What makes a decent acoustic bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rch427, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. rch427


    May 31, 2002
    There's lots to read on TalkBass about electrics, but very little I could find on acoustic bass guitars. That happens to be something I'm shopping around for right now, for my little home recording projects. Whatever I get is going to have to be pretty cheap, but I see brand new (Korean-made) basses on eBay for well under $200. Now, I have a preference for vintage, non-Asian instruments, so if I can pick up an older one, all the better. But--not being much of a bassist yet--I really don't know much about how to tell a decent bass from a hole in the ground, which is why I'm asking here.

    On to the questions

    Soundhole shape: since I'm going to be mic'ing the bass with a large-diaphragm condensor mic (rather than using a pickup), how much of a difference will it make whether there's a central soundhole or a pair of f-holes? I presume that mic'ing the central soundhole would be more straightforward. Is that correct? Do f-holed basses broadcast as strongly as ones with a central soundhole?

    Body material: I presume that most new basses in the range I'm looking have laminated bodies. How much of an objective difference does this make in tone?

    Body size: some ABGs I've seen have dreadnaught or jumbo sized bodies, others are more like a archtop jazz guitar. Is the main difference in sound just that the larger the body, the more it projects? Or is there a tonal difference too?

    Finally, just about all of the acoustic bass guitars I see on eBay are actually acoustic-electric bass guitars. Since I won't need the pickup that comes on them, I'd love to know if anyone has any opinions about the straight acoustic sound of the kinds I see. Some of the brands I've looked at include the Hohners with the triangular soundhole, the Michael Kelly basses, Carlo Robelli, Hondo, Rogue, Archer, Galveston, Grand, etc. For all I know, most of the Asian basses may well be made by the same factory. Anyone have an opinion on these basses?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Miking an acoustic bass guitar for recording will give a sound a lot like a guitar, just lower.

    Laminated tops and bodies are stiffer and yield less complexity in the high harmonics. In other words well made solid tops and bodies sound better. Recording with a good mike you will DEFINITELY hear this.

    BTW you should NOT mike the soundhole! Bad, bad, bad :D Point the mike at where the neck meets the body,then adjust to taste.

    My general opinion is you get what you pay for. I personally do not care for the tone of ANY of these instruments selling for under $1000. Your mileage may vary.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the point is, that to get a decent projection of real bass sound - you need an instrument the size of a large orchestral Double Bass.

    So - a lot of Jazz DBers use smaller-bodied DBs, but then need to amplify them.

    The DBs that I have seen/heard, used purely acoustically are the very largest ones.

    So - what has this got to do with the question you say?

    Well, my point is that it is unreaonable to expect something with a body as small as most EBGs (less than third the size of an orchestral DB) to produce a decent bass tone, unamplified.

    Going through a pre-amp, allows you to boost bass tone and get some bottom end - but acoustically - forget it!! :meh: