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Travel/Practice/"Mute" Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Pete G, Feb 5, 2003.


  1. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I travel a lot on business, and on some of my trips it would be nice not to lose the practice days by being able to do some scales (and perhaps more) on the road. Unfortunately, two problems intrude:

    First, I fly on most of my trips, and my 7/8 DB is afraid of flying.

    Second, even good hotel rooms sometimes don't have great sound insulation. A real Casa del Fido would bring the walls down in some places.

    I've been wondering if it makes any sense to get some kind of detachable-neck "travel bass" that could be taken on some trips in a golf-club-style hardshell case (presumably it would have to be checked baggage on the plane) and played at a volume level that wouldn't get me chucked from a hotel.

    I don't play jazz or other amplified music, and I play almost exclusively with the bow. So this is NOT an EUB question, though the Eminence may be one solution. I've also seen an interesting travel bass on Montreal luthier Mario Lamarre's website.

    If any of you have played much (with a bow) on, or travelled much with, a detachable neck "travel" bass, I'd be interested in your observations.

    My wife says I should just start playing the harmonica, but that can't be the right answer...
     
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I've bowed the Eminence, and it probabably comes as close as possible to the feel of a DB. It's not loud unamplified, but it is louder than the Azola bugbass that I use when touring.
    I'm also picturing an instrument that is purely for practice, using a scrounged DB neck, a pickup, and a built-in headphone amp. Might work if you messed around with it a bit.
    There's also something Yamaha makes called the Silent Bass that didn't seem to impress most of the bassists who've played it so far.
     
  3. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Can you please give us Mario's website URL?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  4. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I just tried an Eminence, and while it does feel kinda funny, it feels like a bass, and it's certainly loud enough to practice with unamplified. Bowed it sounds pretty good. The travel case, which fits the detachable neck model, looks like one of those hardshell golf club cases.

    The closest thing to a really rugged travel bass, IMHO, would be one of the detachable neck Azolas, which pack really small and are just about indestructable.
     
  5. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
  6. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The Azola Lightning Bug is easily the smallest full scale (40.5") instrument available. They cost a couple hundred harmonicas.
     
  7. SleeperMan2000

    SleeperMan2000

    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    one of them kiosk presentation screens alla those traveling business dicks carry?

    Hey, I'm one of those dicks! Oh well.
     
  8. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I'm going to visit M. Lamarre's atelier in Montreal in May -- I'm looking forward to checking out his travel bass, as well as the double-extension 5-string basses and the carved scrolls and heads that are discussed on another board here. ("New Ideas for C-Extensions", or something like that.)

    His travel bass is an expensive item -- considerably more than the Eminence. I've played on an Eminence, and I agree that they bow surprisingly well. Downside: It's only a 40" mensure, IIRC. Lamarre will do a 42" mensure, which would match my working bass.

    One big concern is how much risk there will be checking the animal in a hardshell case with the airline baggage technicians. I'm sure the airlines are very careful and all, but... M. Lamarre is going to show me the case he provides for packing the bass. It shouldn't be that I'm more interested in the case than the instrument, but it really does matter.

    It's one thing to take a risk on a $2,000 EUB. Another altogether if it's a greater capital investment.
     
  9. SleeperMan2000

    SleeperMan2000

    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    We're all a bunch of dicks I guess
     
  10. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    How much is he asking for his travel bass?
    The photos ain't very detailed but I think it uses the Realist pickup, no?
     
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    There's an inflatable (!) guitar... I think it's called a Chrysalis, and no, I'm not kidding. I can't even begin to describe it, but considering how warped the creators of this thing must be, maybe they could design a DB. I guess a Google search would turn up something. Not cheap, I'm sure.
     
  12. Try http://chrysalisguitars.com/Guitar_System_Overview_Pag.html

    It seems to fit into what is essentially a briefcase, and has a bass guitar configuration. Of course, you could buy a carved bass for what one costs...

     
  13. Roger Dawson has a travel bass, which he developed at the instigation and with help from Barry Guy. It is mentioned in Doublebassist magazine, issue number 10, august 2002. Barry Guy is a superb classically trained bassist, so anything he helped develop is going to be good for bowing. The thing is, it is really loud for its size , but extremely portable, so it is not really a mute bass. It does, however have a flight case specially made for it by Stevenson cases, who are renowned for their full size flight cases. The neck tilts forward, and the body, although it plays and feels like a normal size bass(the only difference being that the top and bottom bouts are the same size), is only 5 inches deep, so that when in the flight case it takes up the same amount of room as 2 suitcases, which is the normal flight allowance.It was designed for this ,and weighes in ,with flight case,at the normal flight allowance too.:)
    Barry Guy's website, so it says in the article, is www.barryguy.com or email; maya@circom.net
     
  14. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Someone mentioned the Gage travel bass. I finally had a chance to look at it, at:

    http://davidgage.com/z_stick_bass.htm

    It appears to be non-acoustic, so I imagine that some sort of headphone jacking arrangement would be needed to hear it when played with the bow. It also seems to spend some packing space on show (e.g., retaining the scroll, which seems unnecessary for this sort of thing). I have to wonder whether this packs down small enough to be checked easily and safely as airline baggage.

    I do like the fact that the shoulders are retained on both sides of the neck.

    Has anyone played one of these? If so, what did you think?
     
  15. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Ed, I'd be grateful for any observations you could share with us.
    Thanks!
     
  16. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
  17. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    wow - that's a swell design! looks like a step up from the eminence tone- and beauty-wise. i'd be interested to know how it sounds acoustically, especially since the bridge (and thus string pressure on the top) is so far south of center. it seems to me the sweet spot of the top would be higher than where the bridge is configured in those pics (though moving it would obviously obliterate the desirable 42" string length).

    sean p
     
  18. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    That's pretty slick! I could see playing that one.
     
  19. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Does anyone know of a website with a photo of a Hemage bass?

    Has anyone here played one with a bow? If so, would it qualify as the type of item under discussion on this thread?