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Kevin Dean

Acoustic bass

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Michael Kelly, if you can find one. This is the only one I can find for sale online atm:

https://www.guitar.co.uk/michael-kelly-dragonfly-4-string-acoustic-bass-smokeburst

I have a Club fretted 5 and a Dragonfly fretless 5 - both excellent build quality with good attention to detail, good sound, Fishman electronics, and absurdly pretty. (Some peeps find the Dragonfly too ornate, ymmv.) A real pleasure to play. 

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19 hours ago, BigRedX said:

What do you want it for?

Home mainly but might join in on the odd acoustic pub gig . 

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I'll second the Michael Kelly - I've had a Dragonfly for a good while. As Josie says, they've verrrry ornate, but I love the look of mine, it's just a nice thing to have around. It's very capable of gigging, too; the Fishman pickup/preamp is very nice.

The revelation with mine was fitting flats - it improved the whole experience tenfold, I don't know why all acoustic basses don't come with them as standard. I'm not a flats player by any means, but they just work soooo well with acoustic basses.

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1 hour ago, Kevin Dean said:

Home mainly but might join in on the odd acoustic pub gig . 

For home use almost anything will do that you like the look, feel and sound of. Having said that because of the extra build requirements of an acoustic bass you need to spend a lot more money to get an instrument on a par with even an average 6-string acoustic guitar.

For live use (even at an acoustic pub gig) you will need amplification, which in my view pretty much negates the point of having an acoustic bass in the first place. Unless image is paramount in this situation, you will be far better served in terms of sound and playability by almost any solid bass (preferably fretless) fitted with flats.

Edited by BigRedX
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Or, of course, a uke bass ...

 

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46 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

For live use (even at an acoustic pub gig) you will need amplification, which in my view pretty much negates the point of having an acoustic bass in the first place. 

Why?

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I’ve had quite a few acoustic basses but the best (in your price range) that I’ve had was the Fender Kingman. For just a bit over the top end of your budget a Godin A4 is excellent and sitting in the middle of your range is the Taylor GS Mini bass, it’s small but seriously, don’t discount it until you’ve tried one, it’s more fun than crack.

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50 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

For live use (even at an acoustic pub gig) you will need amplification, which in my view pretty much negates the point of having an acoustic bass in the first place. Unless image is paramount in this situation, you will be far better served in terms of sound and playability by almost any solid bass (preferably fretless) fitted with flats.

I do almost exclusively small acoustic/folk club gigs and whilst I agree most of these situations will require amplification I nonetheless exclusively use acoustic basses, simply because no solid body bass gives the sound I need for the kind of music I play.

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7 minutes ago, Paul S said:

Why?

Why amplification? Because an acoustic bass unamplified simply can't compete volume-wise with anything more than a single gently strummed acoustic guitar.

Why use something other than an acoustic bass? IME you need to spend a lot of money to get something that sounds even half as good as a cheap P-Bass copy with flats. On top of that there are all sorts of problems with handling noise and susceptibility to feedback. 

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No, not why amplification but why you state so categorically that amplification negates the point of an acoustic bass.  As Mr Blank says, acoustic basses don't sound the same as sold body ones.  They are different instruments for different types of music played with a different vibe.

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6 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Why amplification? Because an acoustic bass unamplified simply can't compete volume-wise with anything more than a single gently strummed acoustic guitar.

Absolutely.

Quote

Why use something other than an acoustic bass? IME you need to spend a lot of money to get something that sounds even half as good as a cheap P-Bass copy with flats. On top of that there are all sorts of problems with handling noise and susceptibility to feedback. 

Actually, this is true, cheaper acoustic basses will cut it at home but gigging wise I have struggled with some cheaper acoustic basses. The three I mentioned (Kingman, Taylor, Godin) all cut it live but several didn’t. I’m beginning to agree with you about the cheap P with flats but if you do have the funds there are great sounding acoustics out there.

Edited by Frank Blank

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1 hour ago, Frank Blank said:

sitting in the middle of your range is the Taylor GS Mini bass, it’s small but seriously, don’t discount it until you’ve tried one, it’s more fun than crack.

I've just looked at these, as they look great for leaving around the place and noodling, but every demo I've seen they're fret-buzzing like mad... 😕

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1 hour ago, Muzz said:

I've just looked at these, as they look great for leaving around the place and noodling, but every demo I've seen they're fret-buzzing like mad... 😕

Mine wasn’t too bad and improved post set up but still, if you dig in, it buzzed a bit.

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I've owned a couple and I've found whatever you get, stick flats on it - you loose volume but gain tone.

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9 hours ago, Muzz said:

I'll second the Michael Kelly - I've had a Dragonfly for a good while. As Josie says, they've verrrry ornate, but I love the look of mine, it's just a nice thing to have around. It's very capable of gigging, too; the Fishman pickup/preamp is very nice.

The revelation with mine was fitting flats - it improved the whole experience tenfold, I don't know why all acoustic basses don't come with them as standard. I'm not a flats player by any means, but they just work soooo well with acoustic basses.

I had flats put on my fretless when I bought it - the standard bronze rounds just felt and sounded too harsh. Love them. 

A while back I heard a good young jazz-trained bassist playing a fretless Dragonfly 5 with black tape-wounds - a lovely double-bassy sound but still better defined than the "rubbery" sound one often hears from tape-wounds. As soon as I can afford the eye-watering price of a set of 5 tape-wounds I'll put those on the fretless and move the flats to the fretted. (Not that I'm ever likely to sound as good as he did.)

Also the Dragonfly has a rosewood fretboard, so rounds on a fretless will soon start to make it show wear. It's the only design detail I can fault - any fretless needs something harder, like ebony, or a hard protective coating, to resist the wear of more contact with vibrating strings than on a fretted bass. 

I've gigged the fretted quite a few times when we've played gigs with no amplification, and the fretless a couple of times when I wanted that specific sound, which is different from my fretless electric (also strung with flats). 

What you won't get from an acoustic bass - which took me by surprise - is something that's quieter to play than an electric, if you have to think about noise bothering the neighbours (as I do). The quietest sound I can get is from an electric with a very small practice amp. Acoustics need to be played hard for the body resonance to kick in, and sound twangy and weedy if it doesn't. 

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9 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Why amplification? Because an acoustic bass unamplified simply can't compete volume-wise with anything more than a single gently strummed acoustic guitar.

Why use something other than an acoustic bass? IME you need to spend a lot of money to get something that sounds even half as good as a cheap P-Bass copy with flats. On top of that there are all sorts of problems with handling noise and susceptibility to feedback. 

Agree with this. I've played some good quality acoustic basses, and whilst unplugged and amplified at low volumes they sound authentically acoustic, with the volume up a little in a band mix and with a few people in the room they often sound similar to an electric (especially if using a standard bass guitar amp), and feedback and noise create more problems than they solve. Of course an acoustic can look more appropriate in certain settings, and might even help you play a little more 'acoustically', but a nice woody Precision tone will do the job just as well sound-wise.   

And of course, if you really want an acoustic bass tone at a decent volume, get an upright :)

Edited by Beedster

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When I had a Washburn 5 string acoustic I found it was loudest with Rotosound Black Nylon strings on. Still not loud enough for a pub gig though, even a mandolin drowned it out!

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2 minutes ago, Grahambythesea said:

...even a mandolin drowned it out!

Mandolins generally drown out everything :)

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+1 for Fender Kingman. Lovely Jazz neck with a body large enough to produce a decent acoustic output to keep up with  most mandolins. Great Fender branded preamp with on-board tuner, notch filters & quick change battery compartment. 

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