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What Bass Works Best (Acoustically) for *Really* Low Notes?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Xanderzb, Sep 8, 2017.


  1. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    I generally tune my electric bass to A-D-a-d, using the bottom four strings from a five-string set and leaving out the G.

    Given that - the B-E-A-D strings sans G - what sort of upright bass should I be looking for to obtain best acoustic results? Is there any way for an acoustic upright bass to get that low-low-A to really ring out in a useful way?
     
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    X --

    One of the first things you encounter when entering the DB world from bass guitar is that the notion of "brands" and "models" becomes a lot less important. It's not a situation where "all PBasses sound like yyy." You might find that you prefer round-back to flat-back. You might find that you can get what you're looking for in a laminate, or benefit from a solid top, or have the funds to buy solid wood. But it's up to you to seek, experiment and find.

    If you want to start playing DB with that tuning:
    . Many smaller instruments tend to have less bottom than larger ones
    . Higher tension strings -- for example, Thomastik Spirocore -- tend to play 'louder' and 'firmer' on many basses
    . Consider an extension. My personal preference for dropped tuning is for a longer bottom string above a thicker one. (Lots of other people disagree.) That way you could play EADG with the E extended to B or C, and a righteous, firm low 'whoom' for your neighbors to admire

    And that leads to my final bit of advice: Before you head into extra-low land, think hard about trying a DB with EADG tuning. Low E is a pretty low note. I try to be conscious not to over-use dropped notes. Slip one in every once in a while, the drummer turns around and goes 'yeah.' Play it all the time and it loses that element.

    Have fun and good luck.
     
    Randy Ward, Xanderzb, msw and 3 others like this.
  3. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    RVA
    What style of music are you planning on playing with these low tunings? Bow or pizzicato?
     
  4. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    I appreciate your thoughtful reply! It reads like solid, sensible advice.

    So far, I have realy enjoyed playing DB in EADG. I intend to continue to learn the standard tuning for now, but I am seeing the eventual need to innovate on the horizon.
     
    Sam Sherry likes this.
  5. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Most of my band's material are adult contemporary originals, with a storytelling theatrical bent. I'm pushing toward acoustic renditions of the same songs that I played electric bass on. Generally, my style is to switch from pizz in the verses, to arco in the choruses. Of course, this is a tendency more than some absolute law, but it implies roughly equal pizz/arco ratio.
     
    Seanto likes this.
  6. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    If you want to sound good in any tuning you should start from the ground up and study a year or two of arco with a teacher who uses a classical method - this will require standard tuning.
    After that you may just find that the musical effects you are getting with the low registers can be achieved with a well set up double bass in standard tuning. One of the key differences between the double bass and BG is the depth and substance of the sound. Even a C or C# on the A string of a good bass has a fullness you can't quite get from the bass guitar.
     
  7. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I would say that the basses which can really produce the low end you are talking about are probably not in your price range. The basses I have played which can really deliver a fundamental well below "E" tend to be older carved instruments valued north of $10k. But, older ply basses can also have some decent low resonance. Just bring a "V" string along when you go to audition a bass and decide for yourself. Don't expect anything from sub $1k Music Store basses, though.
     
    damonsmith likes this.