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Bass guitar - upright bass effects?

Desert Dancer 18 Feb 12 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,grover 18 Feb 12 - 09:07 PM
Desert Dancer 18 Feb 12 - 10:33 PM
Uncle Phil 19 Feb 12 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,FloraG 19 Feb 12 - 04:49 AM
Desert Dancer 19 Feb 12 - 02:26 PM
Desert Dancer 29 Apr 12 - 03:29 PM
GUEST 29 Apr 12 - 11:04 PM
Desert Dancer 30 Apr 12 - 11:31 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 12 - 02:32 PM
Desert Dancer 30 Apr 12 - 03:31 PM
GUEST 30 Apr 12 - 04:33 PM
GUEST,josepp 30 Apr 12 - 04:42 PM
GUEST 30 Apr 12 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 01 May 12 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,oggie 01 May 12 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Songbob 01 May 12 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,josepp 01 May 12 - 05:32 PM
Darowyn 02 May 12 - 05:32 AM
panama 02 May 12 - 06:11 AM
Will Fly 02 May 12 - 08:16 AM
Mitch the Bass 02 May 12 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,josepp 02 May 12 - 10:02 AM
Desert Dancer 02 May 12 - 12:07 PM
GUEST 02 May 12 - 04:56 PM
Desert Dancer 02 May 12 - 10:15 PM
Mitch the Bass 03 May 12 - 05:57 AM
Desert Dancer 03 May 12 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,GUEST who was GUEST 03 May 12 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,josepp 03 May 12 - 11:47 AM
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Subject: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 03:36 PM

My teenage son plays electric bass guitar (he has one) and has noodled with the upright bass fiddles at school. He recently expressed an interest in playing bass for fiddle tunes (e.g., for contra and square dancing), but we're not prepared to invest in an upright bass at the moment.

Apparently there are effects pedals that will cut the sustain on a bass guitar to make it function more like a bass fiddle -- related electronics are required to make electric upright bass. Anyone here know anything about this?

(Dan started on percussion and now has moved entirely to low brass (tuba and trombone) and bass guitar. After years of trying to be encouraging without being pushy, his dancing & calling Mom is very excited that he is volunteering interest in playing this stuff. :-)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,grover
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 09:07 PM

If you can afford it get him a fretless electic. There are less expensive alternatives to the Fender series basses. Maybe start there? Do an internet search for 'fretless electric bass'.

There's an effect called a 'noisegate' that's largely used on drum mics to keep them from feeding back in volume controlled situations. The noisegate allows the mic to open when the drum is struck and holds open for a certain period of time.

Have never heard of a pedal noisegate effect, but I imagine there's probably something similar available to control sustain. Either built into the amp or an inline effect.

Hopefully others w/a more refined knowledge will chime in soon. :-)


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 10:33 PM

Well, he's got a guitar already: an Epiphone viola bass (an inexpensive copy of Paul McCartney's Hofner), although fretless makes sense in that line.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 19 Feb 12 - 01:44 AM

Flatwound strings, particularly on a fretless bass guitar, would be a step in the right direction.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 19 Feb 12 - 04:49 AM

We use a base guitar with our band. The most important thing is to get the overall balance right ( not too loud ). Also he must be willing to follow rather than set the pace. I like it to come in after the melody instruments have started as it gives a nice lift to the music.
If he starts with a very simple accompanyment - on beat one and three - it wont matter if there is a bit of sustain. If he wants to do 20 notes to the bar it will be a problem. The method of playing can reduce or increase the amount of sustain. I suggest he does this first before you spend mega money.
We encourage our bass guitarist by giving him a share of the expense money. This might be enough of an incentive for your son to learn the tune sets for performances.
Hope it works out - its aways good to lower the average age of the band.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Feb 12 - 02:26 PM

Uncle Phil: We recently restrung the guitar with flatwound strings and he's found it's made a huge difference in the playability.

FloraG: Thanks for that info on your band's experience. I was thinking that there would be playing techniques that would make a difference as well. Part of the idea of trying an effects pedal (compressor, I guess), is that this would also help the sound but only cost $50-$100, a bit less than the cost of an upright bass. He does have a birthday coming. :-)

The other thing is to get him connected up with some of our local bass players to get some mentoring.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 03:29 PM

An update:

- We did buy a Zoom multi-effects pedal for the electric bass. (An earlier version of the B1, that we found used for $40.) Didn't really identify an ideal setting on it.

- Dan attended a couple of local contra dances with musicians who are friends, brought his guitar sans amp, and sat behind the band to give it a try and had a great time. The first night I had trouble getting him to go to bed and had to play tunes for him. :-)

- Yesterday we were to attend an old-time music gathering and I was wondering what we should bring for him. I visited our local Folk Shop for inspiration and was reminded of the idea of acoustic bass guitars. They had none in stock, but said that inexpensive but usable ones often show up at pawn shops around town.

[The shop has a lovely old Kay upright bass that my son covets, but it's $2100 -- high end for those.]

I went home and made some calls, but no luck. But, then I thought of Craigslist (online classified ads), and found a really good looking ad. Left a phone message, sent an e-mail... didn't hear back that day.

Yesterday morning as I was running around preparing for us to drive 2 hours to Phoenix for a women's rights rally and the old-time gathering, the call came in. So, on our way out of town we popped over to Zach's house and bought, for $200 (!) an Epiphone El Capitan Acoustic-Electric bass, with case.

It was a hit with my son, and with the old-time players.

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

[Also on Craigslist - a Zeta Crossover Electric Upright Bass built and owned by Fred Marshall (of the Vince Guaraldi trio), for $1200. Someone else will get lucky, too.]

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 11:04 PM

It takes technique, not technology to get the right sound out of the bass. The proper way of plucking the string is to snap with the index finger, then damping the string below. It's one of those things you have to be taught, and it, combined with bass, rather than guitar scale fingerings, is where that "bass" sound comes from. The effects don't work very well if the technique is bad.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 11:31 AM

GUEST, can you give more detail about what you mean by "bass, rather than guitar scale fingerings"?

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 02:32 PM

LOL!-That's why you pay the bass teacher big bucks!;-)

But seriously, because it's tuned like a guitar, guitar players pick up an electric bass and play it like a guitar. That works, but bass is a different instrument with it's own technique, and if you want that "Real" bass sound, you have to use open note scales, the ones in the "How to Play Bass" books and the proper plucking technique. It's those open strings that give you the right sound.

You can probably find some videos on youtube--but beware, technique varies from player to player, and everyone thinks their way is right;-)


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 03:31 PM

My son learned 1. percussion, 2. tuba, 3. trombone, and now 4. bass guitar, so doesn't come in with guitar-player pre-conceptions (unlike me). However, he went to an informal workshop on upright bass once and was told that a key difference between bass guitar and upright bass was the greater sustain in the guitar, so it surprises me a little that open strings would be recommended. But, if you're taking care of damping in the plucking hand, that make sense too. We'll look for that technique in the books/videos and see what we think. :-)

He does play with flat fingers on the left hand for damping (as opposed to the finger tips like a guitar player.)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 04:33 PM

That's an arguable point, but in the end it comes down to personal taste, because you can get the sound you need out of either instrument.

The electric bass is perfectly fine for contras(though an upright bass or an acoustic/electric may look more folksy)--if your son is an electric bass player and he moves to an upright, he will have to relearn what he knows now, and he'll end up carting around a large and bulky instrument. That, however, would be my preference, his may be different.

what is important is that he learns how to play the bass part that is appropriate to the music on his instrument. It is also important for him to know that the dancers always follow the bass.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 04:42 PM

Most double bass techniques translate over well to bass guitar. The opposite, however, is not true.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 05:02 PM

What I was trying to say, josepp, but much more concise.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 01 May 12 - 10:43 AM

Becky, I have played a bit of acoustic and a whole lottofalot of electric bass.
The sustain difference is one thing. I can simulate an acoustic decay by a subtle(!) palm mute with my right hand, very close to the bridge. On my Fender I had to remove the bridge cover to get close enough.
There is another aspect of the acoustic bass sound that is as good as impossible to simulate. That is the effect of the fretless fingerboard. One part of this, the slide effect, obviously, you can't duplicate without the discrete fret noises. You can avoid drawing attention to the difference by simply not doing slides, which is a small handicap.
But the other is the different way the instruments respond to over-plucking (is that a word?). The acoustic bass makes a cool sort of a bwOww sound when plucked hard, the fretted electric makes more of an edgy bZahh noise due to the strings buzzing momentarily against the adjacent metal fret. The slides and the bwOww are, to me, signatures of the acoustic bass sound. If you are playing down in the mix, sticking with simple 1/5 stuff, it doesn't matter so much. But if the bass is being featured, you have to stay away from the idiomatic things that make it so obvious which instrument you're playing.
I also have to take issue with the comment from Guest above about open strings. I almost always choose the fretted position for a note over the open position, because the sustain and timbre are different. Mixing open and fretted notes in a scale sounds amateurish to me, and the effect is greater on an electric instrument than on an acoustic one. I'll go to the open note (if available, there are only four after all, and half of them are in the wrong octave half the time) if I want sustain more than I want consistent tone. Or if my fingers are tired and want a few beats break.
Cheers
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,oggie
Date: 01 May 12 - 12:53 PM

The hardest part of moving from bass guitar to upright is learningto listen to what you're actually playing, not what you think you're playing. So F (root), C (fifth) on a guitar is straight forward, first and third fingers and hit behind the fret. On an upright its first and fourth and hitting on the note, not somewhere behind it. As you shift hand position up the neck you don't have these really useful frets to make it easy, you have to be accurate and the only way to be accurate is to listen to the note and develop your ear so you can adjust.

It's great fun, I'm making the conversion, but it's not that easy.

Steve

PS I'm a great fan of open strings, especially when starting out, because you know they're in tune and so give you reference points for the other notes.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:41 PM

Have you tried a bit of foam rubber under the strings close to the bridge?

Try it.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 01 May 12 - 05:32 PM

Every double bass is different. F2 is not going to in exactly the same spot from one bass to the next and this is especially true when you get up to E3, F3, G3, A3 etc. which are way up the fingerboard on the G-string. So it's not at all like a bass guitar where even fretless ones have position markers. You can do things like look for discoloration spots on the fingerboard to find certain note locations but, of course, that also differs from bass to bass.

When you finger the double bass, use the first, second and fourth fingers. The third should only reinforce the fourth. This permits you to hit the notes precisely instead of microtonals which sound totally out of key. However, when you get up above way the neck joins the body, the fourth finger becomes useless and the thumb has to be positioned on the edge of the neck instead of behind it (the palm should never touch the neck). Also, when you are pressing with the fourth finger, the first, second and third should also be pressing. If you're pressing with the 2nd finger then the 1st should also be pressing. Really, the first finger should ALWAYS be in contact with a string and never floating.

The good news is, this works perfectly well with bass guitar. But if you play bass guitar like a guitarist--using each finger individually--you can't adapt that to double bass because the scale of the latter is so wide that you can't hit notes precisely that way.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Darowyn
Date: 02 May 12 - 05:32 AM

It is worth pointing out that a Double Bass has the open strings tuned an octave lower than a bass guitar. Part of the inescapable difference in sound between the two instruments is that the fundamentals of the lower open strings of a double bass are very close to the bottom end of the range of hearing, and the majority of the sound heard when one is played pizzicato consists of the transient harmonics caused by the picking action and the fingerboard rattle. The other big difference between guitar constuction and that of the Viol family, is that guitars and plucked intruments are built to sustain a note and bowed instruments are built to be bowed and to damp sustain.
To make a fretless bass guitar sound like an upright bass (in a studio recording situation) I would need to use a noise gate to kill the sustain, an octaver effect to add the missing fundamental, along with some dynamic compression, and some gated EQ. Some harmonic exciter processing would help too, to emphasise those transients.
Or I could get a double bass player in!
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: panama
Date: 02 May 12 - 06:11 AM

I would be looking at the amplifier. It's half the sound of an electric instrument and most half-decent ones are able to vary the tone and sound in a number of ways. What controls has the amp got?


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:16 AM

Some years ago, a good fried of mine with an Epiphone Rivoli electric bass (looks a bit like a Gibson 335) had all the frets taken out and filled in to make it into a fretless bass. It sounds great. He also plays double bass, so he can transfer some of his double bass technique and sounds to the fretless.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Mitch the Bass
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:35 AM

"It is worth pointing out that a Double Bass has the open strings tuned an octave lower than a bass guitar."

Err..... this isn't right. They're the same.

Mitch


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 02 May 12 - 10:02 AM

The double bass has the exact same range as the bass guitar but has a much longer scale length--usually about 41 or 42 inches although it can be even longer or shorter depending on whether you're playing a 4/4, 7/8, 3/4, 5/8, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, etc. 3/4 is a kind of standard. No one uses 4/4 anymore and I wouldn't use a 7/8 either--they're just too big and it's hard to get up and down the fingerboard on those

Because the scale length is longer, it's harder to finger which is why we are taught to use the 3rd and 4th finger in unison (in the old days, it was the 1st finger and the other three in unison). You can transfer that over to the bass guitar, though, and it works all the way up the neck. You don't need to adapt the double bass thumb positions or anything. When I said your 1st finger should always be resting on a string, that was for fingering--not hitting a string open, of course--just wanted to clarify that.

As far as amps go--the best double bass amp is the SWR natural blonde. By far, the best on the market. Small but POWERFUL! A full 200 watts of power and it amplifies the double bass sound rather than sounding like a bass guitar. That also depends on the pickup. The best pickup is the Yamahiko out of Japan--whose founder invented the double bass pickup. A cheaper model that also works very well is the Underwood.

Then there's strings. Never use the factory-installed strings. Always get a new set. I use D'Addario Helicore medium tension hybrids. My instructor liked them so much he ordered the light tension set which are also very good. I would recommend steel strings at any rate but there are people who swear by gut strings like Velvet Anima or something. I recommend steels.

You can get any double bass accessories from Lemur Music online. Don't have a URL but just type Lemur Music in your browser and you'll find it easy.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 May 12 - 12:07 PM

Just a reminder, we don't have a double bass, but are looking to get a double bass-type thump out of an electric or acoustic-electric bass guitar. :-) We agree that fretless would be better, but we don't have it. Yet.

Thanks for the continuing discussion. Dan and I will be studying this and get back with further questions for clarification.

And, just to make the mix more interesting (on the "affordable and portable alternatives to double bass" front), something some friends have told us is cool is a ukelele bass (Kala Brand U-Bass). These are strung with a thick polyurethane string, and with a 21" scale (a baritone uke body) they give the same pitch as other basses. Apparently they sound surprisingly good.
manufacturer video, mentioning various pros who are using them
happy jazz user video

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 12 - 04:56 PM

I have this to offer, Becky, a question, actually, and not my own. One of my wives once said this: "It's not so much that I want to know why you have twelve guitars already, what I wonder is, why do you need another one?"


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 May 12 - 10:15 PM

I'm afraid I'm enabling my son's development of GAS -- the acoustic-electric is #3. (#2 was a store-discounted Peavey standard electric since starting this thread.)

~ Becky in Tucson

P.S., GUEST: the site mods prefer and it's also polite to give yourself a consistent and unique moniker, even if you decide not to join up (however, membership is free and entails no obligation and several benefits, so it's recommended!)


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Mitch the Bass
Date: 03 May 12 - 05:57 AM

Take a look at -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onpf8PDcKPg

M


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 May 12 - 10:10 AM

That makes sense.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,GUEST who was GUEST
Date: 03 May 12 - 11:19 AM

I stayed GUEST so you'd know it was still me, Becky, sorry if I offended;-) I am just replying to Darowyn's very, very,misleading post--Mitch the Bass pointed out that he is wrong about the tuning, he is likewise wrong about the effects--electric bass is much easier to record than acoustic bass-in fact part of the reason that the original Fender P-Bass became popular was because it recorded so well.


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Subject: RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 03 May 12 - 11:47 AM

Electric bass is easier to record for those who don't care about a good bass sound. Most producers take it in direct to the board and that's it. I don't. I do take it in direct but also mic the amp and mix both signals together for a heavy bass sound. This is routinely done with electric guitar but not bass for some reason. With double bass, you want to mic the natural acoustics which takes some preparation (and the bassist has to hold still) but I also plug it into an amp in another room and mic that amp and again mix both signals.

The difference is that I mix the amp signal on the bass guitar higher than the direct signal but mix the bass acoustic signal in higher than the amp signal for the double bass. Both result in a killer bass sound.


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