One "dull" string. Cure?
Bought my bass in October. No clue how old the strings were. If original to the instrument then about 5 years. I noticed that the A string is a bit stiff to respond under the bow, like it's pinched or something.
A restring last weekend improved the instrument overall (Helicore light tension orchestral); however, the A string is still not as willing to sing as the E.
From eyeballing it, it doesn't seem like the bridge grooves are pinching the string. It's riding above the bridge profile by at least a third of the string's diameter, I'd say.
You could cheat it by putting a drop of superglue in the bridge and seeing what happens. The best thing you could do is bring it to a bass luthier for a consultation. Where you at?
Since my DB (and Cello) re-stringing experience is somewhat limited, I haven't run into that problem.
However, on the BG (and guitar) side I used to run into that kind of problems every once and a while when starting out all those years ago. A seasoned music shop owner told me about a neat little detail that's very often overlooked when restringing, a detail which greatly affects the behaviour of a string. On wound strings especially, and on a lesser degree on plain ones.
Depending of the manufacturer, even the slightest twist on the wound string may kill it almost useless. Or at least useless with the other strings.
He also pointed out that unless care is taken to ensure that the bridge end of the string is free to rotate while taking up the slack, the "right" way of restring by inserting the end of the string into the BG tuner hole along the post, is a sure way to ensure that the string twists.
My empirical studies about the matter over these decades have confirmed that to be the case.
The DB tuner geometry is obviously (usually ;)) different, but the cramped space can cause other kinds of difficulties.
The sharp(ish) bend on most of the DB tailpieces I've came across don't make the job any easier, quite the contrary.
So unless a rare, but entirely possible DOA string is the reason, my somewhat uneducated guess would be a twisted string.
Do other notes on the A-string sound and respond OK? Or is it just the open A. Does the A on the E-string also not respond well?
Basses often have a "wolf" note around A or Ab. This can be caused by the volume of air in the body, the incorrect setting of the soundpost, the incorrect length of the string on the other side of the bridge (it is supposed to be 1/6 the string length so the bridge sits in a harmonic node and the short length sounds an octave and a fifth above the open string) or the front and back have not been carved right so they don't resonate properly. Or some combination of the above.
Try closing the A on the G-string and playing the open A. If the open A suddenly sounds good, the bad response is caused by the wolf tone.
You can solve this by closing the A on the G-string whenever you play an open-A for more than a quarter note, or take it to a luthier to get a better set up as mentioned above.
Some folks install a weight on the short end of the A-string as a solution as well. I find this deadens the whole string for the sake of one note though.
I installed a wire tailpiece and that got rid of my wolf tone. Mine was so bad there was a phasing on all Bb's.
Try adjusting the soundpost position first.
change the A string?
Just to clarify, the strings are brand new, and the old A exhibited the same lack of sonority and resistance to the bow.
I've heard about wolf tones before, of course, but would that resonance translate into a different feel under the bow as well? The E is very responsive, but the open A shows more resistance under the bow, and the stopped notes don't resonate as well. It just feels like a "dead zone" on the instrument.
Are these characteristics symptomatic of a wolf tone as well?
I always thought that a wolf tone was a note that resonated too strongly. Is this not the case?
A wolf tone could not only be a resonance, but also an anti-resonance (some call this a sheep tone...). So this might be a "sheep" tone. A wolf eliminator might help here too.
I just changed strings and the problem goes away - not completely. Using Spiro Solos now. At the time, I was advised to use a wolf eliminator as well. The A could be better so I'll prob get one.
What Kung and James said. I'd add, check the position of the bridge on the top, and worse case, the integrity if the bass bar.
Once that was corrected, the whole instrument opened up to a whole new beast.
Hello all, new to this side of the forum! I just got my first DB! Been playing EB for 26yrs now. Anywho...I may have an issue with a dull string also. My E string does not sound as bright or as loud as any of the other strings. I have tried every plucking style & my bow and it just sounds muddy. It doesn't matter if it's open e or playing notes. Still sounds off. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
This is a common way for a lot of double bass string manufacturers to show the position of the string. Only a few manufacturers have the same colour for all strings in the pegbox. But double bass strings usually share the same colour at the tailpiece.
I adjusted the bridge height on the right side. Got the e up a little bit and re-tuned. did this several times until I got a consistent volume from all the strings. Still plan to replace them tho. But, after shunking down all the dough for the bass it may be a while unless I go the D'Addario route.
Thanks for the responses!!
The plot thickens
I received a heavy rubber practice mute in the mail last week and have been playing with it installed ever since, to spare the sanity of my family members.
After practicing a few days, I started to notice how responsive the strings were starting to feel under the bow and how the tone of the bass had become mellow and sweet.
Tonight, I removed the mute for a practice session. The first thing that struck me was how bright and harsh the sound became and how the buttery feel under the bow went away.
Any ideas why the bass sounds and feels better with the mute? Anyone else ever experienced anything similar?
I also practice during the week with the heavy rubber practice mute and on weekends and in orchestra rehearsals without.
It seems to me that the mute reduces the number of overtones - you seem to get a more simple sound. Also it is harder to judge your tone quality with the mute on - it seems to mask string noise.
On my bass in addition to sounding softer, the sound is simpler, seems more focussed and a bit more nasal. All and all I have grown to like the sound for some music.
It definately seems to change my basses response to bowing, but I don't think I would say it was more buttery feeling.
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