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What To Do With My SX?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jimmy Bones, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. Jimmy Bones

    Jimmy Bones

    Feb 24, 2009
    Baxley, GA
    Heya guys.

    So. I've been invited to play bass for a startup psychobilly project, and after watching several videos of bands that the starter (vox/guitar) mentioned as influences, and reading up on the genre, it has been made apparent that what I would need is an upright to fit with the genre standard.

    I cannot afford an upright, let alone a full double bass (though I slobber over them, and would sell my firstborn for an Alembic Classico :p ). I played a Dean Pace 5 today at a music store and found that I really liked the feel and sound of an upright, and I've been chatting with the purveyor of Krappy Guitars about the cost of a twiggy and other such things. But, that's not the point of this post.

    Even though I can't afford an upright, I do have about $30 I can spend on things a month, and I have heard that it is possible to get a similar sound to an upright with some cheap mods. So, I am looking to buy a set of flatwounds, and I have a big block of foam I am gonna cut up to make string mutes for my SX J with bridge and pickup cover.

    I have a couple questions though:

    When using a foam mute, do you put it under the strings, touching the body, or on top of the strings, below the ashtray?

    Will the frets on my bass alter the sound produced by the flatwounds much? Will they wear the strings down more quickly than a fretless?

    Are there any other ways to get a more upright/acoustic DB sound from an electric?

  2. can you rent a double bass? The foam goes between the body and strings. Flatwounds are the shiznit, and will last forever (and get better with time). I'm not sure Doing this is going to get the double bass physcho sound you're looking for though. The string mute /flatwound sound is more of a 50's rockabilly sound than the full on mad slapping of a psychobilly upright. I would just play it as you would usually. Flatwounds are the way to go though either way IMO.
  3. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    A higher action would help too, as would playing near the neck butt using the side of one's index finger the way that DB players do.

    Oh yeah. Wear the bass a little lower, tilt the neck up more, and think/feel 'upright'.
  4. Jimmy Bones

    Jimmy Bones

    Feb 24, 2009
    Baxley, GA
    Well, this is a temporary thing. Come tax return time, assuming we get the amount or near the amount we got last year, I'm gonna try to pick one of these up:


    Or, you know, something similar and on the cheap side.

    I've been wanting to pick up an upright anyhow, but this just ives me more incentive, you know? That and I've been having great conversations with jazz guys lately and am stoked about learning some jazz type stuff.

    In the meantime, gotta go with what I can to emulate the tone as best I can.

    Thanks for the input. :)

    Oh, and for the record, I hate trying 5 stringers on a guitar style bass, but the Dean Pace 5 just felt *right* for some reason. Comfy and less... chunky? Not sure how to describe the feeling. Downside is that it has horrid reviews and the floor model Iplayed on was there for less than a day and the jack was jacked and the volume knob had already fallen off, so that particular model is out the window in my 'considering it' book.
  5. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Have you posted in the DB forums?
  6. IMO- save up a li'l more & buy a slightly better 2nd hand dbl bass. Those Chinese made uprite's leave a LOT to be desired & are often virtually unplayable after a year........ so I've heard.
  7. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Absolutely excellent advice. Foam between body and strings. Try different sizes until you find the "right" amount.

    Playing like DB player (even using two fingers) makes a HUGE difference in sound toward DB.

    And lastly I'd suggest nylon wrapped strings. You can get them cheap from Carvin (they are La Bella for their Acoustic bass).

    All this stuff together can give you a great upright sound. It's what I do on my Carvin Acoustic to get that upright vibe.
  8. robert43


    Jun 5, 2007
    Hi I thought with DB to get the sound you would have to go frettless?
    Is maybe get a SX frettless neck of rondo?

  9. Dude, search the double bass forums about how incredibly terrible those basses are. Huge cracks for no apparent reason other than string tension. Look used on cl or something. Every once in a while, they'll pop up.
  10. Jimmy Bones

    Jimmy Bones

    Feb 24, 2009
    Baxley, GA
    Shame. :(
  11. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    Well I don't play an upright that's for sure but that percussive sound you hear on the early Blue Moon Boys recordings is not only the percussive rhythm of a young Elvis Presley but the slapping of the strings and wood on Bill Black's upright. When hired for the Grand Ole Opry the Opry was pretty upset when only 3 guys showed up and there was no drummer. I'm not in the camp that you have to do it that way to play rock a billy but then I've never listened to the psyco billy stuff. Is that Hank III ?
  12. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    One thing that wasn't mentioned would be to consider trading your SX Jazz for a P-bass. IMHO, P-basses are much closer in tone to an upright than a Jazz. If you decide to keep the Jazz, adding a series/paralel switch. It is a cheap 14 dollar mod that you can do yourself that will get you closer to the p-bass tone, which will get you closer to the tone of the upright.

    Foam Mute: Either is fine. Most folks slip it under the strings, but early Fenders actually had a foam mute glued to the bottom of the bridge cover. Experiment with mute placment, thickness and size until you get the sound you are looking for.

    Roundwounds or tape rounds will help you get the tone you need.

    Definitely try and play near the neck with the side of your fingers. I do this alot and it gets a really deep upright-like tone. When you pluck the string, your finger tip should bend out and be "stroking" the string rather than bending inward and "scratching" the string like a guitarrist.

    Defintely do not buy a made-up brand chinese bass. There are some reputable Asian made basses, but they are in the minority.

    Try and find a used "Englehardt" bass. See them here http://www.gollihurmusic.com/feature/13-UPRIGHT.html
    They are very sturdy, made in Elmhurst, IL on alot of old KAY equipment. They retail for a little over a grand new and can be found for well under a grand. You need a sturdy bass for Rockabilly.

    Whatever bass you get, make sure to set asside 100-200 bucks for a proper setup. Better to put a bit of cash down now for a bass that will last forever and keep it's value than to invest in a cheapo that won't be worth much ever, even if it survives a few years which is doubtfull.

    Go there now! :D You can find some great recomendations for beginner rockabilly basses there.
  13. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    what to do with your bass? play it

    i wouldent even get foam. just solo the bridge pickup, and pluck with your right hand all the way up onto the fretboard.
  14. I use a Fender P with the tone knob all the way back & a big carwash sponge shoved under a set of Rotosound trubass 88 nylon flats to get an almost upright sound. You won't get the same attack, but the tone is very passable for your carl perkins, Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran stuff. I have used that same setup for psychobilly stuff like the Cramps and the HorrorPops too. Rockabilly is fun stuff man and people like to dance. Enjoy it
  15. +1 to pretty much everyone here, especially the part about possibly trading for a P.

    My band played with an AMAZING psychobilly band last month called The Phenomonauts. Their bass player had an awesome upright bass and played the hell out of it (plus it was going through a Mesa 400+ so you KNOW it sounded good).

    My band has quite a few parts where i wish i had an upright, but enough not to warrant the $1k+ pricetag.

    Since our sound has more of a Ramones-y sound for the majority of the parts, i keep my SX PJ with roundwounds and for the more 'uprighty' songs i just roll the tone knob off, solo the P pickup, and play like an upright (twards the neck), and also some heavy palm muting/muffling.

    Good luck with your tone-quest!
  16. bass player 48

    bass player 48

    Nov 17, 2008
    ^^^^^^^That's what I was thinking. The OP sounds like a great candidate for a rental. He said he had about $30 a month for his cause... that's about what I was paying to rent my kid a cello. Music stores all over the place have all kinds of violins, violas, cellos, and yes - Double Basses available for rent. One huge bonus IMO is that rental programs come with insurance so you pay nothing for maintenance and repairs – you get a loaner while your rental is in for repairs – no questions asked Also - your rental payments are applied toward the purchase - rent it long enough, and you own it... sure, a rental will be a "student" instrument - but probably better than what was linked above, and it gives you a chance to try out a new instrument without commitment, and to figure out what you do and don't want in an instrument you might eventually purchase.

  17. Very well said.

    I would never have even thought of this route.
  18. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    You can get a fairly convincing upright type tone by simply palm muting the strings and playing with a pick. You'll get that percussive upright type thing going with the pick and palm mute combo. Adjust the tone and pickup knobs to taste. I've done this many times with a P bass, and see no reason why it wouldn't work with a J. I don't even bother with flats. Rounds will work just fine.

    And just a personal though.. buck the upright /psychobilly trend. You'd stand out from the crowd a bit if you could pull it off with an electiric bass. :) I saw this done once, and thought it was cool as all get out!! I wouldn't think twice about playing a P bass if I was doing the psycobilly/rockabilly thing.
  19. Rotosound TruBass 88s on a fretless sounds very uprightish
  20. Emmaemme


    May 20, 2008
    And maybe you could rent out your... no, sorry :ninja:

    Renting a DB sounds like a great idea as you could stop if or when you don't need it. Good luck.

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