Having trouble finding a bass that feels and sounds right.
I'm just getting back into playing in a band situation after a ten year break (with the last two years not even owning a bass).
I recently got back into playing bass when I traded for a 1964 EB-0. I like that the EB-0 is light and plays fast. The fret spacing and string spacing feels good and I am able to keep my wrist straight - at worst, if I'm stretching one and a half steps (index to pinky across three frets) on the E string, I have to bend my wrist at 45% and I don't have to adjust my hand placement (the thumb behind the neck doesn't have to move).
The problem with the EB-0 is that I'm not happy with the tone no matter how it is EQ-ed (kind of muddy and indistinct) and it disappears in the mix (competing against two loud guitars). Beyond that, it feels like a toy to me.
I just got a 2012 62 AVRI P-bass and I love the tone. I don't mind the extra weight. The problem is that when I'm stretching my fingers on the E string, my fretting wrist will approach a 90% bend. I've experimented with the length of the strap and I can improve the angle if I wear the bass high, but then my plucking hand gets uncomfortable. Also, when I walk each of my fingers up the fret board, I do have to move my hand up a tiny bit to hit the fourth fret with my pinky - not a big deal, but not the made-to-fit-my-hand feel of the EB-0.
I took out the ruler and the width of the nut is very close on both basses. The EB-0 is a little less wide across the fretboard at the fifth fret. The neck radius (not sure how to measure that) is decidedly narrower on the EB-0.
I am thinking of going to a guitar shop tonight to try out some basses. I looked online and my options there are a Musicman Stingray (which was my last bass, actually), Jazz (deluxe, standard, AVRI) and modern P basses. Last time I was there, they had a Rickenbacker, but not sure if that sold.
I haven't had a Jazz in a long long time - is this what I should be looking at for an easier reach across the fretboard for the E-string? Tone is important, but it just has to be better than the single mudbucker of the EB-0. Wrist health and the basic feel of the bass is paramount here. I do prefer the simplicity of a single passive pickup with two knobs but not a dealbreaker.
I know it ultimately comes down to what feels right when I get to the store, but it would help if I could narrow my focus before I get dazzled by all the shiny basses there.
Thanks in advance,
Isn't that old EB-0 short scale? That will put your wrist and hand at a different angle to your arm, less severe and possibly working better for your reach.
For distance between frets, you're looking at scale length, which is 34" on most basses, but might be 32" on your EB. A fender jazz will be 34" scale, but will have a narrower nut (and neck) than your p, which might make the reach up to the e-string easier for you.
Yes, the EB-0 is a short scale. Very comfortable bass. Just feels dinky and the sound is lacking definition and punch. It feels more like a guitar than a bass. But yes, the main thing is it just doesn't sound great. When I got the P-bass after playing the EB-0, it was like taking out earplugs. SO much more clarity.
Is there a better short scale that I should be considering? Something more mid-range and growly?
Extend the upper strap horn. There are a variety of ways to do it but for a cheap quick fix u can go to the hardware store and buy a bunch of thick washers and a long screw the same diameter but longer in length so to run it thru the strap holder and desired # of washers and have plenty of thread left to secure it in the body horn. This will bring the end of the neck closer to your body and feel more like the shorter scale bass. Dont laugh, I did this to my warwicks whose necks stuck out farther than my fenders because of the proximity of the horn to the neck. Once you find a length that suits you u csn have something nice made up at a machine shoo which gets it done in a better looking way than washers...
For high quality shortscale, consider Birdsong.
I dont see why some company doesn't make different length horn extenders...I think they would sell good...have em machined and anodized or painted and have different geometry where they fit up against all different kinds of basses upper horns seamlessly. ..pretty easy pieces to draw and have made...say junior wants to play dads bass...screw on a 3" upper horn extender and start jamming....the wife wants to jam...change out to the 1.5" extender. All the sound of a full scale with the comfort of a short scale...
Doesn't sound like you necessarily need a new bass, but are just out of practice. Takes some time to get your hands used to the reach needed. Just my opinion.
Mustang might be another viable option, short scale, but still somewhat in the p tone ballpark. Also had the one-pickup simplicity you mentioned. Just a thought...
Another potential fix is to install a DiMarzio One pickup on your EB. Those don't sound at all like a Gibson mudbucker. It would be a shame to alter a 1964 EB-0 if it is in good shape, though. There are plenty of people who like that sound and use it to good effect. It has its place, but if that place isn't in the music you play, it is not too flexible.
Seems like what you want is a short scale with different pickup placement. The humbucker up by the neck is probably why you can't get the clearer sound you are looking for. Have you tried something like a Fender Mustang? I've heard that the Birdsong short scale basses are great, though I've never played one myself.
Also, as suggested, a 34" scale bass that is set up ergonomically so that the end of the neck is closer to you might solve your comfort problem.
Edit: As I was typing, people already offered similar advice. :)
If u r decent with a soldering gun no one will know...just heat up the original solder joint at the pot and pull the pickup wires out. Drop the new pickup in and reheat original solder and stick the new pickup wire in and there you have it. I have done it alot and if you want to sell it later just drop the old pickups back in the same way. No one can ever tell....if it is done right and the dimarzios are made to drop in the factory routing with no mods...
Thanks, you guys have given me a lot to think about.
I'll let you know how it plays out.
Cool...just measure your ebo from the upper horn strap pin to the nut on your neck(doesnt really matter how you measure it as long as you use that exact method for measuring your P). Your P will be longer than the ebo so take the difference....that is how long you need to extend the Ps upper horn and now your wrist will be at the same comfortable angle as the ebo. Im telling you its the way to go. All my basses that aren't fender have extenders on them so the ergonomics of all my basses is the same so when I switch there isnt a "breaking in" period and this makes your muscle memory a constant because believe it or not even slight changesin the angles of your wrists and hands can have a nega impact on your playing. This is why many players practice with their strap at stage length becsuse there is nothing worse than the novice mistake of learning a new song seated with the bass in your lap and then you go to practice and can't even play the tough licks right because you learned it at a different geometry. Have fun!!
I've arrived at an expected conclusion to my problem.
I tried out a Jazz bass - the neck felt way too narrow at the first position, nothing to hold on to...
I just shelved the idea that my bass was the problem.
And out of nowhere I began coming across 1-2-4 instead of one-finger-per-fret (OFPF). Carol Kaye is the source that I kept coming across. I've made this adjustment and it has corrected the wrist issue I was complaining about in my original post. I wish I had known about it years ago. I was taught OFPF when I first learned the bass. Very excited to come across this bit of technique.
It seems every time I have an issue with technique, Carol Kaye seems to have the solution.
I just went ahead and bought her bass DVD.
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