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Acoustic Bass


The Bear Jew

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So my "brit-pop" (sort of) is going to start doing acoustic gigs. I'm going to need an acoustic bass for these gigs, since bringing my P-Bass and giant Mesa/SWR rig to an acoustic gig will probably be overkill. We're going to do different on our songs for this purpose -- using congas, different percussion, etc. It'll be something different for us. Pick your jaw up off the floor, Tom. I can be sensitive and stuff, too. Don't make me cry.

 

So... here's my question:

Who makes a decent-sounding, relatively inexpensive acoustic bass? Hmm? I'm not looking for an upright -- I don't wanna carry one of those around. Besides, I KNOW I can't afford one anyway. I'm thinking of spending around $300.

 

Thoughts?

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Overall the nicest sounding and playing (to me) AB I've tried for the money was an Ovation... was about 3 and a half bills, used, but I wasn't really shopping for one at the time. I've looked at a few others recently as well:

I liked the Ibanez, but I'm biased that way.... I'll probably end up with one eventually.

The Washburn sounded too 'twangy' for my taste.

The Epiphone sounded pretty good, didn't try it plugged in though, and I didn't like the finish.

The Takamine just didn't feel right, so I didn't even play it.

The Martin was awesome, but way over my price range.

Same with the Tacoma, but it was a bit on the twangy side too.

The Dean was OK. Sounded better through the amp than unplugged.

I did not like the Fender at all. It was uncomfortable and the action sucked.

Gonna look at a Godin next time I'm in Medford (OR), there's a shop that carries them there... and I'd really like to try out a Carvin fretless...

 

DX

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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Oddly enough, CMDN, I've just been thinking about ABG's today. I think that'll probably be my next bass purchase. HOWEVER, in the meantime, I have no cash... but I did find a couple of ABG's I'd probably try to snag off ebay if I had the funds.. Maybe you'll be interested:

 

I've heard LOTS of good things about Michael Kelly ABG's:

Michael Kelly

 

and a Celebrity (Ovation?):

Celebrity

 

Oh, forgot who I was talking to... here's a BLACK Michael Kelly:

Black Quilt Michael Kelly

 

Honestly.. the Kelly's are probably the route I'll go.. looks like they can be nabbed off the 'bay for under $200... I can deal with that. Not too shabby lookin' either.

-Mike

...simply stating.
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Incidently, all of the basses I listed except the Ovation and Godin were at Guitar Center, so you could probably find details and good ('ceptin the Martin) prices for the same models at Musiciansfriend.com or music123.com

DX

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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Originally posted by Mr M Pulsive:

Oddly enough, CMDN, I've just been thinking about ABG's today. I think that'll probably be my next bass purchase. HOWEVER, in the meantime, I have no cash... but I did find a couple of ABG's I'd probably try to snag off ebay if I had the funds.. Maybe you'll be interested:

 

I've heard LOTS of good things about Michael Kelly ABG's:

Michael Kelly

 

and a Celebrity (Ovation?):

Celebrity

 

Oh, forgot who I was talking to... here's a BLACK Michael Kelly:

Black Quilt Michael Kelly

 

Honestly.. the Kelly's are probably the route I'll go.. looks like they can be nabbed off the 'bay for under $200... I can deal with that. Not too shabby lookin' either.

-Mike

Wow, that black Kelly is not a bad looking guitar for the price. I wonder how it stacks up against the rest.? (Anyone else know anything about these Kelly guitars?)

For the price I'd go with the Celebrity (Ovation...) as I stated before, the Ovation was my favorite, and Celebrity's in my experience are pretty close to the originals.

But if you look around I'm sure you'll find something locally that you like... and can afford. Ordering a guitar online is 'like a box of chocolates...' etc. etc.

 

DX

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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Bite you? HAHHA. You guys have learned well.

 

BTW, you don't know me. I WILL bite you.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I've played acoustic stuff with my usual bass (The Gibson, and now the Kinal). If you want to get another bass, that's fine. If it were me, I'd get a small combo (SWR WM10 or similar Ashdown).

 

I feel bad for the Cottonmouth DN band and fans. After a few acoustic gigs, you'll be unbelievably wild when the headbanging starts.... Then again, they all like that stuff, so maybe it will help.

 

In keeping with your new gig I urge you to nibble politely at my posterior.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Yeah now, Eric, a acoustic bass guitar is just not your "style". Man, you really should get a doghouse. I can just see you, jumping on it and riding it like a horse, lifting it behind your back and playing it with your teeth. It's YOU :eek:

 

I'm thinking you will not be heard with an acoustic bass guitar, unless you're amplified. And if you're bringing an amp, why not use your Precision?

 

I would love to get into a real upright, and I'm just waiting for the right "motivation" to do so. I know my hands and arm is going to hurt, but the sound :love:

 

Just my thoughts, if you can dig it, OK if not, bite me

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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Yeah, Erik, you're going to need to be amplified to be heard...those things put out such little volume, you might as well be playing an electric unplugged at this gig. The way I'd do it is play my fretless with a rolled up piece of cloth under the strings, right up against the saddles. Gives me a nice little standup tone, and the decay you'd expect from an acoustic/upright. That's what I'd do, though.
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My main performance bass for solo gigs is an ABG...actually two! A godin A4 fretted four string and Godin A5 fretless five string (with a high C). I have played just about every ABG on the market; some are great (Martin, Guild, Taylor...) some abysmal (let's not name names).

Most are at very best cumbersome (like the Tacoma, just too dang big). Truth is, none of them have enough acoustic tone to cut it unamped (it's down to basic physics, kids), so amplifying one is the way to go. And yes your current "electric" may be a bit much. You might want to look into something small like a SWR workingman's combo, or the new Baby Baby Blue...or an Ashdown 300 1x10 (which can easily double for a scaled down electric rig..great amp BTW)

I strongly urge you to look into Godin, as for the money they are simply the best acoustic bass guitars out there.

For your budget you won't find much...and you do get what you pay for. You may find a n older Ovation model on e-bay in that neighborhood, or a Takamine, Washburn or Epiphone. Most of these have excellent playability, yet suffer from a less than desirable preamp.

I also have a Dean Performer Plus ABG. I use it as a travel bass (to write in hotels while touring, take camping or to the beach...my "beater" so to speak. The bass is 32" scale, and so easy and fun to play, and a small body design (smaller than a dreadnaught gtr). This means less acoustical volume, but a much more comfy feel. The original Shadow PU system I found to be unacceptable and replaced it with a Highlander Piezo system. The bass sounds great and is mucho fun to play on. New thse can be had for around $300-400, I believe.

So...what are the best? And this is entirely subjective: Rick Turner Renaissance, Rob Allen, Godin A series, Azola Jazzman & Nouveau models, Citron Acoustic bass (whew!)....and a new contender the Wechter Pathfinder Acoustic Bass (but that will set you back $3k)

Of all these only the Godin can be had for under a grand (I have seen them used for 500-600) Worth checking into as they are very versatile basses, capable of much more than "faux-upright" renderings. I use mine for nearly all of my solo work, and more recently have been getting calls from producers and engineers requesting those basses on sessions.

Advice: regardless of what you do get, Thomastik-Infeld Acoustic Bass strings are the way to go with ANY piezo equipped bass. They are bronze windings over nylon cores, very flexible, low-tension and light gauge with an incredible array of tones and dynamics. These strings were designed by TI and Rick Turner, a guy who know a thing or two about basses and tone. They are incredibly well balanced, and responsive to subtle shifts in dynamics. They are the only string designed for piezo PUs.

 

Of course, I must strongly urge you check into Godin Basses. Many online retailers (Bass Palace, Bass Central etc.) have them in stock at good prices.

 

Oh..for sound samples: try checking the mp3s from my CD "A Caravan Of Dreams" at

 

all of those tracks are done on my fretted Godin A4.

 

Hope this helps......

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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The two lower-priced acoustics that I liked at the local shop were the Ovation and the Dean. I liked the Tak, too, but that's just me.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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I purchased a Michael Kelly acoustic 5-string fretless late last year, and my first decision was whether to play ir ot hang it on the wall as a piece of art. It's beautiful! The action is good, the sound is great for an acoustic setting, or plugged in. Depending on your rig, you might need to adjust your EQ to drop your mids a bit, because there's a possibility of resonant feedback on your 'A' string, but EQing it cleans it up.

 

I'm playing it thru a Trace-Elliot head with 4X10s, but am looking to replace the cabinet with a single 15", so I'll be EQing it again.

 

Here's my baby in Quilted Amber:

http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/acousticbasses/fretless5/

 

I can't say enough about 'em - I bought mine directly from their site, and I was scared sh**less about spending all that money without playing it first, but I must have been a good boy in a previous life, 'cause this baby is phenomenal!

 

A suggestion - If you're going to get an ABG from a store, drag your whole rig in and crank it up! This way you'll be sure about your tones and any possible resonance problems with your rig and positioning/construction/materials on your new bass. The folks may look at you funny, but it's best to know in advance.

 

Good luck,

Tim from Jersey :thu:

Play. Just play.
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My vote would have to be the URB...but you'll not find one for cheap. It will work acoustically...I've often played medium halls unamplified. Here's my rule of thumb: if the guitar player has a hollow body and an amp of around 60 watts, if no more than 3 horns play in unison, if a drummer has taste...I don't need an amp. Even with an upright, if there is a full jazz band I'm more comfortable with an amp...don't have to punish my hands too much.

 

With an ABG, my rule of thumb changes. I need amp. I've never seen a situation where I could play it unamped (except a living room with a single acoustic guitar.)

 

Mine is less than $350...a Charvel. Not much of an instrument, however. It sounds pretty acoustic amped up (not like an URB...like a deep guitar) My only use for it is in teaching....I can demo things to students without carrying an amp, or fearing I'll lose something valuable to theft.

 

I a/b'd the Martin and Tacoma the other day, and the Tacoma was really great to me...being an URB player I really wasn't bothered by the jumbo size and it's acoustic tone was great. It kinda made me want it....even though I have no use for it. I have also played the Godin, and it blew me away, but only when plugged in.

 

As far as an amp goes...I think most amps will be fine...but the Acoustic Image is really something special. For any acoustic instrument, the live tone is clearly superior to other amps. This distinction, however, would evaporate if you used it as a monitor and the took a signal to the board.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Acoustic bass? Umm, I'm hardly qualified to speak (I had my first brush with one today) but I agree that it'll need to amp it up. My guitairst and myself were recording an acoustic track for a c.d promoting an acoustic gig we're doing for local radio. We were in the same booth and when the guitar was going full whack I could hardly hear the bass! The guitarist had to have just bass coming thru' the cans to hear.

 

Acoustic bass' are a bit harder to handle, this one was a Westfield (I think that's what it was) and I think these must be at the lowend of price. It played o.k, but I'd have preferred to play electric any day.

 

CupMcMali...this monkey's gone to heaven :freak:

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Quite true about the need to amp ABGs. Againb simple physics. But, y'know, even in an "unplugged" set no one is truely unplugged. Maybe on your porch, the local hootenanny or a tail gate party at a bluegrass festival you will find real "unplugged" (as in sans amp) playing, but otherwise it is all a facade.

So if guitarists are allowed to amp their Martins, why must we bassists have the "true" no amp sound, even tho the laws of physics tell us we need 10x the acoustical volume to remain on par with them?

enough ranting about that tho.... yes the Godins sound great amped! As an unplugged personal practice bass, they sound great also, just don't throw another instrument into the mix.

And I will second the comments about AI Clarus...quite a little (and I do mean little) amp. Outstanding!

I do have a question about the Michael Kelley bass. Are you sure it is a quilted maple top? I have only had experience with a couple of his designs, both turned out to be photo-finishes (which quickly explains the low costs).

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Max Valentino wrote:

Most are at very best cumbersome (like the Tacoma, just too dang big)
Max, I'm not trying to be a know-it-all, but are you sure you're talking about the Tacoma?

 

I know that Taylor's ABG is enormous...but the Tacoma always felt pretty comfortable for me to play. I'm a big guy who can get around on a wide-shouldered Kay, though...so YMMV, i guess.

 

I played a fretless Tacoma CB-10 in a store, and it had the sweetest acoustic sound I'd ever heard from an ABG...plus it was light! No amp testing with it though, so I have no opinion of it's plugged-in sound...

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I play in a jazz trio where the guitarist has a pair of matching AI Clarus amps...just in case one goes out.

 

Sold a pair of Walter Woods to get them. But he's also an engineer, got plenty of bucks.

 

I was referring specifically to the combo, the Acoustic Image Contra. I have one of the earlier ones, (Serial #224) and I love it. I think the improvements they made (which cost $100 more) are probably outstanding, but I've not heard one of the new ones.

 

For the un-initiated: The AI Contra combo is a digital (Class D) amplifier...which is great, as I understand, for bass...slew rate and all that stuff. Another thing that makes it great is it generates NO heat...there's no transformer, fans, cooling blades or anything.

 

The speaker portion is unique...the audience sees a 5" speaker (which is for articulation) The work of the amp is underneath it's round body, where a 12" speaker points directly at the floor...it washes the room with warm bass sound.

 

It's also great for guitar...where the guitar will have a nice bass response, but not overwhelming.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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I own an Acoustic Image and I'll attest to its warm, round sound. For rock, it's a bit underpowered...but for many other styles it works perfectly and is very, VERY easy on the back. Plus it sounds great.

 

When I bought it, I used it for the first time with my swing band, and they all turned around and smiled. Nuff said...

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yeha cmdn, im in the exact situation, almost. We're a heavy heavy band that is only 3 guys but i think we're pumpin out all together near 1000 watts. Me and my makeshit 220 watter, guitarist with an old 120 cab, 100 peavy, and it's plugged through i think either 300 or 400 watter pa sytem and speakers that i also plug into, along with our drummer. Mainly we jsut make noise. For tonal perpuses i cut down to my 150 watt and bring the sound way down, and guitar drops to his peavy and we cut the pa all together. But now we want to cut it even softer, he's using his stratacoustic no and we added a rythm player that hits congas, bongos, chimes, and all sorts of skins. We'r goin now for standard blues ballads, some ramsey louis stuff, and we're even looking for a piano for the progressions and beautiful fills, i mean ramsey louis come on we damn well should have a piano. And some light funk as well....like jamiroque. So anyone who finds a bass will be helping me too. peace
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Hey Guys, I'm right there with ya ! My 1st post here ( a few yrs. ago) was about an idea I had regarding a acoustic elect. bass, actually I had some forum discussion with Rick Turner among others, my idea was why couldn't somebody make a ABG that also had some internal amplification and speaker to bring the volume up to equivalent of a URB ? I thought, a ABG body would make a great speaker enclosure able to do a

folded passage way type horn ( 4"-5" long excursion spkr. ) with a port on bottom edge for the low Freq. & maybe a front facing 4" for mids / hi's etc..., I thought a small internal amp could be powered thru a 1/8" plug either a mulitple 9 v battery pak on the strap - or a 110 volt plug in adapter, Talk about multi-purpose !,

practicing alone ( the bass would be acoustic enough for that ), playing with an unplugged group using the onboard amp & spkr's, and having a reg. output jack to plug into outboard gear !!!!

I wasn't thinking of a high $$$ premium bass but maybe somewhat simlar to the applause / ovation line .

The reaction at the time was - " not possible" - "No market" , " novelty item"

This could still be the issue, I just thought I'd share an idea I've had bobbin' around in my head .

I'm Todbass62 on MySpace
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HAHAHA.

 

OK... So last night we talked for a minute about the whole "acoustic" issue. We're still not totally sure if we're hoping to go for an overall "acoustic" effect (meaning we'll all simply use acoustic instruments) or if the fact that guitarist/vocalist will be playing acoustic guitar will make our set "acoustic" enough. As it now stands, we've decided we'll have an acoustic guitar, and our drummer will be using congas and other little weird percussion things instead of a regular drum set. While I like the idea and image of playing full-on acoustic, I'm leaning towards using my regular bass and borrowing a little amp from someone. To be honest, I don't feel like investing in another instrument if I don't really have to do it. I could just bring my p-bass, SWR Sm-500 and 2x10" cab... and turn it down. A lot. I mean... I think that would be fine. I don't really NEED an acoustic bass. Besides... someone needs to keep the rock happening while those two get in touch with their feelings and play all sensitive with their acoustic stuff.

 

Now... you may ALL bite me. Often. Grrr.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Hey Ben...

That's true. However, I'd need to borrow or buy one... And I'm trying to avoid spending money if at all possible. Besides, I really like my p-bass.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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