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Are Harmonics Inevitable???

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rickbass, May 29, 2003.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I have a custom by Dave Pushic that I love dearly. The kicker is that I like to use machine gun triplets, where you slap a string and mute the next two notes to get a percussive effect in very rapid succession. It has to be executed blisteringly fast so that no notes sustain.

    What happens with this bass is that when I mute the two notes that follow the fretted note, I get harmonics. In other words --- those two succeeding notes don't die...they ring like bells because I create harmonics. So, I can't get the "thppp thppp" percussive effect of a machine gun triplet. I have an instructional video of a guy with a Spector and his muted notes don't ring with harmonics at all.

    What I want to know is - Is this just inherent to this bass or do you have a suggestion of something I might change so I could get the muted notes ("thpp thpp") that would just die instead of ring with the overtones ? Believe me, this bass has sustain for days and rings like a Sistine Chapel bell......(not a bad thing!....I can almost play it unamplified!)

    If it's any help, here's some specifics about the bass that may affect this;

    - maple/purpleheart neck through body
    - cocbolo top on walnut burl
    - bone nut w/zero fret
    - med nickel frets

    Thanks so much for any expertise or guesses!!!!
  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Perhaps you could try using old strings.
    Good to see you back. There is a "Where's rickbass" thread.
  3. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Instead of using one finger to mute it, which is likely to hit a harmonic node, try using 2 or even 3 fingers after the fretted note to mute it. It is much less likely that you will hit a 2 node harmonic or false harmonic that way.
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    What Nick said.
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    You could try touching a different point of the string when you mute, one that doesn't correspond so well with the extra-live harmonic.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Nick and JMX - Thanks a bunch, you guys. I haven't thought of that technique that you mention, Nick.

    And, JMX --- You know so much, I always take your input seriously.

    When D. Pushic built the thing, he said it's, "The most resonant bass I have ever made." That can be a blessing and a curse, in this instance ---- it just rings like a bell with the massive ABM bridge/stainless steel DR's/maple + purpleheart neck. It will sustain a note for a week.

    Thank you all!
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks so much, Turock. When you are fool enough to do this for a living, sometimes you disappear.

    But I sure don't miss the dry cleaing bills for the suits!
  8. rick--you know what they say about being careful what you ask for 'cause you just might get it ....
    with all those wonder woods you picked, it'd be a miracle if that sucker *wasn't* resonant! Look at it this way (which I'm sure you do): you're dealing with an *embarrassment of riches*. It's better to have to figure out how to mute the resonances than to be in a position where you have to try to bully some resonance out of a bass that doesn't want to give it up, right?

    Glad you're still happy with your bass. I'm going the custom route myself and am expecting twins in a month or two.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Words of wisdom from someone I respect highly.

    Thank you, RL. Your're dead on...........I have to decrease the wattage on my power amp when I use this bass because it is such a brute. The B string is so incredible that I have figure out how to come up with the money for a Bill Dicken's 21"er. This bass kicks my Edens out the door.

    Is there a thread where I can see which spec's describing your "recipes"????
  10. Well, since you ask, he he ....


    I should be getting some more pics pretty soon. Since then, Jon found that he did have some good pieces of 10+ year old ebony that ought to be pretty stable, so we're going with that for the FBs. The woods ought to have more "pop" when they get their finish, but I was actually going for a slightly understated and elegant look. I've been wowed by a lot of the basses I've seen around here, including yours, but Jon sent me some sample pics of woods I hadn't seen around much, and the amboyna burl just seemed kinda "me," somehow. I'm going with no inlays on the fretted, so it will look very clsoe to the lined fretless. Also, there's a little extra real estate on the FBs, given the design of the butt end of the bolt-on neck, so I'm having Jon add 25th and 26th "partial" frets, just for giggles. Yeah, I get up there maybe once in a month of Sundays, if that, but it's nice to have the space anyway.

    I'll be sure to post when I get more visual candy.
  11. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    Just wondering: as you have been playing your Shuker ABG with a phenolic FB, what is behing your motivation to possibly go with ebony for your solidbodies? Anything about the phenolic that you dislike? Also, have you considered phenowood?
  12. kim--just PM'ed you so as not to hijack.
  13. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    My Modulus gets a little sketchy with harmonics also. I have learned that using the multiple finger mutes rather than just one helps. That along with being careful of where Im muting. Staying away from the 5th fret for example.

    A big no-no would be to be to light with the fretting hand. Keep it firm.

    Another thing you could try is using your thumb on your plucking hand to help mute. This can bring out false harmonics if you do it the wrong way. If that doesnt work, or if your a pick player use the palm mute. Who says you cant play mute like the boys in Metalica??!!

    Oh, and welcome back. We missed you, and dont be a stranger.
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Funny, you mentioned the 5th, odie. That is "prime territory" for machine guns and it just rings like Waterford crystal on that fret!!!! Too bad the 5th is my "base of operations" since I play mainly funk and blues/rock :(

  15. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    You will NEVER shut downt he real Napster....
  16. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Rickbass- Who are you playing with now anyway?? I remember you mentioned some touring etc. I would love to see ya in action, maybe get a tip or two!!

    Do have sound clips of the "machine gunning"?