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Asking luthiers for help

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by chalie, May 5, 2005.

  1. Sir,

    I have a poblem with the sound from the "B" string on my bass. It is very losseeeee sound when you play on every fret. (sonic thing)

    It is a 1985 Fodera Emperor Elite (neck through) 5 with 34 1/2" scale that I just bought few months ago.

    I tied with all kind of differnt set of strings (types, sizes and makes) but only some differnt (the best string so far would be Nickel 130 from d'Da) but not much but when I tune it to C# than you see the improvement.

    I wonder if it would help by extending the total length of the 5th string by have it go through body of the bass. I saw Worrier bass do this on 5th string.

    If yes, will it effect the intonation on this string.

    Do you have differnt thought?

    Thankssss for your contribution. :help:
  2. ArtisFallen


    Jul 21, 2004
    The tonal length of a string is only determined by the length of the scale your bass is: the distance between the nut and the bridge. stringing your bass through the body serves a different purpose entirely, and doesn't effect your action.

    that being said i'm not sure exactly what you were trying to say. if your saying the "B" String is floppy or loose, perhaps what you should try is not different strings, but a higher action on the B. Most people don't like a high action, but if your getting fret buzz, your strings are just hanging limp, and the like, often it is the only viable solution.

    I've personally learned to play with a higher action because it improves the tone as well as tension.\

  3. Dear Artist

    I tried this way and I did not see the different as you said.
    Yes, it is floppy but set the action higher will not improve the sound and I did not have the buzz problem.

    I used to wind the B string by making a loop at the E machine (see attachment) but I don't know if this was having the same zero result per your statement or not.

    So what I need is to get more tenssion by a larger string gauge, maybe with 135.

    or do you have different idea about the string.

    Thanks for your thought.
  4. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Yeah, try a heavier (gauge) string. You might loose some harmonic content from the thicker string... but you will get higher tension. I've been happy with the Smith .145 that I have on my fretless 7 string. Try to get a heavier string than the .130 that you're using and see if that makes a difference.
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I would strongly suggest that you not do this. Aside from any tuning issues (each time you adjust the E, it nudges the B slightly out of tune), you are putting roughly three times the radial force (side load) on the E tuner post than it was designed for.
  6. ArtisFallen


    Jul 21, 2004
    Yeah, i've never seen anyone do something like that. i would imagine that that really threw your E-string out of wack. that wont help your tension problems at all though in order to get the right note, a very specific tension is needed, so doing that isn't doing anything but creating friction.

    but seriously raising the string allowes for wider string vibrations and therefore better tone, because the pickus can recive a wider range of harmonics. also it creates a longer distance to press till the fret and therefore a higher tension.

    a thicker string will work as well, but other than that i think it's just something you're stuck with.

    (BTW it's Artis :D)
  7. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    A couple of things. The wider string vibration would only occur if the action you are comparing to is so low that it damps against the frets when you try to play. The pickup's frequency response to the string vibration isn't going to be very different in the range between a big powerful pluck and a soft pluck. Also, raising the action will increase the distance between the pickup and the string... though you can raise the pickup to correct this. As for the higher tension from higher action... this also makes the intonation of the intrument worse.
  8. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    You can compensate the intonation for a higher setup. Higher action in general sounds bigger and better to me. I've built and setup a few guitars so low that the player wasn't happy. When you bring it up you'll notice the instrument can be louder and more responsive. You might not hear or notice the strings being dampened when lower but it does happen sometimes. (even when there is no audible fretbuzz)
  9. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    You can compensate... but it will still be worse. I'm not sure I understand though, if the strings don't damp against the frets, then what are they damping against? I guess it depends how high we are talking... the post was that it was high enough to increase the tension on the strings when being fretted to such an extent that the B string sounds better. IME, that's going to be a lot of tension and some "very" high strings.
  10. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Worse than what? The entire point of intonating the guitar is to compensate for the fact the that the strings are above the level of the frets AT ALL. Higher action = more compensation, lower = less... the results are the same: the best you can get with an imperfect system.

    The strings may still be dampened by the frets, just at a level that you can't hear when the instrument is plugged in, or at a level you might not hear even if it is unplugged and unamped. Tap your finger on the table in front of you so you can hear it, then do it ligher, and lighter again still. There's a point where you can't hear it anymore but you're still touching it, and it's still making a sound. The same idea goes for fretbuzz, but it's a trade off of comfort for sound quality. Is the discomfort of high action worth the minimal gains in volume/clarity/sustain? Depends on the player. When setting up instruments I am very picky but as a player I don't think much about it.

    I wasn't talking about the B, just action in general. I don't think raising the B is going to make it any less floppy, at least anything noticeable.
  11. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Unfortunately it does get worse. As you fret further from the nut with higher action, the string must be deflected more to reach the fret. This causes the tension to build up more in this area. Adjusting the saddle position tries to correct this, but the higher the action, the worse the correction will be. The results are not the same since the tension ramp up doesn't change in the same way as moving the bridge changes the fret position relative to the actual length of the string. You can try it with a strobe tuner. Set the intonation relative to the harmonic at the 12th fret. Check how in tune each position is. Now raise the action and try it again. It just depends what your tolerance is for having every position be as close as possible to in tune.

    This damping is most likely going to be insignificant as it isn't even releasing enough sound energy from the string to be audible. There may be some mild friction effect of the string lightly hitting the fret, if it is in fact touching it.

    For me there would be no trade off in volume as I would pluck equally as hard irrespective of the action height. Clarity... I don't know about that one, I only know of clarity as pertaining to optics. Maybe sustain, but that's going to be related to any possible friction against frets in front of where the string is being fretted.

    My responses were in response to putting the action high enough so that the B string is significantly tighter when fretted as was stated in what I was originally replying to.
  12. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    I agree. I don't think the average player even understands that with even the lowest action and best setup an equal tempered instrument is out of "perfect tune" all over the fingerbaord (as much as 16-18 cents in some spots). That higher action is going to pull some notes back into better tune and pull some others even further out. Overall I'm not sure many people would even notice. I think it comes down to what you want to be picky about. You can look around and see that the average person isn't too picky about action OR being in perfect tune.
    edit: I don't agree with or understand the part about strobing with a harmonic, but this is getting way off topic so I digress.

    That's pretty much the exact thing I said before I had to deal with it in a real life situation. In a lot of ways I agree with what you are saying (especially since people want low action and I have to set my instruments up to play low anyway), but after dealing with some players with styles different from my own I've had to modify how I think about this subject. I used the "volume/clarity/sustain" blurp only because describing sound is a sticky situation and I don't like to throw out the word tone.

    Who said that?! :eek:
  13. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I just mean to reset the intonation and check the positions again, they will be more out of tune. I can provide a spreadsheet than shows the theoretical frequency shift if you want.

    Yeah I agree... my point isn't that you would play a bass with relatively high action and that it would sound out of tune compared to low action, I doubt most anyone could hear that... it was that you play a bass with action high enough to have fretting significantly increase the tension on a B string and you are ruining the intonation.

    Up above in this thread:

    So my point was, put the string that high and you are going to have some serious intonation issues.

  14. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    If you take that theoretical shift chart and compair it to a chart that shows where notes are theoretically off as a baseline you'll see that it's all realitive. When you raise the action some notes will be more off, some will be closer to correct pitch. I guess the "baseline" would be the average string height for a bass + the amount equal temperment is off from the start.

    Yeah, for a floppy B string if you've got it high enough to make a difference most bridges wont even have that much room for adjustment.
  15. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I have the chart at school... it is compared to a theoretical perfect placement. The perfect placement of the notes occurs when string height is zero. As the string height increases the notes get worse. Then if you start shifting the bridge around you can make it relatively better (by making the shift relatively small at each location) but it is always best at the lowest string height which is where the fret locations are worked out for. Of course the model could be made better by giving a curved fretboard... but it's not that important to me.

    But yeah, in order to increase the tension on the B significantly the string would have to be higher than any bridge that I've seen.
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Geoff, if you could shoot me a copy of that some time, that would be great.
  17. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Here's an example of how far off equal temperament is before you even factor in the height of the strings off the fingerboard. I'd like to check out the perfect placement chart as well to see how it plays in with these numbers (it will vary by the key):


    This info is probably irrelevant for this topic, but I just wanted to point out if you are trying to sound perfect or close to perfect, an instrument setup for equal temperament probably isn't the best bet. Even if you move some notes around with the action or a compensated nut you're still going to be off in some places.
  18. Hi guys,

    I migh be twice older than you guys but with half of your knowleage only. Thanks a tons of your contribution.

    I realized that extending both ends of the sting to yield the tension over the string is not possible but I think expanding the scale will do. Is that correct?
    I have the chance to expand the scale from 34.5 to 35.5 on this bass, thanks to the maker (see attached photo) and with knowing that I will spoil the point of intonations but I was trying and not that bad with it. Between fret 0 and 5, almost perfect and I hardly travel higher than that on the 5th string but the thing is I don't fell any additional tension if they meant to be.
    Moreover, the floppy sound, bad sonic, is still there which is suckkk. :crying:

    I think it is better to find a set of strings that match this bass rather do the modifications. So far I found the D'dda nickel 125 was the best but I don't know why it's life on this bass is much shorter than usual. The steel is good most of the strings but just worse on the B so I don't think I will ty ant steel again.
    Will keep on finding the set and will let you know if I have that luck.

    Do you have any recommendation :hyper: Thanksss
  19. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    The only thing is that the frets are going to be set for a 34.5" scale. Extending the scale to 35.5" will make all the fret positions wrong... getting progressively worse as you move up the neck. At the 12th fret you'll be out by half an inch. This is about half the spacing of the frets in this area of the neck. At the 24th fret you'll be out by more than the spacing of the frets. Down low you won't be so bad, but the string will be unusable above probably the 4th or 5th fret as it will be so far out of tune.
  20. Geoff .... you are absolutely right but I don't face that intonation problem as I travel not farther than fret 7 on this string in any case. The point is that I could not elliminate all the floppy or this unpleasant sonic sound off this string.
    Anyway, thanks to Fodera that provide this opportunity to their basses.

    This morning I tried the 125 Nickel from Fodera and I think this is the best solution since the sonic thing are almost gone.

    First, it must be a nickel string and next, not too big. I think the steel is too bright for this bass in any case so working on the bass will not help much. When it is too bright, it's amplify the bad sonic as well.

    thanksss :)

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