help! my bass is barking!

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by hejbol, Apr 4, 2014.


  1. hejbol

    hejbol Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    williamsburg, va
    So I just got a new old bass from Kolstein's and they put a new fingerboard and bridge on the instrument. I'm getting a very strange bark on Bb on both the D and G string. Isn't as noticeable when I sit, probably b/c my knee is dampening the instrument, but when I stand, I can hear it pretty good. I also hear it sometimes when I pizz.

    Not sure how old these bel cantos are (they came with the instrument). I can't id any open seams. It seems like it might be coming from the tailpiece area, but I can't be sure. I'm far away from Kolstein's now, so i can't bring it in.

    Any ideas on how to id/mitigate/kill the bark would be most appreciated!!

    https://soundcloud.com/hejbol/barkbass
  2. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Genz-Benz Amplifiers
    That rattle that you are getting on A sounds like an issue with your fingerboard. The "bark" might be a wolf, but it's tough to tell without hearing a sustained note.
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Madison WI
    Disclosures:
    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    Does the problem remain when you remove the endpin?
  4. bassmanchu

    bassmanchu

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    Jan 2, 2009
    Media:
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    New Haven, CT
    Almost certainly sounds like a bump in the fingerboard by the sound of the after-ring on the A. Not sure about the Bb. Might be a combination of a wolf and a seam issue or something loose, but I'm no luthier.
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  6. hejbol

    hejbol Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    williamsburg, va
    Thanks for all the feedback.

    I made a recording this morning with longer tones and with and w/o the endpin. I noticed that the bark was definitely less w/ no endpin.
    https://soundcloud.com/hejbol/barkbass2

    Then I started playing pizz on the open A and heard what definitely sounds like a fingerboard issue that may be creating the bark on the Bb. Again, taking out the endpin mitigated the issue somewhat.
    https://soundcloud.com/hejbol/barkbasspizz

    So I guess I need to address the fingerboard issue first b4 I worry about the bark on the Bb? Since it's a new fingerboard, I'd like to go back to the shop that did it, but that's way too far. There are some okay luthiers around here, but do you all think this is a bass specialist task and I need to go to DC (about 3 hours away) and see the real deal?

    Also, what's the deal with the endpin? Is that something I can swap endpins and get a better sound? I've never gone down that route, but if it made a big difference, I'd definitely be willing to try it.

    Thanks again!
  7. Michael Case

    Michael Case

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    I'd say it's all a wolf tone issue. I have the same open A problem and my end pin is cut short enough that when the pin is at playing height MAYBE 1" of excess pin is inside the bass. The rattle will also happen when playing the A on my E string. The open A rattle will stop when I hold the down the octave on the G or D string and the SAME "after rattle" will happen on the octave note. The rattle on the open A will lessen with a wolf eliminator or if I position the input jack for my bass max pick up in the right spot on the string after lengths.

    I don't think it's a fingerboard issue because I went to a luthier who said the nut was too low and that caused the open string sound, they also said the board should be plained where the A on the E string is. I had the work done and guess what, no difference. IME it is a wolf problem since I have lived with a wolf the ranges from G# to Bb on this bass.
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Madison WI
    Disclosures:
    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    The portion of the endpin extending into the bass can vibrate. That happened on my old bass. I simply cut off a couple inches with a hacksaw (I'm not 7 feet tall), and the vibration went away. Removing the endpin altogether will tell you if it's a problem.
  9. Michael Case

    Michael Case

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    The thing is my end pin IS cut so that I have about 1 inch of pin inside the bass when the pin is at playing height. And there seems to be other factors that will eliminate the problem (wolf tone eliminators, the placement of my pick up jack). Has the OP also tried anything like that to solve the problem? It could save time and money, it's a real drag getting work done that will change the feel of the bass that is pointless in solving the problem.
  10. hejbol

    hejbol Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    williamsburg, va
    Greetings all, I have made some great progress thanks to your advice.

    fdeck and Michael, you were right that it was primarily a wolf issue, and cutting the extra end pin length helped dramatically. Michael - fdeck's advice was for me who had no clue how to mod the endpin. The really bad Bb is gone, and the repeating A note, almost non existent, especially when I play precisely in tune (you'd think I could play A on the G string perfectly after all these years! but with a very resonant instrument, even the slightest difference can bring out unwanted sounds).

    I finally found my Super-Sensitive Wolf-Be-Gone, but that just deadened my sound no matter where I put it. Are there better devices that don't kill the tone so much? There are minor hints that I haven't killed the wolf outright, but for now I can hardly notice it.

    Thanks for all your help!
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

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    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Madison WI
    Disclosures:
    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    In my case I didn't cut off the extra length altogether, but just knocked it down by a couple inches. I think doing that just raised its resonant frequency enough so it was no longer interfering with other resonances in the instrument.
  12. Michael Case

    Michael Case

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    IME wolfs will seem to disappear after a slight change in set up, but will always come back. If anyone does have some advice I'd love to hear it too.
  13. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    I had a similar issue recently with a newish Shen. The tailgut was vibrating inside the channels that had been drilled through the tailpiece. A toothpick fixed it.
  14. Michael Case

    Michael Case

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Did you floss as well? :bag:

    Do you mean you used the tooth pick to tighten the space between the cable and the holes in the tailpiece?
  15. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002

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