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Bass Collection problems: one last try for help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rockin John, Jan 6, 2003.


  1. Thanks to all who've responded to my blah blah blah on a couple of threads about the possible problems with my Bass Collection SB310.

    What I'd like to do, with your permission, is to gather all the various bits together in this one thread and see if anymore wisdom emerges.

    THE APPARENT PROBLEM.

    The G string sounds weak and thin. It lacks bass but is OK for middle and highs. The D shows similar tendencies but is less marked. A and E show plenty of bass, middle and top. Actually, A and E sound superb.

    It's currently strung with TI JAzz rounds. The bass sounds fine acoustically with little or no apparent difference between any strings. There are no dead spots as such on the neck. All strings seem to vibrate freely when plucked. The action is nice and low.

    The bass has always tended towards this difficulty but have put up with it because I like the way it plays. Fitting the TIs seemed to cure the problem for a short while.


    MY ATTEMPTS AT A SOLUTION.

    At first I suspected the actives so took them out of circuit and connected the pups direct to the jack. There's no real difference between that and with the actives in as far as the problem goes. Electronics = OK, therefore.

    Then I suspected the pickups. But they both obviously work: the measured DC resistance: P = 9.2K Ohms; J = 6.3 K Ohms. Whether they work properly is another matter, though. The mechanics of the bass seem to work fine.

    ***************

    So there I am, now loss for what to do next. I could fit the TI flats from my fretless (Yammy RBX270F, also PJ pup config, sounds fine) to see if that balances the tones a bit. I could just sell the bass and save up for an American Precision!

    The Bass Collection is really nice to play, wear, etc.

    Just dunno where to go from here.

    Any further help appreciated, guys.

    Ta.

    John
     
  2. RobOtto

    RobOtto

    Aug 15, 2002
    Denton, TX
    I have noticed a similar problem with my Yamaha bb1600. My A and E strings sounds wonderful, but my D and G carry about 50% less volume it seems. My bass hass a passive P/J setup. I tried a couple of different things but was never able to really figure out what the problem was or if there was a problem. The bb1600 was my first bass, so I just learned to compensate by digging in a little more when playing on those strings.

    I hadn't really thought about it to be honest for a couple of months until I saw this thread, so either I have just stopped noticing or I have been able to even out the sound by playing a little harder when needed. Probably not the answer you were hoping for, but it worked for me in the long run.

    It would seem, however, that the problem would have to be either in the pickups or in the amp since the problem is with the projection of the sound. Playing my bass without amplification all of my strings sound as loud as the next. I'm no technician or even a great bassist (yet), so take my advice with a grain of salt.

    Hope it works out for you.
     
  3. TonyS

    TonyS

    Dec 13, 1999
    USA
    John,
    Have you tried adjusting your pickup height on the
    G-String side.? There is a sweet spot so to speak on the "pick-up to string distance". How much increase in volume is hard to say. YMMV, etc.

    Hope this helps.

    Tony
     
  4. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Is the G and D sound weaker with the P pickup soloed?
    Is the G and D sound weaker with the J pickup soloed?
    Is the G and D sound weaker with both pickup full?

    As previously suggested, did you try do adjust pickups height? Maybe the G & D part of the P pickup is too low. Pickup to string distance usually ranges between 3 to 7mm depending on players preference and pu output.

    If the bass plays and feel good unplugged, this balance problem must be a pickup issue.

    JP
     
  5. redneck2wild

    redneck2wild

    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    The Pickup height should be the first thing to check.
    Some pickups have individual poles that have to be adjusted. If you have poles, the strings should be directly above the poles. If a string is not directly above a pole then the string vibarations may not be getting "pickedup".
    The String distance from the pickup should be compared on the different strings. Usually the higher strings are closer to the pickups than the lower strings (higher strings typically have lower action than lower strings - string height is not as high on higher strings). Note that thicker strings should be slightly louder that thinner strings because they have more mass (one reason to have higher action on the lower strings). The strings also may be too close to the pickups but this usually results in a louder, muddier tone.
    If the Pickup height and String Height seem to be correct and the strings lined up with the poles then check the Neck on the Bass to see if one side is tilted. This could affect the Tension on the strings on one side of the bass as well as the overall sustain of the strings.
    Some basses have dead spots on the neck also. Many have weak areas on the 5th fret of the G string. This would not affect "Open" strings though.
    I use a product called a "Fat Finger" that helps to get rid of dead spots and increase sustain. It clips to the Headstock and adds more Mass to the weak side of the bass.
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I have tried a few of these in shops in the UK - there was a point where my favourite local shop(since defunct :( ) had loads of these basses and the guy who owned it was always on at me to buy one - but he was a guitarist!! ;)

    But my experience was exactly as you describe - they didn't sound right to me and my feeling was tha the body was too small - not enough mass to make a decent sound - it wasn't so noticable on the E and A strings where you can't hear nuances of tone so well - but it really stood out on the higher strings.

    From trying lots of different basses, my feeling is that there is a certain minimum body mass that basses need to sound good to me and anything smaller just doesn't sound right.
     
  7. Perhaps there's another area to look at. Specifically the construction of the pups at the 2 offending strings. One of the things it could be is that the pole magnets used in the pup are out of phase - North and South poles opposed to each other. This will lead to an apparent loss of signal on those strings. There could also be a problem with the coil winding on that end of the pup. This might be a small area of corrosion in and around the windings at that area or it could be a series of broken windings at that end. Measuring the total impedence won't necessarily expose problems with a single pole location.

    You've got an interesting question here.
     
  8. Hmm. Interesting stuff.

    Last night I tried an experiment: none too scientific, mind, but I gave it a go.

    I've an old Schaller J pup laying around (wired in series, in phase). I cabled it up and connected to the amp, holding it over the strings as best I could. It seemed to me to give something like a passive bass sound!!! And so it should, I guess. All strings had some bass and the sound was quite even.

    This clearly points to a pup problem. Either the one(s) in it are not working correctly or are wired in an unusual way to give this particular sound. Quickly reconnecting the bass (active back in cct, set to mid points) and the sound was very thin indeed.

    Pickup height might be an issue, too. I iintend to check that out, maybe tonight. I'll just lower them and see what happens.

    I can't switch one or the other pickup out of cct: the actives has a balance pot but it's not as marked as I would have expected.

    Thing is, it'd cost me around £120 for new pups. Even then I'd not be certain of a cure until they were in and wired: a hell of an expense if it didn't work out.

    I'm gonna be better off getting rid, I think, particularly if Bruce is right and it is down to body mass. IOW, there's just no remedy for these basses.

    What'd a second hand USA Precision or Jazz cost me at the Bass Centre, Bruce?

    John
     
  9. :mad: Just to report that adjusting the pup height made no difference at all :mad:

    John
     
  10. Tsal

    Tsal

    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Could the problem be in the P-pup? Have you tried replacing just one of the pups?

    And, can the other part of P-pup be wired wrong? I don't know if it can, but perhaps that could be why you are having problems with the high strings.
     
  11. You might be right, Tsal.

    Trouble is, I'm not convinced how far I should go with this. Should it turn out to be either of the pups, it'd cost me about £120 to put it right (I'd really have to get the P and J pair, I guess).

    The bass is probably only worth around that. After all this hassle I'm seriously considering chopping the BC for something better.

    Having had further thoughts about what Bruce said about body mass, I wonder whether this might not hold true. Wouldn't a lack of body mass tend to reduce the bess response of the E and A more than D and G? That's the exact opposite of what's happening.

    I'm just confused


    :mad:

    John:confused:
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No - I think it's more noticable on the lighter strings - active electronics can give you a lot of bass artificially and you don't notice this fact on the lower strings.

    There is a simple way to test anyway - what does it sound like to you acoustically? Play it in a quiet room, without any amplification and try to hear whether the problem is still present - sometimes you can get the sound to vibrate through a wooden chair or table and lean your head against it to hear better.

    But if the problem persists acoustically, then it is really a property of the whole thing.
     
  13. i doubt its a problem with overall body mass... more likely just the resonance of the woods, glues, (etc) in your particular specimen that happen to combine to absorb and deaden your sound too much on those two strings...

    G and D are thin sounding at the best of times, on a lot of basses!

    i'd hazard a guess that what you have there might be considered "a lemon", at least insofar as you are not happy with it's sound
     
  14. Hello Bruce.

    Thanks.

    Funnily enough, I quite like the acoustic tone. The lighter strings obviously sound, well...., lighter. The bassier strings balance better with the lighter strings like that. I've tried resting the body against a wardrobe door. To be honest it was a quick try and I wasn't really convinced either way. I'll give it another whirl sometime.

    I tried placing the top horn against the bone behind my right ear as kindly suggested by another contributor. The bass sounded quite OK that way.

    It does seem to be coming down to the pup(s), don't you think? I was going to take it to work today and install that Schaller J @ the bridge: the only way to be sure, I guess. Then agai I could remove the P from my Yammy and fit it to the BC. But that seems really drastic and I could end up really messing things up.

    Thing is, I still come back to the dilema that new pups would cost me about £120: that money could well be better used against another bass.

    I agree about actives, too. I now much prefer passive instruments.

    Rockandroller might have a point. But the bass does seem to be OK acoustically.

    Hmmm. Dunno.

    John
     
  15. Carey

    Carey

    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    I'm curious if the problem is as noticeable with either of the pickups soloed. The reason I ask this is that a P pup is built to be hum cancelling with itself. If you add a jazz pup it will only hum cancel with one of the P coils. The other one may be out of phase and thus give you the thin sound that you are complaining about. I'm not sure if there is a solution for this. Does anyone know if this is a common problem on P/J setups?
    You could try reversing the hot and ground wires on one of the pup's and see if the thinness moves to the E and A strings. That would prove my suspicions correct.
    Good luck.
     
  16. could it be something as simple as a loose/bad connection, or corrosion on a connection? or even a bad battery (im sure you mentioned it was active) (just throwing in a few ideas)

    also is there a Bass Collection website? im actually quite interested in their stuff, despite problems!
     
  17. Just a few observations after a few more tests last night.

    I spent quite some time doing acoustic tests. Both with the bass on the 'ear bone', and with it pressing against a door. I'm about to change my mind:eek: on previous comments. I now believe I can hear the weak G under these tests: the D, too, seems weak. So it now seems that acoustic and amplified tests agree.

    ******

    I tried tapping the pickups with a thin steel blade. Both halves of the P, and the J pup respond to tapping, showing they both work to some degree. I'm convinced the bass half of the P shows more response - it's louder for the same approx weight of tapping - than the treble half. It might be just more microphonic or it might indeed be more resposive. I'll go further and say that the tapping ob the bass half sounds bassier, too.

    I noticed that the pull of the magnets is stronger on the bass half, too. I think there is a difference between the position of the magnetic field under G than the other strings.

    These tests were compared with similar ones on my Yamaha RBX270F.

    ******

    Last night, later on, I restrung the Bass Collection with the (effectively new) strings taken from the Yammy when I fitted the TI flats. I'll try it amplified tonight, but acoustic tests seem to show more bass per string that the TI rounds that they replaced. Also, I believe there is more uniformity of tone across the strings with the heavier set.

    Conclusions.....

    1) The weak response of the TI's G and D is probably a function of the lower body mass (as per Bruce's comment) with those strings. Heavier strings perhaps suit this body mass better.

    2) There is a possibility that 1) is made worse by a possible difficulty with the treble half of the P pup.

    3) I've cleaned it up for sale..........:cool:

    Thanks.

    John
     
  18. Just to put a close on this thread, the BC has now gone. I traded it for a Yamaha BBG5S. That's superb.


    Thanks for all the kind help.

    John