Just getting some thoughts from people with more knowledge and wisdom than myself.
I’ve currently been learning on a Brunswick TBJBA (electro) acoustic bass, which I am really enjoying, though I currently am limited to playing sitting down due to the lack of a second strap button, and the body is massive.
It is pretty and sounds nice mind you.
I’ve been pondering a different acoustic (more details below) as an upgrade or alternative and am fairly surely it is certainly an improvement in every way, but am not in the know enough to truly know for sure.
I’d also like to pre-answer the question of ‘why not get an electric bass’ - I find an acoustic is just about quiet enough that I can play it in the evening without waking up my sons (3 years and 6 months, waking them up is best avoided) plus I currently don’t have space nor funds for a nice amp.
So the bass I keep eyeing up in the music shop near my office is an Aria FEB F2M, which in my opinion is very pretty indeed.
It’s a medium scale bass (32") vs my 34" Brunswick (I don’t have great reach in my hand thus far), has a less deep body, and as far as I can tell is made of nicer wood too - Nato body and neck with Rosewood fretboard vs the Brunswick’s Mahogany/Spruce body and ‘composite wood’ fretboard.
Plus it’ll be easier to use with a strap, I presume…
A penny for your thoughts, thanks in advance everyone.
I would try before you buy. With acoustic wood is more important for tone.
Also it’s fine if you don’t prefer electric. Just keep in mind that the body will always be bigger on acoustic.
That said I think it looks great!
I come from the world of acoustic guitars. They are great instruments if you want to play acoustically and/or with either a mic or an onboard pickup.
They have large bodies to accommodate playing acoustically.
FWIW, I would advise that you buy an electric, solid-body bass and use a headphone amp so you can play without disturbing anyone. The advantages are several.
First, you can easily adjust the neck and string heights to maximize playability. Second, you can control the tone(s) you need to play along with songs or backing tracks. Third, a solid-body bass is much thinner than an acoustic, and has integral body curvature to enhance ergonomics that help you get proper arm/hand placement. All of these things will contribute greatly to your learning how to play bass.
There are several headphone amps that are not crazy expensive, e.g., starting at around 50 bucks, or so. Some even include a built-in metronome or drum machine. Couple one of these with some headphones and you’re off to the races with your new bass.
Just my take, but this is what I would do if I were you.
I agree with both. The take on tone wood and your problem with noise.
One other thing to consider with an acoustic bass is when you plugging in to the amp, you’ll have another potential problem, feedback. Acoustic instruments are notorious for feedback problems.
Acoustic instruments are more expensive to produce than the solid body electric counter part. It takes more than double labor hours on each instrument so instrument at the same cost, the acoustic will come with cheaper components.
Going solid body electric bass with small amp and headphone or headphones amp will definitely be my first choice. Unless of course you like the acoustic vibe of it all.
That Aria bass is quite pretty, have you played it at the store? If not, then play it for a bit, if you like it and it’s within your reach, go for it
I looked at acoustic for a minute, played them a bit at the store, but I didn’t love it mainly due to comfort, but the sound was cool
I agree that electric is more comfortable and versatile… they’re not as loud as you might think really, something to consider in the future
FWIW playing acoustic in my house is so much louder than using an electric with no amp. You cant play acoustic quietly. I agree with above, electric bass with headphone amp or a floor amp with headphones and AUX inputs.
Edit> My wife just said they cant hear me play electric guitar (6string) on low settings in the other room door closed but they sure as heck can hear the acoustic. Bass in another animal, Headphones only plugged into amp
Hi @mikeyjayjay I’m going to guess from your profile pic that you’re in the UK. The trees aren’t native to North America so that’s my punt. So I looked up that acoustic Bass online and it’s £280.
A very quick butchers are the Andertons website shows me I could get a bass starter pack which includes bass, instrument cable and small amp for about £200. Obviously you can move upwards in price from there.
As previous posters have mentioned playing an electric bass is way way waaay quieter than an acoustic bass. I play 2-4 hours a night behind a closed door and my wife can’t hear anything and she’s 20 feet away. So throw in a pair of headphones and you’ve got an inexpensive set up.
Jumping up to a little over £300 and you’ve got the entry in the Squier / Fender range plus cable and amp.
If you’ve a little more cash you could go the Squier Classic Vibe route (very probably the best quality vs money ratio) at around £300 plus £66 for a Zoom multi effects unit. It’s silent you just plug in headphones. It has a built in drum machine for working on your timing plus a host off amplifier simulations and effects.
Starter pack amps tend to be a bit rubbish, so I’d recommend the Zoom route and if you get the bass bug, then look at a better quality practice amp. The Bass buzz hive mind will be able to help you with that as well! This is the route I went. I still have my first bass and the Zoom B1.
You don’t need to spend insane money to get a good quality bass that will last you for a long time. It’s the golden age.
Thanks everyone for the thorough feedback, there’s a lot to digest there.
I’ll have another review and respond properly soon (about to start work for the day) though for thse who have asked if I’ve tried the Aria, I had a very short play about a month ago but only for about a minute, though I recall the tone sounding very nice indeed - next time I’m at the office I’ll swing by and try it again plus see how it sounds in an amp for future reference.
Certainly food for thought regards going full electric too, though ascetically at least I am very partial to acoustics (again I will reply to the really helpful information later on).
Also @Barney you guessing where I live based on the treez in my photo was incredible, kudos there
(Am a hiker but still early on regards learning my trees)
Thanks again all, will post again soon. Have a good day in the meantime
I don’t understand all the push towards an electric bass. I have both. I enjoy both for different reasons. I did the course on my acoustic before i got my jazz bass.
If you dig the acoustic, there’s nothing wrong with that. Play what makes you happy.
Unless you have extra cash, I don’t reccomend buying anything you don’t absolutely need, before finishing the course. It will give more perspective on what you may want for the long term.
The only reason I gave those options was because he wanted to practice quietly and an electric bass is a lot quieter.
I also enjoy playing my little acoustic Kala U Bass as well.
There’s nothing wrong with playing an acoustic bass, if that’s your current preference and, possibly, it will meet your future playing needs.
However, an electric bass offers playability opportunities an acoustic does not. And that was the rationale I proffered to the OP.
I have zero against acoustic instruments. I love them. In fact, I was a co-founder and editor of Acoustic Player Magazine in the early-2000s.
If an acoustic bass fits your hands, ears and heart, giddy up and go.
@MikeC I had forgotten. That’s pretty darn cool.
More than a suggestion this is a question. I have never played a hollow-body electric bass. Could one use it unplugged and get a “satisfying” result but plug it in and play through an amp/preamp and headphones?
Being in a situation where I have never been able to turn my amp beyond 3 in my apartment I can really relate to the noise/volume issue.
Should you go for an electric bass the only advice I dare giving is to spend money on a decent preamp for tone shaping with a headphone jack and good headphones before spending on any amp.
You could get some sense of what plucked strings sound like from an unamplified semi-hollow body bass, but few players would likely call it satisfying.
Playing an amplified bass (through speaker or headphones) allows you to play with a light touch. In turn, a light touch allows you to play using dynamics, which is more expressive because you can choose at any time to finesse your attack on the strings to play louder or softer.
Again, you might get a rough idea of how dynamics could sound on an unamplified semi-hollow bass, but not nearly the whole expressive effect as you could with an amplified instrument.
The rule of thumb is play lightly and let the amp do the work. You can always dig in harder to elicit a growl or powerful punch for effect, when desired.
@MikeC Thank you! That makes a lot of sense. Your experience with acoustics talking! I suppose the cavities have different purposes and each one is primarily built to be used in a certain way. This makes me wonder if the sound of an acoustic bass is truer when amplified by means of a microphone than generated by a pickup. I obviously don’t know about pickups for acoustic guitars.
I’ve mic’ed many, many acoustic guitars to record their true voices.
With acoustics, the particular types of tonewoods they’re made from - as well as the woods’ age, thickness, braces, and even glue and finishing materials used - make discernible differences on how an acoustic will play and sound to the player and audience.
On the other hand, a semi-hollow body electric is designed to deliver a particular tone and overall sound that is apparent when amplified. Yes, it is audible to a small degree unamped, but not nearly to the designed effect.
An acoustic bass with a pickup works similarly. The pickup is a mic for the strings.
With a dedicated external stereo mic setup, i.e., microphones placed in front of the tone hole and neck, respectively, you’ll hear and capture the instrument’s natural acoustic voice with all its tonewood and construction characteristics in full display.
In short, acoustic instruments can and do vary in the sound they produce based on how they’re built and the quality of their materials and luthiers. It’s exceedingly rare to find a mass-produced acoustic that can meet the tonal and responsive characteristics of a custom-built instrument from a master luthier. That said, as with any instrument - from a flea market fiddle to a Stradivarius - the thing that matters most is the player holding it.
@MikeC Wow. Thank you for taking the time to explain. Really interesting. So pickups for acoustics are basically microphones and not a device that picks up the vibration of the strings.
I’m learning exactly that (beyond GAS) and relate it to photography. It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. Thanks again!
No problem. You’re welcome.
One clarification: most acoustic pickups do amplify the strings magnetically, just as electric instrument pickups do. The exception is a contact mic, which is generally attached to an instrument’s body instead of under its strings.
External microphones capture the instrument’s voice, i.e., how the instrument sounds when strings are plucked/picked, directing their vibrations to the bridge, which causes the top wood to undulate, pumping string tone into the body cavity where it naturally reverberates, and out of the tone hole to the mics and your ears.
So under-strings acoustic pickups are magnetic pickups. External mics capture the acoustic voice of an instrument.