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Mykesbass

Thinking of Taking the DB Plunge

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My bass playing started 38 years ago with double bass lessons at school. As with many people, guitars and life in general took over, but for the last 8 years I have been playing bass guitar regularly, and had an EUB for a while, but it never felt quite right.

Popped into a shop on Tuesday where they had a double bass on display, and thought as this is such a rare occurrence I'll go in and see if I can have a little play. One of my big worries was that a medical condition has weakened my grip, to the extent that I can't play barre chords on guitar anymore, however I found holding down the strings to be remarkably easy and the bass was very comfortable to play.

The bass was a budget model (Cremona I believe), and although it played nicely the bridge looked very nasty, and it was incredibly quiet.

So now looking for some advice - I'd be playing folk and blues styles, with amplified bands so would need to use a pick-up. Questions are:

Do DB's amplify nicely through standard bass amps (I use a Carvin head)?

In the shop I was told laminates can be better for pick-ups as they are less resonant (this was despite the shop selling two more expensive solid top and all solid models)?

If I was to go for the highly rated on here Thomann or Gedo basses, which model and what strings?

Are there any recommended tutors in the Brighton area to refresh my 38 year old technique?!

Thanks in advance,
Mike

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Tutor-Jakenewmanbass on this very forum?
Bass-I suppose like anything depends what you want to spend?
Amplification- some amps work fine, some will need a preamp like a plat pro to even get close to a feedback free sound! I've given up and fitted a mag pickup :yarr:

Go for it :)

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What budget? There's a cheap Chinese for sale in the forum now. There is also mine which is a professional instrument specifically built for the genres you mention but it may be too expensive for what you want to spend as a starter. Generally speaking, DBs are like shoes: buy cheap, buy twice.

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[quote name='stingrayPete1977' timestamp='1423766533' post='2688850']
Tutor-Jakenewmanbass on this very forum?
Bass-I suppose like anything depends what you want to spend?
Amplification- some amps work fine, some will need a preamp like a plat pro to even get close to a feedback free sound! I've given up and fitted a mag pickup :yarr:

Go for it :)
[/quote]

Thanks Pete - yes, Jake is on my radar but a bit of a hike.
Budget - part of the attraction is the excellent things people on here are saying about the Thomann/Strunal and Gedo basses, making it much more realistic.

[quote name='Rabbie' timestamp='1423768652' post='2688889']
What budget? There's a cheap Chinese for sale in the forum now. There is also mine which is a professional instrument specifically built for the genres you mention but it may be too expensive for what you want to spend as a starter. Generally speaking, DBs are like shoes: buy cheap, buy twice.
[/quote]

As above Rabbie - and yes, the Duke is lovely but more than I'd want to spend (and as for the petrol costs.....)!!

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Welcome back to[b] real[/b] bass playing ;)

[b]Amps[/b]: In my experience of playing at festivals where backline is provided, the amp is less of an issue than the speaker cab(s). Over the years I've been given an Ampeg SVT with a 2x10 cab (nice), 4x10 (careful with that volume...) and a 1x15 (uncontrollable feedback on any note below a B on the A string). The best 'random festy stage backline' amp I've played through was a TC Electronic 2x10 combo....
As long as you have a decent, designed for DB preamp (Fishman Bass Plat Pro Plus or Fdeck clone for example) then there's no reason why your Carvin or any other bass amp shouldn't work for you. If you're pairing it up with a 2x15 cab though, then you could be in trouble! 10s and 12s are generally popular for double bass with the current trend favouring 8 and even 5" drivers.

[b]Ply or carved[/b]: The general consensus is that ply basses are easier to amplify than carved basses, simply because generally, ply basses resonate less than carved basses. However, it stands to reason that a poorly made, dead carved bass will be less feedback prone/easier to amplify than a well made ply bass. The truth is, you won't know till you try and there are multitude of pickup and preamp combinations you can use to help tame frisky basses.
For folk and blues, a good (i.e.not a £300 Chinese Ebay job) ply pass will serve you well. Having said that, Danny Thompson does OK playing folk and blues on his 19th century French fully carved bass.....
It's also worth bearing in mind that, for the same money, a well made laminate bass would be better than a poorly made carved bass.

[b]Thomann/Gedo/Archer[/b]: I always recommend the Thomann 2 bass (carved top, laminate sides - the TN (Tineo wood) version is very highly rated) as that's the only one of the above importers/resellers basses that I've had direct experience of. The Thomann 2 basses are Czech made Strunals, which are considered decent quality, mass produced instruments. I've no idea where Gedo or Archer source their instruments from - there's a good chance that they all come from a small handful of Czech or Hungarian factories. If you have a substantial budget (£1500-2000), then you could buy a Duke bass and be pretty sure that you're going to get a very nice sounding and playing bass.

Buying blind is always going to cause you a bit of panic - what if you don't like it, or it feels unplayable? Chill out... My experience is that you and your new bass will mould to each other - you'll make little changes to the bass setup and to your technique as you spend more and more time together until you find that everything is just right. This obviously will require the services of a luthier for setups and the close observation of the 'Double basses for sale' forum for the next pickup/strings combination that you just have to have to make everything 'just right' If you do decide to buy 'blind' from one of the big online shops, then I would recommend keeping £3-500 of your budget back to pay for work on your bridge and/or sound post and for a couple of different sets of strings o try out.

If you're willing to travel to North London, then a trip to Thwaites in Watford would be time well spent. They usually have a good range of nice old eastern European ply & carved basses in the £900 -£1500 price bracket and you can play every single one of them to find the one that suits you best.

[b]Strings[/b]: Oh Lordy - you don't know what you're asking!! :D The 'standard' double bass strings are Spirocore Mittles (medium tension) - though if you have issues with your hands, then the 'weich' set may be a better bet. I really like the weichs for rootsy/old school jazz stuff - nice low tension but still retaining enough note definition with short sustain and no 'sproingyness'.
Other good 'gut-a-like' strings (which is what you want for folky/bluesy stuff) would be Evah Pirazzi, Innovation super silvers or honeys (tho I quite like the Rockabillys), Pirastro Obligatos, Rotosound RS4000, D'addario Zyex etc.etc. The list is almost endless, and what sounds good on my bass may not sound good on yours.
As some where to begin, I'd plump for either Spirocore or Evah Pirazzi light/weich. Both are easy to play and are very popular, so if you don't get on with them, you'll be able to sell them easily enough.


So. in summary, there are no easy answers - sorry about that. I think most people on the DB forum would agree that double bass is a much more personal instrument than a bass guitar or even an electric upright, so it does take time to work out what it is that you want from your bass. It can be a frustrating and potentially expensive journey, but it's also a very satisfying journey.


Dave

Edited by TheRev
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If you have a medical condition it may be beneficial to rent a bass for a number of months to see how you get on.

Edited by TPJ

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[quote name='TheRev' timestamp='1423783702' post='2689122']
Welcome back to[b] real[/b] bass playing ;)

Dave
[/quote]

Wow, Dave, that is one exceptional answer! I know this is a great forum but you have really gone the extra mile and I am truly grateful. Many, many thanks!

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[quote name='TPJ' timestamp='1423813367' post='2689225']
If you have a medical condition it may be beneficial to rent a bass for a number of months to see how you get on.
[/quote]

Thanks TPJ, but I'm confident that with what I have I would have known in ten minutes if it was going to be possible or not - it is just slightly weakened grip (and I've done more damage to the right hand than the left) and now I'm not using hedgetrimmers and strimmers it shouldn't progress any further.

Cheers,
Mike

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Great reply there from TheRev, I live further than you do from Jake but as he is an awesome superstar touring hero I wait until his gigs, my house and all the planets align! :D

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[quote name='Mykesbass' timestamp='1423814261' post='2689230']


Wow, Dave, that is one exceptional answer! I know this is a great forum but you have really gone the extra mile and I am truly grateful. Many, many thanks!
[/quote]

No problem matey! I had exactly the same questions when I started out so I'm just passing on the information that others gave me.

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[quote name='TheRev' timestamp='1423856460' post='2689853']


No problem matey! I had exactly the same questions when I started out so I'm just passing on the information that others gave me.
[/quote]

Brilliant! This is a great place for DB chat, really friendly, informed and impartial advice for players at any level. By the way, what Dave said above is absolute gospel.

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[quote name='stingrayPete1977' timestamp='1423854636' post='2689830']
Great reply there from TheRev, I live further than you do from Jake but as he is an awesome superstar touring hero I wait until his gigs, my house and all the planets align! :D
[/quote]
:D

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I have a left hand/wrist injury and the first thing Jake did was to really go into detail about what I had done to it what I could and could not do with the wrist, he really knows his stuff and was happy that I could continue with it before we covered posture, holding the bass, the end pin height etc etc, it is worth having a lesson just for that before you play a note IMO. Funnily enough he is coming tomorrow to give me a 2 hour lesson on his way to a gig, I just have one every few months maybe even 6 months apart then I do what I can until I get stuck and book another to suit his travelling around, I learn more in two hours every 4 or 5 months with Jake than I would with a weekly lesson with a lesser teacher! :D

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[quote name='stingrayPete1977' timestamp='1423907594' post='2690193']
I have a left hand/wrist injury and the first thing Jake did was to really go into detail about what I had done to it what I could and could not do with the wrist, he really knows his stuff and was happy that I could continue with it before we covered posture, holding the bass, the end pin height etc etc, it is worth having a lesson just for that before you play a note IMO. Funnily enough he is coming tomorrow to give me a 2 hour lesson on his way to a gig, I just have one every few months maybe even 6 months apart then I do what I can until I get stuck and book another to suit his travelling around, I learn more in two hours every 4 or 5 months with Jake than I would with a weekly lesson with a lesser teacher! :D
[/quote]

Thanks Pete, when I'm ready I'll certainly get in touch with Jake.

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