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Arco; Afterlength; Dynamic Response; Tone/Attack and Intonation

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by SteveCS, May 7, 2015.


  1. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I am not a DB player, but have a question stemming from a discussion in the BG forum about how (or not) the length of string between the nut and tuner may have an effect on tightness/punchiness of the low end Does a reverse headstock tighten up the low end? | TalkBass.com
    We know that the nut/peg length affects the string's sensitivity to pitch bending, e.g. shorter distances nut to peg and/or tailpiece to saddle leads to greater pitch change for a given string deflection when bending.
    Thinking on, and assuming that the nut-peg and tail-saddle lengths are analogous with the DB afterlength, does a shorter afterlength require arco players to make greater intonation adjustments between light and heavy bow pressures?
    Thinking on a bit further, in that thread we seem to be establishing sound reasoning as to why a longer nut-peg distance might make the string more responsive and less prone to 'sharpening' in the attack when being played hard.
    Again, if the nut-peg distance is analogous with the afterlength, have any DB players noticed any differences between instruments with particularly long or short afterlengths. In particular, to anyone who plays EUB where there is almost no afterlength - do you experience intonation problems when really digging in and do you find the EUB more or less responsive or punchier/tighter, compared with an orchestral bass?
    Bearing in mind that the other thread is a discussion/exploration of an idea rather than statements of fact, if you think this is all bunkum then happy to hear that also, but please forgive my DB ignorance. :) Thanks!
     
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    There's lots of discussion about this already. Try a search. After lengths can be and are commonly tuned on
    DB's and it does make a difference.
     
  3. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Thanks Eric. I did search but could find nothing about the specific question on intonation/pitch changes under different bowing conditions - my expectation would be that something with a negligible after-length such as an EUB would be more prone to going sharp under high bow pressure compared to something with a 'classical' after-length, and that it might also take a bit more effort to get the string moving making articulation of short, fast or pp notes more difficult. As a long-time fretless player I am used to making tiny almost subconscious adjustments all of the time so it might be that you guys don't even consciously notice anything! It is all quite fascinating and I have had to learn a bit about tuning after-length as my daughter is a developing cellist and there are similar discussions to be had there.
     
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Sorry, Steve...I didn't read your post carefully enough and I can't answer your question!

    "does a shorter afterlength require arco players to make greater intonation adjustments between light and heavy bow pressures?"
     
  5. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Yes - perhaps I should change the title of the thread!! Thanks anyway.
     
  6. Your question has to do with the elasticity of the string kernel as well as nut-pegs instance and afterlengths.

    IMHO the kind of core (steel, synthetic, gut) has much more influence than the nut-peg distance and afterlengths.
    The reason the afterlengths might be adjusted on a DB is that the vibration is transferred from the playable part to the afterlengths (and back!) by the moving bridge going up and down with the top and probably wiggling of the string on the top of the bridge (because of stiffness).

    On a magnetic only string you need a steel core which is less elastic than synthetic or gut core. So you cannot compare the situation on bass guitar to double bass 1:1.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  7. Some people run their strings to different tuners than the normal layout, which I guess is like using a reverse neck on an eb. I don't notice any effect on intonation but it does have a tonal effect. For example, running the e string to the d tuner produces a more open sounding e string, running the g string to the e tuner gives a tighter g string. I suspect it has more to do with changing the break angle over the nut than anything else.
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  8. I play both an Eminence portable upright, and a 3/4 double bass. In order for the intonation to be affected by the after length when bow pressure is increased, I think the pressure (arm weight in Rabbath's manner of speaking) would have to be ridiculously heavy...so much so that you couldn't play effectively.

    So, bottom line, in practice I've never noticed the difference on my two basses.
     
  9. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. Not sure what the 'takeaway' is but food for thought is always good :)
     

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