Upright bass in a live rock band

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Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Chris Wright » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:51 pm

A local rock band has changed their lineup to include upright bass instead of electric. They want a slightly distorted sound so they've been experimenting with various amplifiers, pedals and stuffing foam in the f-holes to combat feedback, but haven't been happy with the results so far. It'll need to get pretty loud both on stage and front of house.

Can anyone tell me how they have managed to get an upright bass to sit in the context of a loud rock mix without feedback? Any recommended combinations of pedals, amps, mics and DIs?
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Drumstruck » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:29 am

First up I'd suggest they use a stick....

Dynamic mic oriented at the strings....

If they don't want the sound from the "resonant chamber" how about making a trapdoor in the back and putting a pillow in it..... drummers have been living with that for years :-)
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Alistair » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:31 pm

It's a dangerous path to go down, but here's my thoughts as someone that plays bass, knows a lot of bass players and have only known one person who pulled the super loud thing off-


If you want a double bass for the aesthetic rather than the sound, use a magnetic pickup attached to the end of the fingerboard. This pretty just makes it a difficult to play electric bass, although obviously with a different attack/decay on the note. I think that would be your best bet if you want to try and distort the bass.
A lot of the louder slap double style bands use a mag pickup at the neck plus those K&K slap pickups under the neck, and treat the bass and slap sounds as different signal paths entirely.

Any pickup that mounts to the bridge is going to feedback much more quickly than a neck mount pickup, and may not have have the focused big bass they want if they are in a loud rock band.

The AMT and DPA clip on condensors sound great, but won't give the amount of bass and volume you need in that situation. A dynamic will give you a little bit more lee way before feedback, but I still dont think it will cut it if it's a really loud band.

Otherwise it's all to do with the bass and common sense. The more resonant a bass is (eg better for anything acoustic sounding) the worse it will deal with this. A lot of the new rock and roll basses have a lot more bracing (and thick polyurethane paint) so they are stiff and don't suffer as many feedback problems. As soon as you've got loud bass and kick drum through monitoring you are going to have problems.
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Text_Edifice » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:38 pm

A friend of mine has an electric upright thing - looks like the someone lopped off the sides of an upright – which gives some of the character of the real thing but is much better for on-stage. Otherwise Piezo or magnetic pickup (as suggested above) might be the best bet.
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Drumstruck » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:13 pm

Text_Edifice wrote:A friend of mine has an electric upright thing - looks like the someone lopped off the sides of an upright – which gives some of the character of the real thing but is much better for on-stage. Otherwise Piezo or magnetic pickup (as suggested above) might be the best bet.


Affectionately known as a stick:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_upright_bass

~o)
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Text_Edifice » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:37 pm

Ha, sorry Ian.
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Kurt » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:51 am

Most of the double basses I've dealt with have been after the god-awful clicky sound that's fashionable in rockabilly.

Maybe try running a distortion as an insert at the desk rather than having an amp on stage, might help with feedback issues?
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby gigpiglet » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:50 pm

when i used to mix thirsty merc, phill would play his upright for a number of songs (including 20 good reasons)
it was a proper big, old, expensive, RESONANT double bass.

we stuffed the F holes with foam.

had a pickup installed (which i cant remember what it was called/ where it was mounted, but basically took it to the bass shop and said we wanted to use it on stage whats best)

you can roll a lot of bottom end off with a filter, higher than you probably would with an electric bass and it still sounds big.
you will probably find one frequency/ note that it just goes off at - use a parametric to put a big notch in there (from memory phills was around 120hz) it will pull out that resonance without hurting the rest of the sound too much.

and finally i used a sansamp (the little ones with a balanced out) to give it some grit.

good luck!
double basses and rock bands are like grand pianos and the same. fun!
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Re: Upright bass in a live rock band

Postby Chris Wright » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:03 pm

This is great, thanks for the input everyone! I'll report back after the gig over the weekend.

Cheers
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