Upright Bass Fans? Players? Let's hang

Coming from the world of electric, I’ll explain using frets.

And please beware of @John_E 's post above, as it is not correct. He has the right idea and points out a good piece of source material, but the details are off.

Remember that in upright bass, you only ever cover a 3 fret range with your fingers.
Your first finger, (one fret) your second finger (next fret) and your third and fourth fingers come down together (for the the 3rd fret).

With a fingering position and technique that only covers a 3 fret (3 half step) range, and without any fret indicators on the neck, we upright players need a way to talk about where we are on the instrument.

So the positions.

On upright you start in half position - the open string, first finger on 1st fret, 2nd finger on 2nd fret and third/fourth fingers to get the third fret.

When you move up one half step, you enter 1st position:
first finger on 2nd fret, 2nd finger on 3rd fret, 3rd/4th fingers to get 4th fret.

The positions continue on up the fingerboard, and they don’t move in any logical way as far as I can tell.
Half position and first position make logical sense because it seems like the positions are named based on how many half steps above the open string you are…

But then you move up another half step the the 2nd position, and you’re covering:
1st finger on 3rd fret, 2nd finger on 4th fret, 3rd/4th fingers on 5th fret.
And the logic kinda breaks down, and you just have to memorize the position numbers.

The half step beyond that Simandl calls an intermediate position between 2 and 3… so, again, it’s weird.

Simandl’s method was my source book for upright fingerings.
I think the labeling system is dumb and should be re-done, and maybe there’s a cool new book (as in, any book written after 1910…) that has a better methodology.
Dunno.

Hope that helps.

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sorry about that, should have mentioned I was learning Smandl for electric bass, I guess it is different (or what the guy taught was diffferent, or i remember it wrongly).

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Oh, absolutely no worries.
I had to read and reference out of my Simandl book to get it right.
The positions are so dang weird!!

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Yeah it was! So I decided that I should visit a trusty luthier and show him exactly where it was buzzing (under C until F on G string) he studied it and showed me with a steel ruler that there’s a little bump right on the money. So we set a date for the rectification. I asked him to ad the wheels for setting the string height as well. We agreed on the price and said goodbye.

3 days later I call in to check on him and he explained to me that the bump we have found is not the only one and it’s better to rectify the whole fingerboard. He also mentioned that the fingerboard was painted over and it was strange because it is already natural ebony (not highest quality but still)

So here are the results




He cleaned the body, strings and sanded the bridge as well to give it this new look…

It plays incredibly smooth now. I can slide my pinky from A(2nd fret) to G(12th) without any buzz or resistance

I am also loving the look of the fretboard and the setup wheels…

He also told me that the position of the bridge was quite off. Repositioned correctly the intonation changed quite a bit and the whole thing resonates for days now…

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Sounds lovely!
Well done, and it sounds like you have found a talented luthier as well.
I hope it was affordable!!

I think it was well worth it yeah!

These days I am trying out acoustic preamps. Since Zoom B1 Four or DG VU V2 are not really designed to work with piezo inputs.

Got my hands one of these: Zoom AC-2

It has really all I need in one single box (mute,tuner,boost,DI Out, Headphones, reverb) and furthermore it claims to recreate the original sound of my upright bass.

On my bridge there is a “custom made” piezo pickup. Which I have found that it is simply two piezo elements soldered to a jack connector. (And one of them was damaged even)

So first order of business was to change those. I have ordered new ones. 15mm Piezo discs. They were advertised to be for Guitar and Drum like instruments.

Next I have made some tests using Zoom B1 Four , Darkglass Vintage Ultra V2 and Zoom AC 2 . Recorded all of them from DI out to my Zoom H8 Field Recorder.

This is with the piezo transducers directly connected to DG VU2 and some EQ. It gives this tubey feel but not really helping with the DB sound.

This is Zoom B1Four and the best I could replicate the DB sound. With Bass Drive and a Cab SIM. It surely adds some character to the tone but does not filter the super mechanic “noise”

For this one I simply used the “PRE” switch on the Zoom AC-2 it is just bringing the pick-ups directly to line level. No switch or knob is effecting it not even volume! Which is super interesting because I think it is already better than DG and Zoom. I think it is due to the really high impedance input.

And now this is with Zoom AC-2 full on. Upright Bass body type selected and EQ’ed a little bit to match my instrument. I did not add any reverb even.

Tomorrow I will compare it to its older brother Zoom A3 which has an integrated patch system (similar to Zoom B1 Four but older) and an XLR input to mix in a microphone.

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Thanks everyone. It is beginning to make sense. Since I have a kid’s sized bass, I bought an elementary school style book and now can play Good King Wenceslas, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the Dmajor scale. Fun but hard on the fingers and still a bit hard to get my head around but I’m liking no frets. I do cheat and have “bass tape” from the school in the what I now know are half and first position (5 tapes).

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Ok a lowdown on the Ibanez UB 804 please.

I’m getting a deal at GC for $900 new. I’m thinking about getting it. There are a playlist that I made all with upright bass and it would be fun. I also have a couple of Genzler acoustic amps I heard that it’s would sound great with the EUB.

Anyone has any experience with this Ibanez?

Thanks for your input.

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Not sure if it was this model, but both @Fahri and @PamPurrs had EUBs at one point? I think? Maybe they could give a word of wisdom?

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Thanks @Gio I remember @PamPurrs has the NS Wave.

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Hey there! @Al1885 welcome to the vertical realm!

I had a chance to try out Bruck VE 500 (palatino) before I got my Luthier made EUB. Here is a recent video of me playing it at a rehearsal. The chain here was Zoom B1 Four (Tech21+CABSIM) into DG V2 (only as DI)

I made a lot of research on NS and the Ibanez however did not get my hands on one but I was heavily turned off to see some people simply using the Ibanez sideways hanging on their necks…

Also since my intention was to eventually learn to play the real deal (Acoustic Upright Bass - AUB ) my instructor convinced me against them since they are lacking a lot the real interaction with an upright such as body contact, bridge style and string height (which should allow bowing for example).

And even after months of playing my very “AUB like EUB” first time I got my hands on a real AUB I felt really challenged. Which eventually convinced me to go for it.

Now when I go back to the EUB I can really appreciate how light and easy to play it is. It even changed the way I play my electric bass go figure!

So if your intention is to get the upright like tone avoiding all the encumbrance of the real deal (man you don’t get how big is that thing until you bring it to your living room) you can go for the “Stick Type” upright basses. Otherwise many would suggest to rent an acoustic upright for a week or two to see if you can handle the real thing…

If you can get your hands on a Palatino VE 500 it is a super cheap way to start the journey right!

Here is a cool comparison

And I really love this one

For the amplifier I had a lot of opportunity to try different things. First of all the Ibanez and NS design EUBs have active pick-ups so you won’t have any problem related to impedance matching of a piezo pickup. Practically you could insert them into any bass amp that is convenient for you.

If you really want to shape your tone similar to an AUB however I suggest getting an acoustic preamp instead. I cannot suggest enough the Zoom A3 Preamp-DI. I have not seen anything versatile like that both for acoustic tone shaping and input output possibilities. It is out of production however so you gotta get one second hand.

The current successor is Zoom AC-2 and it is a super neat thing as well allthough it has only the dial for Body Type which you can select Upright and it is missing the body model effect and microphone simulation. Still it is a great value for its worth.

Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any concerns!

Cheers
Fahri

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Dude! Your Racoon Jazz group sounds amazing! Man you have progressed so fast on that upright. Nothing lacking in anyone’s performance there at all. Congrats @Fahri !!! WOW.

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Thanks a lot John! It has been a great adventure. With every new situation it was always evolve or get out :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

We will actually have our first gig in April. It’s an opening mini concert for a jam but I’m quite excited about it.

I have started the B2B a bit less than 2 years ago with near to zero musical background and I will be doing my first gig playing an acoustic upright in a jazz band.

Hardwork pays off!

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I actually purchased that EUB from my local music store, and I recall it’s being quite adequate. I only played it for a week or so, before returning it in favor of the NS Wave, which IMO, is superior.
It’s a great EUB, and I think you’ll like it.

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That’s is just awesome. Thanks @Fahri.

The great thing is I don’t know what I don’t know yet. Coming from electric bass I do like the lower action and extra sustain on the notes compared to AUB. Hoping that the EUB will answer that for me.

I’ve tried the double bass and the Yamaha silent bass. Both feel really similar but with the tall bridge an relatively short sustain they are not for me yet, lol.

I first looking in to the Wilcox stylus with individual optical pickups but at nearly $4000, lol. I love the pickup performance on both my Sabres.

I hope that the Ibanez ub804 would offer some of what I need.

I’m new to the forum and you made me laugh with the real-estate thing! My husband is a professionnal double bassist (he has 3! :crazy_face:) and I learn bass for fun. The space needed for them was a criteria when we bought our house, and when we changed our car… Imagine the face of the salesman at the car dealership when we went “trying” cars with the biggest one (a Czech beast - or Bohemian beast, should I say, because of her age). And no, VUS are not necessarily required!

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What a lovely family!

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Yes!
I brought my bass with me when I bought my car as well.
It’s ridiculous!! Glad you can identify.
I’ve only ever had 2 at one time. 3? Yep. Needs a bass room.

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Last weekend I got to perform two pieces that I studied in B2B with @JoshFossgreen which I have started exactly two years ago!

Song for my father was my first ever Jazz piece to be studied. So when I got together with my first jazz Study group it was the first standard we have tried. This was 1 year ago!

And “I feel good” marks a point in my jazz story 1 year (and many jazz standards) later finally I have the band solid enough that I can convince them to play different things!

All this is combined with my on going passion for recording on the go!

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