The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60366   Message #972860
Posted By: Bassic
26-Jun-03 - 02:46 PM
Thread Name: Acoustic Bass Guitar Strings
Subject: RE: Tech: Acoustic Bass Guitar Strings
Wow! This thread is kicking off at last!! Thanks for trying Sorcha and thanks for the advice re "Havlena" John, will have a look later and will also have a look for a felt pick!. When my Acustic fender is sounding good it is the best compromise for the kind of sessions we have in the UK I feel. I.E. Small/Medium size room playing with typicaly half a dozen other musicians and singers. However it does have very real limitations.

The only problem playing with up to 2 or 3 other guitarists (6 or 12 string) and/or Bazoukis is a question of playing style. If they typically play with a bass led style (bass runs with additional notes to fill out the sound) and we havnt played together before, then we tend to get in each others way! It often produces some funny looks and furrowed brows untill (hopefully!!) musicianship and familiarity take over and we stop treading on each others toes. Dont get me wrong, I enjoy and apreciate this style and in the absence of a true bass instrument it fills out the sound in a way that is musically very comlete in an acustic session.

Concertinas, fiddles, mandolins, whistles, small pipes etc are rarely a problem to play with and leave lots of "space" for a bass player to exploit without having to be loud. The instruments that I find hardest to play along with are the medium/big boxes. Dont get me wrong, it is possible, but players tend to be used to producing a "complete" sound for themselves I suspect, and with such a big volume capacity it is rare to find a satisfying opening on the acustic bass. I think it must be a characteristic of the instrument that they find it hard to hear other accompanying instruments unless they have a "cutting" sound and without getting feedback throught the ears it is difficult to leave "space". (Ducks to avoid flying objects thrown by sensative box players!! :-)

As for using an amplified Bass, I find it hard to swap between the two, the playing styles are different and I think I use a different "musical brain" for each. Its probably to do with the different feedback you get through the ears and the different "quality" to the sound. I think I would have to get used to doing one or the other. The critical thing in my mind ( dont get me wrong, I am still learning it), is knowing when NOT to play and in getting a good ballance between other instruments. It is particularly hard if you have been playing with the full "band" in the session, on an electric, for some good rollocking jigs and reels and then have to ballance some much more subtle playing to acompany a song or slow air. With the acustic it just happens with the fingers, with an electric it requires some deft work with the volume control. (otherwise why have an amp to be heard in the loud bits!!).

I think that room acustic qualities have a suprising effect on the volume and "cut" through ability of my acustic Fender Bass. I can be heard in quite a large room, against lots of other instruments if there is a nice solid floor and not too much in the way of "drapes" and soft furnishings around. Anyone who has heard me play in the "Sun Inn" in Beverley will have heard that effect. Like I said at the beginning though, there are limitations but I still find it the best compromise for the sessions I go to. However I did see a nice half size double bass in the Hobgoblin Music store in Leeds the other week...................