Reverb Madness: Basses

How low can you go? I occasionally toy with the idea of picking up the bass guitar again; buying a nice acoustic bass and some bass tabs/scores and brushing up on my sight reading again. Then I remember that no guitar comes into my home until one goes out and it’s Sophie’s Choice amongst the hardshell cases here.

If I had a vacancy in my gear closet, here are the instruments I would dither over:

What an oddball concept: Let’s take the Fender Precision — the first mass-produced fretted bass as well as the first electric bass to come to market — and let’s make it into a semi-acoustic fretless model! Somehow, that sorta works for me, but this one is a distant runner-up in this particular derby. I like that it seems to be made of a spruce top on mahogany back/sides, the best combination for acoustic-instrument tonewoods to my ear. It’s also pretty cool to see a rosewood fretboard on a fretless — usually the smoother ebony is used for these necks. If I wasn’t in the market for an acoustic-acoustic bass, and I was already solid enough on the instrument that I could jump to fretless with a minimum of confusion, I would seriously consider this axe.

This is more my speed …

… a nice big Guild bass. I’ve played one a million years ago and it had a fast, comfortable neck and and a body that didn’t feel like I had a minifridge under my elbow, which sometimes is all you need from an acoustic guitar of any type. But I definitely have a “type” of my own these days, and that is …

SamickHFB590AcousticF-HoleBassGuitar

… an archtop, F-hole acoustic bass. Samick is the South Korean musical instrument-maker to the stars; if your favorite brand has a budget line [Gibson’s Epiphone and Fender’s Squier being the most famous examples], the odds are good that those instruments were made in a Samick factory. I like the look of this Samick-branded bass but I would hold out hope that the South Korean guitar factory that’s pumping out those D’Angelico zombie archtops [probably Samick itself] will eventually add an acoustic bass model to their line.

Until then, this is the theoretical bass for me …

… a Martin B-1, with or without a piezo pickup in the bridge. I’m not into Martin guitars — they seem to be so expensive much more for their decoration than their actual construction — but the B-1 I played a few months ago shocked me with its great tone and silky neck. That Martins are a pretty good investment, as guitars go, is nice too.

[Sidebar: Why don’t stringmakers like D’Addario or GHS make flatwound phosphor-bronze acoustic-bass strings? There must be a good reason why not, as that is a total no-brainer otherwise. I’ve not tried black nylon tapewound strings, which I’ve heard get a nice upright-bass sound.]

And, the token “well, I would at least try playing it once” oddball …

 

… a fretless banjo bass. Try to imagine what that must sound like.

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