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ABG deal

Phil W

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A nice surprise yesterday. I am rehearsing material with a wonderful reggae/soul singer. He decided that he wants acoustic bass guitar and asked if I had one. When I responded in the negative he went out and bought me one to use! :)


Well, I used it at the rehearsal and now it's living in my house and mine to use while I am still involved in this project, what a great deal!


I posted pictures on the Informal Thread but I don't think anybody reads that hardly, so here you go - I just wanted to share the story. It's not the greatest bass but it sounds great, it's free and I'm chuffed. :love:


I hope the next singer I work with wants me to use a vintage upright or a high end Fodera or something! ;)


The new extended family:




Well, the new ABG is on the left; the Peavey fretted is borrowed from my drumming friend. The acoustic guitar I bought in a charity shop today for £22. It needs a little work but it's not too bad and it'll be good for my son to learn on.





ABG Details


Enjoying playing it though it's a relative cheapy - it has a beautiful upright-like acoustic tone and works well plugged in.




I think the fingerboard would benefit from flatwounds though although I'm not sure if that might reduce the acoustic volume slightly?



Acoustic Bass








Bass Brace






Indian Rosewood






Bass Chrome diecast tuners


Indian Rosewood




New LR-T Pro(Tuner) Preamp with

L.R.Baggs Element Pick-up






Dovetail Neck Joint

Dot position marks

Bass Bridge Pin


Korean 4 strings

Gauges: .040,.055,.075,.095"



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I think the fingerboard would benefit from flatwounds though although I'm not sure if that might reduce the acoustic volume slightly?


I think the flatwounds would be preferable if you're trying to go for that URB tone. They'll really give you that thick, earthy, thump most people get acoustic basses for. May decrease the volume or may not. I've never strung my ABG with roundwounds to tell you different. I don't see why that would matter though if you're going to amplify or record with it. Just my thoughts.


Looks great though Phil! Happy playing.




PS. That classical guitar looks as if it's seen better days! By the looks of it it probably needs a thorough cleaning and some new strings. Give it some love.


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Those Crafter ABGs are quite nice (IMHO they rank above more "popular" budget ABGs such as M Kelly...)


On a note, one of the most visible practioners of ABG is Jonas Hellborg who for the past few years (until Warwick develop his new sig model) had played a fretted version of that same bass. Now, here's a guy who has quite a few REALLY nice ABGs (incl. 2 or 3 custom made Wechters, and a custom double neck Ovation), and he actually prefered the playability and tone of the Crafter citing that it came closer to his ideal tone than any other ABG he had played.


Good score! I would slap some TI flats on there and you will be in heaven. (LaBella Tapewounds might give a more URB-ish thump, but I have had good luck with faux-URB tones and TIs....also TIs can supply a wealth of "other" bass flavors.



...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Wow thanks Max. That is very positive to hear. Jonas is someone I always listen to when it comes to gear, as indeed are you! I will get the flats soon.


Yes the guitar is a mess. I've cleaned and restrung it and there's some damage to the tuners and saddle but it was very, very cheap! My son wants to learn and it's cheaper even than a toy guitar.


The bass is a sheer joy to play.

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Why try to make an ABG sound like a wannabe URB when it can sound like a good ABG? If you want an URB sound get an URB, if you play an ABG you may as well play to its strengths.


I agree, but IIRC, that's what the singer who's funding the recording session provided for Phil to play... Presumably with the idea of making it sound like an URB.

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Why try to make an ABG sound like a wannabe URB when it can sound like a good ABG? If you want an URB sound get an URB, if you play an ABG you may as well play to its strengths.


I agree, but IIRC, that's what the singer who's funding the recording session provided for Phil to play... Presumably with the idea of making it sound like an URB.


I think you're underestimating the impracticality of just having a URB. URBs are not far off from ABGs. They will always sound similar to each other. Many people (including myself) have bought ABGs as a more practical and affordable solution to achieve the URB sound. Of course, nothing beats the real thing, but I think you would agree, arguably, that an ABG is substitutable in nearly every place, that a URB is preffered (that doesn't require arco). And the same is true vice versa.

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I play URB more than any other type of bass and I've played ABGs too, not one has come close to substituting for an URB. Its as much about how the instrument feels and how it forces you to play than how it actually sounds, soundwise they can come somewhat close, but in reality you can probably get as close with an electric too. Plus its perfectly viable to play an URB acoustically, even with a moderately big sound to contend with, forget about it with an ABG.
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I have been using ABGs and semi-acoustics for a number of years as my primary basses. And while there certainly is a tendency towards the faux-URB type emulation, I think most people miss the boat on this. The ABG, and it's relative thin-line "semi's", are quite unique instruments in their own right. Personally I find the responsivness and unique articualtion, the anomalous phase realtionships and other "acoustic" characteristics to be quite wonderful (as well as being the closest approximation of that elusive "sound in my head") and have made these my choice over solid body, magnetic PU basses.


It is that same "acoustic" quality which leans things toward the URB emulation; and this is usually put forth by people (and often NOT bass players) who have not really explored the capabilities and possibilites of the ABG. Can the ABG "accurately" emulate an URB? No. But it can, due to the unique incoherent phase relationships, give a approximation which to most ears will have "that" URB sound about it. Will it fool some of the people (some of the time)? Certainly. But to discerning players of the instrument, or those EB players who have spent enough listening time to appreciate the unique and wonderful voice of the URB, it will not.


I spent enough time with my ABGs trying to emulate the URB sounds which have captured my imagination; namely (of late) the tones of Edgar Meyer and Viktor Krauss. After many hours of frustration---most likely due to the fact I lack the deft touch, feel and deep musical insights of those particular players (perhaps I have made my goals a wee bit lofty?)--- I have come to accept the Acoustic Bass Guitar for what it is....and that ain't too bad.


I urge anyone exploring the ABG to accept it as its' own unique musical voice. Sure, others may put forth the comparisons to URBs, but by accepting its own qualities, merits, and inherent problems, you can find a deeper expression, an unique musical color, and a certain "je nais se quoi" which is not obtainable with either EBs or URBs.



...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Wow, controversy!


Well I was just exploring the natural acoustic sound of this bass as I heard it. You might hear that as urb emulation and admittedly it does hint at that kind of sound but it's just natural sound that the bass makes, the swell of the notes led me in that direction. Maybe if he's bought me a fretted abg it might have been different.


Nothing sounds like URB for me either. I was fortunate to play one in college but I couldn't have one now without finding a new apartment, family and buying a car - none of which I particularly want to do. I listen to a lot of double bassplayers, I always have and when I play any bass there is always a little influence from Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Richard Davis, Ray Brown and the rest however abstractly it comes out.


I play fretless electric most of the time and there are times I have to sound less obviously fretted - so I guess that is emulation to an extent.


Of course I'll use the ABG amplified for all gigs and recordings and I have yet to really explore that sound. I just wanted to share its natural sound as it sounds acoustically. I played it as I play fretless but responded a lot to it's sonic character. It was only a few lines on first meeting the instrument and I think with a new instrument there is always a little bit of a danger that the instrument plays you, as opposed to you playing the instrument. I'm sure once I spend a little time with the instrument I'll get to know it better to explore it's character and how to manipulate it.

There are 2 reasons I've played it mostly acoustically in the few days I've had it. Firstly because it's fun and easy to practise on and to grab and play around the house. Secondly, because I was requested to do so for this rehearsal session.


The reason the singer requested ABG is an unusual one. He was a successful reggae and soul singer and recording artist in the 1980s and acted in a few movies when he suffered a bad fall from a hotel window. One of the consequences was a hearing loss. He has a better class of hearing aid and wants to return to the musical action. Problem is that amplified music could blow his hearing aid (not precisely sure how that works) so he asked if we could rehearse (and record the rehearsal using acoustic bass) and he bought the bass for that reason. He is looking to spend £500 on a protective device for his hearing aid so that he can record in the studio. I offered to just play electric bass really quietly.


Hmmm, seemed like a strange solution to me and in his place I would have put the cost of the bass towards the necessary hearing aid protection but it was his decision . . . and I guess he fancies the idea of having ABG backing him once he gets the show on the road.


Sometimes it's

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I agree with Max's assertion that the ABG should be considered in it's own class rather than a URB simulation. Most EB players will never play an URB and so it remains the only vehicle to access the acoustic tone. Phil and I discussed this on the phone and wondered what makes the tone of a URB so unique. Notwithstanding this, the ABG proudly remains part of my arsenal of choice, ie EB fretless, EB fretted and ABG fretless.



"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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As an ABG player, I agree with all of you who said that the ABG's an instrument in its own right, with tonal idiosyncracies that should be explored/exploited in their own right rather than trying to copy an URB.


But... having said that, I think Phil's done a pretty good job of approximating the sound of the URB, and anyway, that's the tool he's been given, so there's no point wishing for an URB.

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I started playing four years ago, at age 48. Mostly play EB in praise and worship band. I have been able to try URB and ABG. I find that each has its' own character in audience perception as well as playing approach.


I use ABG in an acoustic duo. Seems to blend better with strumming style of the guit-fiddler.



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ABG is its own thang. Congrats, P-Dub, on the score.


The TI suggestion for strings is a good one. I also think that some tapewounds would be lots of fun on that bass. However, I think roundwounds on an ABG also offer their own tonal flavor, and that flavor can be quite tasty. Enjoy the time experimenting with the sounds you can get with different strings.


I recently posted about the Citron Steve Swallow model -- an acoustic-electric. I obtained a great deal of joy from playing that bass this past Saturday.








Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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  • 1 month later...

It's been sn interesting time with the ABG. I've playyed it a lot at home but not live. Mostly because (similar to my borrowed Peavey fretted) the two instruments are sonically so much inferior to the Wal so if I take one bass it's always going to be the Wal unless they specify fretted bass,

As you all predicted I've learned to appreciate the unique sound of the ABG and realised the error of my enthusiastic ways in my early experiments. I enjoy the plugged in sound a lot.

Both played acoustically and plugged in, the bass seems to really amplify any string noise - of course I realised that this might just be faulty technique but string squeaks seemed to occur where they definitely wouldn't on an electric bass - and even vibrato seems to produce unacceptable string noise.

This could be down to the brand new bronze coloured no-name strings, I will experiment with TI flats, but what are your experiences with this?

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I have used TI's on my fretted 4, fretted 5, and currently have them on my fretless 4. I have never tried then on an ABG, but all I can say is that these strings are unlike any other flat that I've experimented with. All ABG's I have played were equipped with bronze rounds, and like you mentioned, the string noise is a little irritating.


Most flatwound strings have a higher string tension that could make it uncomfortable when switching from the lower tension roundwounds. The TI Jazz flats have a similar string tension to rounds, feel extraordinarily upright-like, and not to mention sound and feel better than most I have played. They are a bit pricey($50 US), but you really only need to buy one pair seemingly forever.


I have never tried tape-wound strings, but I guess it's worth a shot to experiment.

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