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Which Acoustic Bass?

Discussion in 'Bass Guitars' started by kimgee, May 8, 2020.

  1. kimgee

    kimgee Wenge Taste Tester Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I have been thinking about obtaining an acoustic bass lately. Local stores sell only cheap crap, over priced name brand crap, and a few unaffordable (for me) nice instruments. So, I am compelled to buy online, sight unseen. In researching what to get, I have decided on a number of features I would like. First of all, I want a high quality instrument that will hold it's value, so I can resell it without a huge loss, if I decide it's just not for me. Second, most acoustic basses have between 20 and 22 frets, and due to their bloated bodies, don't really give access to the last 4-6 frets on the body. This means I need a 5 string. And third, I would really like all solid wood construction, if I can possibly afford it. I would like to have a thin bodied acoustic, as unplugged volume is not a concern, but I have yet to find one that is not on the cheesy end of the spectrum.

    I was interested in getting a Warwick Alien, but the prices on the current versions are simply absurd for what you get. Over $2K usd for a Chinese made, mostly laminated body? Be serious. That is more than I want to spend, but even if I was willing to spend that much, I still wouldn't pay that for the current Alien models.

    This 5 string by Furch looks like a fine instrument at a bargain price, imho. I would be very interested to know what the knowledgeable members here think about this bass, and their opinions on this topic in general.

    Thanks in advance.

    Model Furch Bc 61-CM 5 - Bass Guitar Models - Furch Guitars
     
  2. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I have had looks and could not decide on which one was good enough for the simple reason none of them are.

    There is no single acoustic bass guitar that will ever be audible in an unplugged session. Guitars are simply much louder. This is why double basses are so big.

    I bought a small, portable battery powered amp instead.
     
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  3. kimgee

    kimgee Wenge Taste Tester Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I hear you man! The acoustic bass market is like a minefield. I have been fooling around with egg slicer acoustics lately, and while I still prefer the bass, I have developed a genuine appreciation of the un-amplified acoustic tone. This is just for personal enjoyment, so it's weak unplugged volume is not a factor. My acoustic journey has been a real educational experience I must say. I have learned a great deal about tone woods, guitar design, and construction techniques. What I don't understand is, that with the incredible amount of labor involved in building an acoustic, why they don't cost even more.
     
  4. golem

    golem Philosopher King

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    I have various acoustic and semi-acoustic basses. I cannot suggest a solution for the OP. Except for the Turner Electrocoustic (see following post.)

    You hafta shop ABGs face to face and there’s a greater variety of discontinued models than of new models ... which means buying used.

    Here are my reactions to the whole thread thus far.

    Five strings ? Kinda rare, usually very narrow spacing where available. A normal width five would be waaaaay neck divey cuz light weight body with no top horn. Some ABGs use a 32” scale to reduce typical poor strap balance of ABGs ... you want a 32” B-string ?

    Further comments assume only 4-strings are viable options.

    ABGs usually have set neck and non-adjustable bridge so setting a fast low action is usually a matter of luck ... IOW not likely. So these are not for the sooper tricky bass maniac therefor don’t fret over lack of upper feet access.

    Much as I want that big boy acoustic body and piezoelectric PU, my most acoustic, woody, even URBish voiced ABG is a thin body archtop with magnetic PUs, metal bridge and 30” short scale ... and acoarst NO FRETS. IOW you cannot predict voicing by reading specs and features. No buying blind.

    So it may seem a hopeless quest but do not worry cuz if you intended to get a fretted model ... as most buyers do .... then it is also a pointless quest if you desire an acoustic voice and not merely the acoustic look on stage. The acoustic body acts as a mechanical microphone and magnifies the metal-on-metal tone of metal string on metal fret ... not very “woody stringy” acoustic sounding.

    This thread is now too long so I’ll just wrap up up saying that ABGs in general are a really stoopid concept and the very few exception have other drawbacks such as price ! I will start a new post about the exceptions.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  5. golem

    golem Philosopher King

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    NOTICE:
    Remarks based on FL + flats as DEFAULT.

    The ultimate ABG in my experience is the Takamine B-10. Huuuuge archtop. URB neck shape, 34” scale, FL only. About $3000 new and the rare used ones are about half that. Good luck finding one.

    Taylor Klein. Sort of a flat top cousin of the Tak B-10 above. Equally as huge, rare, and expensive. Rotsa Ruck !!!

    Ovation Typhoon II. Thinline short scale FL archtop with dual humbuckers. NOT a plastic bowl body ... a regular wooden archtop. I have two, maybe the total world inventory ? Buy them when I die. You’ll be glad I’m dead.

    Kramer Ferrington. Special quality is that even with frets it’s not too klanky ... sounds reasonably acoustic-ish. Has a full size top horn so hangs well balanced on strap. Bolt-on neck. Affordable. Possibly the only fretted ABG that reasonably fulfills the ABG fantasy.

    Rick Turner Electrocoustic. If you reeeeeeally need an acoustic 5-string, this is a reasonable compromise ... thin line flattop semi-acoustic with central solid keel. mine is acoarst FL but I suspect this ax would not get too klanky with frets. Has very comfy 19mm spacing even on the 5-string. Over $3500 new and about half that used or occasionally a bit less.

    Fender A/E P-Bass. Thin line semi hollow with both magnetic and piezo PUs. P-Bass shape hangs balanced on strap. Has the ergonomics of a regular electric with some acoustic quality in its voice. Affordable. Where else you gonna find a 7.5lb P-Bass ?

    Epi El Capitan. Very typical flattop AGB but is bigger than most but still NOT an exception to all the bad ideas that inhabit ABGs ... just seems to suffer less by them maybe due to size. Regardless of size, the usual caveats apply: avoid fretted versions, 5-string neck is very narrow, poor hang balance. I play it sitting down and I’m very pleased with the acoustic voice of my FL-4 version. Affordable new or used.

    Washburn AB-20. Smallish body. Sounds good. Not expensive but not very common. If you find one check it out.

    Wendler MagPi. Affordable luthier built ax. Very innovative. Very light and comfy. Has a non-hollow specially carved acoustic body. Hard to explain it. Go google it if you like mellow acoustic tone. A bit over $1200 new and don’t expect to find a used one.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
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  6. Hardy

    Hardy Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    My Ortega Striped Suite bass. Loud with a pick, see the armrest? Most comfortable! I’m happy with it for four years already.

    C26EDFB9-2075-419B-90E5-2241987E2D31.jpeg
     
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  7. kimgee

    kimgee Wenge Taste Tester Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I like it.

     
  8. Hardy

    Hardy Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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  9. golem

    golem Philosopher King

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    you have likely noticed that in nearly all ensembles the double bass is amped or mic’ed. Even with all that surface area they are not very loud played pizzicato. They sound louder arco. Maybe the longer activation of bowing vs plucking helps the wood to get going ?
     
  10. kimgee

    kimgee Wenge Taste Tester Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Tacoma's are very interesting, with their scarcity being their main attraction to my collector side, but if a guitar doesn't have 24 frets, then it needs more than 4 strings, imho. I would be all over Schlo's Alien........if I could afford it.
     
  11. CeeJ

    CeeJ

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    Heya -

    I feel ya on the AB's lots of scrap out there, some can get tech'ed up and be quite nice, but the good ones are not all over the place and each is a bit o it's own monster...

    I'll share my thoughts on my quiver...

    Furch Sitka Spruce 4 String Fretted.
    Got it through some trades without ever having played one but heard that it was the acoustic to get if you wanted an Alien or Taylor AB and didn't want to spend the $$ and get the 34" scale.
    The bass LIGHT... Fast and Fun Neck!.
    Very resonant and audible playing with acoustic guitarists that pretend that they're plugged in with distortion.
    Plugged into my Aguilar rigs and my SWR Natural Blond Acoustic Combo - is quite joyous. REALLY
    I would am hoping that a Fretless shows up someday because THAT has me pretty excited to play...

    Little Cons:
    The top arm rest edge is a bit bitey at first, but I have gotten used to it.
    The neck is fantastic but the body is lighter so a little hand support is sometimes depending on your playing style or how you strap in.

    =

    4 String El Capitan:
    Really solid workhorse and has a little weight to it, the Furch feels half as heavy ( never weighed them ) of an AB in many ways for the money.
    It has seen a lot of use and shows little to no wear. I had the 5 string version years ago and I did not have the balance issues that someone had mentioned.
    Volume and presence is there on both models with it plugged in or not, and the B string felt good but the 5'er that I had was not quite as resonant as my 4 string.

    The neck has a really nice profile and feel. Thin and effortlessly easy to be fast whenever and where ever you want.

    Even though I really like my El Capitan and have enjoyed the years with it, the Furch gets 100% of the play time now - it's just a better instrument all around.
    There is something special about the neck shape on the El Cap though... they got that right IMO.

    Alien that I got earlier this year. Original strings have a darker warm tone - perhaps the age.
    It's a really nice bass but since it was never played and 1 of 101 I just cannot bring myself to do more than were a Onsie and pluck gently on it.
    That being said it has a really different feel and voice to it - Woods, Age, etc etc. - I'm going to get one that has been played so I can feel a lot more comfortable just playing it.
    It has a neat spot tone wise but even if I got another one, I'm feeling like I still might be reaching for my Furch more...

    Good Luck with your quest ... dive in and get one - they have really helped my playing and technique...
    are a lotta fun to play -- lots of complex sonic landscapes to explore that can be addictive.
     
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