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 Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar? 
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Post Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar?
Hi guys. This relates somewhat to my "what is bass, now?" topic. And I think this is a question we all agree no one should ever ask, right? "The Stick is not a bass or a guitar, but something else entirely", would be an accurate assessment of the natural state of the instrument. But what if you found yourself in a position where something more traditional sounding in the bass was needed. Because that is where I find myself at the moment. And I don't want to put my favorite instrument down and pick up something else.

The problem is, another member(prominent and opinionated) of my band doesn't think the Stick can handle the bass role in a jazzy/funky/pop rock band. Part of his problem isn't just with me. Rather, no one on earth can do the bass justice(as far as "traditional bass" technique goes) on the Stick, in his view. He doesn't mean to be offensive, I am sure. And he does have more experience with what the Stick, and you all, sound like than the average listener, because I have played him many of your albums. I think he feels it just isn't beefy enough(the sound that comes out of the amp, no matter what technique you use). I don't know totally what he wants, but he doesn't suppose anyone can provide it on the Stick.

To make a long story, longer...I mean short, the band's bassist has moved on and I would like to expand my musical role by taking on that additional responsibility myself. There is no question whether I can play the notes and the rhythm(at least to me there isn't). And personally, I like how the Stick sounds just like it is. But I want to meet him half way on what he is expecting to hear. This may require more than plugging the Stick's bass side into a bass amp. Does that make sense to anyone? Can anyone offer any advice before the band goes and calls another bassist? There are some arguments why this might be necessary--the biggest is that no one wants to lose the parts I play on the Stick. What I believe, is that the most crucial parts are handled by the melody side. Either way, I am not so prideful as to take my ball and go home when I don't get my way. But I feel this is just the challenge I need to light my creative fires for this particular project once more.

Thanks in advance, Mike

PS some thoughts I came up with were to use heavy gauge strings on the bass side and ACTV2 pick up instead of the PASV4( I have access to both)


Last edited by mike kemp on Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:22 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
mike kemp wrote:

The problem is, another member(prominent and opinionated) of my band doesn't think the Stick can handle the bass role in a jazzy/funky/pop rock band.

On my side I think it can be more than only a bass...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rLsSfd67qE

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:01 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Thank you Alain. I am pretty sure that Kevin Keith supplies the "technique" aspect my bandmate is going on about. And he has said that Kevin comes closest to having the instrument(or eq, or amp maybe? I don't know quite what he is looking for specifically) actually sound like a bass. But still perhaps not enough.

I think this video will go a long way in giving me ideas!

Thanks again. Mike


Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:08 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Excellent subject. You're not the first to face this situation. Even TL has encountered this dilemma in the studio.
The Stick has the range of an electric bass but because of the technique has a different sonic quality. Most of it is in the initial attack that creates the note. The string being tapped onto the fret sounds different than a plucked string on a bass. Of course the electronics are also different. To be aware of why the difference is heard, gives you a game plan on adjusting your playing to "simulate" an electric bass
I'll wait to hear other's opinions and we can discuss more live when I see you Monday

Steve A


Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:14 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
I know that a couple of WAVEs plugins, and some Izotope plugins, will let you tweak the transients, attacks, and frequencies of the input and then output standard "bass guitar" profiles. One I use adds a very nice growl to the sound of my already-growly Railboard, and it comes out sounding sorta Rickenbacker-ish. I think some playing around with the right plugin would bring out the parts of the Stick attack that are different from tapping rather than plucking.

I'm also branching out to NS/Stick, which DOES have that bassy bass sound, and Don Schiff among many others seems to use it just as a bass guitar (plus extra!). And you can pluck it just like a "regular" bass. But that wouldn't help your problem of wanting to do melody stick and bass.

I know for a fact that many Stick players have held down the bass role, and they will hopefully chime in and let you know their experience. Best of luck!

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:36 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Thanks Steve and Steve! I actually owned a half-fretless NS a number of years ago. I developed a tendonitis(?) problem in my left wrist that made reaching across the wide neck very painful. Still I loved the sound of the instrument and it looked really cool with frets only on one side. Over all I would prefer to adapt my playing to be well rounded on just one instrument, even if it means not getting my wish here taking over the bass responsibilities for this band. Processing was one way I thought to overcome some of the hurdle I face. I run through a number of things that I keep on the floor and haven't yet leaped into the futuristic world of laptop or desk top computer signal processing.

I will try anything that might help within a reasonable budget. I would like to provide some argument that I can handle the role sonically without too many fancy doo-dads, though. Doo-dads do fail sometimes :lol: .

Mike

@Leevatip--definitely wanted your input on this. Thanks.


Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:50 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Use a MIDI pickup on your stick and Trilian Bass module.
I bought this software and it's very good at what it does.


Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:09 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
So many factors at work here. The biggest one is the ratio of fundamental to 1st octave overtone.
On a bass, because the sting is plucked over the octave node, this ratio is about 1:1. On a tapped string it's about 3:1 in favor of the fundamental.

This is what I do when I want the Stick to sound more like a bass:

cut the highs
cut a little below 80 Hz and then boost the bass shelf overall
compress it

play higher on the board on the lower strings. Often I'll play up to fret 12 playing in the bass role.

If a "bass sound" is truly called for and you don't need to play the melody side, pluck the strings. Even though the action is low, this can be done with a little practice. Listen to the beginning of "Water on the Moon" to hear what his can sound like.

https://greghoward.bandcamp.com/album/water-on-the-moon

I really like Alex Nahas's bass tone. He plays through an Ampeg flip-top tube amp if I remember correctly.

Which brings us to the amp... What are you playing through?

The PASV-4 in the dual in-phase position with the filter maximally engaged is a great sound for this. Better than the ACTV-2 IMO...

Technique is also a big factor here. More energy in = a bigger, fatter sound. Get you hands really moving and make sure you are playing right behind the fret in the sweet spot...

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:26 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
Thanks for all the helpful replies so far fellas. As far as the amp goes, Greg, in our rehearsal space we all play through some flat eq studio monitors with some kind of subwoofer after going through a Presonus Studio one sound board. The previous bass player additionally went through an Avalon pre amp of some kind(I think a UV5, I can find out for sure) before the soundboard/mixer--this will be the atmosphere for the experiment. He played a variety of basses, so a single singnature sound is not needed, I think. Later, I plan to look into amplifiers for the bass side that would work good for this role--after I see if it would even be needed. As of right now I only have a 65 watt Sound Wave amp(Ibanez?) that is mainly a practice amp for home. It has a 12 inch speaker and a tweeter too, so I think the Stick sounds pretty good through it--when sounding like a Stick is what is desired.

I will try some of the eq suggestions and position playing this afternoon. I think a "slap bass" sound will also be required on at least 3 or 4 songs, so the Kevin Keith videos and some of SA's techniques will be a great help. The "kerchunk" will be helpful and I think Greg's repeated note playing and 2 finger bass side technique we learned in VA stick camp will all go a long way in satisfying most of the band. Not to mention playing the string by plucking the bottom of the string softly that I can hear at the beginning of "Water on the Moon" , if I am not mistaken.(one of my all time favorite improvisational albums) There's just the one OCD guy(I joke, he is a great friend--just way fussier about what he wants his band to sound like than I am) that will be hardest to convince.

Thanks again for the suggestions and keep 'em coming!

Does anyone think heavier strings or raising the action of the bass side in some way--like unscrewing the bridge screws slightly--would help at all?

Mike


Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:34 am
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Post Re: Possible to make the Stick sound more like a bass guitar
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.

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Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:43 am
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