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Christian McBride String Height

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by JavierBass, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. So I've searched the forums to no avail, I'm wondering if anyone has any information on Christian McBride's setup, specifically his string height. I've heard it's on the higher side, but I don't know if this is true or a rumor, and I'm looking for an explanation on what high exactly means. I've been researching string heights of different players and find no information on Christian McBride so if anyone knows anything about this subject it would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Nathan Parker

    Nathan Parker

    Oct 10, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I am of the belief that his string height is on the lower end of the spectrum. On the tunes where he plays fast arco, you can hear the strings smackin' on the fingerboard, which usually happens with lower string height. He also plays with some pretty fast lines that I think would be pretty hard with a high string height. Not sayin' it can't be done, just think he uses a lower string height.

    All of this is my own conjecture, and I haven't seen him play live, so I can't say for sure.
  3. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I just saw McBride play and took a gander at his bass while it was on the floor during soundcheck. It appeared as though he had "medium" action...maybe 8-9mm at the end of the fingerboard. Nothing abnormally low or high. He is not using NHOP/Bromberg on-the-floor action nor is he killing himself. I wouldn't stress over it...put your strings where YOU want them. :)
    Kickdrum likes this.
  4. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    And from what I heard he used to have his string even higher when the whole no amp/young lions thing was in full swing in NYC but lowered them to 8-9mm in recent years.
  5. Nathan Parker

    Nathan Parker

    Oct 10, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Personally, I wouldn't care if his string height was 2mm or 20mm. Every time I hear him on an album, his playing kills me.
    Lee Moses likes this.
  6. BAJO

    BAJO Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    West Orange,NJ
    I know Christian very well and after going through problems with his right hand he decided to bring them down about 3mm on the G and 7mm on E. At one point in his career he had them double that height however, he has decided to not fight the bass and save his strength.
  7. bassnutj


    Dec 26, 2007

    I would agree with this. You can hear it on recent recordings.
  8. bassnutj


    Dec 26, 2007

    What other bassists string height have you found?
  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    True that. The first time I saw him play live (at EMP, Nathan), I said, walking away from the show "I'll never misuse the word virtuoso again."
  10. arseniotall


    Dec 24, 2005
    who is a "virtuoso" on bass in your opinion?
  11. ThePersian


    Feb 3, 2017
    Dear Bajo,
    That is interesting to hear. I would go as well for this action. Though how is this height mesured? From the fingerboard to the upper part of the string or the bottom of the string, at the string lenght midpoint?
    gerry grable likes this.
  12. mdcbass

    mdcbass Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Seacoast of NH
    Two cents more

  13. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Action should have to do with the weight of your own arm and the responsiveness of your own bass. Also, you need to consider the places you play, and the musicians you have access to.

    Christian has a nice bass and plays nice halls with the best musicians (meaning they are going to make sure his sound comes through). He also probably has a great sound person on the case with a great sound system for most of his gigs.

    I am a similar size person to him and own a very responsive bass. My basic pizz technique and sound is very similar. I keep a medium action. I play a lot of un-amplified gigs, with my bass and my body medium action projects well.
    Smaller people with a similar sound seem to have higher action than I do.

    He is a GREAT model for sound and technique, sort of like Dave Holland or Ray Brown, he just does it right. I would focus more on how to get a similar sound with your gear, body and playing situations than what gear he uses.
    marcox likes this.
  14. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    When talking double bass the string height is measured from fingerboard to the bottom of each string AND measured at the end of the fingerboard. Obviously this makes the numbers relative to each instrument depending on factors like fingerboard length.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  15. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Saw a video interview with him recently and he was talking about keeping action really low and the pointlessness of high action that impeded playing.
  16. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    He wasn't arguing for what we would call low, just medium. There is a point where your fingers can get under the string and the string has enough room to vibrate. After that it just ads tension and reduces sustain. Some of those guys with the high action sound great still, they are using more force and you can hear it.
    Again, it depends on what else you want besides a big pizz sound, your bass your body.
  17. franklindayala


    Feb 8, 2015
    dhm and damonsmith like this.
  18. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    That’s the video interview I saw.
    DaveAceofBass likes this.
  19. Jim T

    Jim T

    Nov 28, 2004
    He addresses his action directly in his recent open studio course, saying (while pulling on his E)`that he keeps it 1 cm to .9 cm.

    Edit: sorry, he did specify on the short clip already posted...
  20. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Yeah. I guess he's talking about his E string, leaving the G around 5 mm.

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