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Re: 15" vs. 12" for double bass

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Posted by bj on December 07, 2001 at 03:26:01:

>>>: Very interesting what you guys have to say, and I seriously appreciate the input. But Ray Brown and Christian McBride both use 15"s and that is the kind of big deep sound that I'm looking for. As a point of reference, which player's sounds do you guys like? Do you think that you can get that same bottom with a 12"...<<

Those 2 guys could play a beat up Korean ply bass through an old Roland Cube and still sound great...

OK, that's pushing it.

I once had the Polytone Mini Brute 3 with the 15" speaker and couldn't stand it, but Ray could make his sound great (before he changed PU's about 8 years ago). I used the 12" Minibrute which was the guitar model. Paid $200 for it (used) at a SF shop in 1978 & used it all through the 80's. It was the only thing that worked for me back then. Now of course the GK, Contra etc. blow it away and I just keep it for guitarists to use in my studio.

I don't like Ray's amp sound as much now. Unless the sound man is hip enough to put a mic on his bass (in which case he sounds more like he used to in the 70's and 80's) it doesn't punch like it used to. He may be favoring his newer Polytone pickup because he can hear himself better (he's been playing with drummers almost every day for 60 years!), but I think he sounded great live with the older brass or aluminum Polytone PU's he used to use. They were old tech, but on some good instruments like his old beautiful bass that he never takes on the road anymore, they worked well... when they worked. A few years ago there was a guy in NY that was fixing them to actually be dependable, but now I find the Realist (or as always, a mic) to be superior.

You know, a lot of these discussions on amps, speakers and PU's are pretty subjective. The bass, the player, the style of music, the room etc. all can make one amp & pickup suck for one player and work well for someone else. I just hope that the target for all of us is to find the equipment that best reproduces of the REAL sound of our instruments, and not the horrible electric sound of something like the Fishman, that basically just amplifies the strings with an unnatural decay and no kick (left myself wide open there, didn't I?). Too bad there weren't shops in all of our cities that could set up our basses well and let us take out all the different combinations of amps, pickups and mics (& strings!) that are out there now.

PS I'm surprised to hear that Christian is lugging gear around again. He told me that he refused to & that he'd only go through the house system with a mic or nothing at all.

PPSS Ray once told me, "Once you have a sound you like, leave it alone..."

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