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anyone used a mute to kill sustain?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by sonicnuance, May 3, 2008.


  1. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I'm thinking of trying a double bass mute on my EUB to help kill the sustain and get more of a double bass attack/decay.

    Any opinions on this?

    I have a BSX Allegro Acoustic and am thinking of using one of these:

    http://www.gollihurmusic.com/product/1394-EBONY_PERFORMANCE_MUTE.html

    I'll try the performance or the practice mute, price differential isn't a factor... tone is.

    My E and A strings tend to sustain a lot which actually sounds great for most things, but to try and emulate an upright it is a bit obnoxious.


    Thanks
     
  2. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    When I want more of an upright attack/decay on my BugBass, I'll just use the left hand to deaden the note after its played.
     
  3. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Could you explain the technique?
     
  4. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Basically, I just let up pressure on the string after the initial attack. Although it doesn't have the swell of the note start, it does give more of that thump that separates notes like an acoustic upright.
     
  5. I used a traditional ebony mute on a Bugbass to help kill the scratchiness of the arco sound. Worked OK. On my BSX Allegro, the bridge is too thick. I tried a rubber mute but it didn't help. Again, I was most interested in reducing the scratchiness for arco.
     
  6. daHammer

    daHammer

    Oct 25, 2005
    New York, NY
    I use a heavy rubber DB mute on my Eminence when practicing, not to kill sustain but to keep my wife from killing me (we live in a studio apartment.) I don't find that this particular mute has much impact on sustain but it does change the character of the tone rather dramatically. I don't care for it but it definitely increases the "thump."
     
  7. Using orchestral strings may be the answer, as they have dampening stuff inside.

    Which strings do you use?
     
    jthisdell likes this.
  8. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I am using Corelli 370s. Don't know if they are the "F" guage but I'm not sure.

    You're right though, the Spirocores *really* sustain.

    I'm pretty frustrated right now so I'll try anything. Do Helicore Orchestrals sound like the ticket?


    I should say the tone is good, its just not what I'm hearing in my head at the moment.

    Thanks,
    mozar
     
  9. I have three suggestions:
    TI Bel Cantos
    Pirastro Flexocors
    Jargars

    To me, the Bel Cantos are the best.
    Best balance, very warm tone and a bit more sustain than the others. (which doesn't mean they have much sustain)

    The Flexocors are also very nice, but the E string is often considered week or too flabby. Overall I think the set is less well balanced than the Bel Cantos.

    The Jargars have the darkest, thumpiest tone.
    So it depends how far you want to go in thump-land.

    Hope this helps!

    François
     
    jthisdell likes this.
  10. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Francois,
    Thanks for the recommendation. Flexocore and Bel Cantos are ~$200 and outta my budget unfortunately, especially since I'm not sure I'm gonna like them. I can find the Jargars cheaper (~$120) so I may not have much of a choice. Maybe I'll buy a single to try first.

    This tone quest is killing my wallet and my enjoyment :)
     
  11. A very good idea!

    Best of luck!
    François
     
  12. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Necessity is the mother of invention...

    Don't have a spare $200 in my "disposable income" budget and I had some foam lying around so I decided to give it a try. It needs a bit of refining (how much to use between the strings), but I think I'm onto something.

    Basically I have a rectangular piece of black foam insulation that I can cut to length and put parallel to the strings (between the E and A for example) Not only does it reduce the sustain, but it takes some of the edge off and helps with bowing. Not to mention it is cheap (like me) This will take a bit of experimentation. Also, I found raising the action helps for some reason. I'll keep you updated.
     
    Zbysek likes this.
  13. Bungee

    Bungee

    Sep 23, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    Mozarwasagenius - I understand what you're going through. I have experimented extensively with various muting methods including the big heavy rubber bridge mute, foam, felt, sponges, and even the big heavy rubber bridge mute stuffed with foam, felt, and sponges.

    Francois' advice is right on point - orchestral strings are a much better solution. Try to save some money while you are experimenting with the foam and buy a Jargar D and G when you can. I believe the Dolce gauge (thin or light) has the least sustain of the Jargar line. You will notice a real difference in sustain, tone, and feel without having to dramatically alter your technique or worry about all the problems inherent with foam muting. If you like the D and G save up for the other 2 strings. With the relatively low tension of the Dolce gauge, you may be able to increase your string height as well - you may be pleased with the resulting change in the shape of the notes. I am not suggesting that the other strings Francois suggested are not better choices; I'm recommending the Jargar because money is a concern and because I know that you will notice a difference with them, so it will be money well spent. Good luck.
     
  14. downunder

    downunder

    Aug 25, 2005
    Philadelphia
    i have a 4 string eminence. i folded up a hand towel and wedged it between the strings and the body of the instrument below the bridge. it did the trick!
     
    Zbysek likes this.
  15. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    What do you mean by ebony mute? Can you post a link, please? THX.
     
  16. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    What do you mean by rubber DB mute, please? Can you post a link/picture? Thank you.
     
  17. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    How come that towel wedged BELOW the bridge does the trick? I thought I would need to insert some kind of mute ABOVE the bridge...? Do you have a picture? I know this is an ancient thread...
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  18. downunder

    downunder

    Aug 25, 2005
    Philadelphia
    I have since sold the bass. I don’t know if I have a good explanation why it worked, but it did. As I recall, the eminence had no tailpiece and a piece of metal to attach the strings at the bottom block. So there was a lot of sympathetic vibration in the strings below the bridge I guess. it didn’t really mute or reduce sustain but it did reduce unwanted ringing and overtones.

    My new thing I’m trying is a “gruv gear fretwraps string muter ”. Electric basssists use them to damp the strings when they slap. I like it for when I’m bowing an amplified upright. Its a pad that Velcro’s around the neck up by the nut. I have two basses with false nuts, so I can push the fretwrap up over the nut when I don’t want the Damping effect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
    Zbysek likes this.
  19. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I see. Thank you.
     
    downunder likes this.
  20. So basically a piece of foam that gets pressed against the strings at the nut by a Velcro tape around foam and neck?

    That would damp open strings only (and the out strings more than the inner ones). I used a piece of thin rubber between fingerboard and string close to the nut for that purpose (and in my case only for my high C string and only if I use a steel core one which is seldom the case).
     
    Zbysek likes this.

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