Newbie Needs Opinion from Vets on Set Up
I borrowed a Kay bass from a friend and have been playing for about 1 week. I've done quite a bit of research on these forums and I've decided to get a Shen SB-80 from my local Luthier. I need some advice on how to set it up. Because I'm a total beginner, I don't know what works best and I'm looking for advice on what's a good starting point.
I'll tell you a little about myself and playing style so you might get a better idea of my intentions for the instrument.
I play almost exclusively cajun and zydeco. The style would be somewhat similar to bluegrass with a moderate amount of slapping coupled with some walks (and runs :)). Some of the zydeco baselines can be a little more complicated but not nearly as many notes as say jazz. I professionally play accordion and fiddle so I've got a good idea of what notes I want to play on the bass (just gotta figure out where they are). Most cajun bass players use an electric bass guitar, but this thing is too cool to pass up.
I'm hoping that it turns out to be a little easier to play than this Kay. The darn thing is killing my fingers, but I guess that's to be expected for a beginner. I also expect to only play it acoustically. If i get really good in the next few years, maybe I'll play it on stage, but that's much later.
The luthier will set up everything to text book specs unless I say otherwise. Of course I may change my mind later as I learn more about the instrument, but I'm looking for a good starting point.
Questions for the vets...
How high (or low) should the strings be set? Is it true that lowering the strings makes it easier to play but you end up with a lower volume?
What strings should I use? What's the story on the all nylon strings? Are they really easy on the fingers? i hear they volume suffers. What is a high tension or low tension string?
Have it set up 4-7mm at end of the fingerboard, G-E, with Spirocore Weichs and very little scoop in the fingerboard. Have bridge adjusters installed so you can change string height when needed.
Very good suggestion that Eric made. It is true that, in general, the higher the strings are off the fingerboard the more sound you can produce. I have an old bass with gut strings 3/4" off the end of the fingerboard, and it's a cannon. The Shen I had didn't seem to respond any differently to different string heights, but it was a brand new bass.
I always jokingly suggest that new players with tender hands do some farm work to toughen their hands up, but there's a grain of truth there -- not only is hard work good for you physically, but nobody ever wrote a great song about pushing paper.
And please take at least a few lessons. The doublebass will hurt you if you don't approach it properly. I have carpel tunnel in my right wrist, and have broken my right hand twice. Playing through pain when the music is hot really sucks.
Heh... I can think of three great songs about pushing paper (Pink Floyd 'Money', Peter Gabriel 'Big Time' and Dire Straits 'Money for Nothing')... however, they're all about the hollowness of it.
As for setting up basses... while it is true that a higher setup will let you get a bigger sound without rattles if your hands are up to it, as a beginner your hands are NOT up to it. So don't worry about it, and go for Eric's suggestion, which is pretty much as low as you can go. Then go take some lessons so you don't damage your hands.
Making a bass softer to play is about correct low setup, strings, and the tailwire (the short bit of wire that connects the tailpiece to the endpin). The tailwire makes a LOT of difference, if yours isn't braided stainless cable get it changed to the flexy stuff. I don't like kevlar or nomex cord, it makes the tuning unstable.
Thanks for the input!
I was raised on a farm and wrote a song years ago about pushing a crawfish boat and running a tractor. It was popular amongst my pop and brothers, but never made it to the top 40.:bawl:
I will get some lessons next week. I understand all too well about issues with incorrect form. Fiddle players bend that left wrist all the time and cut off circulation to their fingers. It appears it's the easy way at first, but then you find out later it's a bad habit that needs to be broken.
My luthier showed me that she does use the braided stainless wire.
Somewhat off topic: I did also have corporal tunnel years back from building scaffolding and using a mouse. This essentially cured it...
Thanks again for all the help.
Thanks for that link.... as someone who`s day job (piano fixr) and night job(db) are both hand stressful, I started to have "repetitive stress" issues that threatened to end both careers. My "cure" was Alexander Tech lessons that taught me to use my body properly. After three lessons my symptoms (electric shock like feelings,numbness,extraordinary weakness) stopped and never returned. Having said that, the "normal' computer mouse has to be the worst designed thing that mankind has come up with... I`m going to try one of those....
When people mention string height in mm at the end of the fingerboard to newbies, it is best to be clear if that means as measured radially from out of the curved fingerboard, or as measured parallel to the ribs of the bass.
|All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:44 AM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.12
Copyright ©2000 - 2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.