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A Rattle in the Bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by oklarain, Mar 15, 2002.


  1. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    During the past four weeks I have quadroupled my amount of pracrice time (quit the day job, now I have more time). Anyway, Since doing this I have noticed my Bass has opened up considerably, the low notes much deeper, and the high ones sing more. Along with the bass opening up, I have noticed a few interesting noises omiting from my bass. I asumed that it was just the wood opening up, like a house with it's mysterious noises.

    Last week I started to notice an almost metallic little ping everytime I shifted up or down from thumb position. This week the ping is gone, and has been replaced by a rattle. I can not locate the exact location of the rattle but it apears to come from the lower body, near the tail piece. As the bass and I warm up together the rattle starts to appear. After an hour or so the rattle is too distracting to continue.

    I had this happen once before on a plywood bass, and it turned out to be the bass bar was loose. Instead of having it fixed I went ahead and bought a carved bass. (1968 - Pollman)

    Does anyone have any thoughts are ideas as to what this is and what I should do with it?

    Thanks,
    Raymond
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Noises travel, so it's a bit of a bitch to track them down. Could this noise be the 'other' side of the string resonating? You mention that the noise happens when going in and out of TP. Is the noise more obvious at the octave (double-dot)? Are your strings pretty low?
     
  3. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Initially the noise occured when traveling in and out of TP. But, now it's all of the time, even on open strings.

    The open G is the worst, followed by a whole step in either direction. If I play the closed G on the D string I get the same effect as if I were playing it open. Those also happen to be the notes that are the most powerful on my bass. The rattle doesn't occur with the open D or surrounding tones, but it does on the Open A and E. When in TP the same notes (8va) produce the same result.

    The initial noise sounded metallic, now I am not sure. I just came up frm practicing again and the noise is now worse.

    As for my action, it is kinda low, but not too bad. The strings are .5 inch at the end of the fingerboard. Should they be higher?
     
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The Pollman is the bass with the prob? I was checking earlier to see if it was string noise or a bad string.

    Start grabbing parts of the bass while playing and see if you can get the noise to stop, including the edges of the bass. You might have a seam coming loose or a crack reopening or a new crack. If all of the mechanical parts (tailpiece, tailpiece wire/cable, tuners, etc.) are tight and the seems are all tight, then it could be something internal like a loose bass bar or bracing in the back (if it's a flat-back). If you have a pickup on the bass, make sure that the wiring isn't your enemy. I've also had resonant noises in the room that I was certain were coming from the bass -- like a couple of dishes almost touching in the dish rack, or things sitting on the stove, etc.
     
  5. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Yes, it's the Pollman that has the rattle problem. I tried relocating the bass to every room in my house, and finally outside to make sure it wasn't the room causing the problem. It wasn't.

    I tried your suggestions of grabbing parts of the bass. The seams didn't have any effect on the rattle, nor did most of the hardware.

    When I grabbed the tail piece it diminished the rattle, but did not stop it. Finally, I laid my finger tips on the front of the bass on the right side (bass side) directly under the foot of the bridge and the rattle stoped completely.:confused:

    Does this mean that the bass bar is loose? What would you suggest I do? Can I fix it myself or should I find a luthier?

    Thanks for your help and input.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Sounds suspicious to me. Do you have a Realist on the bass? I've heard of these possibly shaking bass bars loose.
     
  7. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I know. Talk about suspicious, three weeks ago I sent my bow to get rehaired and the frog split during shipping.:mad: (It was a POS, now I have a nice one instead)

    I do not have a realist. I have a K&K Golden Trinity upgrade system :) , with Fishman Pickups :(

    Any other ideas?
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    To my uneducated ear it sounds like a bass bar. But I'm not an expert. I'd get it to the hospital, and string it down if the front is sinking.
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I had an old Volkswagon Rabbit years ago, and every week or so I'd be driving along and notice a new rattle coming from someplace or other. I'd always keep driving until I couldn't stand it, and then eventually pull over to the side of the road and assault the offending area with a wad of duct tape until the rattle stopped. By the end, the car was compsed more of duct tape than anything else.

    Why am I telling you this? Because later, when I got my American Standard plywood, it was kinda like that old Rabbit. The difference was, I noticed that where I touched the bass to stop the rattle and the place the rattle was actually coming from were often entirely different places. One time I had a loose seam on the upper LH bout, and touching the top of the bass right down by the bridge as you describe stopped it cold, even though the seam was a couple of feet away. When I asked my luthier about this, he told me that the top of a bass is like the surface of a body of water: when you throw a stone in, the waves start from the center and grow bigger, and the bigger ones often cause more turbulence. Your bridge feet and soundpost are the places where the stones hit the water.

    What I ended up doing was asking a bass playing friend to pluck the problem notes while I placed my ear as close to the bass as I could manage while on my search for the source of the rattle. This seemed to work pretty well. On my old Standard, I was able to fix a bunch of these myself, but this is an extremely UGLY bass, and I didn't mind using methods I wouldn't consider on a nicer instrument. How close/accessible is your luthier?

    Good luck.
     
  10. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I am relatively new to this part of the country. (I went to school in NYC, but I didn't have any bass issues while I was there) I don't have a luthier. My luthier is in Norman, Oklahoma, a few thousand miles from the Philadelphia Suburbs.

    I am searching (all Hail) Bob Gollihur's luthier website, but finding a luthier online is a bit unsettling for me.

    This is a nice bass and duct tape is most certainly out of the question. (I tend to use coat hangers to fix my car's rattles;) )
     
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I drive all the way to South/Central PA and go to Mike Shank. You should be a lot closer than NYC and it's about 3 hours from here. I love his work and drive from here even for simple things....

    www.ShankStrings.com
     
  12. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks, Ray. This is the kind of information that makes you so valuable. I was actually just looking at his website to see what it looked like.

    He is only an hour and a half away from me. Thank you for the information, useful as always.:D
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You'll invariably get the answering machine when you call, but they'll (Mike or more likley his wife Linda) will get back to you pretty quickly. Say 'hey' to my old Juzek while you're there.
     
  14. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I spoke with Linda today and scheduled an appointment for next Friday. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again for the info.
     
  15. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I've borrowed my wife's stethoscope (she's a nurse manager) to zero in on buzzes and rattles on my bass. Works well.
     
  16. oklarain

    oklarain

    Feb 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Well, I went to see Mike Shank today. The rattle was a seam coming loose on the bottom of the bass (backside). Yeah, the trained professional took about 30 seconds to find it.:rolleyes:

    He is also going to replace my tailpiece wire and fix my neck. He pointed out that it has a bit of a roll. I am not quite sure how I missed it. So I should get it back next Wednessday. Thank you all again for the great information.

    Ray,
    I said hi to your old Juzek while I was there. She is very beautiful and sends her best wishes.;)
     
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm glad that it worked out. The Shanks'll set you straight.