What are the 3 bass guitars most similar in sound to a double bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cyberprimate, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. I think it comes down to HOW you play as opposed to WHAT you play.

    Granted, flatwound strings with the tone rolled off and possibly a foam mute under the bridge will get you in the neighborhood.

    But I think someone who has spent some time playing upright is going to know what that attack and decay of the instrument sounds like. Pulling a string and hearing the note bloom or what note durations in a walking line should sound like come from hands on experience.

    Really good electric players can at least mimic that sound, but I don't think there is any gear combination that will give you an instant upright sound.

    Look at Will Lee. He has gone so far as to actually play upright and recently I saw him playing a Line 6 VariAx, because he knows he isn't going to get an upright tone out of an electric.
  2. I've been playing for over 40 years. I started paying classical music (w/Simandl) on upright when I was 10 years old. When the Beatles hit, I began to play electric bass. I kept playing upright on and off with bluegrass, country swing and rockabilly. When EUBs began to gain some credibility, I bought one. I used it for all of my upright duties and finally sold my upright. After some time I realized that I was missing something: the tone of an upright. Last year I bought a carved upright and I haven't spent much time on my EUB since then. There is no substitute for the sound of an upright.

    That being said, my Hofner Club bass with Pyramid flatwounds has a pretty good faux upright sound.

  3. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005

    An instrument and amp will only get you part of the way there. It's a lot of technique as well as having an ear for "the sound". I can get close with my Rob Allen (and with the Takamine TB10 when I had it), but never exactly the same as an upright.

    When it comes to playing things like jazz, quite frankly, it's a lot about being able to swing and not just play the right notes. Anyone can do that.

    My suggestion is to listen to a lot of players and see what sound you really want; even DBs can sound different if they are mic'd vs. having a pickup.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    A bassist friend of mine and I both played a Godin 4-string fretless in a music store a few years back and we were both amazed at how close to an upright it sounded.
  5. Funkturnal


    Nov 17, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    The fretless acoustic bass guitar that Alain Caron plays on Frank Gambale's album "Natural High" and on his own album "Conversations" gets pretty close IMO.

    I can't be bothered to look it up now (hey, I'm at typing this from the office :D) but I think it was made by a Canadian luthier.
  6. The Hofner Club Bass is the closest I've heard.
  7. I tend to agree with Melik's post above, but no one has mentioned the Kay Vintage Reissue Pro Bass. It's definitely in the "comes close" caregory.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    best you can hope for is "uprightish," and i agree with alan that equipment has zero to do with it. it's all about thinking like an upright player and playing in a style similar. a hollowbody with flats that's turned up bright can give you an assist, but if you don't think and play like an upright player, it won't sound anything like one. but you can use an active bass with rounds and get away with it if you play like an upright player might.
  9. Crystalman85


    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    That's a pretty cool ibanez bass you got there. my brother has a four string version of that bass in a silver finish. it sounded pretty cool too. I never knew they made a fretless version of that bass.
  10. Here's a clip of my fretted Rob Allen Mouse (the frets make it the least DB sounding of the RA's). Even with the frets, in a mix, it is darn DBish, and with the more woody bloom of the fretless versions, it is REALLY DARN DBish in a mix.

    IMO! Surely, nothing sounds like a DB other than a DB, and DB's all sound quite different. However, these RA's are really woody and organic, and short of a jazz trio in a listening room, they work pretty well for those who just need 'kinda close' for some situations.


    Edit: Also to the point above, when some of my true DB playing friends play my fretless Rob Allen Mouse with the right 'DB type approach and technique'... it REALLY sounds like a DB.
  11. Lincoln


    Nov 3, 2006

    Nothing in a guitar form sounds closer....nothing!

    check it out....


    And I just talked to the builder - 1800 Euros plus tax and shipping...

    Not bad, all things considered...
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Cardboard Box Bass

    Washtub Bass

    Big bodied acoustic
  13. Lincoln


    Nov 3, 2006

    very true...

    playing open strings as you walk helps, playing with the flats of your fingers rather than the tips, as well...
  14. Nah. If it were all in the fingers, I could sell my Rob Allens and get an upright sound out of my Peaveys.
  15. FromTheBassMent

    FromTheBassMent Those who can, play bass.

    Jan 19, 2010
    Providence, RI
    Having owned several bass guitars and EUBs that were meant specifically to cop an upright tone, I agree with you... you can't "match" the sound because you're simply not pushing as much air as that huge hollow box.

    However, if you're trying to get close without having to invest the time in learning to play DB, you do have some decent options... you just have to set your expectations accordingly. The Eminence and BSX Allegro EUBs are certainly convincing in a live setting, if not recorded. But for a bass guitar I would say the only three that I've heard that are remotely authentic sounding are the Ashbory, the Rob Allen Deep 4/5 and the Turner Renaissance (the later two strung with tapewound strings).

    Of course, the problem with setting up the Turner with tapewounds is that it was designed specifically to use TI Acousticores, a combination that doesn't sound like an upright... but it does sound like God's own fretless bass.

    I can get a decent fake upright tone with my Stingray 5 fretless using the piezo bridge only, so long as no one listens too closely. But really, trying to capture it with a fretted solidbody bass with a magnetic pickup is a fool's errand IME.
  16. Lincoln


    Nov 3, 2006
    What are your thoughts on the Marco bass, I posted a soundclip for?
  17. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    If you really want an upright tone, then why not pick a bass that samples one:

    1. Line 6 Variax bass
    2. Midi equipped bass - dozens of killer upright samples out there you can trigger via your 13 pin midi equipped bass via piezo saddles or Roland GK3B PUP
    3. Industrial Radio bass - again, midi controlled sounds

    As for non-sampled upright sounds that can be convincing:

    1. Ashbory
    2. Rickenbacker with string mutes enabled/front PUP only
    3. Hofner fretless
  18. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...


  19. FromTheBassMent

    FromTheBassMent Those who can, play bass.

    Jan 19, 2010
    Providence, RI
    I think the liveliness and finger noise of the roundwound strings they have on it definitely detract from the DB sound... but I'm guessing with halfrounds, flats or tapewounds that thing could be just about as good as it gets. The attack/decay/sustain/release curve is still not quite right, but I don't think the guy playing in that clip is working that hard to get it exactly right. With appropriate strings and technique, it would be killer.

    Shame about the look. :rollno:
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    you play your rob allens because you want to. if you wanted to, you could do the same with the peaveys.
  21. Primary

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