bluegrass bass

I Now Own an Upright Bass!

Well, last weekend, I bought myself an upright bass. I have wanted one deep down for over 20 years, but always figured that I did not have the room in either house for one, and I could not find even a used one that I could afford. Add to that for the past 20 years, I have been driving around in subcompact cars, so I wouldn’t know how to transport it anyway.

That is why I always stuck to the electric and acoustic basses. It has limited me to who I could jam with as a bassist, so I usually went to jams with a guitar instead (along with a dozen other jammers). Knowing the cost of an upright bass, I have always promoted the use of an electric bass in bluegrass music. Go to my YouTube channel for a few lessons on playing bluegrass with an electric bass.

Then last week, everything seemed to fall into place. On the local Craigslist, there has been a seller of a 1/2-size upright bass for the past year or so, but every time I was tempted to contact him, the ad was pulled, so I figured that he sold it. This time, it was up, and for a fair price that I could afford! With my car in the shop for bumper/fender repair, I was using my brother’s pickup truck while he was on vacation. I contacted the seller, and last Sunday, I became the owner of a doghouse bass!

Now, most uprights in the bluegrass, folk, and rockabilly are of the 3/4-size variety. The 1/2-size upright is about 6 inches shorter overall, as well as about 4 inches narrower and 2 inches thinner. I haven’t tried yet, but after measuring the bass, it should be able to fit in my Chevy Spark with the passenger seat pulled back and folded down.

The doghouse bass does take some getting used to as far as switching over from electric bass. I’ll be putting tape on the side of the neck for fret reference, and building up the callouses on my fingers. But I have fallen in love with it, and will pretty much be only playing that instrument for the next few weeks, then switching around after that. I’ve already been scouring YouTube for upright bass lessons. I hope that by the end of summer I’ll be able to have enough practice to take it to jam sessions.

Wish me luck! Chew on it and comment.


By Matt Merta/Mitch Matthews

Musician and writer (both song and print) for over 30 years. Primarily interested in roots music (Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk). Current contributing writer for Fiddler Magazine, previous work with Metro Times (Detroit), Ann Arbor Paper and Real Detroit Weekly, as well as other various music and military publications. As songwriter, won the 2015 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (Bluegrass Category, "Something About A Train," co-written with Dawn Kenney and David Morris) as well as having work performed on NPR and nominated for numerous Detroit Music Awards.

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