What do you think about playing an electric on an acoustic gig?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by the ombudsman, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. I have an acoustic gig planned for september, opening for Canadian singer Jim Corcoran. The set consists of some David Bowie, revolver-era Beatles, Peter Gabriel's "Modern Love", Genesis' "I Know What I Like", and some folk rock songs.

    I'll be playing with two or three acoustic guitars, and "brushed" drums (is this the right term?).

    Do you think it's OK to play my Spector, or should I get some kind of acoustic bass guitar?
  2. Adumb


    Apr 27, 2004
    Concord, NC
    i havent really played much with acoustic but im sure having a good acoustic bass would sound alot better than playing the electric. i'd suggest before the show having some friends with acoustic guitaars play and you try the electric bass to hear how it sounds.
  3. Pöl


    May 31, 2003
    Play the electric, nothing wrong with that. Just toy around with your setting to get al decent mellow tone ;)

    IMO, it isn't worth it to buy an ac for.
  4. It certainly works (done it a few times myself), you just have to pay close attention to not being too loud (which happens quickly with an electric) as that can ruin the sound
  5. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    If you can't go acoustic, playing an electric fretless always helps . . .
  6. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I've done it plenty of times. As stated earlier, just dial in a very mellow, vintage tone and it'll sound just fine.

    Don't waste your money on a acoustic bass unless it's a standup (and you plan to learn how to play it ;) )or unless you plan to play the ABG a lot. It'll just collect dust and get in the way.
  7. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    I do many gigs with acoustic guitar. Electric sounds fine. Probably better than an ABG. My first choice is fretless.

    Why don't you give Godin a call and tell them about the gig. Then ask if they would loan you an A4 or an A5? What do you have to loose?
  8. I agree with the idea of playing fretless. I always thought the idea of an ABG was lame, and I have never heard one that I could ever imagine playing over any of my electrics.
  9. Your Spector would be fine with a mellow tone but if you want an ABG get one, especially if you expect to repeat the acoustic gig. I have a Washburn AB-20 and I play it all the time & it's the bass by the couch so I am always grabbing it.
  10. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I've played dozens of "acoustic" gigs with an electric and haven't gotten fired yet.
  11. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Dave..if you're in Montreal, Steve's has some nice Michael Kelly basses on the back wall. Not sure if they would loan one for the gig.
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Nothing constructive to add, but...

    Why is it for EVERY "acoustic"/unplugged act I've ever seen anywhere, they have everything plugged into something?

    Whatever happened to micing acoustic instruments?
  13. I've played "acoustic" festival and club concerts for over 20 years so I have had lots of experience with this...

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the possible "political" aspects of acoustic vs. electric bass on acoustic gigs.

    It's akin to recording engineers only understanding how to get a Fender sound at the studio and wanting you to NOT play your basses that aren't a "REAL" bass.

    First see what your bandleader wants. (Probably a given, eh?)

    Find out if possible what the venue is expecting/wanting. Even if your bandleader/singer doesn't care the club/venue's owner might have a definite concept in mind. My wife and I were sometimes told very pointedly not to show up with an electric.
    The leader/singer may be upset with you after the fact if some anally retentive booker doesn't rebook the act because "the bass player wasn't right".

    It's worth having an ABG if you're doing a lot of these gigs from here on out. (with onboard EQ and pickups). Mics have surrendered to pickups at most "acoustic" gigs for several reasons:

    Many festival/outdoor gigs involve a lot of unpredictable wind, volunteer soundpeople, etc. Variables.

    A lot of younger soundpeople have sadly never even heard, let alone played an acoustic instrument (sad) so wouldn't be able to give you a truly acoustic sound anyway. ("Hey man, got a SAMPLE of one so I can hear what it should sound like?" "Uh, no..."

    We have played Festivals where the promoter had placed the helicopter rides right next to the stage. Boosting the volume on acoustics miked, that fast can add a hell of a lot of feedback to the show!

    Bluegrass gigs and similar (World Music) often still mic individual acoustic instruments and have soundpeople that know what to do. Besides you wouldn't want the Folk Police to show up would you?

    All that said, I've only HAD to show with a (borrowed) ABG for one coffeehouse gig in those over 20 years.

    I agree that for ballads, fretless sounds nice and I prefer to use it.

    For the great majority of gigs electric is fine. You'll know a pleasing tone/EQ for each song after a rehearsal or two.

    The Washburn acoustic/electric is a good choice. Hutch Hutchinson uses one with Bonnie Raitt. (A fretless and it sounds great.) I wouldn't spend the dough on a Martin or something that expensive unless it's going to be one of your main axes. Tacomas can sound great if you get a good one.
  14. MODELL


    Aug 30, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
  15. MODELL


    Aug 30, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I play with an acoustic guitarist all the time. This is my main gig. I play my fender jazz bass direct and it sounds fine. We sometimes add a drum machine and he uses a strat. I wouldn't even consider purchasing an acoustic bass. My jazz sounds fine and the frequencies blend great with his acoustic guitar and our vocals.
  16. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Le Spector, mon ami.
  17. Wow! That's lots of replies! Thanks everyone.

    It's gonna be the second time I play this gig. I did it last year with an electric and it was just fine. Nobody's asking me to bring a particular bass, I just thought maybe an acoustic would suit that kind of gig better. :)

    I've been thinking about getting an acoustic fretless for a while, so I thought this could justify it! :D Uprights are way too expensive for me and won't get into my car.
  18. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I've seen pics of your car, forget it! Wasn't that the one
    that that hot chick stole that time ...

    If you are looking for justification for your GAS, you
    should have said so.

    Everybody repeat after me:

    Dave, you need a new bass.
    You need an acoustic bass.
    You JUST CAN'T PLAY this gig without buying the
    right bass,
    Dave, go buy the bass...

    See, that was easy ... :D
  19. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Aside from the sound of a fretless It also helps when the humidity makes the acoustic guitars go in and out of tune [I'm yet to be convinced that guitarist know how to play in tune :D] so you can mach them. :rolleyes:
  20. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I'll second that. Inexpensive basses tend to have less than satisfactory sounds while the better ones are usually not played enough to justify the cost.

    If you want something different for the acoustig gig, try an electric fretless.