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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


    Dec 29, 2014
    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


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


    Dec 29, 2014
    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


    Dec 29, 2014
    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


    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


    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.

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