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UB Deluxe acoustic volume

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by miles'tone, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. miles'tone


    Feb 26, 2008
    Wales, U.K
    Hi there everyone. Been gathering great, useful info from you guys for a while now but this is my first post. Been playing an 80's Meinal (German) plywood for nearly 6 years now and it's time to move on. I seem to be playing small unamplified jazzy gigs these days with just acoustic guitar and upright piano. Was thinking of an UB deluxe. Is it true these basses have above average acoustic volume? Also, I've been playing the Meinal with Spiro's but I intend switcing to Lenzner guts (wrapped E & A) for a more trad tone. Will I notice much difference in volume? Hope you can help!
  2. chuck1073

    chuck1073 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    Preston, CT
    I've had mine for about a month now. Doing an acoustic duo...but with a small stage monitor to make up for loud restaurant crowds.

    The bass projects alot...louder as you get further back in the room. I'm guessing it may change a bit as it ages. Not like a solid top but.....

    Love the way it plays...very singy, nice sustain and growl.
  3. philip sirois

    philip sirois

    May 29, 2006
    again with magical upton basses.:)

    Really it's hard to believe that would be worth 2500+ as an upgrade to your current plywood. But maybe I'm wrong. Whether it's louder than average is suspect too. What is average?
  4. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    +1 on the subjectivity factor. Loud compared to what, setup by whom, strung with what, played by whom, at what string heights? So many variables - strings, setup, and player's touch are equally important.

    My fully carved "Deluxe" Upton Professor has the nice asset of even response throughout its range. I would not say, however, that it is loud. When played side by side with other basses, I do not find it noteworthy in this regard.

    I might add that I think that my particular Upton, despite much fussing, is perhaps even lacking in acoustic volume. I have been through several string/setup combos since buying the bass a few months ago, so I have some empirical support to my (personal and subjective) opinion.

    From what I have heard/read from several other Upton owners, most are playing one pizz style or another. Lots of rockabilly or jazz players. Most are of these are using amplification, as far as I can tell. When I was a working player, in a jazz context (small group or full band), I usually used a pickup/amp combo. I still do now, as an amateur.

    In the trio instrumentation you mention, you may not need an amp with some basses, but I would not buy an Upton because you have the expectation that it will cut/push through the sonic stew in some unusual manner. That depends as much on the players, the room, and the above factors. Also depends on your playing style and goals.

    I am in the process of working with the excellent local luthier/bassist Michael Hartery to improve the setup of my instrument and reduce unneeded weight/ballast. The point of the exercise is to increase responsiveness and sound volume. Highest praises to Michael's skill, insight, and strategic approach! If the instrument had been "loud" already, we probably never would have started working on it, however.

    With the setup improvements Michael is making (endpin replacement, new bridge, new soundpost and soundpost placement, removing wood from the bottom of the fingerboard), my bass' volume and response is improving. Even so, it is still not an unusually loud instrument.

    I played my bass and chose/bought it fully aware of its challenges. I was and still am fine with them - this is the realm of inexpensive instruments. With some additional setup work, my bass will be a reasonable, relatively cheap bass. It is adequate for my current, amateur purposes.

    I did not buy my bass sight unseen, playing it twice before taking it home. I would respectfully and humbly suggest that anyone else consider using a similar process. IMHO, everyone should decide for themselves just how "loud" an instrument is.
  5. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    I owned an Upton Hybrid for about a year and a half. At first, I loved it, but it wasn't long before I became bothered by its lack of low end and overall volume. Trips to the luthier and string changes later, I finally gave up on it. When I took it to the shop to trade it, the shop was surprised that it sounded so weak for its size. With all the praise for Upton on the net, I may have just got one that wasn't quite right.

    I've played a lot of basses that put out more volume than my Upton. One, a Kay, was a cannon for instance.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you can buy a particular brand, size or shape of bass and get the sound you want. You really need to go play a bunch and decide based on that. I wish I had done that when I started.

    You're right about the wood on the fingerboard. When Bob Branstetter saw that he just scratched his head. I imaging getting rid of that will improve your bass.
    I considered putting money in mine, but being a Hybrid with the thin back, it just didn't make sense. Good luck with yours.
  6. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA

    No amount of fussing and tinkering will make ever make my bass hold a candle to your new beauty! I am just trying to get the thing to speak as well as it can.

    Good for you for cutting your losses. For my amateur purposes and (considering my other household needs), my Upton will have to do for now. If I need volume I will use an amp...:)
  7. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
  8. Ben Rolston

    Ben Rolston Supporting Member

    Aug 30, 2006
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    --Small Slightly Relevant Hijack--


    What kind of tailpiece do you have on your bass. My New Standard has got a Wittner tailpiece (I think, somebody correct me if I'm wrong), which is a composite material much lighter than wood. I can't speak from personal experience, because I've only ever had the one, but I've heard that for some basses light tailpieces really open the sound up. I know my bass is one of the loudest I've ever heard (I pull pretty hard though).

    Actually some classical students here at the University of Michigan have their basses riged with no tailpieces at all. I think it was the idea of the professor here, Diana Gannett. The strings are attached to a series of individual wires/rubberbands. The one guy I talked to said there is a dramatic difference in volume.

    To the OP, I would suggest looking into New Standards, depending on your budget.

    Good luck to all!
  9. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Hi Ben,

    The tailpiece on my Upton seems to be poplar (presumably, that's what the grain looks like underneath the black "ebonizing"). Probably appropriate considering the instrument being so "heavily wooded." The tailpiece's mass is pretty minimal already, so while I have considered changing tailpieces and talked with Michael Hartery (excellent bassist and luthier) about it, we both thought that doing other things first would yield better bang-for-buck...

    Anyway, my tailpiece is certainly not ebony, so I am not getting the dampening effect you mention to that degree. I truly don't know if the Wittner would be a dramatic improvement...but thanks for that thought.

    As Clink suggests, the "sound hunt" and tinkering can become a bottomless pit of time and money, all thrown at a bass that will never be a great acoustic instrument. Clink solved the problem wisely by spending a bit more money and moving up into the realm of better-made, more responsive basses.

    We could go nuts, regraduating the tables, fixing all the cosmetic defects, refinishing the instrument, etc., but the basic construction will always be rough and ready. It would also end up costing much more than the bass will ever be worth, even with Michael's fair, reasonable pricing. Better to keep the instrument in good shape and trade up when my finances allow.

    I am, with a good luthier's guidance, prudence, and help, trying to walk that curvy, subtle line between doing things that are relatively inexpensive/dramatically beneficial and raising the overall cost of my "cheap" bass to the point where I could have done better. Frankly, I may be reaching that now.

    Really interesting concept of the "tailpieceless" bass. Any photos? I would love to see exactly how this is done. I will search the threads...

    Thanks again for the reminder about the Wittner. It would be interesting to compare poplar to composite tailpieces. Time to search the threads for that, too!
  10. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    A bit more? $6k is more than a bit more in my world! ;)

  11. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Expensive for sure. I doubt that I will play any better than I would on a bass somewhere in the middle. However, my thinking is this: I'm not getting any younger. Why trade into a bass in the $4-5k range, then in the $6-7 range. I am in a position to stretch for the next year or two and pay it off. With any luck healthwise, I'll be able to play the bass for at least 30 years. I won't have that voice in the back of my head that reminding me that the bass doesn't sound quite right. At least not as much. ;)
    There are guys that can play rings around me using a $3k axe, but I will play better and have more enjoyment on a better bass. If a better bass helps motivate me to practice and grow, and helps me to develop the sound I hear in my head, I feel like I made the right purchase. TEHO, YMMV etc.
  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Hey, I applaud you! I'm right there with you and I'd do exactly the same thing! In fact, it's the reason that I ordered a new bass as a step up from the fully-carved Romanian roundback I now have. It's a fine instrument for me but, as you say, I ain't gettin' any younger and it's something that, at this stage of life, I can afford (with trade-in :)).

    I just wanted to point out that you sure didn't spend just a "bit" more. You moved into a whole different class and for all the right reasons. After all, the difference you paid is more than many here spend on a bass to begin with. Good for you and enjoy!
  13. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    I just bought a Flexocore G from Brian. I'm done now, really. Nothing more for me, really.

    Actually, the winding of the Obligato is coming off at the bridge, or I wouldn't need to spend any more $$$$$, really. 'What's that Dear?' 'Did you say something?' :bag:
    I'm really done now. I mean it.:help:

    Time to practice.
  14. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    what about the Bel Canto's? Come on, you know you want to, that mellow pizz sound; the lovely bowing...:bag: :p
  15. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    The Obli G snapped yesterday which really didn't upset me too much.
    I popped on old Helicore Hybrid G and D that sound pretty good. These things look like they have been on and off a million basses, the silks are almost gone but the windings are good. They are sounding nice and mellow with a strong fundamental. Now my 8-10 month old Spiro Mittel A sounds metallic. The Helicore A that came with the set is really funky sounding, at least it was on the other bass. Maybe I'll give it a go.
    Bel Cantos??? I played a couple of basses with those on and they aren't quite it for me.

    I'm really thinking that Superflex would be a good match for the bass. I think I just want something nice and warm with some punch.

    Maybe Toad has some castoffs?
  16. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    This is how it starts...:)
  17. I know this is late, but my Upton has the Wittner tailpiece on it, actually I am very happy that it does. When it first came with it I was pretty upset I was prepared for the ebony piece. After some discussions on here, as well as a lot of playing on it, and playing one of my student's Upton without it, I am convinced that this made a huge difference. I really like the volume and tone of this bass. I actually played it acoustic with a trio without amplification. It had a huge sound. I was happy to say the least. Sorry if this is random.
  18. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA

    Thanks very much for sharing this. Did you found improvement A/B between the Wittner and an ebonized poplar tailpiece (like mine)? Or does the other bass you played truly have a solid ebony tailpiece?

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