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Recommendations for an Acoustic Bass


Gary Bouchard

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Greetings my low frequency brethren!

 

I was gifted an Acoustic Bass for Christmas; however it was not actually purchased yet... I am now researching 4 string acoustic basses.

 

I am a newbie (4 years) and currently gig with a Fender P-Bass Deluxe (which I love!), and I would like to have an acoustic bass for parties and jams with friends, where I don't have to lug all my gear around.

 

In the research I have done, I have narrowed it down to 2 instruments, however I would like to hear from folks that perhaps play an acoustic bass on a regular basis and might have experience with them. I have never played one before and never shopped for one. I need to keep the price down to 1k including the little extras.

 

My shortlist is;

 

1) Fender Victor Bailey Signature Series acoustic-electric

2) Breedlove Atlas series Solo model BJ350/CR4

 

I would be using it mostly unplugged, but would want the option to plug it in, so the sound unplugged would be most important.

 

I like the jazz style neck as it is easier for me to play and I do not want a huge body.

 

I know there are quite a few companies out there that make acoustic basses and I know there are many opinions, however I am looking mostly for individuals who actually play these and can steer me in the right direction as to what I should be looking for, aside from the comfort aspect.

 

I look forward to the input.

 

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I'm not a bass player, but I do know a bit about the sound of live instruments and I am a guitar player.

 

Acoustic instruments are not able to be purchased accurately by make and model number. Acoustic instruments are each individual, and if you put any three of the same make and model side by side, each will have a different feel and sound.

 

My recommendation to acoustic guitar purchasers is for them to go around to the stores and play the instruments, and not buy anything until they find the instrument that 'speaks' to them. If you've never experienced it before, it can be quite impressive. Because I'm not talking about you maybe thinking, 'okay, this instrument isn't bad...'. No, I mean that when you find -your- acoustic instrument you'll get this sense in your head that you have to have this instrument, you have to have it now, as if the bass is saying to you, 'buy me, buy me NOW!' It is a combo of lust and love.

 

I have been unimpressed with the Breedlove Atlas series of guitars, and I love Breedlove guitars. Fender, to my knowledge, has never made a good acoustic instrument and old Fender acoustic guitars are usually very junky, and show very poor craftsmanship and lumber choices. Your milage may vary.

 

But if you want to be happy with an acoustic purchase, you really will be happier if you shop for the instrument and only buy when you KNOW that you've found the one. And believe me, after you've played a few, you'll know when you haven't...it is a lot like dating, verses marriage.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Good advice, plus you will never ever compete with an acoustic guitar for volume with an ABG. You will always need an amp, albeit a practice amp, when playing with other acoustic instruments. You can't defy physics I'm afraid.

 

That said an ABG is a great addition to your arsenal. Have you thought of a fretless? This would make good use of the more acoustic/less bright tone you get from an ABG. The Victor Bailey has received a lot of good feedback. As has the cheaper Crafter and Michael Kelly. The Godin A4 might also just slip into your price range (used).

 

But as Bill says keep trying until you find the one.

 

That's exactly how I bought my Godin.

 

Peace

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Thanks Bill..

 

I of course would never buy an acoustic instrument without having my hands on it.. the P-Bass Deluxe I bought however I did buy that way mainly because the electric instruments dont have the same sound issues (generally) that acoustic instruments have.

 

What I think I am looking for is precisley what you offered me, the experience with the particular brands.

 

Starting out as a guitar player before switching to the bass I know what you mean about the quality of the Fender acoustics (I ended up with 2 Gibsons, a CL-30 and Chet Atkins SST!), however the Victor Bailey Series seems to have some nice woods and sound. The Breedlove that I tried was not the Atlas series, and I really didn't care for it but I liked what they put into it, electronics wise, nice woods and design, and they seem to be an up and coming outfit, sort of like the way Taylor was many years ago before it took hold.

 

I did get to play a used Victor Bailey series at Guitar Center and I liked the sound, size and feel, and appearance, but before I actually order one, I wanted to see if others have gone through this search and what experiences they had.

 

Thanks for your contribution...

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Good advice, plus you will never ever compete with an acoustic guitar for volume with an ABG. You will always need an amp, albeit a practice amp, when playing with other acoustic instruments. You can't defy physics I'm afraid.

 

That said an ABG is a great addition to your arsenal. Have you thought of a fretless? This would make good use of the more acoustic/less bright tone you get from an ABG. The Victor Bailey has received a lot of good feedback. As has the cheaper Crafter and Michael Kelly. The Godin A4 might also just slip into your price range (used).

 

But as Bill says keep trying until you find the one.

 

That's exactly how I bought my Godin.

 

Peace

Davo

 

Davo, Thank you for your input...

 

I am definately aware of the volume of the sound when playing with an acoustic guitar(s) and I understand those dynamics, but the music we play is usually not like head banging type songs (e.g John Prine, Jonathan Edwards type stuff).

 

When I started reading the Victor Bailey model reviews, I only saw one negative comment, and it was related to the setup of the instrument more than anything else, which is why it made my short list. I definately do not want to buy in the low end, because I know I would not be happy with it.

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I too am not a big fan of Fender acoustics but it kind of sounds like you've mde up your mind and are just afraid of pulling the trigger. I do suggest trying a few brands before finally making up your mind. Have you tried a Dean? They aren't bad for the price. I have a used Alvarez and it's pretty nice. I've tried the new Ibanez series and liked it. The Michael Kelly basses are pretty but seemed a bit big to me for some reason.

Anyway, good luck!

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.

http://www.myspace.com/theeldoradosband

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You can't defy physics I'm afraid.

 

Davo

Which is precisely why I don't believe in ABGs. You'd better off spending the money on a small, lightweight combo amp to use in "acoustic" situations, IMO.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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Which is precisely why I don't believe in ABGs. You'd better off spending the money on a small, lightweight combo amp to use in "acoustic" situations, IMO.

 

I suppose thats a point... The reason for the ABG is I am not always near power for the amp,thus the acoustic....

 

I do have a Squire 15w amp that came with my first bass.

 

I suppose if someone manufactured a rechargable little 15w (my idea!) amp that would be an acceptable option :)

 

 

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I have used an amp coupled with a rechargable battery pack that has an inverter.

 

Have a late 90's Korean Fender ABG, but alone it is too quiet, and plugged in, it is a feedback nightmare.

 

For an inexpensive ABG, the Dean series is hard to beat, and the projection is not bad when playing with 2 or less with acoustic guitars.

 

I have a fretless Dean and it was well worth the $, and has a built in pickup and tuner.

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I too am not a big fan of Fender acoustics but it kind of sounds like you've mde up your mind and are just afraid of pulling the trigger. I do suggest trying a few brands before finally making up your mind. Have you tried a Dean? They aren't bad for the price. I have a used Alvarez and it's pretty nice. I've tried the new Ibanez series and liked it. The Michael Kelly basses are pretty but seemed a bit big to me for some reason.

Anyway, good luck!

 

Actually, I haven't made up my mind yet. As I mentioned, my research has directed me to that Victor Bailey because of the reviews, and I mentioned that I did get to handle a used one, which I found very comfortable. I havent pulled the trigger yet because I want to make sure I get it right the first time... I bought a Takamine G Series 12 string years ago that I regret because I did not try enough of them.

 

Suprisingly, Guitar Center did not have very many in stock to try out when I went there right after Christmas, so I guess I'll need to make a return trip... the closest one is about 80 miles from me...

 

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I've had a Fender VB ABG for a few years and I really dig it due to its size and tone. Playing mostly Fender J's, the VB is an easy transition for me and plays effortlessly. I don't plug it in much as I use it mainly as an idea generator but even acoustically, it resonates nicely with other acoustic instruments due to its punchy-mids versus the tubby lows you normally find on ABGs.
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If you are considering an acoustic/electric, several years ago a fellow came into the studio with a 5 string Carvin thin line acoustic electric bass which, amplified, sounded just wonderful. It did not put out enough volume unamplified to do anything but maybe rehearse with a single acoustic guitarist, but it still carried that acoustic bass 'look' and that made it more acceptable in certain situations.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I like my Dean ABG, great neck, and tone.

 

Built in electronics to it works with an amp.

 

I've had two low-priced Dean ABGs, brand new MF price $150, and both of them had an amazing tone unplugged, I think die the the huge body and long scale that model has. One of them didn't have a working p/up in it, and the other one's stock piezo sounded kinda cheesy. That is, it did until I put a $30 Duncan Woody magnetic acoustic p/up in the sound hole, hooked it and the stock piezo with into a stereo jack and plugged it into to a stereo-in/mono-out K&K preamp, after which it sounded freakin' incredible.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I like my Dean ABG, great neck, and tone.

 

Built in electronics to it works with an amp.

 

I've had two low-priced Dean ABGs, brand new MF price $150, and both of them had an amazing tone unplugged, I think die the the huge body and long scale that model has. One of them didn't have a working p/up in it, and the other one's stock piezo sounded kinda cheesy. That is, it did until I put a $30 Duncan Woody magnetic acoustic p/up in the sound hole, hooked it and the stock piezo with into a stereo jack and plugged it into to a stereo-in/mono-out K&K preamp, after which it sounded freakin' incredible.

 

I also have a cheap Dean ABG. I mostly bought it for practicing at home and camping trips. The acoustic sound blew away much more expensive acoustics basses, very deep and warm sounding. It does have a very cheesy piezo that just sounds horrible, but it was cheap and I didn't buy it to plug it in. I have played it with an acoustic guitarist a few times, it will compete volume wise when using a pick.

 

If I wanted to spend $1K on an acoustic bass, I would seek out a used Martin or Takamine. I have played several of their offerings and they were all very nice.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you all for the great experiences/recommendations...

 

Though I still have not made up my mind yet, I have since been interested in the Michael Kelly Firefly ABG. This is another one with excellent reviews on the web, with supposedly good sound that can hold it's own with unplugged acoustic guitars and about the same price as the Dean's.

 

I checked out a Dean at G.C. but it just did not ring my bell (LOL)! That's not to put it down or anyhting... just was not good for me... I totally understand how subjective this is!

 

I am waiting for Guitar Center to get the MK Firefly in so I can get my hands on it and try it out :)

 

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I have a Kelly dragonfly 5-string fretless. It's a beautiful instrument, has great tone and is a really nice instrument.

 

Unfortunately, it ain't loud in an all-acoustic scenario. It works better if you're playing with some pickers or nylon-string-guitar players but for the standard heavy-strumming, 'anywhere-from-two-to-twenty-acoustic-guitars-around-the-campfire-or-on-the-porch-with-a-bottle-of-tequila-and-a-case-of-beer'-kind of thing, the Dragonfly gets lost in the mix.

 

I used it a lot in performance when I ran an open-mic and learned that, because of the large body (the Kelly's not mine, ya wise-guys!), it was a feedback machine. If you're thinking of using an AEB amplified, get a rubber soundhole plug. It works wonders.

 

Gary, I don't know where you're located but if you're anywhere near the Beautiful Garden State, let me know and you can try out the Kelly, just to give you some comparison.

Play. Just play.
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I have a Kelly dragonfly 5-string fretless. It's a beautiful instrument, has great tone and is a really nice instrument.

 

Unfortunately, it ain't loud in an all-acoustic scenario. It works better if you're playing with some pickers or nylon-string-guitar players but for the standard heavy-strumming, 'anywhere-from-two-to-twenty-acoustic-guitars-around-the-campfire-or-on-the-porch-with-a-bottle-of-tequila-and-a-case-of-beer'-kind of thing, the Dragonfly gets lost in the mix.

 

I used it a lot in performance when I ran an open-mic and learned that, because of the large body (the Kelly's not mine, ya wise-guys!), it was a feedback machine. If you're thinking of using an AEB amplified, get a rubber soundhole plug. It works wonders.

 

Gary, I don't know where you're located but if you're anywhere near the Beautiful Garden State, let me know and you can try out the Kelly, just to give you some comparison.

 

I appreciate the offer, but I am a bit south of the Garden State, and actually in the Sunshine (Rain) State (LMAO)!

 

Our little group doesnt really do any head banging tunes... we're mostly like John Prine, Jonathan Edwards type stuff that doesnt get too loud anyway, but I do understand the projection issues unplugged which is why I was asking :)

 

I like the soundhole tip for playing plugged in though!

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