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Clearing up the low-B?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jscomposer, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. jscomposer


    Nov 25, 2009
    Click here to see my bass. 34" scale, alder body, maple neck, pau ferro fretboard, single EMG 40TW in the "sweet spot."

    I'm using Circle K strings (balanced 039-130), and acoustically, the low-B is nice and articulate. Plugged directly into my Mbox 3 it's messy. I wouldn't quite say muddy or mushy or muffled, just messy; like there are too many overtones/harmonics and not enough fundamental. Switching to single coil clears it up a bit, as well as plucking closer to the neck, but it can still be clearer.

    Any other suggestions (besides routing and installing a single coil neck pickup which AIN'T happening)? Should I do the EMG 18v mod? Are there particular frequencies I should be adjusting EQ-wise?
  2. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    what guage string are you using?
  3. jscomposer


    Nov 25, 2009
    Oh yeah, good question! 130. It's one of their balanced tension sets: 130-98-73-55-39. I'll edit the op.
  4. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    maybe try a smaller guage , like a .125 or .120
    it'll be a bit floppier and take some adjustment in technique, but it may help clear up the unwanted overtones. also using SS instead of nickel (if they aren't already SS)
  5. jscomposer


    Nov 25, 2009
    I tried a TI 118 jazz nickel round wound, and it was marginally better.

    I should reemphasize that both TI 118 and CK 130 are very clear and articulate acoustically. It's when I plug in (direct to Mbox 3 or through Sansamp BDDI) that I have a hard time discerning notes at half step intervals. So I'm thinking it's an EQ issue. Which frequencies should I be tweaking? And should I do the EMG 18v mod?

    (Should this thread be in a different forum, btw?)
  6. jvolts


    Jun 18, 2008
    I had a similar problem on a Squier P5. I could not intonate the B string. You could watch the open B oscillate sharp and flat on the tuner. The nut slot was very loose as was the bridge saddle slot. Also the break angle over the bridge saddle was very slight. After messing with string guage and material I settled on SS .125 and sized the nut for that size. But fretted notes still were not clear enough. So I set the high mass bridge into the body .100" and got a much better angle over the saddle at the string height I like. Now one can hear a clear B and C. There's a lot of mass swinging around on the B that needs to be locked in at the ends to make it sound right in my experience.
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Cut bass, boost mids, pluck closer to the bridge. That should help clarify the pitch of the notes.

    Reproducing the fundamental frequencies of the low B is not generally considered desirable; it is the harmonics that give these notes their power.
  8. Have you tried lowering the pickup?

    Break angle from nut to post okay?
  9. I play a MIM jazz V. I drop tune the B to A. I had huge problems intonating the low A when I was running heavy gauge strings. despite many people telling me with drop tuning I need to play heavy gauge I made the switch to DR Hi-beam medium lights. Intonation was still a little troublesome but not nearly as bad, the saddle adjustment actually picked up some of the slack from switching to a lighter gauge. the ease of playing is great with lighter strings. and the only "eq" adjustment I made was to roll off the tone knob a little more.
  10. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Have you tried the bass through any other rig than the m-box? It may be a limitation of your rig rather than of your bass.
  11. GKevinK


    May 23, 2008
    Glen Burnie, MD
    When you listen 'acoustically', it's highly likely that you're really hearing the harmonics, not the fundamental. Is there any chance that you're overdriving the input circuit? What are you listening to via the M-box - speakers? Headphones? There's also the possibility that the issue might be the playback reproduction and not the input side. Speakers are also capable of muddying up a very low frequency signal.

    If you happen to have Sarah McLachlan's track "Into The Fire" off "Solace", listen carefully to the low end from :30 to :50 in the track. If you can hear the fundamentals distinctly and in tune there, then you can rule out the your playback side as part of the problem. (I can't begin to count the number of subwoofers I auditioned with that track that completely crapped out.)
  12. mystic38


    Dec 4, 2012
    Mystic CT
    Really need to look at your signal chain .. remember that low B is 31 Hz, and the A below that is 27Hz.. frequencies that are way outside the response curve of pretty much all cabs... your typical 410 is -10dB at 50Hz so expect something to be 10-15dB down from the same note one octave above.

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