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Sep 26, 2021 - 12:23:26 PM
19 posts since 9/6/2012

Hi all, took a crack at searching on this topic and didn't find quite what I was looking for but hopefully didn't miss anything...

So, my heart belongs mostly to the banjo, but I'm originally (and probs most proficiently) an upright bassist. I swap around instruments a lot with the dif bands I play in and with my main current one, we really need a bass. My dilemma for years has been simply: size! I move a lot for work, I can't fit the dang thing in my car and still have space for bandmates and our other instruments -- it's simply too massive to be practical for my life and music playing situation (like, I'm storing my upright at my friend's place currently b/c I literally can't fit it in my tiny apt).

I see a lot of posts to the gist of "I don't play upright but is it OK if I bring the bass guitar I have to jams?" My query is rather, I can play upright just fine but I'm considering a new purchase specifically to get a travel-friendly string bass facsimile. I'm wondering if folks have rec's about specific bass guitar models that get as close as possible to that old time string bass sound. Again, I'm balancing sound against portability, I recognize I'll probably have to mic whatever I end up with (tho it'd be awesome if I could join jams without an amp). I'd be psyched if there were good smaller-body options (like the gold tone microbass?), but willing to go with a big body guitar if the tonal advantages are much bigger.

Additionally: I'd really welcome any set-up tips for getting a bass guitar to sound more like to a specifically bluegrass or old time string bass (I'm familiar only with the basics, e.g., nylon or rubber strings vs. steel -- most the bass guitar youtube videos I've watched seem to be taking jazz as the upright tonal ideal, which isn't quite what I'm angling for).

Thanks in advance for reading!

Sep 26, 2021 - 1:21:56 PM

102 posts since 2/7/2020

Yes I have strong feelings about this. Uke basses (you can get them for $150 or less on eBay, etc.) with Aquila Thundergut type strings are the best for that type of music. You'll need an amp but a Fender Rumble 25 (the new Fender Rumbles are super lightweight) will be enough for every acoustic and small gig situation. Roll off the treble on the bass and the amp and you're good to go.

If you want to be able to join a circle without an electrical outlet nearby, I've heard that a portable power supply (pure sine wave) works well for several hours.

So
1) Uke bass ($115-150)
2) Fender Rumble 25 ($130)
3) Jackery 240 portable power station ($170-200)

Please do not buy an acoustic bass guitar. We need to stop pretending these are acceptable instruments.

Sep 26, 2021 - 2:17:13 PM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26413 posts since 8/3/2003

Dave played a Martin acoustic-electric bass and mic'd it up when we were on stage. Wasn't quite like an upright, but loud enough that we could definitely hear it clearly. It fit easily in the back seat of the car or on a bed in the motorhome. I still have it and if you're interested
we can discuss how much and how to get it to New York. Of course, BHO would get their donation if we made a deal.

Sep 26, 2021 - 10:49:07 PM

19 posts since 9/6/2012

quote:
Originally posted by earlstanleycrowe

Yes I have strong feelings about this. Uke basses (you can get them for $150 or less on eBay, etc.) with Aquila Thundergut type strings are the best for that type of music. You'll need an amp but a Fender Rumble 25 (the new Fender Rumbles are super lightweight) will be enough for every acoustic and small gig situation. Roll off the treble on the bass and the amp and you're good to go.

If you want to be able to join a circle without an electrical outlet nearby, I've heard that a portable power supply (pure sine wave) works well for several hours.

So
1) Uke bass ($115-150)
2) Fender Rumble 25 ($130)
3) Jackery 240 portable power station ($170-200)

Please do not buy an acoustic bass guitar. We need to stop pretending these are acceptable instruments.


Yes, uke bass was at the top of what I was wondering about, so glad to have a third party confirmation! I was won over pretty well by this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PjpXrXFI8c

(Also I agree, as someone who plays upright and electric bass guitar I do mostly think acoustic bass guitars are the worst of all worlds, ergo my cry for help on here.)

And I already have a Rumble-equivalent amp since I've got a regular old electric bass guitar (which I'd never deign use for old time of course). I do notice the gold tone microbass seems to market itself mainly as an alt to the kala U-bass, and it seems like it was constructed mainly with a uke bass in mind, perhaps slightly more overbuilt which I'd prob appreciate (I've also got small hands and despite suffering thru string bass would appreciate a 23" scale). Anyway maybe I'll weigh the gold tone against some other bass ukes and consider that (all things being equal I'd prefer not to have to pull the frets off myself, but not rocket science). Thanks for the input!

ajl

Edited by - talknormal on 09/26/2021 22:53:00

Sep 27, 2021 - 6:06:14 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

20504 posts since 6/30/2015

Have you considered an electric upright bass? Take up substantially less room than your current bass, but would still play the same. I saw a band last summer where the bass player played one and I have to say it sounded better than a guitar bass. Stagg makes some of these, as well as some other companies. Here is one from Guitar Center. I don't recommend buying from GC, just showing the example.

guitarcenter.com/Stagg/Electri...5D%20-%20(Bass)%20-%20%7BGQ%7D%20-%20%5BMV%5D&utm_term=4578503884352879&utm_content=%7BGQ%7D%20Bass%20(GC)%20(Bing)

Sep 27, 2021 - 6:45:57 AM

102 posts since 2/7/2020

The Gold Tone looks nice but it's a little pricey (kind of like the Kala UBass was before all the clones came out). If I play the uke bass for bluegrass or old time I can hit every note within the first five frets, so the short scale doesn't bother me too much. You don't want to get too close to the frets because you can get a buzz.

Sep 28, 2021 - 8:48:32 PM

19 posts since 9/6/2012

I was planning on getting fretless for the sound regardless, which was one of my concerns about the UBass, folks seem to report that at that small scale, the strings just bend so much it's real difficult to play in tune (as in, even when you're in the "right" spot on the fretboard) ergo the microbass interest.

About upright electrics, honestly, I'm totally open to the idea, but I've yet to hear one where I didn't totally hate the sound (like, so jazz fusion). But I may be ignorant to many options! In which case I'm def open to suggestions.

Thanks all!

Sep 29, 2021 - 7:46:14 AM

2805 posts since 2/10/2013

I attended a bluegrass festival where the bass player had what looked like a standard 3/4 bass body, but was actually quite smaller. It was also electrified. I talked to the bassist and he told me he played acoustically at smaller jams, but used the pickup when playing for larger audiences. Sounded fine. If I were a bassist, I would definitely get one of those. More convenient to carry around without sacrificing sound.

Sep 29, 2021 - 8:08:46 AM

498 posts since 5/29/2015

I have instruments sitting around and when I am bass prone.
There are many forms of upright basses. A 1/2 size works just fine and the 65 versus 71 inches sometimes makes it possible to get into cars. There are now lots of upright basses with removable necks that make travel and shipping more efficient.

I do not know how bass players survived for the 300+ years that acoustic basses have been in existance. I suspect most of this is a "First World problem" as the international students from developing countries I was lucky to go to school with, would say with a smirk as they listened to their US friends complain about stuff.

Sep 29, 2021 - 10:47:30 AM

102 posts since 2/7/2020

quote:
Originally posted by talknormal

I was planning on getting fretless for the sound regardless, which was one of my concerns about the UBass, folks seem to report that at that small scale, the strings just bend so much it's real difficult to play in tune (as in, even when you're in the "right" spot on the fretboard) ergo the microbass interest.
 


I haven't had any intonation problems with the uke bass, but I stay within the first five frets 98% of the time. No problems with bending either. I think it just requires small changes in technique from a full scale bass guitar.

I was also going to say that I think an electric bass is fine for bluegrass and old-time, as long as it's played appropriately. I'm in the "any bass is better than no bass" camp.

Sep 29, 2021 - 10:51:21 AM

102 posts since 2/7/2020

I think it's one of those areas where advice from more mainstream bass players can lead you astray. If you want to play almost any other style of music, you'll probably see the bass uke as a novelty within a few months. But assuming the limited role bass plays in bluegrass, old time, or folk, it can be a great tool when an upright isn't a good option.

Oct 1, 2021 - 8:08:13 AM

2805 posts since 2/10/2013

I don't play bass, but I feel that bass players don't get enough credit. And, the better they play, the less recognition they get. Quick - who played bass with Flatt & Scruggs ?

I have been to jams where if there had not been a bass player, the music would have had trouble starting, keeping time, and knowing when was finished - not just players looking at each other and gradual stopping with different instrument stopping at different times.

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