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Thread: Emulating a bass guitar

  1. #1
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    Default Emulating a bass guitar

    Hi all,

    My band lacks a bassist, and I want to step in.

    What effects would you use to emulate a bass guitar?

    Here is my setup:

    1. Acoustic mandolin stripped down to 4 strings
    2. K&K floating bridge pickup (which also acts as a pre-amp)
    3. Alesis GuitarFX multi-effect pedal
    4. Ibanez Tone-Blaster amp

    I did the obvious and set the multi-effect pedal to transpose the pitch down by two octaves. But what other effects should I add in to give my mandolin a funky bass sound?

    Also, will this go against the rule that says, "Don't play a bass through a guitar amp"?

    I am looking forward to hearing your suggestions.

    Thanks,
    Huda

  2. #2
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Huda View Post
    Also, will this go against the rule that says, "Don't play a bass through a guitar amp"?
    How about going against the rule "don't try to play bass on a mandolin"?

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    Is there a "talent" knob? taboot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Huda, I think you've done most of what you can do with an acoustic mandolin. If you had a midi-ready instrument, you could get closer. In my experience playing electric mandolin through an octave effect, you can play notes as low as a bass player, but you'll never get that "funky bass sound." There's a significant portion of that sound that has as much to do with the mass of the strings as anything. That said, playing bass on the mandolin is fun, enjoy it!

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Taboot's suggestion of a Midi pickup would be the best way to get that sound, although you'll need a synth or sampler module with a good bass patch. With your current rig, maybe try adding some compression? And be careful about volume levels with that guitar amp. You might get by with running it at low to medium volume, but high volume might blow the speakers. Do you have a PA system you can run the signal through instead?

    If you want to stay with a small-bodied instrument for this, how about getting an Ashbory bass:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashbory_bass

    They're fairly inexpensive, they sound good (if you can get used to the feel of the rubber strings), and the different intervals in the tuning might help you think more like a bass player. Since the Ashbory has a short scale, I suppose you could even tune it in 5ths like a mandolin if you wanted to. You'll still want an amp that can handle those low frequencies.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Roland's guitar synths have a bass patch , but the cost will be up a ways ,.,

    an electric mando .. see the Mann retro Conversion done in the past.

    maybe a lesser cost instrument will do.
    [wonder if Bluestar can build and use the installed GK like fender's Roland ready 'Strats' used]

    a Roland GK pickup, and a module is about $600,

    and a bass or subwoofer amp.

    I like RMC's pickups that are in - the- bridge pieces,

    and their 13 pin polydrive2 box. but there is installation charges ..


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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Mandolin used as a bass?

    Why not just get a bass guitar? They're not terribly expensive. Better yet, find a bassist.

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Or maybe an electric mandocello.......Mike Marshall plays really cool bass lines on his! (acoustic of course)

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    I run my 5 string mando through an MXR blue box to play a weird technoish distorted bassline while my band's bass player takes a trombone solo in one of our songs. You might try to get a unique bass sound with your mandolin rather than to emulate the sound of a bass guitar.

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    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    I went the Ashbory route and it's worked out well. I play it in a bluegrass context and pretty much ride the root/5th train following the chord progression. If you can find a flatpicking guitar book/resource that lists bass runs, you can spice things up a bit.

    I ended up coming up with a system of using no open strings. Then I just move the patterns around based on the capo position the guitar player is using. It's effective, but not earth shattering.
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    That's what I was going to suggest--Ashbory basses are good for folks who are used to the shorter string lengths and as an upright AND electric bassist, I can honestly say they sound GREAT! Those floor bass feet things aren't bad either, but I wouldn't do the mandolin as bass thing--ruins the whole sound, if I'm listening to a group. A Ashbory bass TRULY sounds like an upright bass, which is why I love them for older jazz stuff rather than a newer elec. bass....a more authentic sound. Not hard to play at all, except for getting used to the strange strings. And the aren't that expensive either nor hard to carry around! Fun little buggers!
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by SternART View Post
    Or maybe an electric mandocello.......Mike Marshall plays really cool bass lines on his! (acoustic of course)
    I 2nd the mandocello recommendation...
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    I own a DigiTech Whammy-pedal, wich I use for my emando. I've been experimenting with the two octaves down setting, with the same purpose as you: to play bass on the mandolin.

    First I tuned the mandolin down from GDAE to E B F# C#, to get the low E of the bass guitar. Then I used the two octaves down setting. It was very hard to get any attack when playing, the sound was pretty sloppy. I tried to run my overdrive pedal after the Whammy, and I liked it better. The clean sound gets dirtier ofcourse, which may not be what you desire, but there is more attack and bite to the sound. I guess it would be nice to add compression too, and running it through a bass amp, but I haven't tried that. Maybe some sort of auto wah may help with the attack too, to separate the tones, I like the DigiTech SynthWah (don't own it though) for some crazy sounds and people use it on bass.
    Check out www.myspace.com/snortingmaradonas for a Swedish punk band where I play emando

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Hi all,

    Thank you for all of your input.

    Your responses fall into two categories:

    1. What a cool idea! Here is what I have tried...
    2. What a loser! Go buy a bass guitar!

    I acknowledge number 2, but to salve my wounded pride I will focus on number 1.

    I have experimented a little, and these options sound half-way decent:

    1. Mando > Pickup > Compression > Cabinet Simulator > Pitch Down 1 Ocatave

    2. Mando > Pickup > Compression > Cabinet Simulator > Acoustic Distortion > Pitch Down 1 Octave

    3. Mando > Pickup > Compression > Cabinet Simulator > Tube Clean > Pitch Down 1 Octave

    Now I just have to learn to play like a bassist, and not a mandolinist!

    Does anyone out there have any constructive criticism?

    Thanks,
    Huda

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Huda View Post
    Hi all,

    Thank you for all of your input.

    Your responses fall into two categories:

    1. What a cool idea! Here is what I have tried...
    2. What a loser! Go buy a bass guitar!

    I acknowledge number 2, but to salve my wounded pride I will focus on number 1.

    <snip>

    Now I just have to learn to play like a bassist, and not a mandolinist!

    Does anyone out there have any constructive criticism?

    Thanks,
    Huda
    Sorry I'm late to this discussion.

    I'd encourage you to "set aside the pride" and take a good look at an Ashbory Bass. I've heard one played regularly and the sound is very good. I've played around on one and enjoyed the experience. Then again, you'd probably feel more at home on a mandocello. Just think of the lows you could get if you pitched one of those down!

    Sounds like you're having fun, regardless.
    Phil

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    I like your idea and it seems that you've found a pretty good path. I thought that originally, the exercise was to use what you have without adding components...

    It's interesting that you've changed from two octaves down to just one. Octave shifters can get
    confused and flaky when asked to go too far.

    In my experiences with 'octavers' they've often restricted the range on the fretboard. I'm sure you'll be able to discover where the 'edges' are, where not to go to those notes on the mando neck that scare the downstream processing into weirdness.

    I think that I would have started with a different order in the signal chain (maybe you've tried this already...) I'd have the octave shift first, then applied any necessary EQ, then compression, then any distortion characteristics, then the cabinet simulation.

    Well done so far, and good luck chasing the rest of the tone.

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Get yourself one of these:
    http://www.largesound.com/
    street price is $299 and they sound like an upright. Silicone strings so you can't bend but you can slide. Easy learning curve. We have a blast with ours. John

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Get yourself one of these:
    http://www.largesound.com/
    street price is $299 and they sound like an upright. Silicone strings so you can't bend but you can slide. Easy learning curve. We have a blast with ours. They are made by Fender now. John

  18. #18
    Luthierus Amateurius crazymandolinist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Huda View Post
    Also, will this go against the rule that says, "Don't play a bass through a guitar amp?
    NOT SO! I play my bass through two different guitar amps and it works fabulously! On the EQ, just turn the mids and highs down all the way and the bass all the way up. Guitar distortion doesn't work that well on a bass though.

    Mandolins have the ability to replace drummers, and basses have the ability to replace rythm guitars somewhat, but with the mando being two whole octaves higher it doesn't seem like this would really work. BOSS makes an octave pedal, maybe if you had an octave mando you could use that.....

    If nothing else works, bass is a very easy instrument to learn, and a few bands don't even use bass and they get good results (ala la White Stripes). Basses aren't too expensive either, a hofner icon beatle bass can be found for less than $300 pretty easy, and some squiers can be found for less than $200.

    Good luck
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Let me second (or third, or fourth) the Ashbory bass suggestions. It really is like playing a bass mandolin. The drawback is that it's tuned in fourths rather than fifths, so you can't play the same patterns you would on a "processed" mandolin.
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    >>>Now I just have to learn to play like a bassist, and not a mandolinist!
    >>>Does anyone out there have any constructive criticism?
    >>>Thanks,

    The secret is KISS ....... (keep it simple stupid) There is nothing wrong with 1,5,1,5 all night long.
    Play what needs to be played and don't hot dog it. You are the time keeper not the lead. In my opinion the biggest problem with E Basses it the player plays too many notes just because he can.
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    2. What a loser! Go buy a bass guitar!

    Not at all! I did suggest buying a bass. As for being a loser for wanting to do it on the mandolin, I don't think so. In fact, I'm pretty impressed with the lengths some posters have gone to create bass-like effects with mandos. I was recommending what seemed to me to be the easier route.

    I was going to suggest the Ashbory too, but I had a blankout and couldn't remember the name. In fact, now that I think about it and considering that electric bass was my first instrument, I'm having a case a BAS :-) I might just have to pick up one of those little suckers.

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    A few years ago, I played in Jimmy Ryan's Mandomania- lots of mandos and a drummer. One of the mando players played bass on an emando through an octave divider (maybe a Boss pedal)- it worked great and a good time was had by all...

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    What would happen if you played through two back-to-back octave pedals, each set for one octave? Would that sound less sloppy?
    Wye Knot

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    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    If the pedal route is the way you are going Electo_Harmonix has a few that might suit the bill. Their POG pedals (poly octave generator) seem to be pretty nice.
    Charlie Jones

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    Default Re: Emulating a bass guitar

    Hi all,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am surprised that this thread has lasted this long!

    I have thought about getting an Ashbory, but I am concerned about the following:

    1. I have read that the Ashbory is a "one trick pony".

    2. I am in love with fifths-tuning and I don't want to change to fourths-tuning unless I absolutely have to. I know that people "say" that the Ashbory can be tuned in fifths. However, I haven't seen any reviews from people who actually play the Ashbory in fifths-tuning.

    3. It looks kind of silly.

    Can you dispel my concerns?

    Thanks,
    Huda

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