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Dmitry

Amplified acoustic bass - WHY?!

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I must come clean - I seriously dislike the sound of an amplified acoustic bass. The player who has the worst amplified bass sound is NHOP. He sounds like someone pulling on a rubber band from an old pair of underpants. He's the worst example, but it's not just him; the sound of the amplified bass gives me a serious agida...

This needs to be discussed!!!!

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Are you talking live. recorded, or both?

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Both, I guess.

I understand a concert in the park situation, but why does one need to amplify a bass in a club that fits 20 people [and that's on a busy night]...? What about in a recording studio situation? Were the classic Blue Note bass players amplified? I don't think so.

Mr. PC sounds loud and clear and the timbre is just to die for.

I'm feeling better now!

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I once heard Ray Brown live in a small room in San Diego; his souund was so huge!

He played unamplified, and he did a solo spot on Mona Lisa that was just a joy to hear that big, powerful tone.

The sound of pick ups has evolved for the better through the years, but in the past, I really hated to hear a bassist do a solo with those Barcus Berry pick ups!

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The Marsalises, despite other sins one might hold against them, also despise the sound of the amplified bass. On records that Delfeayo M. produces, he always says something like "this CD was recorded without usage of the dreaded bass direct".

Edited by Tom Storer

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It's a louder world than it used to be.

"Loudness ≠ intensity" is a lesson not commonly learned these days. I've heard old bebop cats playing totally unamplified, swinging like hell with plenty of fire, but they were balanced within themselves, and the overall group volume was noticably lower than most younger groups playing the same music. I think it's a matter of "perception" within each player how loud they need to be to speak effectively. But if a horn player's blowing all out, and the drummer's playing a newer-style setup designed for volume & brightness, then the piano's gonna have to be miked, and then what choice does the bassist have? A vicious cycle, that's what it is. Then again, I've seen photos of old bands where the bass was miked, probably to run throught the house system. So using a pickup/amp was the next step, especially since horn players were being miked in clubs a long time ago. Mike one thing, pretty soon you gotta mike everything.

Plus, bassists who play w/a lower action for increased speed sacrifice fatness of tone and have to compensate when playing in situations not geared towards that type of tone. Scott LaFaro would most likely have been inaudible in a 70s-era Elvin Jones group if he had played unamped. You gotta pull the sound out of a wood, and pulling is seldom compatable with running.

I will say this - I've heard good results coming out of a little bass-specific amp called Contra. Used wisely, it reinforces the sound rather than just amping it up and (dis)color it. Of course, the better the bassist (and the better the bass), the less amplification you need, and the more you can use it simply for reinforcement.

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OK, lots of reasons for amplified bass in live situations - I'll grant everyone that. But on studio recordings, I just doesn't get it.

A good example - one of the first studio recordings I've ever owned with amplified bass on it: McCoy Tyner's "New York Reunion" (Tyner, Henderson, Carter, Foster - Chesky, 1991). Ron Carter's amplified bass, ultimately, drives me up a wall :rolleyes: -- both here, and nearly everywhere else (which is like nearly every recording Carter's done in the last 30 years, right?)

Couple odd but perhaps noteworthy exceptions, though. I have actually grown to really like Carter's amplified bass on those several late 70's Hancock/Carter/Williams trio dates, especially this one (just called "The Herbie Hancock Trio", from July 1977).

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For some strange reason, Carter's amplified bass seems to fit right in, here, in this particular context -- though I still usually hate it elsewhere.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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So the bass amp is like a steroid for bassists - it compensates for their inadequacies...

Why not learn how to play a bass guitar and be done with it?!

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So the bass amp is like a steroid for bassists - it compensates for their inadequacies...

Why not learn how to play a bass guitar and be done with it?!

Because they don't sound like an acoustic.

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Right on, Rooster. I was going to mention Ron Carter next to NHOP, but decided to stay with NHOP for the sake of the fact that fans like Ron Carter a lot more than NHOP and I didn't want to get side-tracked. Carter is definitely another prime example of that bass amp gone berzerk. :tdown

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It's a louder world than it used to be.

"Loudness ≠ intensity" is a lesson not commonly learned these days.

Agreed. Bassists (and audiences, if they have the opportunity) should tell the rest of the band to turn it the hell down. Over the years, I've heard too many acoustic bands (even ones I dig) playing way too loud. I hate that, and not just because it makes it difficult to hear the bassist.

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Mingus played an amplified bass his final period of recording and performing because the ALS had been sapping his strength.

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There are some bassists who loathed amplfification. David Izenson comes to mind.

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Right on, Rooster. I was going to mention Ron Carter next to NHOP, but decided to stay with NHOP for the sake of the fact that fans like Ron Carter a lot more than NHOP and I didn't want to get side-tracked. Carter is definitely another prime example of that bass amp gone berzerk. :tdown

Carter's amped sound has improved quite a bit during the last few years. I hated his sound, but with the pick up model he currently endorses. "The Realist" by David Gage, he sounds pretty natural. But I know he wants that prominent attack 'cause he wants to let the others feel where the beat is.

I hated those Barcus-Berry pickups, but the recent models, e.g. Schertler, are excellent.

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So the bass amp is like a steroid for bassists - it compensates for their inadequacies...

Why not learn how to play a bass guitar and be done with it?!

*

Edit: rude reply deleted.

Edited by rockefeller center

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So the bass amp is like a steroid for bassists - it compensates for their inadequacies...

Why not learn how to play a bass guitar and be done with it?!

Please tell Glen Moore.

750447319226.jpg

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