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basses with multiple personalities

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Apr 23, 2004.


  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Lately I've noticed that some basses (the good ones especially) can take on multiple personalities, depending on how they're set up. I mean, more than just the obvious, in terms of raising and lowering the strings. It's as if a particular action brings out a resonance in the wood or something. For example, I have this one bass, when the action's set low it sounds just like an Alembic (but with more high end), it's got that tight-wire piano wire sound. But when the action's up higher, it gets virtually the same slap sound as a jazz bass. Normally I wouldn't associate those two sounds with the same bass, but for some reason the combination of woods or whatever makes this possible. And it's only a difference of maybe a millimeter or two as you're raising or lowering the action. Does that make sense? It's almost as if some instruments "like" a particular action. Why does this happen?
     
  2. ...or it could be due simply to the pickup sensitivity and it's particular electrical characteristics at that distance from the string.
     
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well, what I meant is that some basses when you're setting them up, have multiple settings where they sound "dialed in". All basses have at least one (hopefully), come to think of it some may not even have the one, but let's assume we're dealing with a "functional" bass. Some of the good ones, like Alembics or a few of the Foderas I've played, are more or less "continuous", where it'll sound good at just about any action setting. Some others have one or two "personalities", a couple of spots where they'll sound dialed-in, consistent, and more or less playable. Others (many production basses) just have the one.
     
  4. See, I'm not convinced that the playing height of the strings and tone are that interconnected. Sure, there'll be some difference but I would see that as inconsequential. Perhaps, as in Alembics, pup/preamp system is of such strength and output that no matter how far off the neck you get, it's dialed in.
     
  5. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hambone, I hear you, but my experience has been kinda the opposite. I'm thoroughly convinced that the setup has "everything" to do with the sound. There's three levels to that. One is, just the fat fundamental sound of the string, that'll change as you move the saddles around and there's usually one setting (or one "range" let's say) where you get a full rich sound and a nice long sustain. The second is, the string noises and the way they respond to picking and plucking, this has mostly to do with whether the saddle is exactly perpendicular to the string, 'cause in my experience you can get some unwanted string noises when the saddle's not sitting right. And the third is, the "squishiness" of the string when you're playing, I mean the responsiveness, like whether you're getting a long sustain or whether all the energy is being sucked up into the saddles. On the bass I'm currently grappling with, there's a Hipshot "B" style bridge, which may be a little more difficult to dial in than some others. But you can get a lot of precision with those if they're adjusted properly, they feel great when they're dialed in. The problem with them is, that when you want to raise the action on one of the saddles, then the saddle balance always has to be readjusted too. That can take a while to get right, 'cause you have to find the optimal combination of string height and saddle balance, and you can never adjust one of those "in isolation".