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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,highlandman at work Bass guitar - upright bass effects? (30) RE: Bass guitar - upright bass effects? 01 May 12

Becky, I have played a bit of acoustic and a whole lottofalot of electric bass.
The sustain difference is one thing. I can simulate an acoustic decay by a subtle(!) palm mute with my right hand, very close to the bridge. On my Fender I had to remove the bridge cover to get close enough.
There is another aspect of the acoustic bass sound that is as good as impossible to simulate. That is the effect of the fretless fingerboard. One part of this, the slide effect, obviously, you can't duplicate without the discrete fret noises. You can avoid drawing attention to the difference by simply not doing slides, which is a small handicap.
But the other is the different way the instruments respond to over-plucking (is that a word?). The acoustic bass makes a cool sort of a bwOww sound when plucked hard, the fretted electric makes more of an edgy bZahh noise due to the strings buzzing momentarily against the adjacent metal fret. The slides and the bwOww are, to me, signatures of the acoustic bass sound. If you are playing down in the mix, sticking with simple 1/5 stuff, it doesn't matter so much. But if the bass is being featured, you have to stay away from the idiomatic things that make it so obvious which instrument you're playing.
I also have to take issue with the comment from Guest above about open strings. I almost always choose the fretted position for a note over the open position, because the sustain and timbre are different. Mixing open and fretted notes in a scale sounds amateurish to me, and the effect is greater on an electric instrument than on an acoustic one. I'll go to the open note (if available, there are only four after all, and half of them are in the wrong octave half the time) if I want sustain more than I want consistent tone. Or if my fingers are tired and want a few beats break.

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