Can fretted maple fingerboards sound mellow enough for Jazz and Singer songwriter?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jim T., Nov 20, 2001.

  1. Hi folks,
    I'm being tempted by a birdseye maple fingerboarded 7 stringer. I play a lot of Jazz and folk/singer songwriter gigs/sessions and wondered if you thought a maple board can be mellow enough for those styles? I'd have to buy it on approval to try it and find out...

    The bass I'm considering has Bart soaps for pickups. Not sure yet what model. They look similar to the ones Tobias used in the old Tobiases.
    Thanks for the help. Jim T.
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Sure. fingerboard material is only one of the variables involved. How you play it and what you play it through also have an effect.
  3. j.s.basuki

    j.s.basuki Supporting Member

    May 14, 2000
    Of course type of fingerboard can be used for jazz.
    But if you are looking for mellow type of tone , you can get it from maple board, it will sound tight and lots of overtone, better get a rose wood.
  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have a G&L L2500 ash body, maple board. (See avatar at left) I really love the bass, but I admit that I have battled for a mellow tone. Fortunately, I also have a MIA JD5 with a Pao Ferro board, so I use it alot as well, but I still need a softer sound out of the L2500 once in a while.

    My first step was to stop using stainless strings. I use nickels only. This helped a lot. With that there is enough on-board EQ in the circuit to soften the edges of the sound.

    If you are buying a bass with Bartonilis, I have found many of those pickups to have a darker, softer tone anyway. In addition, if it also has an active Bartolini preamp/EQ, you'll have plenty of tone options.

    If you like the feel of the bass, I am pretty sure you'll be able to get a good sound out of it.

  5. I've found that while maple is noticeably brighter, where you play (near the neck, middle or bridge) and what type of strings you use has a lot to do with your sound. If I were mainly going to play Jazz/mellow stuff I personally would NOT get maple, but, that's just me.

    Mike J.
  6. Hi Guys, Thanks for your input. I was afraid this would be a "stupid" question. I do play a wide variety of styles (rock, world,etc.) (although no slapping yet) on lots of recording sessions. I wondered if EQ would be all I'd have to use to mellow things sufficiently for Jazz stuff. Sounds like it might work. As long as I can get quite a bit mellower than Patitucci's piezo/plinky sound I guess I'd be happy. I do like a good kickin' attack on the beginning of each note with a lot of bottom. It's that high C and F I was concerned about the most.

    If anyone else can give me EQing tips or other effects to achieve the mellow thang I'd appreciate hearing more. This particular bass would have a maple body as well. Thanks again! Jim T.
  7. you could just turn down the tone knob.

  8. Maple body too, huh? That's probably going to be a bright sounding instrument, but, not to fear. One EQ setting I like to use for a mellow sound is to turn the midrange down on the amp to between 0 - 3. Boost the bass to about 7 or 8, and treble to taste.(sounds like a cookbook) By doing this I've found that any of my basses tend to loose all/most of their growl, and you hear more of a mellow, acoustic type plunck. This is the exact opposite of what most players do, but, for a mellow sound it works very well. It works differently with different amps, so experiment with yours. Another idea is to use flatwound strings. I don't know if you like them or not, but, using them will add a little more mellowness to your sound. Another idea is to use a tone shaping pedal/box. A few months ago I bought a Yamaha NE-1 parametric EQ (from a fellow T/B member) and this thing is amazing. In plain English it's a stretched out tone control that makes a bass sound harsher or more mellow than your amp's tone controls can do by themselves. I've also heard that the Sansamp box does a similar job, but, I've never tried one. There are others such as Aguilar and Sadowsky, but, again I haven't heard them yet.

    A final note: One of the most mellow, clean and round basses I've ever played is the Epiphone Jack Casady bass. This bass sounds so good, words fail to descrbe it accurately; you really have to hear one live. I have one and absolutely love it. The only drawback you might find is that it's a four string.

    So, even if your new bass tends to be on the bright side, by following any or all of the suggestions above should mellow out any bass.

    Good luck with your 7.
    Mike J.
  9. Having had both a maple fretless and currently owning a solid maple bodied fretless with ebony fingerboard I can offer some tips on this.

    I think that string selection is going to be the major contributor to the type of tone you want. For years now I've used only half rounds on my fretlesses to help save the surface and yet produce the brightness when needed. You might want to do that or even take it a step lower and go to flatwounds. There are so many on the market nowadays that it's hard to decide so look in the strings forum for help.

    The all maple body (in my experience) doesn't necessarily make a brighter tone in a fretless. Defined would be a better description. My custom Jazz weighs a ton but doesn't produce the clickety clanking brightness that I've experienced with just fretted maple necks. I think what you DO gain is a ton of sustain. Why? If I had to hazard a guess it would be because there isn't a fret to emphasize the high end and the low notes aren't gobbled up by the relatively mushy tonewoods of alder or some other standard wood. The denser wood simply allows the tone to come through a little bit better. This may also come from the ebony neck (which has an affect, I'm sure) but it's the complete package that makes the bass.
  10. Where's JT? He has to have a seven string with every type of fretboard known to man.