Can the endpin height affect your sound?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by rob f johnson, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. rob f johnson

    rob f johnson

    Nov 15, 2005
    nelson bc
    Ive been experimenting with endpin height for a while now, and i think i have convinced myself that im getting a better sound with the endpin higher is there any truth or explanation for this? also ive been marking my endpin with a marker to be more consitent with pitch.
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm not so sure about heights making a difference but I'd make sure that the spatial relationship between your ears and the bass stays the same despite how high the pin is in/out. I would think that things sound different when just a couple of inches change here or there. Otherwise, your results might be skewed.

    Personally, I don't like changing the heights cuz it affects my wrist angle and thus might worse any RSI symptoms I might have. I did however lop off the excess length of the rod that would normally be inside the bass. Seemed to lighten up the sound and give me a more open amplified sound. Go figure.
  3. I think(look out)everything affects everything(in this context)to some degree, but if I play DB in socks, like I do slab, the difference in overall height throws off my sad excuse for intonation. So I personally wouldn't experiment w/endpin adjustment for what I'd imagine would be a small factor in the end product. As an aside, when I replaced my flimsy steel rod w/a hollow stainless steel(I believe)tube endpin, the bass felt MUCH better, & IMO sounded a tad more 'solid', if you will. Bottom line: I believe endpin height can affect your sound. I doubt I could detect a difference blindfolded, YMMV...

    Edit: I also concur w/hdiddy's post.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Could this be more to do with where you're plucking or bowing the strings?

    So if you raise the bass then your right hand will naturally fall lower down, closer to the bridge and this will change the sound from plucking or bowing...?
  5. I lowered my endpin a couple of years ago, and I did find that my tone changed somewhat. As Bruce stated, I think it has lot to do with gravity, how your arms "fall" into the bass. By lowering the endpin and changing my stance a bit, I also found that thumb position was more accessible.
  6. christ andronis

    christ andronis

    Nov 14, 2001
    Hmmmm..interesting thread. I'm constantly playing with the height of my bass. I agree with both Mike and Bruce that your hand position changes; that's one reason I started raising the bass, because my hand position was resulting in a lot of stiffness when I played and the overall sound suffered because of it. What I also notice is that I have to rebalance the bass a bit as it seems the center point shifts and my stance gets out of kilter. Does that make sense?
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    But plucking in different spots is a totally different thing. If Rob is wondering if the end-pin height solely changes the sound, then he has to adjust his relative height as he adjusts the end-pin. That's the only way you can get a more objective test.

    If he raises the pin two inches, then he's gotta stand on a phonebook or wear platform shoes so that where he plucks as well as where his ear is stays relatively stationary with the bass.

    I think I tried this experiment at one point and found no audible difference in sound.
  8. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Or record samples with the endpin at different heights, while making sure that the right hand is in the same position relative to the end of the fingerboard.

    I haven't heard of this making a difference in sound. OTOH, I have heard people mention a big difference in sound based on the connection of the plug to the bottom of the bass (ie, an improper vs correct installation, or "alternative" installations such as the Rabbath end pins drilled into the block on an angle.)
  9. rob f johnson

    rob f johnson

    Nov 15, 2005
    nelson bc
    i do play a little lower towards the bridge and that for sure affects the tone, but what im experiencing is more thump maby even more volume specialy compared to endpin in when i just grab the bass out of the case and pluck a few notes. i think it has somthing to do with the way sound transmits trouhh to the floor? maby a little to tec but thats the fun allways looking for the best pleasing sound what ever works.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Maybe what your witnessing is that there's a better transfer of energy of the bass->end-pin->floor. If your pin is all the way in, then there might be more metal connecting the bass to the end-pin foot (or floor). And then what you're hearing is the floor amplifying your bass.

    It could also be as simple as that the bass is so low that what you're hearing is simply the sound of the bass bouncing off the floor better.

    My guess is that it's probably the latter. But obviously, if the bass is too low, then it can be hard to reach all the notes in thumb position.

    So to add to my experiment, you'd have to not only stand on a phone book, but also put your bass up on a pedestal so that the sound isn't bouncing off of the ground. :D
  11. This is what I reckon. I'm sure my E-string is more powerful with a lower endpin. Unfortunately setting it low does my back in.

    Acoustic theory would support this perception. There's an effect called boundary reinforcement - if you put a loudspeaker on the floor the bass energy is increased. This is because in free space the sound wave is a sphere, but if you introduce a boundary, i.e. the floor, you cut the shere in half and the longer wavelengths, i.e. the bass frequencies, reinforce each other and increase in amplitude relative to the shorter treble frequencies. Put the speaker on the floor next to a wall and you get more reinforcement from two boundaries, while on the floor in a corner gives you three boundaries and even more reinforcement.

    So you'd expect a double bass to follow the same rules. I believe it does, but if I lower the endpin my back hates me for it!
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    The endpin height will have some effect on your sound even to the extent that at some heights, the endpin itself may resonate. I recently had to have a chunk of my endpin ground off because it was vibrating annoyingly on open A.

    More importantly though, the endpin height will have some effect on your technique which will have an effect on your sound. In general, more height is better up to a point of course. It encourages you to pizz closer to the end of the fingerboard which most people don't do enough (equates to more volume and better definition) and encourages you to bow closer to the bridge (more resistance which means longer bows are easier). There are of course tradeoffs but generally most people especially beginners or those that have developed habits, do not pizz or bow low enough.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Maybe kneel on the floor to play...on a soft mat or something..? ;)
  14. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    I've been experimenting with this recently, and it seems to me that I get a tone closer to what I want with the endpin lower... but so many things affect your tone, I think the looseness of your muscles, how much you played yesterday and the day before, the temperature etc all have enough impact to make objective experiemnts almost impossible! I pulled a muscle in my arm a couple of weeks ago, and had to stop playing for 3 days. Although I can now do everything I used to do in terms of intonation, speed etc, it seems to me that my tone isn't quite back to where it was before the accident.
    I also think that as well as your tone being affected by variables, so is your hearing. I've had a cold since I started playing again, and it may well be that the difference in tone has more to do with my head than my fingers...
  15. This boundary reinforcement does affect volume perception and can be quite profound with a large instrument like the DB. The effect of a stage surrounding a bass can also be profound. I was listening to an average sounding plywood bass the other night on a stage unamped and 40 feet away was louder than if you were right on the stage with the bass. The stage did so much for this bass, I thought for sure it was plugged into something. I've found that if I am in a corner or against a wall, the bass sounds like it is behind me almost. The back of the bass throws off quite a bit of sound that bounces out of the corner with a double boundary reinforcing effect. How the end-pin connects to the stage is also important as well as how flexible the stage floor is. All of these things can really add up to more sound when you are playing unamped. I haven't noticed a difference with the EP height because I kind of just set it to where it was most comfortable a while back and I use the same detente every time I play.

    One thing I've notice a bit lately, mentioned in another thread is that my bass seems louder when it is vertically balanced over the endpin. The effect is more noticeable in the notes midway up the neck and in TP and I've worked very hard to keep a consistent bow stroke as I straighten up or lean the bass. I'm now trying to concentrate on keeping it vertically balanced. I play standing.
  16. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    It also may be that the height of the bass effects the 'strength' of your left hand. In other words you may be able to press the strings down harder without additional effort, thus getting clearer tone. The same may be true for your bow hand. If you bow in the same area of the strings, your arm must be in a different position, not only effecting your arm and hand strength but also the perpendicularity (is that a word?) of your bowing.
  17. TeHarr


    Nov 8, 2005
    I'd say, from a basic physics point of view, that the height of the endpin does not affect the sound, only where the sound is going. If you're playing and the sound is projecting out the f-holes onto a wall, then coming back to you, it might not be as direct as if you raised the bass up a bit so the sound is coming back more focussed on your head. It's just like Silversorceror said. If you hear a bass from behind it, it's not as loud as if you were in front of it.