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Bad intonation. Setup or technique?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Diego Gonzalez, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. Hi folks,

    I have a 4/4 bass with Spirocore S42 Mittels. I'm playing since 7 months ago after many many years of playing EB. The problem is that when I play with the bow the low G (E string) is in different positions depending on the finger I use to stop the note. If I use the pinky the G is nearly 1cm moved towards the bridge area. When I got the bass I had to file the bridge notch since the string action was insanely high (I'm a bit ashamed to say that I have a chinese bass). I had to do it myself since there is not a double bass luthier in this area. Perhaps I filed it too much (7mm)? How I can raise the action of just one string?

    Or perhaps it's a technique issue?

    Many thanks to you all. I love this site!

  2. You can't raise a single string (except applying some epoxy to the slot, but then the string might jump out of the slot). 9 to 10 mm is a good height for an E. Maybe try to get lighter strings (Spirocore Weich 4/4 S42W or synthetic core strings like Innovation Braided 140B) for your instrument. You can even mix these two sets if you want. The Innovations are better for bowing and the Spiros a bit brighter and better for pizz. Good strings if you need to build up the power in your hands, because you are not used to higher tension double bass strings.

    The S42 on a 4/4 with a high action could be hard for a non-trained double bass player. Many years ago I had the same problem with power (could only play one set with S42 and a high action).

    You can put some layers of veneer under the e-side brige foot. Not ideal, but the best really cheap way. Adding adjusters (and explaining the luthier who does that, that the action is a few millimeters too low on the E) is a good way to solve your problem without needing to get a new bridge (which is more expensive than adjusters). But then you need to lower at least the A a lot and the D a bit too, with adjusters everything except the E.
  3. It's a technique issue... the only way this can happen is if you're not getting the string all the way to a full stop on the fingerboard with your 4th finger. In which case, you do NOT want to raise the action, but instead work on your technique; raising the action will only make this harder. If the action is uneven, bring the other strings down; the previous post is pretty good guidance on that.

    7mm is on the low side for an E but should be playable; it's going to restrict your volume eventually, but you could probably go pretty loud with high tension strings like Mittels at 7mm.
  4. Yes, it is a technical issue.

    But using lower tension strings at the moment makes it easier to play well and build hand strength over time (might take a year, depnds on how much you play the double bass). The might come a day when the lower tension strings seem to have too less tension for you. If you change back to Spiro Mittel S42 then, you should not have problems pressing down the strings.
    7mm is lowest for Spiro Mittel, maybe a bit too low for lower tension strings (you will get a rattling E string if it gets a bit louder). Might work if you are used to a light touch of the string with more amplification.

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