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Why double bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Hermes, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. Hermes


    Dec 9, 2005
    Forgive my Newbie question, but what's the difference between a DB and a BG? I mean, apart from one being more expensive and difficult to play, are there any advantages to a DB? I guess if you play classical or bluegrass you want to look the part with a DB, but even oldies music bands seem to have mostly bass guitarists.
  2. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    That's a pretty broad question, but double bass and bass guitar are quite different. The double bass has quite a different tone and attack, it can be bowed, it has no frets, subtle aspects of intonation can be varied, it produces it's tone without the need for amplification (although it's often amplified) and the appearance is quite different. That and many other reasons are why.
  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    something smells funny...
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Just one really - THE SOUND!! ;)
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Based on your methods of comparison, wouldn't you have to ask "why bass guitar?" when a keyboard will do the same thing?

    After all, a keyboard is more capable of replicating the sound of a bass guitar than is a bass guitar capable of copping a string bass.
  6. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    well, you don't have to sling it over your shoulder when you play it. i think DB's are much more comfortable to play (more fun too). all the disadvantages of caring for and moving your DB around are forgotten (and completely worth it) once you start playing it.....because of the sound of course.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Use the search tool for your answer using your thread topic as the criteria. This horse has been beaten to a bloody pulp by now.
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Try showing up to a Symphony rehearsal or audition with a BG. It goes WAY way deeper than looks. It's a different Planet!

    It's like.. "What's the difference between a Violin and a Guitar besides the extra 2 strings and the tuning? "
  9. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    I think the easiest way to find out "Why Doublebass" is to start playing it. I started with BG like a large part of the people that play DB and when I started to play it, I just fell in love. The sound is deeper, more complicated, woodier. After playing DB, a BG seems like a toy or just a big guitar with four really fat strings. I can't get a decent sound out of my DB yet but I already WISH i could play nothing but DB. If you look and read carefully a lot of posts, you'll see most of us are completelly in love with the DB.
    My advice:
    Go get a DB and join the dark side!
  10. Hermes


    Dec 9, 2005
    Thanks for the replies. No disrespect was intended. I recently purchased an upright is why I'm asking. I thought the design of playing would allow me to be more "in" the instrument (if that makes any sense.) But the lack of frets and the portability issue are making me wonder if I couldn't have gotten that same deep sound by just spending my money on a better amp.

    I guess I could put the question a bit better: Funk grooves are certainly better suited to a bg. Are there styles of music that are better suited to a db? (Obviously bowing, but anything else?) I'll stick at it. I guess the subtleties are just over my head at this stage since I sound so bad.
  11. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    To me a walking line only sounds good on DB.
  12. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    I started on BG 37 years ago. Played DB for several years in the '70s then put it aside. 14 years ago I went back and dedicated myself to DB almost exclusively for 10 years.
    Once you start being able to coax a sound out of a DB you'll be hooked. There will never be an amplifier built that can replace a 41.5" string vibrating over a spruce (or whatever wood) top the size of a small table! :D
  13. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    Can you give some info on the bass you have? If you are new to the instrument, you may not be aware of having a poor set up, making it much harder to play than it really should be. There are plenty of guys with a technical facility on DB that surpases most slab players, and certainly any style can be played on DB, including funk. "Better" suited depends on the player. ;)

    Obviously, Jazz and Classical are styles that traditionally are the domain of DB. Early rock and country were as well. Folk, Bluegrass, etc..
  14. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    Exactly! What sold me was playing a Double Bass in a music store. I spent most of the time trying to work on my intonation. And that was a cheapie! I can only imagine what it's like to play a REAL double bass.
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    +1. And slapping on a DB is nothing like slapping on an EB. Apples and oranges. You can't get a DB slap sound on an EB, and vice versa. Just like you can't get that organic sound that a DB can make on an EB - acoustic or not. Nice try but it just ain't the same as the real thing.
  16. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    One good way to answer your question would be to listen to some of the bassists who play both BG and DB at a high level. Try Christian McBride (he doesn't get enough credit for his outrageously good electric playing), or Brian Bromberg. Or Mike Pope. Or John Patitucci.

    Listening to guys who double will give you a clearer idea of the different uses and attributes of the two instruments.

    P.S. for funk on the DB, check out "The Chicken" from Brian Bromberg's "Jaco" album. His solo is just as smoking as anything Victor Wooten can come up with.
  17. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Why wear shoes? Why eat cheese? Why isn't the earth flat? Why do anything at all?

    and to save time.....

    look to answer above. :D
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm surprised that nobody has said this yet - but DB is not an instrument that you can just pick up and teach yourself - you really need a teacher to look at what you're doing and point out where you're going wrong, coach you etc. etc.

    I played BG for 20 - 30 years and was very reluctant to give up all my skills and become a beginner again - but that's what you have to do!!

    So - for me, I found that all the music I was listening to and really liked, was done with DBs - so orchestral concerts and Jazz mostly - and there was no way to get that sound with BG - no matter how it was played or amplified!! ;)
  19. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    EXACTLY! :hyper:
    Anyway, here's my 2p. If you gotta ask, then...
  20. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004