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Thread: recommend me an acoustic bass

  1. #26
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    I'd also recommend a full-on 3/4 or 4/4 double bass. If a person is seriously interested in that voice and quality of sound, nothing else will ever satisfy, because a standard double bass is the only instrument that can do that. FWIW, this unusual period of time has become a buyer's market for used double basses, like with most other used instruments.

    It sounds like the uBass idea doesn't appeal primarily because of the need for an amp, and I can't blame anyone there... But once I got my double bass and started gigging with it, it didn't take long to realize that a room full of volume-insensitive instrument players can easily overrun any acoustically-played bass, including the double bass. That inspired occasional amp usage with even my double bass, which is also very common among other double bassists.

    And after I comfy'ed up to amp usage with my double bass in those cases where the hoards of other instruments couldn't keep their volume down, then the idea of a uBass as an easy-carry backup became quite inviting and I purchased one. I always prefer playing double bass, but for those difficult to access or fit-in venues or for those difficult weather situations, the uBass is plenty sufficient...

    That said, if a person wants a uBass (or for that matter any guitar-shaped acoustic bass) to sound as close to a double bass as possible, it should be a fretless instrument. Going fretless with a uBass makes a huge difference in producing a more double bass like tone, by itself. Again though, this is assuming the use of an amp.

    Lastly, getting an amp that is made specifically for use with a double bass completes the quest. I'm still just using a small standard electric-bass amp (a battery powered Roland Micro Cube Bass RX) for my occasional amp use, but if I ever start using an amp most or all the time, a nice one that is voiced specifically for the double bass would be my next, and possibly last, major bass-related purchase.
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  3. #27
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    such enjoyable bass passion! Just great feedback!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

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  5. #28
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    3/4 Bass Viol see if you can find a KAY..
    writing about music
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  7. #29
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    If you want the sound of a good acoustic bass, then find an acoustic bass. Depending on the size of the person, would recommend 1/2 to 3/4 size. And like a mandolin, make sure it has a good setup, whether buying new or used. One ensemble I'm in has a bass player that uses a 1/2 size all plywood bass. Once she got a properly fit bridge, it was more than an acceptable sound.

    I personally like the sound of the Kala Uke bass with a good amp like a Phil Jones. You can get the Jones to run on an external battery.

    Of course, the other choice if you are willing to amplify would be to get an Eminence bass from Gary Bartig. Two groups I'm in use this and it is the best sounding amplified bass I've heard. And easier to get around with than a regular bass.

    Most of the guitar shaped basses are okay, but like others have said lack depth. The Ernie Ball was the best I've heard, the Taylor the easiest playing, but the least volume. The Martin -15 series shows up occasionally and that is okay. Although it seems to be picky on strings.
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  9. #30
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Yes, worth mentioning, as much as I like having and playing double bass, they are big, fairly awkward to move and relatively fragile, and as such, challenging to store and transport. There are standard sized double basses which have removable necks and are easier to travel with. Personally, I wouldn't mind having one of these as my 2nd double bass.

    There are stands for storage at home or on stage which can save a lot of space and provide a degree of safety. There are wheel devices that help with manual transport, and if it wasn't for the one I have, I wouldn't be able to play double bass due to personal mobility issues. There also are soft cases or hard cases for double basses. Accessorizing is pretty important and these items are just the tip of the iceberg...

    I've spent over $3k on after-purchase accessorizing my double bass since January 2018, and that's not an uncommon accessorizing price tag among other double bassists. I like my bass a lot so I don't have regrets about accessorizing it well, but this is the kind of added expense that people should be aware of. And to be fair, there are also people who spend little or no money for things for their double bass after purchase.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


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  11. #31
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    A 1/2 bass will sit in the seat like a person if you do it right. I could get it in my Honda civic. They sound quite good and are loud enough, especially for just a mandolin.
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  13. #32
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    If you can budget $1800 to $2000, I would recommend one of the Samuel Shen entry level basses. They are made much better than most of the other Asian entry level models. Also budget a little extra for a set up with a friendly set of strings. Dealers for Shen basses can be found on google. There is at least one dealer in Virginia, in Chesapeake.

    If you prefer a US made bass, Upton Bass offers a laminated bass for $2500. They are built in Connecticut.

    Students of mine have played both the above brands, and they are well made, good sounding instruments.

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, I suggest you avoid the old Kay basses. I rarely see them in good playing condition, and they have become so expensive that you can buy a much better modern bass for the same amount of money or less. A used Englehardt might be an alternative if you can find one for $1200 or so. But if a seller wants much more, you're better off going with a Shen or an Upton.

    A 3/4 size bass is considered to be the "standard" size for professional use.
    I have only rarely seen a "full size" or 4/4 bass, and I wouldn't want to play one. They are generally considered to be oversized instruments by most modern players.
    1/2 size and 5/8 size are a good alternative for non-professional players. This might be the best size for your wife.

    Just for the record, I payed off my mortgage by playing jazz and dinner music on the bass 2 to 4 nights a week. My instrument was a Roth "hybrid" [solid carved top, laminated back and sides].
    Last edited by rcc56; Sep-09-2020 at 6:50pm.

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  15. #33
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    such enjoyable bass passion! Just great feedback!

    f-d

    Rad Dad, you’re the best bro.

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  17. #34

    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    You mention it is just for noodling.............

    There is a pretty steep learning curve if you haven't played an upright bass before, IMHO. Even as an experienced guitarist, the upright bass is a different creature, requiring a different stance, it is much more physically demanding to hold and to play, AND it will make your fingers very sore until you get used to it. I doubt if many first time upright players can make it through one song without being exhausted, even if they have played other stringed instruments in the past.

    OTOH, there is less of a learning curve with an acoustic-electric bass and you have the option of using a pick if your fingers get too sore....

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  19. #35
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    I love upright basses and used to play quite a bit—bass players are always in demand. However, F-D asked for a acoustic fretted bass but advice has shifted to an upright. While I agree the tone is so much better, the learning curve is pretty steep especially if someone like a partner needs to be encouraged to learn it on the fly. Just my 2 cents.
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  21. #36
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    The OP suggested that his wife was liking the idea of a real bass.

    As a teacher, I would suggest a well set up guitar and a year of lessons rather than any kind of bass. 9 chords and a capo can get a person through a lot of music.

    Bass fiddle is tough on the hands. Acoustic bass guitars are cumbersome and rather clumsy. The best middle ground is a short scale electric bass.

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  23. #37
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Well....for under 200 you can make a really nice sounding instrument with a washtub, line and a stick. The result is exactly the same if you practice.

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  25. #38

    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    Well....for under 200 you can make a really nice sounding instrument with a washtub, line and a stick. The result is exactly the same if you practice.
    How do you get to $200? Washtub is $24 or less at the big box stores, a used broomstick (free), and some kind of line (free or almost free)....looks like $35 should make one on the high side..........

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  27. #39

    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Delicate question, what does your wife like?
    Reads music? Already played a fifths instrument? Other instruments? Percussion? Petite person? Acoustic/electric inclined? Physical drive? Type of music she likes? Does the double bass have cultural meaning for her? Drives a car? Happy to do a year of lessons? Is there a personality type associated with double bass? Where is her main motivation? How much money is she happy to commit to spending on her instrument?
    And apologies for all the questions.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Sep-10-2020 at 5:41am.

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  29. #40
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    (I may have the washtub already - that and some parachute chord!)

    Regarding Simon DS's questions, they're all good. She's not a music person at all! She seems to like the idea of thumping on a bass; however!

    We'll see. . .

    f-d
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  30. #41
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    I like the bass player in Split Lip Rayfield’s approach. 16 or 21 gallons, regular or high test, Holley carb sticker included.. no extra cost...

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  32. #42
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by mtucker View Post
    I like the bass player in Split Lip Rayfield’s approach. 16 or 21 gallons, regular or high test, Holley carb sticker included.. no extra cost...
    that's fun! DIY baby!

    f-d
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  33. #43
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    ... She's not a music person at all! She seems to like the idea of thumping on a bass; however!
    Bass player's not-persuasive-enough commentary to my wife at a jam session 10-12 years ago:
    - "Hey, for bluegrass, all ya gotta learn are 5 notes, at least to get goin'!"
    - "But, uhmm, you DO need to carry the danged thing... or pawn that off on your husband."

    Still unclear which decision I would have preferred. No, she doesn't play!
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  35. #44
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    Bass player's not-persuasive-enough commentary to my wife at a jam session 10-12 years ago:
    - "Hey, for bluegrass, all ya gotta learn are 5 notes, at least to get goin'!"
    - "But, uhmm, you DO need to carry the danged thing... or pawn that off on your husband."

    Still unclear which decision I would have preferred. No, she doesn't play!
    hahhahhaaahhaaaa!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

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  36. #45

    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    A friend of mine (who also posts here) purchased one built by a company named “Teton.” It is a very impressive instrument for the money and even comes with built in electronics. I don’t know how to post links, but if you Google Teton acoustic bass you should find it. Their website has a dealer finder to check one out. Best of luck to you!

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  38. #46
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    Well....for under 200 you can make a really nice sounding instrument with a washtub, line and a stick. The result is exactly the same if you practice.
    I made a washtub bass senior year at college. I was, of course, influenced by Fritz Richmond's playing with the Charles River Valley Boys and the Kweskin/Muldaur Jug Band. I followed Richmond's advice to get a gardening glove for my "fretting" hand, and wrap adhesive tape around two adjacent fingers of the glove to provide a smooth surface on each side of the string (I used a twisted steel "clothesline") when I slid my hand up and down the broomstick. Wonder whatever happened to it after I went off into the service?

    I did, however, hear a knowledgeable but snarky folky say, "Fritz Richmond plays with the utmost virtuosity I've ever seen on the instrument. The result, however, is the equivalent of a very badly played bass fiddle." Somewhat discouraging.
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  40. #47
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    The gas tank bass reminds me of Ron Hyde's hexacone reso-bass ...

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  42. #48
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    "I've spent over $3k on after-purchase accessorizing my double bass since January 2018, and that's not an uncommon accessorizing price tag among other double bassists. I like my bass a lot so I don't have regrets about accessorizing it well, but this is the kind of added expense that people should be aware of....."

    True, but....

    In a three year period, I made $15,000 playing local gigs within seven miles of my house on an old Kay that I was given for free. Every time it leaves the house, it makes money. How many amateur mandolin players can say that, regardless of their chops or how much they spent on the instrument? A nice bass is not an expense; it is a fast track to making money and being very in demand and having more fun than you can imagine.

    A bunch of mandolin nerds telling each other what bass they should buy.....

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  44. #49
    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    EKO made a great acoustic bass (the model was the B/A-4) back in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
    They were 34 inch scale lengths which sound better than the more common 30 inch scale ABG's of most makers.
    All of these were handmade in Italy by one man (Alfredo Bugari). These were also branded Eston in Australia.
    ***DON'T CONFUSE THESE WITH THE CHINESE REPRODUCTIONS***
    They make them in fretted, fretless and fretless with fret markers and they made a 6 string (but no 5 string).
    Good for playing acoustic sets in your living room and as loud as an Earthwood or ThunderChief.
    I put Thomastik-Infeld Acousticore Acoustic Bass Strings (4-string .041-.086) on the six B/A-4's I owned,
    the sound is incredible but those strings cost $77.95 Brand New on ebay. These basses come up on ebay and reverb.

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  46. #50
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: recommend me an acoustic bass

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    ...A bunch of mandolin nerds telling each other what bass they should buy...
    Hey, some of us are "bass nerds" as well. I've done a fair number of bass gigs, mostly playing country dances, and am the "official house bass fiddle player" for the annual Genesee Country Village Old-Time Fiddlers' Fair. Currently own a '20's aluminum-bodied 3/4 size, probably a Pfretzschner, a Guild Ashbory solid-body "mini-bass" that's sorta the precursor of the new crop of uke-basses, and a Stahl mando-bass from the Larson brothers.

    As I understand the original request, it was for recommendations for an instrument that would be complementary with a solo mandolin, for informal playing at home. Not primarily for a gigging instrument, or one for ensemble playing. That's what led me to suggest an "acoustic bass guitar," of which the highest-performing one currently manufactured and generally available may be one of the Asian-made resonator instruments by Gold Tone, Dean, and Recording King.

    Opinions, of course, will differ, and I'm sure all are welcome. Seems a little misdirected to scoff at us as uninformed "mandolin nerds" who know little about basses. If fat-dad had wanted to go on a bass forum for advice, I'm sure he would have -- especially if he were looking for a "nice bass" as a "fast track to making money and being very in demand." I think he sought an instrument with which his wife would be comfortable to play along with him in the living room.
    Last edited by allenhopkins; Sep-11-2020 at 3:43pm.
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