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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2007 » Archive through March 18, 2007 » Acoustic Bass Guitars « Previous Next »

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jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 777
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 10:24 am:   Edit Post

Hi Guys, I'm in need of some fast advice.
I have this morning been asked to play bass on an unplugged session for an artiste next week.
But I need to get an acoustic bass for the gig.
I've called the stores around and there is not much variety.

I tried this bass out today very quickly and it sounded ok and the neck was the better of the ones in the shop.

Not loud acoustically but sounded good through the acoustic bass amp.
http://www.ibanez.co.jp/ac_page_2007.php?PAGE_ID=117&COLOR=CL02&AREA_ID=3

Do you have any experience with this bass.
It's a 32 inch scale 4 stringer.
Any views?
They want 300 for it but I'll get them to drop it if I turn up with the cash.

Cheers
Rehearsals start tomorrow or Wednesday so any views would be welcome.
There was a dean bass there also but the neck and action was dire.

Jazzyvee
tubeperson
Junior
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 40
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 10:42 am:   Edit Post

Michael Kelly makes a really good for the money ABG. I have a 5 string fretless and fretted, and they have held up well. They feature quilted maple tops, backs and sides which are plywood constructed both on the outside and inside surface. They have neck action similar to electrics. If you go to www.michaelkelly.com, or it may be www. michaelkellyguitars.com you can hear samples of each.
flaxattack
Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 1404
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 11:28 am:   Edit Post

check this one out
www.ribbeckehalfling.com
supposedly the best around

a kelly is not bad for the money
i have one
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 778
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 3:55 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for the thoughts guys but, we don't have those basses here in the UK as far as I know and my need is for something I can get quickly before next week Tuesday.

So, of the ones I had the opportunity to try, this Ibanez sounded and felt the best to play. I know it's not in the same league as those you mention but I'm working to a budget and time.

Cheers for your time anyway
Jazzyvee
richbass939
Senior Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 815
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 5:18 pm:   Edit Post

Jazzy,
I don't know anything about Ibanez ABGs. I also don't know if you have Tacoma over there, but I'm really happy with mine. Great acoustic sound. The amplified sound is just like the acoustic sound, not colored at all. Good luck finding something you like.
Rich
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 1087
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 5:36 am:   Edit Post

Sorry jazzy, i can't be much help - like you I've been looking for an acoustic and haven't come across anything in the UK that rings my bell. I'd pretty much decided on importing a michael kelly 5 string fretless dragonfly and steve and Flax's comments have pretty much clinched it. Luckily, my need isn't as urgent as yours.

Graeme
adriaan
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 1320
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 6:07 am:   Edit Post

I was listening to someone playing an Ibanez ABG through a very small Ibanez amp, in a late 19th century church on an Amsterdam canal - high and narrow, with wood everywhere - excellent acoustics. With 20 people singing in the choir, violin, clarinet and a classical guitar also with a small amp - you could hear the bass well enough.

The Ibanez should sound fine for accompaniment.
tubeperson
Junior
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 41
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 6:16 am:   Edit Post

Jacko, I think you will really enjoy the Michael Kelly. Also their customer service is similar to Alembic's excellent record. My first 5 string fretless developed a neck warp, while under warranty and although the dealer was useless in solving the problem, the distributor, HHI, replaced the bass at no charge.
ajdover
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 476
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 6:23 am:   Edit Post

I have a Godin A4, an Ovation CC074, and a Martin BC-15E. The best of the lot is the Martin. The Ovation plain sucks - no way you can get a decent low action with it due to the saddle/bridge design. The Godin isn't bad, but its too uprighty sounding for my tastes in most instances. The Martin is spot on for me - great action and tone. To each his/her own as they say.

IME, AEBs need amplification. Unless it is an insanely huge bass like an Earthwood, it doesn't have enough volume to be heard acoustically.

My solution? A Phil Jones Briefcase. It runs on batteries, 120V, and 220V too. It's perfect in my view for an ABG.

Alan
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 1088
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 6:26 am:   Edit Post

Steve. Thanks for that. One question, How does it sound, acoustically and amplified?

Alan. i tried a Godin at a local shop and didn't think much of it acoustically. it seemed very expensive too.

Graeme
tubeperson
Junior
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 42
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 6:40 am:   Edit Post

For Jacko and all interested - The bronze strings that came with the basses really ring and let out the "higher" end, and help project the volume. Currently I use D'Addario half rounds on the fretless, which really sound sweet. The Phil Jones amp is quite a marvel, but the B string is not served well unless you add another cabinet. Even then, much as I really like the Jonesy amp, the B string cannot really bust out due to speaker and power limitations. I've been fortunate to hear Acoustic string players use the Phil JOnes combo and compare it to the Michael Kelly, and with the half rounds, you can get close to a stand-up bass. Black taped strings are also a good choice, although I have not tried them myself. I am focusing on strings because each amp will add its own sonic signature to any bass or guitar(yes I am an audiophile and Tubes really do rule - the group and the glass!).
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 780
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post

I have found out now that the gig is for radio and not Tv phew... so I may cheat and take my SC dlx for the session. We are supposed to be having a couple of rehearsals this weeks so I can find out from the artiste, what the real deal is then. Hopefully I won't need to buy an acoustic bass in a hurry.

Thanks for the input the additional information it is always helpful for times when the rush isn't on.


Jazzyvee
dfung60
Advanced Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 235
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 10:04 pm:   Edit Post

I've always found that the problem with acoustic basses is that they basically don't work without amplification! No way you're going to keep up unamplified with somebody pounding away on a Taylor dreadnought!

If you really were serious about playing without an amp, then my favorite is actually relatively cheap if you can find one - look for a Kramer Ferrington bass from the 80's. They're generally not too pricey (these were made in Japan or Korea unless you find a "real" Ferrington which would be very expensive). Very loud and well balanced acoustically with a nice, electric bass-like neck. The piezo pickup is totally hopeless unless you have a reasonable external buffer amp though.

The Tacoma is good as well, although not as full sounding as the Ferrington. They're pretty reasonably priced too.

If you want to spend a LOT on one, then see if you can find one of the Taylor AB-1 basses with the huge body and offset soundhole. It doesn't sound as good unamplified as the Kramer, but again amazingly balanced, even if you get the 5-string one.

If you're going to be plugged in but want it to sound acoustic, the Turner Renaissance Amplicoustic basses are really good. Idiosyncratic neck profile (it's sort of strangely large). They have an excellent pickup, and you'll like the sound of the Thomastik nylon-core strings until you have to pay for a new set. This is more like an electric bass sound than an acoustic bass guitar (in fact, probably more like an upright bass than an acoustic bass guitar). This bass was designed by Rick Turner who was one of the early core folks at Alembic, so there's a bit of a connection there (although the relationship with the Alembic folks hasn't been good for a long time).

I've got a lot of basses that have piezos (Spector, Modulus, Parker, Bolin NS), but these basses all sound sort of like an unusual electric bass rather than anything like an acoustic instrument. I've also got a Veilette Mk IV 5-string fretless which sounds very similar to the Turner but plays more like an electric.

I tried many times to like the Martin acoustic bass, but it doesn't sound good at all unplugged and, to my ears, not that much better plugged in. It's beautifully built, but sort of a dreadnought with a long neck.

Go find one of those Ferringtons, you won't regret it!

David Fung
ajdover
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 477
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 5:45 am:   Edit Post

David,

Funny, the Martin sounds the best to me, though I've not played a Taylor, Ferrington, or turner. It does have a long neck, but I just liked the tone (The BC-15E is made of mahogany). I tried their bass made with the Aluminum top, and I didn't like that one at all. Since I pretty much use my AEBs for knocking around the house, it doesn't have to be real loud anyway, and I've got amps for it in the event it needs to be amplified.

Like I said, the Ovation is the worst of the lot - impossible action.

Alan
jack
Intermediate Member
Username: jack

Post Number: 138
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 10:20 am:   Edit Post

I second Dave's appraisal of the Turner Renaissance, although Flax didn't like his, I don't think. One thing about those nylon core strings, they sound fantastic but they play like rubber bands. I went to chrome flatwounds, that required a little set up (a lot more tension). They play great, although you lose a little mwah. Also tough to find any strings locally for a 35" scale five string where the strings go through the back. Internet only.

-Jack
flaxattack
Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 1408
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 6:04 pm:   Edit Post

correct
i didnt like the turner
more cause it was fretless....
i listened to some clips of the ribbecke on their site ad was quite impressed
there is a dealer in nyc that i might run in and check it out. but its a 4 so i probably wont be in a rush
i use the kelly with ti powerbass flats
needs a neck adj when i changed them
but the sound is quite impressive
my only complaint is its very wide in the body
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1143
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2007 - 4:06 am:   Edit Post

AJ, I love the way the Martins look: All that nutmeg-colored mahogany with the cutaway.

For me, UN-plugged, they all sound like a Jumbo guitar body with a bass neck shoved in it. I realize they are asking a lot to duplicate an upright, but I've not heard any that were even close. I would love to bluegrass with one (as I'll never be worth a dang with an upright), but they're not loud enough or bassy enough.

Plugged in, depending on the strings, you can get a half-assed electric sound out of them, provided it doesn't start howling from feedback, and that piezo harshness doesn't make me nuts.
They really need electric strings, though. I'm not sure phosphor-bronze strings are a good idea on box guitars, but they REALLY aren't a good idea on ABG's.

The only thing that came sort of close was a Larrivee I tried, and naturally they're not made any more.

I really wish somebody would make one that really works, for a reasonable price. The Halflings are fabulous (I tried one, could NOT believe how good it sounded), but for five grand, they oughta be, way past what I could justify for one.

J o e y
kmh364
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 2085
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2007 - 5:09 am:   Edit Post

FWIW, BKBass Barry has a custom Bil Mitchell acoustic bass "guitar" (he's a BM endorsee) that he raves about. Not sure of the cost or availability: Bil does mostly six-string acoustic guitars, and they're usually not cheap (he does have a "lesser" non-custom line as well). Perhaps we can get Barry to chime in on a description and impressions of his bass.

http://www.bilmitchell.com/

P.S., Sorry that this doesn't help your dilemma, Jazzy: please excuse the thread hijacking.
kmh364
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 2086
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2007 - 5:11 am:   Edit Post

Jazzy:

FWIW, how about the Alvarez acoustic iV as used by Mike Inez on the Alice In Chains "MTV Unplugged" DVD/CD? He got a very nice tone out of that bad boy and they are, apparently, dirt cheap:

http://www.angelfire.com/ri2/bob2/mikeinez.html

http://www.alvarezgtr.com/prod_page.html?SeriesID=5&ItemID=97

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Alvarez-Regent-Series-RB30SC-AcousticElectric-Bass?sku=518727

Cheers,

Kevin
chuck
Member
Username: chuck

Post Number: 87
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2007 - 5:40 am:   Edit Post

Have you considered a Mariachi bass the bigger the better.
Chuck
bkbass
Intermediate Member
Username: bkbass

Post Number: 134
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, March 16, 2007 - 7:21 am:   Edit Post

Alright,alright. Bil Mitchell makes some of the finest acoustic guitars and ABG'S on the east coast. Although he is mostly an acoustic guitar builder. He and Sara can build or do expert repairs on anything with strings on it. He also builds electrics and two or three jazz boxes a year. Bil has a current waiting list of a year and can offer you just about anything in options. He is a master inlay artist (although humbly will not admit to it). His work is clean and ranges from the sublime to the most ornate pieces I have ever seen. Check out his website http://www.bilmitchell.com/ I'm in all the music stores at least twice a week including new york and these old eyes and ears have seen a lot of crap. Every once in awhile a small builder such as Bil emerges to offer a excellent product at a fair price. Most would call that value. I own and endorse 4 of his models. I have a jumbo 4 string fretted single cutaway,a jumbo 8 string (4+4) fretted single cutaway, a jumbo 4 string fretless single cutaway and a dreadnought 4 string piccolo. I also have a Modified Taylor AB2 and a Carvin AC-40 fretless. Bil and Sara's instruments complete my speaking voice as a musician and allow me to reach into areas I could not get to with the any of the plywood wonders I come across in my visits to the various stores. So if you looking for an acoustic bass instrument that is comparatively loud unplugged with tone and character I would suggest speaking with Bil or Sara.

[edit: website address]

(Message edited by davehouck on March 16, 2007)

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