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Craig Tucker

Stand up electric string bass

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I have a request from a woman I know, to make a stand up electric bass from a cello neck.

She's been after me for quite a while to start this project - I'm seriously considering it - but have some reservations. Lack of knowledge regarding basses being a serious consideration of mine.

She's very short, in stature, I think about 5'3', so I'm thinking that it can be done fairly easily as far as the mechanics of the instrument itself goes. This is for the dramatic effect in her band, when performing live - I think its a great and unique idea. A fretless stand up electric bass with a unique personality - I could easily make it a "stick", which would eliminate a lot of weight and allow it to transport easy.

If it is made about the size of a standard full size cello - with a string length somewhere around 27.36", and with an end pin that adjusts, it should work out fine.

My questions are these;

A How possible is this?

Are there already instruments like this out there I could look at?

How difficult is it going to be to find correct bass strings for this once it is made? (Standard cello strings will be too high in pitch for a bass, right? Do I look for long electric bass strings? Is there a standard string length for electric bass guitars? - etc.)

Is there a selection of reasonably priced pick ups for such a project as this, or will I have to make my own?

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electric bass string length is 34" so if you're going to use those strings use that mensure.

There are zillions of designs for electric uprights, google will show you!

You can make a "stick" but remember that one of the things about a bass and cello is that they are anchored against the body. if you don't provide that sort of facility, the instrument spins unnervingly around the endpin making it unpleasant to play.

this is an EUB made by Bill Paulin here in Oz. Pleasantly weighted and with piezo pickups in the bridge. My favourite.

double_basses_in_the_a.m..JPG

http://www.billpaulineubs.com

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electric bass string length is 34" so if you're going to use those strings use that mensure.

There are zillions of designs for electric uprights, google will show you!

You can make a "stick" but remember that one of the things about a bass and cello is that they are anchored against the body. if you don't provide that sort of facility, the instrument spins unnervingly around the endpin making it unpleasant to play.

this is an EUB made by Bill Paulin here in Oz. Pleasantly weighted and with piezo pickups in the bridge. My favourite.

(slapping motion to the forehead)

Of course! - it's elementary!

Yet, I never would have thought about this (the rotation problems) if you hadn't pointed it out... revelation no. 1.

I believe that I might be able to do 34" with the cello neck - then, you say, it will be the standard string length for an upright 3/4 bass? Are the strings too heavy - do you think - for a cello nut and fingerboard?

I like the stick design - thanks for posting this.

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There are electric upright basses. Try looking here:

http://www.gollihurmusic.com/links.cfm#linkCat5

Scroll down a bit, then try clicking on "Electric Upright Basses;" "Building, Project, & Unusual Basses;" or "Homebuilt Upright Basses."

Wow, what an unbelievable resource - it's going to take some time to sift through this, but it is already changing my ideas about what is possible

Thanks for the link.

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This is a 35' scale EUB that I made last winter. It's essentially a stick with an outer form based on an Italian 18th century 3 string that was once in the collection of NYC Metropoitan Museum.

This is absolutely gorgeous.

Great work!

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"This is for the dramatic effect in her band, when performing live - I think its a great and unique idea. A fretless stand up electric bass with a unique personality"

Dramatic effect? howabout- http://jeffu.tv/jeffuphonia/bass.html

even nicer, I think- http://greenfield.fortunecity.com/flytrap/518/bass.html

not quite what you're looking for, but some food for thought anyway

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Craig most players use a 3/4 double bass and use a string length of 41.5" . That's about as standard as it gets. Some basses have 44" string length but this is on the upper limit of playability. a 4/4 bass is just a term for "a very large bass" really. Primary students typically start on a "1/2" size bass with a string length of 38"-40". I'd be surprised if your client couldn't use one of these successfully.

Think about where your heel stop is going to be. this is the point where the index stops the thinnest string when the thumb is in the crook of the heel.

Double basses have a D or Eb stop - dunno about cellos. It is a useful standard reference point.

Big diff between acoustic basses and electric is sustain, acoustic box absorbs string vibrations so the sustain is typically short. That's part of the DB sound. Without a moving soundboard there's nothing damping the vibrations and the thing sustains forever like an electric bass. Very different sound. I think if you build in a small soundboard/cavity the sound will be more DB - like but that's just a hunch. the Paulin bass I posted above has a hollow body with cedar top and piezo pickups under the bridge feet.

Oh and if you're going to use bass strings at proper tension, I suspect those peg tuners won't do.

With basses, there are no rules. Have fun.

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Another point to consider is the weight and balance of an instrument that is meant to be played standing - a cello with a long end pin can be played stand up, but without a tripod or some other supporting device I have found that they're too light - they move around too much. An acoustic bass has enough heft to it that it can lean against the player's chest, which of course allows the player to pluck or bow without having to worry about holding the instrument in place.

I also would recommend using cello tuning machines instead of pegs as they are easier to reach for someone standing.

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