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Recording: upright-ish sound from a fretless


Gruuve

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Hey guys:

 

I'm working with the singer from a band I played with a decade ago. She recently took up acoustic guitar and has written a few songs, which I'm helping her record.

 

The first one is very folksy...not a genre I'm highly experienced in. However, a root/5th kind of bass line with some smaller walks seems to fit nicely.

 

I'm after an upright-ish tone on the recording...I'm using the Dean fretless and thumb plucking on the end of the fingerboard (where the 23rd or so fret would be if it were fretted), both pickups full on, tone knob all the way on. I'm running through the BBE BMax preamp with the sonic maximizer turned off and EQ set to a slight mid-boost, and not using any compression to try to capture the dynamics similar to an upright.

 

The tone I'm getting is close I think, but it's still not quite authentic sounding. I've cut some lows and boosted some more mids and highs (I may have boosted the highs a bit much...not sure...the Dean has a rather dark sound with both pickups on...it's a passive bass, if you haven't already gathered that).

 

Here's a rough mix:

http://www.ipass.net/davesisk/music/laurie/Another_TestMix2.mp3

 

If you have a few moments and understand what I'm after, please give this a quick listen and let me know if you have any suggestions on how to get the tone a little more uprightish. This is probably 85% of the way there...I'm trying to hit the 90-95% mark or so.

 

One thing about the bass itself that becomes very noticeable when thumb-plucking up on the neck where there's the maximum dynamic response and not using any compression: Some notes on the neck really resonate well and some don't. It's not nearly as noticeable in a more typical situation (for me, meaning playing live, typically fingerstyle, and using mild compression)...but it sure becomes noticeable recorded with thumb plucking. I might have to compress the recorded track to even out some of the resonant versus non-resonant notes. I may also try re-tracking with only the bridge pickup...that should introduce some "natural" compression, plus the neck pickup really has a bit too much lows, especially thumb-plucked.

 

Thanks in advance for any suggestions on how to get the vibe a little more realistic...

 

TIA,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

Hey guys:

 

I'm after an upright-ish tone on the recording...I'm using the Dean fretless and thumb plucking on the end of the fingerboard (where the 23rd or so fret would be if it were fretted), both pickups full on, tone knob all the way on.

 

Here's a rough mix:

http://www.ipass.net/davesisk/music/laurie/Another_TestMix2.mp3

 

TIA,

Dave

Dave I'm fairly new on bass, so not sure this is of any help... Anyway, some songs in a rock musical I did last Year required a more upright bass sound. I only had an entry level (fretted) bass, but had both pu s on full, and bass eq up a little, and experimenting, I found the best I could get was when I was fingering the 1st to 5th freths, and plucking around the 12th to 16th frets, but with a reasonably gentle touch. Is that any use?.......... Your rough mix is sounding nice. :-)
MUSIC is food for the soul
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Hey...yeah, that's useful...I may experiment with re-tracking this...it does seem that the further up the fingerboard you pluck (within reason), the more uprightish it sounds. I may try the neck pickup off...I had to roll a lot of lows out of that track to get it to sit right in the mix. I also boosted the highs a fair amount, but I think I may have boosted just a bit too much...it's made fingerboard noise audible, although I'm not actually sure if that adds to the authenticism or detracts from it... :freak:

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Put the bass back up and get rid of some of the mid boost. Recorded Upright bass typically has a lot of fretboard click and clack so leave the treble alone.

Try to remember it's a bass.

Bass frequencies will sit allright in the mix there weren't any other low frequency sounds in the track .

 

listen to Jeremy on this track

http://www.electrocoustic.com/audio/cohen.mp3

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Just thinkin' out loud:

How about some foam under the stings where they meet the bridge saddle to kill some of the sustain and overtones. On the two and four, try a little string slap with a little less tamborine.

 

She's wonderful. Great project. Hooray!

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Dave, I didn't see what strings you were using but they really sound like roundwounds to me. I even hear some finger noise when sliding up. Sometimes I will pick up around the 20th fret for a smooth sound. There was a lot of string buzzing but that is ok for the URB sound.

Flatwounds??????

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Rocky, they are indeed roundwounds. I just got a set of Rotosound flats to try on the Tobias...I may slap 'em on the fretless just for this song...

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Flatwounds.

Foam under the strings at the bridge.

Higher action.

Fear not your fingertips.

 

Those are all good suggestions.

 

My two cents would include messing with your EQ much less (i.e., don't use it!) and experimenting more with hand placement, how you strike the strings, and various muting techniques for quicker decay of the notes.

 

I'll be frank -- the tune isn't my cup of tea. However, that's just me. I think you should keep after it like a rabid raccoon in a restaurant dumpster.

 

Good luck.

 

Peace.

--S-Dub

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by Dr. Sweet Willie:

I'll be frank -- the tune isn't my cup of tea. However, that's just me. I think you should keep after it like a rabid raccoon in a restaurant dumpster.

--S-Dub

ROTF...I'll have to remember that analogy. ;) It isn't the normal type of music I do either...but, that just makes it a bit of an interesting challenge. My friend plans to submit this song to a folk music contest, so I just want to give her the most authentic sounding stuff that I can for her song. Can you believe this is the same young lady who was the lead singer in one of my prior funk/metal bands a decade ago? ;):thu: It's actually really good to be doing something musical with her again, regardless of the genre. :cool:

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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If you want an upright sound, why not use an upright? I have never heard a bass guitar that sounds like a URB, or even came close. Maybe it sounded closer to a URB than some other bass guitar, but that isn't very close. I think that if you could get a URB tone out of a bass guitar there wouldn't be many URBs sold. Not trying to sound harsh here.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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Heh...well, I don't have an acoustic upright (although I could likely borrow one from a bassist friend). Funny enough, I recently sold my electric upright figuring on the odd chance that I needed an upright tone, I could fake it well enough with the fretless. Now, I'm getting the opportunity to determine if my reasoning was merely rationalization. ;)

 

In actuality, it doesn't have to be 100%...just close enough to get an uprightish vibe. In fact, Laurie nor the judges for the song contest are really going to care very much...it's more my own personal challenge to get it as authentic as I can.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I must say that my unfretted Washburn ABG with fat, flat chromes and an oak-wood bridge sounds pretty uprightish though a single 15" and after some onboard and external preamp eq fumbling. The bottom is HUGE and the sustain is slightly damped by the wooden bridge. Get any used ABG, do the mods and have loads of fun.
What ever...
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Originally posted by way2fat:

If you want an upright sound, why not use an upright?

Hey Dave, Are you still hauling your stuff around in that little Yugo 2 door?

 

Rocky ;)

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Originally posted by Rocky3840:

Originally posted by way2fat:

If you want an upright sound, why not use an upright?

Hey Dave, Are you still hauling your stuff around in that little Yugo 2 door?

 

Rocky ;)

Rocky...wrong Dave...my SUV will hold anything of reasonable size and bulk. :thu:

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Here's a suggestion that's further afield. After listening to the part that you are playing, I'm not sure that there is much advantage to using the fretless. You're certainly not sliding around in the part, and the mix doesn't allow much "mwah" room. If you put the flats on the Tobias, why not try that bass?

 

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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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

[QB] Heh...well, I don't have an acoustic upright (although I could likely borrow one from a bassist friend). Funny enough, I recently sold my electric upright figuring on the odd chance that I needed an upright tone, I could fake it well enough with the fretless. Now, I'm getting the opportunity to determine if my reasoning was merely rationalization. ;)

 

In actuality, it doesn't have to be 100%...just close enough to get an uprightish vibe. In fact, Laurie nor the judges for the song contest are really going to care very much...it's more my own personal challenge to get it as authentic as I can.

 

 

Ah, I see. The most true-to-the-instrument tone I've heard from a URB is on Praire Home Companion's house band. Check it out if you're ever listening to the show.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

 

Rocky...wrong Dave...my SUV will hold anything of reasonable size and bulk. :thu: [/QB]

Yea, I know, I was just trying to give you an excuse not to get an URB, Just joking around.

:D

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Originally posted by Rocky3840:

Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

 

Rocky...wrong Dave...my SUV will hold anything of reasonable size and bulk. :thu:

Yea, I know, I was just trying to give you an excuse not to get an URB, Just joking around.

:D

Rocky [/QB]

Heh heh...that's still a valid excuse...I'm not sure I consider a URB to be of "reasonable size and bulk". ;)

 

Tom...I'm going to try to get the flats onto the Tobias and intonation set/neck adjusted/etc. within the next day or so. Even with flats though, I seriously doubt the Tobias would be any where close to the right sound...it's a very bright bass with more bite than any other 5-string I've played or owned...these flats are very bright, so I'll think they'll give it a different character without taking the bite away...we'll see soon. However, you have triggered the thought that it might be worth trying one take with the G&L in passive mode. I plan to do another take or two on the Dean fretless with some foam under the strings at the bridge...I was listening to some acoustic music today with a URB on it, and I'm thinking some foam might introduce that subtle character that I believe this is currently missing.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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