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Getting electric bass to sound like a double bass Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 15th February 2019
  #91
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AfterViewer's Avatar
 

Here's what I purchased recently to capture that upright sound for recording my acoustic guitar repertoire : Oscar Schmidt OUB800 Ukulele Bass

Then, I'll mic it thru this little feller on vintage tube simulator setting :

Peavey MAX 126 II Bass Combo Amplifier, New
I've also got a custom Hofner with flatwounds that I bought in '84 that plays itself.
Old 15th February 2019
  #92
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The idea of starting on electric and moving to standup is somewhat questionable, as most people use different fingering on the electric. On upright the left hand ring and pinkie fingers move together, which requires more position shifts than playing electric with all left hand fingers independent. Of course you can use acoustic fingering on an electric, but it's not the way a lot of players learn. Acoustic fingering is more common on fretless than on fretted.
You just made me flash back to the 4th grade and now I’m gonna investigate my fingering style. I play electric but grew up listening to my dad play an upright. I always grab that thing and take it for a stroll whenever I’m visiting him. It will be mine one day as well as my grandmothers violin. Anyway, I’ve never had a problem playing diddly’s on it. After reading your post and trying to figure out if I’m lucky or playing it wrong, I remembered my first string instrument was a cello. 4th grade. So now I suspect I finger the electric like I did the cello which I’d also suspect being fretless I learned like an upright bass. My dad would have no doubt been instructing me and my fingering.

Brian
Old 15th February 2019
  #93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
You just made me flash back to the 4th grade and now I’m gonna investigate my fingering style. I play electric but grew up listening to my dad play an upright. I always grab that thing and take it for a stroll whenever I’m visiting him. It will be mine one day as well as my grandmothers violin. Anyway, I’ve never had a problem playing diddly’s on it. After reading your post and trying to figure out if I’m lucky or playing it wrong, I remembered my first string instrument was a cello. 4th grade. So now I suspect I finger the electric like I did the cello which I’d also suspect being fretless I learned like an upright bass. My dad would have no doubt been instructing me and my fingering.

Brian
Fingering is different on upright and electric. Most electric players play one finger, one fret. Upright players play as if the ring and little fingers were glued together for the extra strength, which makes for a lot more position shifting.
Old 15th February 2019
  #94
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ionian's Avatar
My main bass is a 60s era Fender J bass with a silver cover over the pickups. If you have one of those pickup covers on your bass, jam some foam rubber in there to dampen the strings so you get a muffled attack /pluck and no real sustain, and you're good to go.
Old 16th February 2019
  #95
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Fingering is different on upright and electric. Most electric players play one finger, one fret. Upright players play as if the ring and little fingers were glued together for the extra strength, which makes for a lot more position shifting.
This is a very dubious statement. And even if there are some bass players with poor technique that play essentially "one finger" style, it wouldn't have enough to do with why electric and acoustic basses sound different.

I play with and record almost exclusively acoustic bass and I have never seen anyone do this.
Old 16th February 2019
  #96
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Here are some close views of an accomplished acoustic bass player. I don't see this two finger on one note technique.


Old 16th February 2019
  #97
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The only instrument that I have heard that sounds kinda sorta like an acoustic bass is one of the bass Ukeles. The fretless model with the rubber strings (or whatever they are made of) comes the closest.
Old 16th February 2019
  #98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
This is a very dubious statement. And even if there are some bass players with poor technique that play essentially "one finger" style, it wouldn't have enough to do with why electric and acoustic basses sound different.

I play with and record almost exclusively acoustic bass and I have never seen anyone do this.
Bass was my major instrument in college. That's how I was trained. Maybe Sasquatch has enough strength in the little finger to use it independently on a bass viol, but a person with normal strength? I find it really difficult to believe.

My bass teacher and I had some considerable discussions about this, as I was taking both viol and electric - the college would not give credit for electric if I didn't take viol as well. I used 4 finger technique on electric but 3 finger on viol. On most of the videos I've seen of guys like Charles Mingus I've also noticed that they use the 3 finger technique.

In your Ron Carter video he appears to me to be using 3 finger technique, with the ring and pinky moving together and with an upward (musically) shift of the whole hand to cover the notes that I would use my pinky alone for on electric.
Old 17th February 2019
  #99
The strings aren't really rubber, they're some rubberlike synthetic polymer.

As if it really matters.
Old 17th February 2019
  #100
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norbury brook's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
This is a very dubious statement. And even if there are some bass players with poor technique that play essentially "one finger" style, it wouldn't have enough to do with why electric and acoustic basses sound different.

I play with and record almost exclusively acoustic bass and I have never seen anyone do this.


John E is correct in that this is the 'proper' technique if you've been taught double bass in the Classical traditional way, which as it's a classical traditional instrument is the way it's been done of hundreds of years.

I see plenty of self taught guys who come from electric bass and play with bad technique but get away with it. Long term though unless you're physically a large/strong person you will end up with problems.



this was the most common teaching book in the 20th Century for double bass. written in 1906

F. Simandl New Method for the Double Bass BOOK 1


if you're a player and haven't studied this then you should. It will teach you to use the pinky and ring finger together and proper positional shifting, this has the benefit of producing a better tone and also better tuning.

once you are up the fingerboard then the ring finger comes into play independently.



HTH


M

Last edited by norbury brook; 17th February 2019 at 02:45 PM..
Old 17th February 2019
  #101
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by norbury brook View Post
John E is correct in that this is the 'proper' technique if you've been taught double bass in the Classical traditional way, which as it's a classical traditional instrument is the way it's been done of hundreds of years.
2nd that. I was first bass in high school orchestra, pit & jazz bands (marching band told me to get lost ). This is how I learned, and how I still play. Much less fatiguing on long, difficult passages.

I don't think it has beans to do with making an e bass sound like a double, though.
Old 17th February 2019
  #102
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norbury brook's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
2nd that. I was first bass in high school orchestra, pit & jazz bands (marching band told me to get lost ). This is how I learned, and how I still play. Much less fatiguing on long, difficult passages.

I don't think it has beans to do with making an e bass sound like a double, though.
true :D there's no real way unfortunately to make and electric bass sound like an upright though :D


to be honest you'd be better off using samples or a VI like trillian on something.


MC
Old 17th February 2019
  #103
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by norbury brook View Post
true :D there's no real way unfortunately to make and electric bass sound like an upright though :D


to be honest you'd be better off using samples or a VI like trillian on something.


MC
Not much luck here either, and I've tried. Got one of those little basses with rubber strings, a few acoustic electrics and some others, and they all just sound like what they are, not a proper double bass. We've got an old German 5 string bass down there, but still we mess around with getting the tone in different ways.

Strange, a few months ago I recorded an old Fender Jazz, like an early 60's with dead flatwounds, through a Markbass Jeff Berlin amp. An old U87 about four feet in front. It sounded closer than anything I've ever tried, and I wasn't even trying to get a double bass tone. Just recording a bass for a song, and surprise.

I'll have to find the clip and post it. If I'd been focused on it, I would have made notes and taken photos, but there was a lot to do, so we just commented on it and moved on.
Old 19th February 2019
  #104
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Bass was my major instrument in college. That's how I was trained. Maybe Sasquatch has enough strength in the little finger to use it independently on a bass viol, but a person with normal strength? I find it really difficult to believe.

My bass teacher and I had some considerable discussions about this, as I was taking both viol and electric - the college would not give credit for electric if I didn't take viol as well. I used 4 finger technique on electric but 3 finger on viol. On most of the videos I've seen of guys like Charles Mingus I've also noticed that they use the 3 finger technique.

In your Ron Carter video he appears to me to be using 3 finger technique, with the ring and pinky moving together and with an upward (musically) shift of the whole hand to cover the notes that I would use my pinky alone for on electric.
The bass player on the following vid seems to have a pretty independent pinkie.

Old 19th February 2019
  #105
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
The bass player on the following vid seems to have a pretty independent pinkie.

Lol well there's a reason he was playing with Bill and not hanging out on GS.
Old 19th February 2019
  #106
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I think the left hand technique on upright bass issue is an old issue, with some differing schools of thought.

Here's an article describing two somewhat different approaches:


OJBR - Volume 6, Section 6


cheers,


audioforce
Old 19th February 2019
  #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
2nd that. I was first bass in high school orchestra, pit & jazz bands (marching band told me to get lost ). This is how I learned, and how I still play. Much less fatiguing on long, difficult passages.

I don't think it has beans to do with making an e bass sound like a double, though.
I know when I played upright in the jazz band, I used mostly the three-fingered technique. But, that was because that old bugger had the strings WAY off the fingerboard, plus I had to pluck the livin' snot out of it to be heard with the brass blaring away. Rarely did I get to use a bow.

I saw Stanley Clarke playing upright, and he used all four fingers. I don't know if he was classically trained, though.

As far as emulation? I play a fretless, and I love the vocal expressive quality the instrument has. I don't really care if it sounds like an upright or a fretted bass; it has it's own voice, is expressive as all get-out, and I love it. I use roller-wound strings on it, mostly to save the rosewood fingerboard. It has fret markers on it, but only on the SIDE of the fingerboard where the little position dots are. The face is smooth and unmarked.

I think a felt mute and using the neck pickup (which I hardly ever do) might give a more upright-type sound. I'll have to try that someday, but I'm not personally interested in emulating an upright very much.

If you're not willing to ditch the frets, I think samples/synthesis/something else might work better for you.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #108
I have not tried it, but a piezo saddle bridge pickup might help.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #109
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pennycoolstudios's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
Unfortunately, I can't go fretless. That's a whole new technique I don't have the time to master.
So, one of the major things that makes an upright sound like an upright - but you can't do that?

How bad do you want this? I'm not trying to be "smart" - but you sound like a pretty serious musician, so why not go for it!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #110
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norbury brook's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
I think the left hand technique on upright bass issue is an old issue, with some differing schools of thought.

Here's an article describing two somewhat different approaches:


OJBR - Volume 6, Section 6


cheers,


audioforce
thanks for that, it was an interesting article :D



MC
Old 4 weeks ago
  #111
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norbury brook View Post
thanks for that, it was an interesting article :D



MC
Sure. I know people who play one way, and others who play the other way. Some kind of switch back and forth as they go, depending on what's called for. For the 3-finger technique, I think there is a French style and an Italian style, right? And, apparently, even a German and a Hungarian style, too. Lots of though has gone into how to get around on the Double Bass, I guess.


cheers,


audioforce
Old 4 weeks ago
  #112
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The double bass "sound" actually varies a lot depending on the player and the musical style. Like fretless electrics, the action and string type makes a lot of difference to the sound.

An upright with gut strings sounds very different to an upright with steel flatwounds.

The sound of "finger against string and fingerboard" movements is an important part of authentic double bass sound i.e. the pizzicato technique and the movement of the hands against the strings and neck is often audible by choice.

Given the string length and corresponding tension of an upright plus the physical effort involved, you'll find it hard to emulate the attack and punch of pizzicato notes which are typically played with a single finger placed almost parallel to the string i.e. not 90 degrees as per electric pizz. Upright bass is _punchy_!

Additionally, because of the string length, the sound of the note following the initial transient punch differs from electric due to the vibration of the string - the pitch vibrato is more pronounced. If you've ever used a tuner with an upright you'll be familiar with this aspect. This is one reason why emulating that sound is elusive.

The best way to emulate the upright bass attack on an electric is to use your thumb for downward plucking, placed nearly parallel to the string. Don't use other fingers on your right hand - pluck all notes with your thumb.

Also, _play less notes_! Make each note count and leave plenty of space. On an upright, very busy playing sounds messy unless you are an exceptional player. Find the pocket and just enjoy hanging in it. Double bassists are by nature intensely focused on the pocket and less focused on playing lots of notes. If you want to convincingly emulate a double bassist, focus on the pocket.

Avoid the alternate finger plucking you typically use with an electric - double bassists typically don't use alternate fingers when plucking strings unless the music demands it (or when in "thumb position", which is probably beyond the scope of this discussion).

If you really want to sound like an upright, try playing one so you get an idea of the physics involved. Don't be afraid to learn - it's really not as hard as you think. Figuring out where the notes reside on the neck is actually pretty easy once you overcome the hesitation.

John Eppstein is right about the ring/pinky aspect, which actually happens naturally once you settle in to playing. The distance from 1st 'fret' to 4th 'fret' is larger than an electric, so the '4 fingers over 4 frets' thing doesn't really work on uprights unless you have giant fingers like Ron Carter or Ray Brown.

One thing you can try is to emulate the pickup method often used with uprights, where a microphonic pickup is embedded in the solid wood of the bridge, thus capturing the note as it passes from string to soundboard. Embed one of those pickups in the body of an electric, right up against the bridge - you'll derive sufficient sound to get an acceptable result if you have a really good preamp (usually essential with microphonic pickups). The pickup needs to be very tightly embedded aqainst the bridge to conduct the notes - it's a function of pressure. You'll need a luthier to do it.

Choice of amplifier also makes a big difference. I absolutely love the sound of my upright using an Ampeg SVT Pro head (any of the 3 models) with a Pro Neo cabinet (any of the 3 models). Magical sound.

I also love using the Aguilar Tone Hammer foot pedal. Very fat sound.

With regard to reamping, try a 'tea chest' containing Styrofoam bean bag beans. The Styrofoam beans are great at gently dampening unwanted resonances.

30 years ago when in a very loud rockabilly band I put Styrofoam beans inside my upright, with F holes sealed. Completely stopped onstage feedback but still had reasonable sound acoustically. BUT, I used to do the rockabilly tricks involving standing on the bass while playing - at one gig, as I was doing the tricks, suddenly the stage and room filled with fluffy bean bag beans. The audience loved it, thought it was part of the show, but it was actually due to the back of the bass coming apart! Freaked me out big time!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #113
Quote:
Originally Posted by diggo View Post
The double bass "sound" actually varies a lot depending on the player and the musical style..................
Great post!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #114
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I should add that the familiar "bworrrrrr" sound of flatwound metal strings is mostly a function of the action. Plenty of players (me included) play music which doesn't suit that sound. A common solution is to raise the action, which also adds significant punch to the notes.

Nowadays I mostly play country blues from 1920 - 1930 and bluegrass/folk - "bworrrr" doesnt suit!

I prefer the sound of gut strings but they are very costly to maintain and are affected significantly by changes in temperature and humidity (i.e. gut can be a real problem in temperature or humidity extremes when playing). A few years back I swapped to Innovation Rockabilly 140RB, which are "medium tension black nylon tape wound", which might involve mylar (not sure). Anyway, I love them! I bought two sets, but the first set is still on the bass and the strings sound identical to the day they were first installed. Second set gets lonely in the bass case satchel as backup!

My point is this: string types vary hugely - check the Gollihur Music website if you wanna scan through page after page of string options. They all sound different, sometimes very different. Between string choice, action, musical style, playing style and (last but not least) the build quality of the instrument itself, there really isn't a singular "upright bass sound", just as there isnt a singular acoustic guitar, electric bass or electric guitar sound.

Also worth noting the ukulele basses are great fun and sound fat in the right hands, but they dont even slightly resemble an upright. This is due to the short string length and the low tension required for the various string types. To sound great, they need to be played softly - that's the opposite of upright bass! That said, I LOVE playing mid-tempo 'one drop' reggae on ukulele bass. Very reminiscent of Robbie Shakespeare's mid to late '70s sound.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #115
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by diggo View Post
The distance from 1st 'fret' to 4th 'fret' is larger than an electric, so the '4 fingers over 4 frets' thing doesn't really work on uprights unless you have giant fingers like Ron Carter or Ray Brown.
I think there are other ways to get to it also. I've seen jazz players who are pretty facile that way, even without huge hands. I think they don't anchor the hand as much, and I'm sure a certain amount of strength is involved. Different ways to skin the cat, right?



Best,


audioforce
Old 4 weeks ago
  #116
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Yeah, as I mentioned, it really depends on multiple factors - whatever floats the boat. Hard bop players have to be very nimble, for example.

I still do a lot of slap playing, a bit like rockabilly but more restrained. The left hand has multiple roles in that scenario, particularly to mute open or adjoining strings or shorten note decay. Quite often, I'm really only using first finger and ring+pinky, because that's the way I derive my sound - my left hand is muting and releasing all the time, but after 40 years of playing, it all happens without thinking.

Everything changes if a song calls for fast walking with lots of notes! Same when playing ballads.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioforce View Post
I think there are other ways to get to it also. I've seen jazz players who are pretty facile that way, even without huge hands. I think they don't anchor the hand as much, and I'm sure a certain amount of strength is involved. Different ways to skin the cat, right?



Best,


audioforce
I don't even play electric bass with one finger per fret down the bottom end :D I don't have big hands and it's just not comfortable.

Guitar is a different matter, I use all fingers at all times on guitar.


Bill Frisell used to work with a Bass player called Tony Scher who was a guitarist and played upright bass completely unschooled. To watch him just looked painful but he had a great sound and a great feel so the end justified the means.

I think long term he would have suffered but as a short term project with Bill it worked :D



MC
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