Acoustic Bass opinions?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by cmatthes, Dec 28, 2005.


  1. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Okay - hope this is the right place to ask...

    I'm in the market for a midrange, yet decent (read, "Giggable") A/E bass. I've tried the USA Ovations, and while I liked 'em and LOVED the neck, there's that woofy howl that seems more prevalent on those than on other models I've tried using a similar rig - a pal at Ovation recommended I try the Viper version, which would work for most small acoustic gigs, but needs to be amplified. I haven't come across one of those yet.

    I'm partial to the Martin B1E, but haven't seen one around in years and they no longer make them, apparently (??). I'm going to try the B-15E tomorrow, but that's one that visually puts me off a bit. Maybe playing it will change my mind...

    The others I've tried:
    Deans - Awful - skinny neck, felt like I could flex it if I grabbed too hard
    Ibanez - see "Deans" above, but more shiny ;)
    Fender - cheap feeling, no projection and no warmth on the models I tried (OK, it WAS at a GC...)
    Import Ovations - varying degrees of crap, in my opinion
    Takamine (not Jasmine - the EG Series) - actually a big surprise - Great neck, played, well, like a bass! Electronics on one were dead (GC again), but sounded decent through a small acoustic combo. The price is definitely right there.
    Michael Kelly - tried a few at NAMM last January, and although they are probably the prettiest A/E basses ever made, the neck was stupid thin and every single one lacked punch and sustain.

    No luck finding a Guild A/E around here yet.

    Anyway, if anybody has any opinions,thoughts or real-life experience with something along these lines, I'm all ears! I know I've only scratched the surface, but am seriously looking to pick one of these up soon.

    Thanks! :AOK
     
  2. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    have you seen Rob Allen's gear?

    http://www.roballenguitars.com/

    love mine. by far the most popular semi acoustic sound. they only come in fretless versions (you place your finger ontop of the line), but you just need to get used to it.

    course, moving to an electric upright is another cool option. i own an Azola Scarab, and cheated by have some dot markers on the side, but once you accustom yourself, not that bad, and the tone is well worth it.
     
  3. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    my bad,

    rob now offers fretted versions. but IMHO, nothing says "acoustic warmth" like a hollow fretless. :)
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    How about a semihollow electric, like a G&L or that Epiphone Jack Casady sig model? I'm NOT speaking from experience, just posing the question.

    I played an Ovation A/E bass years ago that was OK... not great, just OK.

    IMO if you want BASS in your bass, either a solidbody or a real upright bass fits the bill.
     
  5. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Thanks - I'll have to check those out, but I'm looking for something primarily to work with small acoustic gigs and more of a traditional "guitar" type thing. I do have a semi-hollow bass, but am looking to go more down the straight A/E route.

    I'm also looking in the $1k or less category, since this isn't a primary thing.

    All this is very helpful!
     
  6. Antero

    Antero Member

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    Carvin came out with a full-acoustic just recently, and they've had semiacoustics in the custom shop for a while.
     
  7. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    whichever route you go, I'd highly recommend that you keep an eye out for the guitars that have 'hawaiian holes' ie. like a slack key acoustic. The bass response is much more realistic in the upper bouts of the guitar than through a center hole.

    [​IMG]

    I see that Tacoma's on the right track with theirs.
     
  8. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Good point! The Taylor I played years ago had that and really projected well. It is way more than I'm putting down for something right now, but definitely food for thought.
    Thanks!
     
  9. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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  10. syxxstring

    syxxstring Member

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  11. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I really liked the $800 Martin bass. (this was around 5 years ago, I think the bass was new). It played great and sounded marvelous.
    I've been playing electric bass guitar for around 25 years. I got schooled at how much of a hack I am when I tried to work out some of my parts on an URB for an acoustic show. I figured it would be like a 2 week learning curve to get proficient at it- I sounded like a 7 year old who had zero concept of playing at all... URB players get all the props from me.
     
  12. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    +1

    but you'd be surprised at what a few lessons on proper technique can do for you.

    funny i'm seeing this thread, cause i just picked up this:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    The Guild basses from a few years back are extremely nice and often undervalued on the used market.
     
  14. BassRocker

    BassRocker Member

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    I couldn't help but notice that you mentioned Takamine acoustic basses but you hadn't tried their Jasmine basses? I'm curious why not. I have one, and it's got a deep body (jumbo, I think), so it resonates well. It projects well, and plays well too. You didn't mention if you'd tried a Jasmine, but to me it blows away Ibanez, Fender, & Ovations (in my opinion).

    Also, I bought a Michael Kelly 5-string fretless bass, and my only complaint is that I'm used to a lined fretless neck (like the one on my Fender American Deluxe fretless Jazz). The dots that mark where the frets would be are practically under the B string, which makes them hard to see (but it does make you depend on your ears more). I love both acoustic basses and I get alot of use out of both of them.

    Peace,

    BassRocker:RoCkIn
     
  15. ghoti

    ghoti Member

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    Every single acoustic bass guitar I've ever tried sounded like crap to me. Would be interesting to hear of one that didn't...but for acoustic instruments you have to pay more for quality. I can't afford, and have no space for, a real bass viol.

    I am amazed if people need lines to tell where their fingers are supposed to go. That's what practice, familiarity with your instrument, and a good set of ears are for. Personally it reminds me of kids doing Suzuki method and taping up a violin neck on the places the fingers go...oh well, bad memories...it's hard to describe how bad a violin can be made to sound unless you are, or have known, a teacher (my mom taught violin).
     
  16. bbocaner

    bbocaner Member

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    For under $1000 the breedlove atlas model with all solid woods plays pretty well. The tacoma thundercheif is very popular, I haven't tried one.

    I think Dave Maize makes the nicest acoustic bass guitars around these days, but they're a lot more than $1000. A used earthwood sounds great, but they're BIG and UGLY -- and hard to find!
     
  17. BassRocker

    BassRocker Member

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    It boils down to personal taste. An acoustic (drednaught) bass is not intended to be a double-bass (or, as you call it, bass viol.), rather it is intended as an acoustic version of an electric bass guitar, and (just my opinion here) some of them fill that intent rather nicely. Yes, in most cases you've got to spend a decent amount to get one that sounds decent, each of my acoustics were over $500.

    That's not alot when it comes to basses, acoustic or otherwise, seeing that the Martin acoustic bass (when they made them) sold for close to (if not over, I don't remember) $1,000. A double bass will certainly give you a much different sound. And, if you've got the money, space, and a gig that it's sound would fit nicely into, then great. But, it's not practical for most players looking for an "acoustic bass sound".

    To my ears at least (and since I'm the one playing them, that's all that matters) my two acoustic basses sound fantastic and play well. I do agree there are many out there that don't (in fact, I'd suggest most don't).

    People much more talented than I (who teach and play for a living), like Steve Lawson, who writes for Bass Guitar Magazine says in his most recent column: "So what I will say, and what I can state categorically, is that of the players I've watched, listened to, & the players I've taught, those that have lines on their basses are more in tune more of the time."

    I could cite other examples, but you could as easily find them yourself if you were so inclined. Yes, practice and a good set of ears make playing accurately on a fretless easier, but truthfully, other than Michael Manring, and I believe Steve Bailey, most others who play fretless do so on basses that have lines.

    Even the great Jaco Pastorious played a lined fretless. He wouldn't play a fretless that didn't have lines. Do you speak ill of him? For what it's worth, a bass is not a violin, and the method of learning and playing each is different. Most bassists I've read about, heard, and known are not classically trained (the only exception I can think of being Tony Levin), and unless you cut your teeth playing an upright, You're unlikely to play an electric fretless without lines accurately.

    Even then, how the notes are spaced on the neck of the electric bass and the double-bass are different. If playing a fretless with lines is somehow below you, don't do it. But, that doesn't make those of us that do play with lines wrong or bad players (we're in good company, see the above mentioned for proof if you need it).

    Well, that's my two cents on the subject.

    Peace,

    BassRocker:RoCkIn
     
  18. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    to me, for pure acoustic volume and "jam-worthiness", the tacoma beats all comers hands down, with the martin "15" all mahogany version coming in a distant second but still sounding quite good.

    the hard part comes when it's time to plug them in. most piezo bridge pickups sound too "stringy", with huge low end and zingy, piano-y high end. instead of sounding "acoustic", they sound more "electric" than electric basses do. i would love to hear an "expression system" for acoustic bass guitars, with a magnetic pickup combined with some sort of contact pickup to sense top vibrations.
     

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