Bass for acoustic oriented gigs?

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BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
in Bass
Our band are trying out some acoustic setups for quieter venues.

We had a 3-up session last week (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, and me on bass) and for this I had my Ibanez semi going straight into an old Marshall acoustic amp. Sounded pretty good. 

I'm thinking of various options tho, and wondered what others do/would do:

- Stick to an electric bass but use a small portable amp like a mark bass 801
- Acoustic Bass into acoustic amp
- Semi acoustic bass into a small amp
- Bass (electric or acoustic) into an FRFR or DI to desk and hope monitoring is good enough

Thoughts?
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8802
    FWIW I'd use a bass amp of suitable size & power/op irrespective of whether your bass instrument is solid, semi, or hollow. I wouldn't use an acoustic amp unless it was built for bass. I'd also assume that I'd have to monitor off it even if there was FoH PA, ie not rely on someone else's monitoring provision being up-to-scratch. That way you can do small gigs with only a vocal PA, and big gigs with a full range PA and you're still sorted for sound.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    FWIW I'd use a bass amp of suitable size & power/op irrespective of whether your bass instrument is solid, semi, or hollow. I wouldn't use an acoustic amp unless it was built for bass. I'd also assume that I'd have to monitor off it even if there was FoH PA, ie not rely on someone else's monitoring provision being up-to-scratch. That way you can do small gigs with only a vocal PA, and big gigs with a full range PA and you're still sorted for sound.
    Yes, I think I was already there on the monitoring front. I'm tempted to look out for a cheapie sub-100w amp like the mark bass or something with DI out to use.

    As for the bass itself, well, I'm a bit torn. I might break my golden rule and get a short scale.
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2267
    I'd stay away from an acoustic bass, they sound poor and can be difficult to play (ime). I'd stick with your regular bass into a small combo. If the look of the setup is important then go with the semi-acoustic.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    JezWynd said:
    I'd stay away from an acoustic bass, they sound poor and can be difficult to play (ime). I'd stick with your regular bass into a small combo. If the look of the setup is important then go with the semi-acoustic.
    One of the reasons for doing the alternate setup was to reduce on stage footprint - we played some minute stages last year (!) and the small combo certainly ticks that box. 

    I’m wondering if a smaller scale bass might be a good idea too
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2267
    edited May 9
    A short scale bass might be a good way to go. The short scale can give a double bass tone - something about the string length giving you the fundamental note? I noticed going to long scale from short there's more harmonic richness to the sound.

    For small bass combos, check out Phil Jones Bass. Costly but they sound excellent.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    JezWynd said:
    A short scale bass might be a good way to go. The short scale can give a double bass tone - something about the string length giving you the fundamental note? I noticed going to long scale from short there's more harmonic richness to the sound.
    Yeah and I’m pretty much exclusively a flats player as well as it suits our overall sound. 

    I might even try tapewounds. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31616
    Rickenbacker 4001 and a small amp. No fuzz pedal.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8802
    I played rehearsal-wise for an "acoustic" outfit last year but we never got around to gigging (partially a result of being messed around by "vocalists" who stuffed us up at the last minute). We had 1 electro-acoustic, my solid acoustic (Washburn SBF-80), both guitarists using Marshall AS50Ds, Mr Bass Player had a solid upright bass with (IIRC) a Peavey bass practice amp, and Mr Drummer had either a full kit or he sat on his cajon. We put vocals and cajon through the PA. When it worked (musically) it wasn't too bad to listen to. I felt Mr Bass Player's intonation was fairly suspect, that none of us could sing (which was why we needed a proper singer), and that some of the music required more strength/stamina at playing the acoustic than I was capable of at the time. Mr Bandleader got pissed off with trying to recruit singers who (i) could sing (ii) at least possessed a microphone (iii) could be arsed to meet the rest of the band for an audition.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    ICBM said:
    Rickenbacker 4001 and a small amp. No fuzz pedal.
    #ignore




    ;)
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    I played rehearsal-wise for an "acoustic" outfit last year but we never got around to gigging (partially a result of being messed around by "vocalists" who stuffed us up at the last minute). We had 1 electro-acoustic, my solid acoustic (Washburn SBF-80), both guitarists using Marshall AS50Ds, Mr Bass Player had a solid upright bass with (IIRC) a Peavey bass practice amp, and Mr Drummer had either a full kit or he sat on his cajon. We put vocals and cajon through the PA. When it worked (musically) it wasn't too bad to listen to. I felt Mr Bass Player's intonation was fairly suspect, that none of us could sing (which was why we needed a proper singer), and that some of the music required more strength/stamina at playing the acoustic than I was capable of at the time. Mr Bandleader got pissed off with trying to recruit singers who (i) could sing (ii) at least possessed a microphone (iii) could be arsed to meet the rest of the band for an audition.
    For context, this is a cut down version of a band that has a fully rehearsed gigged and recorded set - and the lead singer/songwriter often takes them out on his own to solo night gigs too so we know the material works. 

    Not sure I could cope with upright. 
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  • martmart Frets: 2718
    Bridgehouse said:
    ...
    One of the reasons for doing the alternate setup was to reduce on stage footprint - we played some minute stages last year (!) and the small combo certainly ticks that box. 

    I’m wondering if a smaller scale bass might be a good idea too
    An acoustic bass can give a lovely sound (suitably amplified), but they’re not small. So if stage size is an issue I’d use some sort of electric, whether semi or solid.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31616
    ICBM said:
    Rickenbacker 4001 and a small amp. No fuzz pedal.
    #ignore

    ;)
    You should try it :). A 4001 on the neck pickup with flatwound strings is very acoustic-sounding. Listen to Paul McCartney on any later Beatles recording for an illustration...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    ICBM said:
    ICBM said:
    Rickenbacker 4001 and a small amp. No fuzz pedal.
    #ignore

    ;)
    You should try it :). A 4001 on the neck pickup with flatwound strings is very acoustic-sounding. Listen to Paul McCartney on any later Beatles recording for an illustration...
    I don’t doubt it. In fact, I know so.. however, was ignoring you on principle given you said Ric bass ;)
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2758
    edited May 9
    Since you asked: https://www.bassbags.co.uk/product-tag/eastman-double-basses/

    edit:
    or you could wuss out and get a fretless 4 :)
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    I nearly choked on me coffee at the prices ;)
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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1373
    I tried the Taylor GS- Mini Acoustic Bass recently and loved both the acoustic and amplified tone but also the playability.

    It's downside is that it requires bespoke, Taylor strings and they cost over £40 a set!!!
     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    Kebabkid said:
    I tried the Taylor GS- Mini Acoustic Bass recently and loved both the acoustic and amplified tone but also the playability.

    It's downside is that it requires bespoke, Taylor strings and they cost over £40 a set!!!
    I’m used to bass string prices having an extra 0 on the end..

    GS mini looks good. Would need to try one tho
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31616
    Kebabkid said:

    It's downside is that it requires bespoke, Taylor strings and they cost over £40 a set!!!
    Have you ever priced double bass strings?

    Some of the better ones start at over £40 *for the G string*...

    The full set is over £200 :-O.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    ICBM said:
    Kebabkid said:

    It's downside is that it requires bespoke, Taylor strings and they cost over £40 a set!!!
    Have you ever priced double bass strings?

    Some of the better ones start at over £40 *for the G string*...

    The full set is over £200 :-O.
    Heh. You know you’ve been playing bass too long when a £40 set of strings feels like a reasonable bargain ;)
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31616
    Bridgehouse said:

    Heh. You know you’ve been playing bass too long when a £40 set of strings feels like a reasonable bargain ;)
    And the really good news is that - at least if you like an old-school bass sound - a set of strings will last several months, if not many years, so they're not really expensive compared to guitar strings, which only last days to months for comparable use/player preference.

    I would be surprised if those Taylor strings don't last well over a year unless you're playing it much more than just occasionally.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17890
    Stick to a regular electric bass into a clean amp or a DI to a mixer.
    No one will care (or notice the difference).
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6995
    octatonic said:
    Stick to a regular electric bass into a clean amp or a DI to a mixer.
    No one will care (or notice the difference).
    This really although if you really wanted to spend money an Ibanez SRH500 has the right vibe. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • martmart Frets: 2718
    Another thought: try a Kala U bass. Fretless, of course. They’d suit the look of an acoustic group, but can sound pretty good amplified.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    octatonic said:
    Stick to a regular electric bass into a clean amp or a DI to a mixer.
    No one will care (or notice the difference).
    This really although if you really wanted to spend money an Ibanez SRH500 has the right vibe. 
    Lol - I have one already and it’s what I used at the weekend for rehearsal!!
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3146
    ICBM said:
    A 4001 on the neck pickup with flatwound strings is very acoustic-sounding. Listen to Paul McCartney on any later Beatles recording for an illustration...
    ... or Graham Gouldman on 10cc stuff.


    I'm thinking of various options and wondered what others do/would do
    Is the object of this thought experiment;
    1. to serve the music
    2. to minimise logistic hassles
    3. to present the band in a manner that will not offend the more rabid acoustic music purist audiences?

    During an interview in MOJO 295, Robert Plant describes audience behaviour during his US tour with Alison Krauss. Some of them would take umbrage upon seeing a drum kit on the stage. They would brazen out a few songs before making a sharp exit.

    My point is that some audience members will expect to see an "acoustic" bass instrument - either an electro-acoustic bass guitar or yer actual contrabass. (Bridgehouse, doghouse? Nutbush City Limits.) Other people will happily accept Fender Bass. Fretless bass might provide some suggestion of upright bass but, then, you have to refrain from getting all Jaco about it and detracting from the guitars.

    I suspect that your semi-hollow Ibanez is the best compromise. A sound you can work with and a look that the audience could tolerate.

    Meanwhile, steal an idea from tc electronic. Stack 2x10 loudspeaker cabinets vertically.

    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BigLicks67BigLicks67 Frets: 477
    The obvious answer is get a Double Bass. 

    However, if you are not man enough for that then try one of these vintage Guilds.




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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31616
    Funkfingers said:

    My point is that some audience members will expect to see an "acoustic" bass instrument - either an electro-acoustic bass guitar or yer actual contrabass.
    This assumes that they even notice this thing called a "bass"...


    Meanwhile, steal an idea from tc electronic. Stack 2x10 loudspeaker cabinets vertically.
    Or Ampeg...

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/v0-U4c7zysc/maxresdefault.jpg

    I just need the second cabinet!
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14523
    @Funkfingers - partly logistics, partly getting the right sound. I’m not sure our potential audiences would notice. We will have percussion so it’s probably all in the “what bass?” Side of things.

    @BigLicks67 - not sure it’s about being man enough - more about not wanting a big heavy thing to carry about that could wreck your fingers or squash me ;)
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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1373
    ICBM said:
    Kebabkid said:

    It's downside is that it requires bespoke, Taylor strings and they cost over £40 a set!!!
    Have you ever priced double bass strings?

    Some of the better ones start at over £40 *for the G string*...

    The full set is over £200 :-O.
    I had no idea. As someone who's only been playing bass for the last couple of years, I had a shock when I had to pay £25 a set but as ICBM says, they do last and so it all levels out.

    Another consideration is a Fretless. I saw  'Folkstress', Christine Collister, in the 90s with an acoustic trio and her bassist, the wonderful Rory McFarlane, used a Fretless into a v.small GK amp and just added the occasional octaver and it sat so sonically well in the mix of acoustic instruments.
     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2267
    edited May 10
    You can mimic a double bass sound very accurately using a Pog2. Add some lower octave and a touch of delayed attack. Incredibly natural sounding as opposed to an OC-2 which gives that synthy effect, plus it works down to bottom E. Can't speak highly enough of Pog2 for bass; it has applications beyond the organ/strings that it's usually associated with.
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