Which fretless sounds closest to an upright?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Michael Jewels, Nov 16, 2001.

  1. Hello all, this is my first time posting in DB.
    Anyway, I'd just like some input as to which fretless electric bass you think sounds closest to an upright. I have a MIM Fretless Jazz bass, and am not satisfied with its sound. Before I try to coax it to sound like an upright by modifications, I'd like to hear from the source. I also posted this in Bass Guitar to hear opinions from both perspectives.

    Thanks a lot.

    Mike J.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My experience has been that none sound at all like The Bass, including most Mullets (EURB). The biggest prob, I think, is that the string tension/length/response is all wrong to get the sound. I'm not sure that a fretless Slab would ever approach the right sound, but a Mullet with the right angles across the bridge could come close to the sound of The Bass through an amp. Mullets with shortened bridges sounds like fretless Slabs to me. I recall hearing Michael Moore (on Prairie Home Companion, I believe!), and I wouldn't have known that it wasn't The Bass through an amp except that he was interviewed about the 'large marimba bar' that he was playing.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't recall him mentioning the brand when Garrison gave the brief interview.

    Didn't tell you which airport? I missed the gag there, somehow.

    Another prob that I have with Mullets is that with the weird string angle across the bridge, they never feel right (much less sound right), even if the string length is like a Bass.
  4. Ray, in a thread a while ago, Ed asked me which airport I lived near. I did say Kennedy, but, I guess he didn't go back to the thread. Ed, it's Kennedy. If you're in Park Slope, I'm just a few miles down Atlantic Avenue from you in Ozone Park.

    Sorry for the confusion, Ray. and thanks for the response. Talk later guys, I'n still at work.

    Mike J.
  5. No biggie. If you want to hook up after you're settled in, let me know.

    Mike J.
  6. These guys have the right idea about approximating the DB sound - no electric or EUB will get you 100% there. However, some EUB's and even fewer EB's can get you a little closer.

    The only electric I've heard that is even slightly convincing is the Rob Allen hollowbody with the piezo pickups and the Thomastik flatwounds. With a light right hand attack over the fingerboard, it's a pretty nice sound. You might not fool everyone into thinking that you're playing a DB, but you can sound pretty nice trying.
  7. Thanks guys. Oh well, it didn't hurt to ask. I guess I'll just upgrade my MIM Jazz and be satisfied with that. On a different note, the other night on the Jazz channel, there was a guy playng an upright, and it sounded a lot like a P-bass! I forgot who it was though.

    Good Weekend, all.
    Mike J.
  8. I believe Martin Taylor's bassist (Terry Gregory) uses a Rick Turner Renaissance fretless, and I'll tell you -- it's DAMNED close to a doublebass in timbre, especially on a recording. (ex: on the live "Gypsy" disc). Played close to the neck, the notes really bloom.

  9. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I'm not an upright player, but I picked up an old Baldwin hollow-body bass and was surprised at how close it sounded like an upright. It had the mute pads on the bridge, and I had a hard time trying get anything out of it that sounded like a bass guitar.
  10. Hi Mike !

    I think your question is hard to answer as you
    did not specify the upright sound you were looking for.

    The easiest sound to copy is the dampened
    such as used by rockabillyguys. Especially
    if you are playing with other musicans or for
    recording. If orchestra strings with pizz playing is the desiered sound it´s easier than trying to
    copy the sound of a mature bass with
    with strings suitable for pizz playing.

    Ever tryed to play the ebass with your thumb
    while dampening the strings with the hand
    such as a mute ? You may also wish to try
    adding just a little short delay 100-200ms.

    What I am trying to say is that if you desire a short sustaining tone to be used in a band you can get close. But if you desire to sound like
    a firstrate solobass and desire a sound
    suitable for recordings that should sound like an upright, forget it....

    One idea I have had for years is a midi-pickup.
    Unfortunately no system today is good enough
    as they all have to much delay. When this is solved
    you can use a sampler and the problem is
    no longer. But we still have to wait for this
    to be reality.

  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    There are midi systems for bass which work now - like the Yamaha one. But I don't think this is in any way an answer. I have midi-equipped keyboards and have played samples of Double Bass and it just sounds nothing like it. As Ed mentioned - all you are getting is this sound coming out of a single speaker - you lose the 3-dimsesional nature of the sound.

    Plus I think it is the physical nature of playing such a large instrument and the way this affects your playing style that contributes to the overall DB "sound" - so just stroking a key with a sample doesn't get very close to what you actually want to hear. You lose the "involvement" with the instrument and while samplers can get pretty good string "ensemble" sounds - they are limited in what they can do and most people wil be able to tell the difference.

    I think when you start constructing sounds on synths you realise how complex an "envelope" can be - a good DB player for example - will vary the tone across time and change attack very slightly depending on what they are doing and how it fits with the music. These are things that you can't do with static samples which are restricted and also most "trigger" instruments can in no way apply the sort of nuances and sound shaping that any player will do almost unconsciously.
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001

    There are certain things I would love to go back in time and prevent. Samplers, the 60's, the theme from Cats, 'Unforgettable',...
  13. Hi Bruce :)
    Thanks for your reply !

    Are you saying Yamaha produced a midisystem for the EB with zero (o) delay ?
    You also mentioned "systems" (pluralis) ?
    Who are the others ?

    What type of conversion for the signal is used ? I am asking because the
    "standard" hex is not to my knowledge able to transfere a signal with zero delay .
    Anything with more than 12ms can not fit my needs and although this is a rather
    high figure especially in a recording situation, it can be usefull.

    Is it a totally new system or a redesign of the Patch-2000 ?

    Do you know the modelname or number ?
    btw, surfed the net after posting the above and found :YAMAHA B1D/G50 .
    Is this the system you are refering to ?
  14. """There are certain things I would love to go back in time and prevent. Samplers, the 60's, the theme from Cats, 'Unforgettable',..."""

    Thanks for a great laugh ;-) You were born in the 60´s ? ;-)) Right ?...;)
  15. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    You might try some different strings on your present bass. On my Pedulla 5string Buzz, I use the Labella Tapewounds and while it's still somewhat bass-guitarish, I can get a nice big warm sound with plenty of growl and played near/on the fingerboard, it can approach an acoustic sound.
  16. Whenever I hear that story about how Jaco Pastorius played his demo tape for Joe Zawinul, and Zawinul asks, "Do you play electric bass too?" I've gotta wonder what Zawinul's concept of acoustic bass sound was. I mean, he had Sam Jones playing in his ear when he was with Cannonball for Chrissakes.

    Of course, I've heard upright bass players who have their strings set up a hair's breadth from the fingerboard, barely pluck the string (no callouses)use a magnetic pickup and a 300-watt power amp, and makes me wonder why they don't save themselves some trouble and play electric in the first place.
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My Mazda Protege drives like a Ferrari -- a Ferrari that's been taken at high speed through a plowed field for ten or fifteen miles. Also, you have to be drunk and have never driven a Ferrrari...
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Is this an urban legend???

    I agree with you Ed, I haven't heard an EBG that sounds like an upright and the reason for that is that I play an upright and am very aware of what that sound is.
  19. ED:

    "The nature of the instrument is not always clear to even the most experienced listeners. When Weather Report's Joe Zawinul first heard a tape of "Continuum", which appears on Jaco's album, he drank in the velvety richness of Jaco's bass lead, then turned to the young musician and asked him if he also played the bass guitar. Which, of course, was what Joe had been listening to. "

    "The Florida Flash," by Neil Tesser, Down Beat, January 1977.

    PS: I'm really not a Jaco freak. Really. No, really.