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To EUB or not to EUB

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by honestjohnny, Mar 12, 2009.


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  1. honestjohnny

    honestjohnny

    Nov 24, 2006
    I know that nobody can tell me what will work for me. I just need reassurance, I guess. I've always liked the sound of upright. But I just worry that it would be really difficult to play, that I won't be able to play it live, and then I'll have p*ssed away more money on an instrument that I'm not happy with. I mean, my Ashbory was great, until I tried to gig with it ;-D

    Also, if I may rant for a bit, I am stunned by the preponderance of bass frequency stringed instrument options: upright or horizontal; 4 or more strings; piezo, mag or both pickups; short, medium, long or extra-long scale; curved or flat radius fingerboard; fretless or fretted; pizz or arco. Then there are string options and we haven't even gotten to amps, which you NEED because basses of any stripe are too quiet to play without one! Arrgh! Of course, if you want to try any or all of these options you have to pay. I'm overwhelmed and more than a little irritated! I just want to be able to tune up, make music and have fun, with no pain. I'm tempted to say, "F**k it," sell everything and get a Kona Walkingbass, and call it a day. But then I'd lose everything below 52 Hz (G1).

    Thanks for listening. :O)
     
  2. Well, the 42" scale upright needs some work, that's for sure.
    Depends on you.
    If you're not ready to do that work, you'd better think of something else, I'm afraid.

    Best regards,
    François
     
  3. honestjohnny

    honestjohnny

    Nov 24, 2006
    I hear you, Francois. I'm not a stranger to discipline and hard work at all. Certainly not afraid of it. It's just that bass is so weird. Like say you want to play accordion. You go out rent or buy an accordion. Get a teacher and/or a book and start learning. Not so simple with bass.
     
  4. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I am also a BG player who bought an EUB. I won't say I switched, because I play both equally now. I would seriously recommend that you get high action and heavy strings if you want to sound remotely like a DB. I'll put it this way: it's not going to play like a bass guitar no matter what you do. So you'd be better off with something that's hard to play but sounds sort of like a DB, than something that's hard to play but just sounds like a fretless bass guitar.

    And, as for dots, Jesse does them standard, which I didn't know about when I ordered. I wish it didn't have them. It's easy to put temporary markers on while you're learning, but difficult to take permanent ones off, so I'm kind of married to the dots. That would be fine if all I ever wanted to play was the Ergo, but when I play doublebasses, I'm totally lost.

    I know you want to make the transition smooth, but I feel that the more you do that, the more you're at a disadvantage later on. Just one man's opinion.
     
  5. honestjohnny

    honestjohnny

    Nov 24, 2006
    CJ, I guess this is where we differ. I want something close to DB sound. Doesn't have to be 100%. I want to play upright, rather than and instead of, horizontal. I'm not interested in DB's because they are big and the WAQ (wife approval quotient) is nil for them for that reason. Arco is nice (I used to play violin, so it has nostalgia value), but
    I think pizz is where its at for me. I'm coming at the Ergo with the idea of it being a unique bass instrument, not a poor substitute for or a bridge to DB. As always, I just have to take the plunge to find out if this will work for me or not. Anyone in IN who has one willing to let me try it out? I'll bring refreshments ;-D

    Having said all that, CJ, when you play DB, why not use electrical tape to mark the positions? I did this whenever I was learning a new position on the violin. You can use yellow if you want visual and tactile reference or black for tactile only. It's like frets, but without them. It worked so well for me, that when my instructor/director finally realized I had changed the yellow strips to black, he told me to just leave them. I was 1st Violin, 3rd Chair at the time. He hadn't noticed for 4 years worth of solo recitals and play-offs.



    i
     
  6. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    Well, you're not going to get 100% no matter what, unless you use an actual doublebass. But even to get close, IMO you need high action and high tension strings. Without those things, the Ergo, and really any non-acoustic stick bass, sounds like a fretless bass guitar, and a rather bad one at that (again, just my opinion, with which I'm sure some around here disagree). My point was that you are making it more difficult to play by sheer virtue of the longer scale, so you may as well gain something for that increased effort. Now, if you just like the way it looks or your hands feel better with the neck upright, go for it. But if sounding even remotely like an upright matters to you, I don't think you'll be happy with light strings and low action.

    That's not really an option for me. I don't own a DB and don't play gigs with one, but recently I went to a doublebass shop to check some out, and found that, whereas I thought I had acquired some skills on the DB from playing my Ergo, I couldn't play the real thing at all, since of course none of the DBs at this shop had markers (well, actually one did, but it was a pretty bad instrument for my taste). Likewise, whenever I get to play a DB at a friend's house or at someone's show, all my "skills" disappear. Thankfully my Ergo has high action, so it plays a lot more like a DB. One other thing that hadn't occurred to me until now is how much the body and fretboard effect how you play a doublebass. The Ergo has neither of those, and it doesn't move around at all, so playing a doghouse was a very different physical experience.

    As an aside, though, I played an Eminence through an Acoustic Image amp at this shop, and to me, it didn't sound any more like an acoustic bass than my Ergo. So that made me feel quite good about the purchase - I'd be quite upset if I dropped that much coin on something considerably more breakable than the Ergo for no gain in sound quality.
     
  7. honestjohnny

    honestjohnny

    Nov 24, 2006
    Thinking about it today. Yeah, curved radius fingerboard would support the upright play better. Maybe I'll compromise and get a high action with a light string gauge.
     
  8. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    There is also the added fact that practice with the bow is the fastest way to get to playing even reasonably in tune on double bass. Unless you have 20 years to waste, you are a genius or you just don't care you will need to get a teacher and practice arco.
    You can play however you want.
     
  9. honestjohnny

    honestjohnny

    Nov 24, 2006
    Is arco for DB (or the Ergo, so we stay on topic) really that different a technique from other viols? I want to say no, just a different set of muscles, but the fundamental technique is still applicable. Sorta how you can go from playing Bari sax to tenor, etc.
     
  10. dakpluto

    dakpluto

    Oct 14, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    Been using mine the last few weeks on Kiss Me, Kate :) It's been great. So nice going 2.5 hours without actually having to hold the bass upright during the book scenes. And talk about easy page turns...I feel spoiled, lol.

    Not to mention how much less space I take up in the pit now.
     
  11. dakpluto

    dakpluto

    Oct 14, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    closer to cello, pretty different from Violin and Viola. Some of the basics are the same, but there is enough difference that it just won't be a simple "pick up a bow and play."
     
  12. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    String playing is string playing. There are subtle differences for sure, but it is the same idea. I would go for a French bow if you already have that bow hold down.
    French is the same or close to the same as the violin family, German is underhanded.
    If you already have experience with bowing, it shouldn't be tough.
     
  13. honestjohnny

    honestjohnny

    Nov 24, 2006
    Never learned the German method, so French it will be. Don't expect anything to be "plug-n-play" here, but I don't expect to have to start from square one, either. Time will tell. More interested in getting left-hand position and right-hand pizz technique down.
     
  14. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The left hand only comes together with genius, decades of plugging away or the bow. The bow is quickest and most sure.
     

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