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Unwanted overtones

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Spiffmeister, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    I'm really not sure this is the right place to ask, but it's as good as any...

    I play a Gibson Thunderbird through a Markbass Littlemark 250 Blackline, and a GK 112 or an Ampeg 410. I've been taking lessons for the first time in 4 years, and my teacher pointed out to me that my bass has a lot of nasty fluctuating overtones, specifically on the C (3rd fret, A string) and G (3rd fret, E string). It happens mostly when playing over the neck pickup, much less so on the bridge pickup.

    My teacher thoguht it was perhaps my effects that put my signal in anti-phase, but I thought I'd test all the elements in the equasion.

    I switched strings (d'Addario flats to EBS rounds), cabs, amp, 3 different cables (although I'm npt sure of their quality, I know they're not top-notch, but decent, though),... I don't want to EQ this out, because it seems to be a structural issue...

    Could this be my bass, the pick-ups perhaps? Or are overtones that normal, and is it my playing (the teacher has it too, so I doubt it)? Maybe I'm overly focues on this, now that I hear it?

    Any advice?
  2. G00D+~VIBES


    Nov 21, 2008
    Kansas City
    Maybe try a fat finger.
  3. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Lower your pick ups and see if that helps.
  4. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    I did, it helps a little, but only because the overall tone is less powerful, the overtones are not less present...

    Playing with a fat finger doesn't take away the issue... your replies give the impression that this is not an abnormality? Perhaps I should check with the Thunderbird club...
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  6. G00D+~VIBES


    Nov 21, 2008
    Kansas City
    Have you changed strings?
  7. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    Yup, switched from d'Addario flats to EBS rounds, both already used. It did get better with the rounds though, especially since I play with a softer touch with those. But it's still there
  8. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    Yesterday I lowered the pickups to the lowest point, and played with my thumb, same thing... Only with the EBS strings its very bad on the E string, pretty much on all positions.

    I think I'll try a really good cable, see if that helps any...
  9. rogerb


    Aug 31, 2010
    Can't you just eliminate the effects one by one to see if that is the problem? Just plug straight into the amp or the teachers amp first to see if that sounds OK?

    Another option is the string twisted? Loosen it off and see if the ball at the bridge moves, know what I mean?
  10. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    I thought it was the effects first, and tried direct, which didn't help much.

    However, I found a 2012 post with some good advice: raising the E string action and using 2 fingers to press down the string instead of 1 to reduce the ringing of harmonics. A last resort is using a foam mute at the bridge, which mutes more at the problematic strings than at the other ones. It's symptomatic treatment, but it could be a fix if I have no more solutions.

    First, though, I'll try the technique and action ideas and keep you dudes posted!
  11. It might be worth trying to put a scrunchie/elastic hairband on the headstock to deaden the strings after they pass over the nut. When I switched to lighter gauge strings years ago I had noticed a lot of sympathetic overtones when I played loud.

    For the longest time I couldn't figure out where the extra tones were coming from...then it hit me that it was from the strings slightly vibrating from behind the nut.

    Best of luck!
  12. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    Hm, interesting, I'll try that for sure! Thanks!
  13. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Upright bass players deal with this all the time. The idea of a hair scrunchy at the headstock is a good one. Depending on the bridge setup, some damping there may help too.
  14. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I'm going to try that myself my Line 6 Variax has the same problem it has lighter gauge strings also.

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