pin.

    I set up the same strings and string heights as on my URB. One difference feel-wise is the Yamaha has a Eb neck heel rather than a D neck heel.

    I still prefer the sound of my URB, but at my first gig last week with the Yamaha, the group members and listeners thought the sound was fine and it was certainly easier to get a louder working sound without feedback. That 'pretty, acoustic URB sound' does not always work best amplified.

    I can't comment on the SLB300, but I would think it might be a step up in sound authenticity if it works anything like the Tonedexter does with approximating a 'mic sound' from a piezo signal.

    good luck with whatever you end up with! Steve
    Bushmaster and Cartier76 like this.
  9. equill


    Nov 25, 2010
    I have an NS WAV4, and I recommend you avoid it if you want something that sounds like an acoustic upright. Ned aimed to make a new instrument in its own right, and I think he succeeded. This was fine for me, because I was looking for the next thing on from a fretless that I could really dig into.

    Its playability is good, but I never could stop it pivoting around the mounting point for the stand without a workaround.
    Bushmaster and Wasnex like this.
  10. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    I have an amazing EUB but I just don’t play it anymore. It’s a Knutson Messenger Custom DLX and it has a one of a kind blue-green sunburst. I have the gig bag, stand, and flight case for it. It sounds really great for an EUB, and it has a neck with the reference points you need for upright. I’m thinking of selling it.
    Bushmaster and VictorW126 like this.
  11. FollowMeDown


    Feb 8, 2019
    Thanks for your comprehensive replies guys, all very helpful.
    equill likes this.
  12. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    Pics, or it didn't happen.
  13. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Most EUB pickup systems don't sound great with a bow. Look for a two way system that specifically says it works well for both.

    Another thing to look for is a tailpiece that matches the radius of the bridge and fingerboard. Many cheaper basses have straight tailpieces that result in uneven feeling strings since the break angle is different for the center strings compared to the outside ones.
    Bushmaster likes this.
  14. Even with a rounded tailpiece the string angle at the bridge is larger in the middle.
  15. vedi


    Sep 16, 2008
    Luxembourg, EU
    hmmmm... I still have a catalogue somewhere with Chris Minh Doky saying SLB100 has D neck. my SLB300 is definitely D neck. the SLB200LTD I tried had D neck. I have a very old URB with a D neck that I started on, and Eb necks are kind of my kriptonite... I'd have noticed.

    and yes, SLB300 is the bee's knees. the mic system sounds great for recording, and playing wise had me 99% fooled for arco. very string depending, hated Pirastro Jazzer on it, love Helicore Hybrids. the endpin is angled a bit, very comfortable while standing. additional frame is a must, as well as a stand when not played.

    best thing? I don't have to remove kids' seats from the car to move it around
    Bushmaster, ted burik and Wasnex like this.
  16. Up and Away

    Up and Away

    May 16, 2015
    I also went from BG to a Stagg and then found a very reasonably priced used Yamaha SLB 200 so I grabbed it as soon as I saw it. I used it on a lot of gigs and then bought a DB and gig with that most of the time except when stage size or other factors make the Yamaha a better choice. I usually go direct into our PA(Bose) but sometimes use my amp, I play in a jazz quartet and septet. It lacks the visual impact of a DB but on the other hand gets a lot of attention and for most of the audiences we play for it sounds pretty much like a DB. No problem for me going from DB to EUB, the body wings on the Yamaha work great for me.
    If I were looking for a new EUB I would check out the new Yamaha and also the MK EUB's from Italy, there is a thread on here about them, most people like them and they are lower priced than the Yamaha. I would agree with your approach, get the best model you can afford instead of starting with a base model that you will want to upgrade. Playing upright is a whole new world and a lot of fun, get something that will make it a bit easier.
    Happy hunting!
    ted burik and Cartier76 like this.
  17. Cartier76


    Sep 23, 2020
    Houston area
    Similar to you, I have recently started learning upright bass after many years playing fretted bass guitar. I acquired an acoustic double bass first through a happy circumstance. Immediately I learned that upright bass needs a more physical approach than bass guitar; it is not just the sound of the instrument that is different. Needing to learn intonation, tone and articulation, as well as finding notes on a completely different fingerboard, my posture and the position of the instrument has to become consistent and confident to develop muscle memory in the left (fingerboard) and right (plucking, bowing) hand. The construction of the traditional bass neck with taper at the nut and body heel for fingerboard reference; the upper shoulders of the body of the bass to maintain distance from the players body and balance the instrument; and resting on an end pin rather than a tripod so the instrument can turn slightly to bow the high D or low E string; curvature of the bridge and fingerboard to offset the strings so they can be bowed: these things aren’t so much about the sound of the upright bass, but they embody the distinctive experience of playing this instrument.

    I soon also wanted an electric upright bass as a more robust and portable alternative to the acoustic DB. I shopped for an EUB designed with geometry that resembles the neck, fingerboard, shoulders, bridge and end pin of the DB, wanting the physical aspect of both instruments to feel similar to me. I want to learn to bow, though most playing will be pizzicato. Quality and robust materials and construction are a requirement, but cost is also a limitation for me. I was willing to accept something short of microphone-like double bass tone from the EUB; a pleasing amplified tone from the pickup would be my expectation.

    The Yamaha SLB 300 seems to have most of these features, and the digital tone-modeling to deliver a convincing acoustic sound. However they are priced out of my league.

    The NS NXT basses are good quality, and approachable price, and good reputation. But the neck construction without a heel will not feel and play like a double bass. And the tripod stand and absence of shoulders as a body reference also would require I alter my playing posture.

    Stagg and similar EUB’s share some design with the double bass, and are most affordable, but some owners write of deficiencies in materials and reliability.

    After months of consideration, I chose an MK bass from Italy, which is mentioned by one of the posters above. It is well constructed, and looks attractive to my eyes. It has pleasing tone played pizzicato, and good tone bowed. It does not sound as full as my DB, but it sounds nicely different from my bass guitars. I enjoy playing the MK bass almost as much as the acoustic DB.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
    Bushmaster and ted burik like this.
  18. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    All of the reason you stated are why I got the Knutson Messenger. It has the traditional neck and upper bout reference.

    Here’s the one I’m selling:
  19. Drang22

    Drang22 Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2017
    Denver, Colorado
    Here's my advice- Don't do it.

    Been exactly where you are. Two EUB's bought, two EUB's sold. Finally got a real URB, and love it. Should of bought it in the first place. Steep learning curve, but so worth it.
    Bushmaster likes this.
  20. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 18, 2021

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