Upright and fretted at same time?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by john keates, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    My main bass is a 5 string but I also have a 4 which I defretted. I really like playing fretless but I would like it to be a 5 and there are some things that I just can't do with a fretless (some slapping and chord work).

    I sometimes swap basses part way through a gig but our songs have lots of sudden changes and I would love to be able to swap from fretted to fretless mid way through a song.

    For this reason, I have been considering a doubleneck (2x5 string) but a good one will be expensive and/or heavy not to mention a bit silly.

    So I started to think that maybe the way to go is to play my normal 5 string fretted and have an upright on a stand which I can walk up to when I need it.

    Has anyone else done this? Are there practicality issues such as having the fretted bass hitting the stand up or having a sore back from bending forwards?

    I thought of going into a music shop and trying it out but I am worried that they might send in some men to take me away.
  2. nataku


    Jun 21, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    first of all, youd have to have a very reliable stand for your upright that you could leave the bass on in playing position, unless you had one of those EUBs that have a stand built in. depending on the upright, playing it with an electric around your neck is likely to be very very uncomfortable, with a few exceptions in terms of those EUBs that are skinny as a rail.

    i just tried it, and though it was a bit uncomfortable, it was manageable with fingerstyle. i think bowing would be way harder, and im too lazy to try it out. there are also the concerns of keeping the electric muted while you play upright, keeping them both from smashing each other while you play, and keeping yourself in a position where you can play comfortably for a while. again, i would imagine it would be wayyyyyy easier with an EUB, but im just guessing. go to a music store and try it, and remember to post the results. :bassist:
  3. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I'd say there's the many practicality issues of learning to play upright as a solution to a double necked BG.

    Trust me -- double bassists play double bass in spite of just about everything other than the sound. Transporting it? Worrying about humidity changes? Sheer COST for a decent one? The absolute difficulty of actually learning how to play it? There's just about 1 reason to play upright -- the sound of an upright bass -- and you're not even loking for that, you're looking for a fretless, which is VERY different. There's a lot of reasons to not play upright, such as the ones I referenced above, not to mention the fact it's very easy to seriously injure your hands/wrists/back/what have you without proper instruction, constant attention to intonation, etc. etc.

    Just get a 5 string fretless, or a double neck. Worried about a double neck bass being expensive? Price out a decent upright, strings, setup, lessons, bow, etc. etc. That double neck'll probably be around the same as all that. You can buy a decent 5'er fretless for the same cost as a set of gut DB strings and a setup.
  4. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    My opinion, double-necked basses are a pain. Too heavy, unbalanced, and playing on neither neck EVER feels as good as your two favorite fretted and fretless basses.

    I solved my issues like yours by adding an NS design 5 string EUB, thin, easy to carry, and mounts on a stand. Very easy to switch back and forth during a show, even during a tune. The only problem I had, is that the soundman out front prefers the tone of the EUB over my regular bass. Frankly, if I could get my upright chops to equal my fretted bass chops, I might consider using it exclusively.
  5. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    Hi Guys and thanks for the replies.

    Aaron Saunders, sorry, I should have mentioned that I wasn't enviseging getting a proper stand up... I was thinking more one of those skinny little EUB type jobs. I guess that I would probably have to go for something that is more or less normal scale too.

    I played a full scale EUB which was more-or-less just a neck and I found it REALLY tough. Lovely sound though.

    Eric Moesle, Thanks for the advice. I have been worrying about the double neck thing. I think I would have to own one for a while before I decided if I wanted to buy one... catch 22.

    It is good that you found your solution. Is the NS bass hard to play though? I looked it up and aparently it has the same action as a normal upright. Maybe it would be too much for me to make the transition.

    I would like to have a proper upright tone but at the end of the day that need plays second fiddle to the fact that I want to solve the fretted/fretless problem.
  6. Maybe the Dean EUB would be your solution; I hear they're very BG-like, with a 34" scale length and a very flat fingerboard radius.
  7. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    Thanks ombudsman,

    The Dean looks like it might be a nice cheap alternative. A review says that it can't be bowed though. I kinda like the idea of bowing a bass. I love the sound of distorted bowed bas (ala Claypool and they guy from EST. Have you heard EST buy the way? They are AMAZING).
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Well, if you're thinking EUB, then by all means, go for it. MUCH easier to play than standard DBs -- the NS bass can have its action lowered so that it's pretty comparable with a BG, as far as I've heard.

    The Dean is basically a BG neck with a bridge and pickup on a stand. BG neck profile, same fingerboard radius, and a BG bridge. IMO, on the whole, quite pointless...except in situations like this one. If you're set on bowing, though, I'd say go for a proper EUB like the NS or an Azola. Check out the DB side, they have an EUB forum where you'll get a lot more responses -- and responses from people actually play EUBs!
  9. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    Hey Eric,

    I am taking an interest in the NS thing. I always thought that people should take Neds designs more seriously and this bass looks great. The polar directional pickup sounds interesting.

    One concern though is that the neck might be odd to play. Aparently it is concave! How long did it take to adjust?

    [EDIT] oops! I just saw the price... I think it will be a while before I can afford such a thing. :crying:
  10. I was going to mention the cost of the NS Designs basses. Glad you noticed. The least expensive (certainly not cheap) EUBs that I found which I thought were playable were the Azolas. I would be looking at a used Azola. There are people upgrading to the newer models and selling some of the older designs. I played one of the Deans. The concept needs a lot of work. I thought it was close to unplayable as an upright, primarily due to the electric guitar bridge. I think an EUB needs a bridge more similar to that being used by Azola and NS. In regard to the bass guitar getting in the way, just swing it over your back like a lot of guitarists do when they are being cool. I have a friend who plays a hard tail Strat and pedal steel guitar at the same time. He has taught himself to switch so fast that he can be playing a fast run of 16th notes at about 150 and not miss a note during the switch. Just because it hasn't been done, doesn't mean it can't be done. However, that being said, if I wanted to do what you want to do, I would be looking at a custom double neck bass. It would just work better for me.
  11. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    The Azolas look cool and lots to choose from. I had a look on ebay but there wasn't much.

    I am still considering the double neck route but my searches havn't led to many accounts of a really playable one - apart from the BassTech ones which are v.expensive.

    I am thinking that a smaller EUB would be a much cheaper option and I like the idea of being able to bow it.
  12. I've actually seen this done in concert. The bassist for Pat Metheny on his current tour has his Modulus on his back while he's playing upright, and swings it around to play while his upright is leaning against him during some songs, like Last Train Home. Quite a sight.
  13. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    That sounds like quite a trick! I wouldn't like to have a bass leaning up against me as I played though. How would I be able to rock?
  14. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ

    A Gracie Performer stand is what you're looking for. Cheaper than another bass, but at $225, it's a bit out of my price range. They have versions for solidbody guitars and basses, throw your fiver on one of them, and you can keep your fretless on you all the time.

    How's that sound?
  15. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    WOW! what an inspired device. And so simple. Actually, I can see this coming in handy for my guitarist also as he plays electric and acoustic. It would seem pretty weird though...

    There is still the fact that I won't be able to use a bow or jump about the place but sacrifices have to be made.

    Thanks for the advice, I will certainly give it some thought.