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 Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar? 
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
I'd love to see a video of your technique.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a billion...
The_Afro_Circus wrote:
I encounter this situation am the time in one of the groups i play in. Easily solved by applying a modified plucking technique. I rest my thumb on the top corner of where the pickup block meets the wood of the stick and reach across to lightly pluck the strings. The hardest part is making sure to control my plucking to volume-match the tapping, but that's nothing a little practice won't iron out.

This is my main technique with this band since my role is bass+. I use the treble side when the arrangement calls for it but otherwise i do variations on this technique. It totally changes the tone to a rounder, more standard bass sound and is easy to do and switch in and out of.


Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:46 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Mike, I am going to reply here (Although my opinion is unwelcome) because I do play the bass role in a band with a Stick, and I play bass and guitar well enough to know what is needed to translate. Although, I am fortunate in that my bandmates have a very open mind and are really cool with the Stick's sounds. At the same time, without being egotistical, I am easily the best musician in my group on any of the instruments in said group. Coupled with everyone being super nice and accommodating, Stick is welcome there. Of course, I play the same basslines in our covers as is on the record and I also supply a kind of rhythm accompaniment on the melody side when it's appropriate.

My thoughts (Keeping in mind that I am nobody)

The Stick can assume a bass role easily, the same way that it can assume a guitar role easily.
The same notes are present, and there are tons of options for 'muzaking' one's way through a tune as a soloist. The bass player role is an important one, and in the same way that a keyboardist could cover the bass or guitar role, it's not going to be the same.

If your band really wants a bass player, definitely get a bass player. A Stickist is no more a bass player than they are a guitar player. Getting past that closed mindedness is the first hurdle; but no matter what you do, that Stick is going to sound like a Stick... Think of it this way, when I think of killer bass players, a few names come to mind... None of them Stick players. Stuart Hamm. Flea. Billy Sheehan. John Paul Jones. Cliff Burton. Les Claypool. Larry Graham. Lemmy, Jaco Pastorius. Donald Dunn, Geezer Butler, Steve Harris etc etc.

Tony Levin and Don Schiff are Stick guys that stand out... But wait, when they have to play bass, they play a bass, right? Don plays an instrument that primarily IS a bass (The NS) so that he can easily do his bass stuff. Sure, it can be done on a Stick, the same way that a Cello's parts can be done on Stick, but it isn't the same, otherwise I am sure he would just use a Stick in the first place...

Greg Howard is not a bass player. Nope. Neither is Steve Adelson. They are great Stick players, who can cover the bass range. But it's not the same. Their albums are excellent displays of Stick playing, but when it comes to "hey check out that bass..." It is not the same, not even close, to how really good bassists lock in with a drummer. That's not being negative, I'm just saying that it's apples and oranges. By the same token, I don't go and listen to bass players for displays of Stick proficiency... I mean sure, we keep an open mind and listen to as many different things as possible to glean inspiration. But there are things that both instruments excel at separately.
I would say (again, my opinion means nothing) that first and foremost, if you are playing a bass role with the Stick, the group needs to accept that that instrument is not a bass; it's it's own thing with a similar range. If that can't happen, you are doomed! (Maybe that is a good thing; to maintain the Stickist role in your group without the pressure of being the bassist?) Chemistry of the group will dictate the role of the people in said group.
Then, if you are forced to change your articulations and playing style to be more like a bass (Plucking and whatnot) why not just play a bass? I mean, none of it will hurt your playing to learn, it's just that a "bass guitar" covers the bass role a lot better and easier than a Stick ever will, but a bass can't do what a Stick does, a Stick will offer a completely different dynamic to the same notes... Just look at repeating 8th or 16th notes on either instrument... TOTALLY different sound.

It is what it is, dudes.

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:50 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Thanks Josh. I will give that a try too--similar to what Greg suggested. Practice is what I chiefly need, I think. So far everything is hypothetical.

@Werkspace-appreciate your input as well.

Scott, your thoughts are valuable to me, whether you think so or not. Back when I was a bass player, some folks, at the height of my ability and before the Stick, compared me to Jeff Berlin(sound wise, mostly--I had my own style of approaching the bass). I am very much trying to find something that will satisfy the purist, but on the Stick. More forward thinking listeners will not give a crap, I guess, what is making the sound--just that it is fulfilling a role. How else can you explain the pop and fusion of the 1980's? :lol: But this situation requires something more. Impossible? maybe... and that is where I will not rock the boat. Ultimately I want what is best for the group. I just: 1. Miss the bass role, 2. am a little bored with my parts, and 3. really think I could use a challenge in my life--achievable or not. The goal is the journey...that type of thing.

Thanks again, Mike


Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:12 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
mike kemp wrote:
Thanks Josh. I will give that a try too--similar to what Greg suggested. Practice is what I chiefly need, I think. So far everything is hypothetical.

@Werkspace-appreciate your input as well.

Scott, your thoughts are valuable to me, whether you think so or not. Back when I was a bass player, some folks, at the height of my ability and before the Stick, compared me to Jeff Berlin(sound wise, mostly--I had my own style of approaching the bass). I am very much trying to find something that will satisfy the purist, but on the Stick. More forward thinking listeners will not give a crap, I guess, what is making the sound--just that it is fulfilling a role. How else can you explain the pop and fusion of the 1980's? :lol: But this situation requires something more. Impossible? maybe... and that is where I will not rock the boat. Ultimately I want what is best for the group. I just: 1. Miss the bass role, 2. am a little bored with my parts, and 3. really think I could use a challenge in my life--achievable or not. The goal is the journey...that type of thing.

Thanks again, Mike


Well, I for one think that The Stick in a band setting is extremely cool. (Again, I am nobody) What better way to shake things up and do something different? But It can be a challenge if folks in the group aren't open to it... If I were you I would just do what you do and see what happens... I bet the band would sound really interesting. I have found that the audience doesn't care, as long as it sounds great and they are having fun...

I mean, Theoretically keyboard could assume a bass role, so could Tuba...

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:23 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Jayesskerr wrote:
I mean, Theoretically keyboard could assume a bass role, so could Tuba...


Here's the "bass guitar" for the Doors, played by keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Fender Rhodes Piano Bass for the win!
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Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:53 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
and here's Kirk Joseph from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band:

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who plays some rippin' bass lines... ON A TUBA!!


Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:10 pm
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
I am of the opinion that if you have to convince other people in your group that the Stick is capable of taking on this role, no one is going to be happy. Your band mate (I am presuming is a singer or more likely a guitarist) will feel like the integrity of the foundation is compromised and that's going to be a constant battle. Constant. If you are forced to play an instrument that you would not prefer to play, you're going to be resentful.

On the upside, it is one less chef in the kitchen, making your band a quartet which is going to be 20% easier to schedule and arrange for. You could also run both instruments as I did (and many do) for many years with the Inclined. There's a compromise to start. There will be less opportunity in the melodic realm, but there is something to be said for economy of sound.

Either way, it's the dawn of a new musical horizon for your band. You're a clever man MK, I'm pretty certain you'll find a way.

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:44 pm
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Thank you Gene! In my head I feel you are right, but my gut doesn't say anything and my heart says "try anyway".

Thanks for the insight.

Mike


Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:58 pm
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
I think the key difference between Stick and electric bass sound is the string gauges. The gauges on the Stick get thinner faster than they do on a bass. There are 2 reasons. 1) the 5ths tuning and 2) (the more important one) the gauges are setup up purposely that way so you can play chords on the bass side that aren't muddy.

I can see the difference compared to the NS. It is tuned in 4ths, but more importantly the string gauges progress as on a standard bass (although fairly light in comparison.)

I would see what ideas Emmett has . If you are willing, maybe try bass matched reciprocal. It would give you 5ths and 4ths tunings in the bass range and with the correct progression of gauges, you might get where you want to go. I don't know if it is possible, but maybe go with NS gauges on the 4ths side. That's just off the top of my head since I am not familiar with the exact notes of that tuning.

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:20 pm
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
MY OPINION only,I choose the Chapman Stick because i was tired of guitar and bass which the Stick is neither, It has its own identity, the bass side assists the melody side or visa versa, but i feel Kemps pain.I take the bass role in a few funk & jazz groups with the C.S. Can i get a Jaco on my bass side and a George Benson on my melody side? No I cant! ( thats another topic). Emment is now fabricating a bass stick for me as we speak,still wont get a Jaco or a Wooten but I am sure i will get more of a bottom end to assist that to which a bass instrument can achieve, if not or so I"ll let you know.

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:23 pm
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