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Beyond the six.....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by f'nar f'nar, Aug 16, 2005.

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  1. Ok, I don't want for this to become an ERB bashing fest, this is just a question I need answered.

    Alright, I'm all for ERB, I am an ER bassist myself. But I need to ask the 7 string and beyond players here one thing, allow me to give some background.

    I was in a store the other day and i was greeted with some fine classical playing of an 9 string which was gorgeous! I believe it was a six tring with and extra high string and two exta lows. He was clearly checking out the new Ampeg frindge and SWR heads the store had got in. I was very impressed, untill he started playing the extra low notes. He was hanging around the low sections and I was amazed to see that had I need seen him playing I would have otherwise incapable of differenciating between the notes he was playing. Before, his tone was fantastic, the amp was top notch and clearly his bass had no trouble pickink up the sound.

    And so I ask, why go that low? I mean, I could understand buying one if I could tell between the notes, but please tell me. :confused:

  2. I've heard tracks with Stew McKinsey playing groove lines on his 10 string bass an *octave* below what you'd normally expect and I can verify that the low notes are a) distinguishable b) clean c) well executed. All that is probably a combination of a) Stew's playing ability (AWESOME) b) Stew's Conklin 10 string bass (AWESOME) c) the recording facility doing a great job and having good knowledge of EQ settings to get the sound to cut through.

    I know that Stew uses a high-powered amp and high-definition Accugroove cabs. Maybe the guy you heard just wasn't getting the definition in his tone to let the lower notes ring out / cut through. Stew, Bill Dickens, Jean Baudin and other ERB-ers tend to have sub-woofers for their rigs to handle the low end. Without them it's likely to get woolly. Stew has mentioned in the past that the lowest notes on the 10 take a little time to "blossom"...

    The other thing is that the human ear varies in its response to low frequencies. You tend to lose the fundamental in the low range and so hear more of the overtones. Perhaps the room or setup just wasn't right for you to pick up those...

    Do you know who the guy was?
  3. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Having recently begun playing a 7, I haven't found the need to go below the B, so my "extra" string is on the high side, bass tuned B E A D G C F. I can't say that this is standard tuning for 7's since there are so many variations, but it certainly is common tuning for many of us.

    While I haven't had the need to go below B yet, I can see that happening in the future. And when it does, I will have reproduction issues to deal with. My stock hartke equipment (3500 w/410+115) can get muddy if I'm running around the bottom end a lot, so I can imagine what a mess it would be if I went lower to the F#. Over at Extended Range Bassist ( www.extendedrangebassist.com ) the deep end guys spend a lot of time discussing sub-range tones and the equipment needed to reproduce, check out the site for more info.
  4. utopia_imminent


    Jun 19, 2004
    yes, you need to know how to adjust the eq so that the low notes come out defined. else, they would be muddy and sound like as if there is an earthquake
  5. I've never played anything lower than a B but I know that Ampeg's dont do well with extremely low notes they muddy up and stuff.
  6. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
  7. Im affrain not, I wish I had have spoken to him. I just know he'll turn out to be famous!
  8. Fretless5verfan


    Jan 17, 2002
    +1 They're the reason i'm moving into 7 strings in the future.
  9. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    You have to check out Yves Carbonne. I just heard him on a CD with Manring and Di Piazza. Amazing!

    There is an interview with him here:

    His website is here: (there's a sweet selection of ear candy too)

    One of his "Sub-basses": Noguera YC 8-String Fretless Semi-Acoustic

    He tunes his bass one octave lower than standard tuning!

    In the interview he states, "The open sub-low E (20.6 hertz) makes a lot of sense to me because if you play with another bassist, you can double his parts one octave lower with the same fingerings and open strings."

    His strings are custom made by La Bella. Yves just got the sub-low B-string (15.4 hertz)!!! It will be used on a 12 string that is being built for him. I can't wait to feel that!

  10. Fretless5verfan


    Jan 17, 2002
    One of those clips rattled my graduation pictures right off my wall...AWESOME :bassist:
  11. Al Caldwell

    Al Caldwell

    Mar 18, 2003
    St.Louis , Mo
    Madison Hydra,Accugroove,Basson,Phil Jones Big Cabs....... and tons of POWER! Or a great P.A. and a great bass , strings and high end D.I. like
    ( Tone Bone, Bass Buddy....ect) Al Caldwell
  12. Fretless5verfan


    Jan 17, 2002
    That's possibly the best signature i've ever seen...

    And now i have to go check out Basson cabs, thanks alot :p :D
  13. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    IMHO-The Basson B510 provides the clearest reproduction of the 17hz C#string from a single cabinet without question.But,what do I know? However,if you don't have the right pick ups and preamp on the bass,a C# string is going to sound like the subway passing below the ground.

    I spent the last 18 months getting my C# string to sound clear,so it is no surprise that "sub contra"strings sound muddy on stock rigs.If your subcontra bass doesn't have a preamp that prevents harmonic realignment,the string will never sound right,the pitch will never be accurate.
  14. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars, Veillette Guitars
    Harmonic realignment - this sounds interesting! Gary, please explain!

    I've seen Gary playing his Adler 11- and 12-strings at NAMM the past few years. His facility on the instruments is extremely impressive.

    I gotta say, my own two cents is that the low C# range has yet to convince me. Almost by definition, any "note" one is hearing from a string tuned to that pitch would be from the harmonic series, and not from the fundamental.
    I listened really, really close...and I didn't hear it. I heard an attack, some sort of sustained sound, and a decay. But no real discernable pitch.

    The "theoretical" limit for the human ear is 20 hz or so, and most cabinets have major dropoffs below 30-40 hz. No commercial home stereo gets even close.

    Beyond that, though - I just don't see the real-world usefulness. I don't play in bands with any other bassists...
    I don't want the soundmen to hate me...and the good old low B is about as low as I can see getting without totally losing the relationship between the bass and the other instruments. Even an open low B tends, by its very nature, to overpower or otherwise call undue attention to itself. I can't see playing a low C# unless you just really needed everyone to pay attention to you, and not necessarily anyone else.

    Then again, what do I know! :)

    Martin Keith
  15. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Ditto to everything Martin said. I totally dig that cats are pushing the envelope, but bass notes just aren't pleasing to my ears below the B. And actually, first fret low C is the lowest "sweet" note on my 7.
  16. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Ampeg cabs are the issue for sure. I like their cabs for standard stuff - particularly the PR410 HLF - but you get to the B and it's about all they will do competently.

    I adore and aspire to AccuGrooves as I got to use a Jr/Grande stack at summer NAMM Nashville and was spoiled for life. I had an F# and octave down E bass there to take advantage of the Grande's capabilities and can say without reservation the 20.6 Hz was there and defined.

    Al's list is a good one. I'd add Bag End and their ELF/Infra system to that list. It speaks directly to the time/harmonic alignment Garry mentions.
  17. Al Caldwell

    Al Caldwell

    Mar 18, 2003
    St.Louis , Mo
    Martin, I use my Low F# and you can tell the diffrence. It calls attention to the music in the same sense that having 6 double Basses play with a symphony. My Korg tuner says F# and low C# . The band feels the power and it's impressive. I think the "sonic feel of the note" is the true point of the string. The challenge is to "Tastefully use it." I don't wear it out but the depth of the ballad's I use it on, have been enhanced by my note choice. Percieved low end has been felt for the past 20 years thanks to the MINI MOOG and other low end heros. As a composer and as a n employee ,I try to satisfy my musical director. They seem to apprecitae the effort. A piano may have 88 notes but for most gigs we only play about 30 diffrent notes! I hope this helps. Al

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Maybe you just haven't come across the Right Bassist utilizing the Low C# in a certain contex that may appeal to you/your ears.

  19. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    Everybody's ears are in a different "place' depending on the persons training,experience etc.What sounds good to some,sounds less than good to others.
    We have been conditioned by this idea that we can't hear below 20hz. The experts tell us this. After spending time with a string tuned to Bb00 and C#0, I started to hear the note. I learned to hear it.

    When I mastered my last CD at Paramount Mastering, I had Bill Dooley
    ( many major credits),the mastering engineer, concur that the note was audible and defineable in pitch as it shook the walls. I used the Adler 11-string and saved the A on the 3rd fret,F# string and the open C# string for the last few notes of "Bubble Work". Of course,Bill has an a pair of Adams ($8000) monitors that reproduce the frequencies. I used a Basson B310 to record the track. This was back in 2004.

    It's not just about low notes. You have the same open low B note at the 10th fret ,C# string.This is a real plus to some.
    If you could just put a C# string on a bass and plug into any amp/speaker and have it sound great, C# strings would be standard issue by now.

    Just to plug that bass into an amp and speakers not designed to reproduce the strings will be a muddy experience.

    I have had custom speaker cabs, pickups and preamps designed and manufactured all for the sake of getting an audible C0 and C#0 string.

    The harmonic realignment occurs with "phaze variance". The circuit in the 12 has "Zero Phase variance". (see the New Adler 12-string thread for more on this). My pre amp output is from 2Hz-200Hz, so you are hearing each note as it really sounds.
  20. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003

    I can hear the usefulness of your Adler Sub Contra fretless on "The Low C# Theory". Here is a CD that is entirely ERB down to that low C#.
    I don't think Al or Jauqo or the rest of us would waste time on a low F# or C# string if the strings were not 100% effective.

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