Getting good, reliable bass sounds out of the instruments and through speakers systems both large and small is a constant process of many trials, mostly errors, and a lot of patience on the part of my mailman and wife. That said, this process is made far easier thanks to some help from some really lovely, smart men and women at some quality companies.
I endorse Aguilar Amplification, Hipshot Products, D'addario Strings, Fishman Acoustic Amplification, Ear Trumpet Labs microphones, Grace Audio Design products, and Jerry Harvey Audio in ear monitor systems.
I don't get gear for free; it costs a lot of money to design and produce quality products. Yes, I get a discount from these companies I've listed and I'm really grateful, but I would use their products regardless. These folks answer my emails and phone calls, they listen to their endorsers when they have suggestions, and they make sure that I have no excuses when it comes to sounding my best, on stage and in the studio.
-2001 Emmanuel Wilfer Hybrid Bass.
I had this bass basically rebuilt by Mike Shank of Shank Strings in Elizabethton, PA. Mike is the shit. He says he's come across a few of these "weird Wilfers." They're strange because they have carved tops and sides, with a laminated maple back (for the uninitiated, most "hybrid" instruments employ laminated backs and sides for structural reasons and cost, and only the top is made from solid wood). This Wilfer bass has a unique sound, to my ear anyway. It amplifies really really well, it goes down easy in the studio, it's very "even." I think it has exactly the right amount of sustain for a double bass...it gets out of the way right when you want it to, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I like it.
-Chadwick Folding Bass, Hybrid Model.
It helps me fly to gigs on a budget and have an instrument that knows me a little better. Charlie Chadwick is a great guy, and a great bass player. It's been broken by the airlines twice.
--1994 Japanese Fender P Bass.
The bass Dad bought me at a pawn shop in Knoxville. One of those silly "fotoflame" models (complete with the "Hamburglar"). I had it routed for a J bridge pickup. I have noiseless EMG pickups in this bass, because I traded someone for them.
-1967 Fender Coronado Bass 1.
Finally got a hollowbody short-scale bass. Strung with flats of course.
- Reissue Squier Tele Bass.
Thud thumb boom. Found it / bought it.
If it were up to me, I'd always get to play through great studio mics (upright) and vintage amps (electric), but that ain't happenin'. Stage volumes, fly dates, guitar players...they're a reality. So here's what I'm using...for now:
-Aguilar TH 500 head/2x Aguilar SL112 cabinets
Electric/upright...forget it, I haven't found anything that handles both as well. Everything Aguilar I've ever played does the job and then some. A better endorsement: my band mates won't shut up about how good the amps sound. The stage hands won't shut up about how easy they are to move around.
-Grace Audio Design FELiX
I blend various upright bass pickups/mics with this ridiculously good-sounding preamp. I held off on replacing my old DTAR blending preamp for a long time...but the Grace FELiX is nuts. It's too good.
-Fishman Amplification Platinum Pro EQ
I am really digging this lately, especially on fly gigs w/ my Chadwick/Full Circle rig. Stupidly simple to use, and extremely effective when time is short or gear space is tight. The P Bass sounds nice thru it's little opto compressor too.
-AudioSprockets Tone Dexter
This little mic emulator has really paired well with the Full Circle pickup. It's especially helpful with anything arco-related that must be amplified via pickup.
-Upright bass pickups.
I have used nearly all of them. The Fishman Full Circle seems to be the most feedback proof, and it sounds great plugged straight into an amp.
-Ear Trumpet Labs Nadine double bass mic.
Yes, other instruments bleed in. No, I can't use it on every gig. Yes, it sounds amazing in lower volume settings. Philip Graham at ETL is an awesome guy. Sure, the mics look cool...but they sound cooler.
D'addario Kaplans (solos tuned to standard) and Spirocore Low E's on the uprights. D'addario flats on the electric. (sometimes brighter strings depending on the gig, Helicore Hybrids lately).
-Hipshot tuners on the P bass.
They're great. No fuss, and the drop D tuning key is invaluable to me.
-Hipshot Freerange Extender on both double basses.
Like the hipshot for the electric bass, but for upright(s). Life=easier.