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D vs Eb Necks

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by LowEndGal, Apr 12, 2006.


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  1. LowEndGal

    LowEndGal

    May 11, 2005
    Albany NY
    Hi everyone,

    At the risk of sounding really stupid, why might I want or even think of looking at a D neck instead of an Eb ? I believe my bass is an Eb but I'm not even sure. So I guess that's two questions - how do I tell what the neck is and then why would I care?

    Thanks and thanks for having this forum available to all of us who really need the information so many of you have and are so willing to share. Its been invaluable to me.
     
  2. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    Hi L.E.G.,

    Here's how you tell whether it's a D or Eb: Hold the neck with your left hand, and let your hand drop down til it's resting on the heel (where the neck joins the body). In that position, the note that your baby finger plays on the G string is (usually) either a D or an Eb....
    If the note is nicely in tune, it's great to have it as a reference point (ie., "I just dropped my hand to that position, so I know I can play this note in tune...). It gets trickier if the your bass is *almost* a D or almost an Eb neck...

    All of the basses I've owned (7 so far) have had D necks, and I think they're most common these days. However, many people prefer Eb (some even insist on Eb). I think it's whatever you're used to. There has also been discussion, in previous threads, about how to switch between the two. I hope to try this sometime soon...

    Cheers,

    Eh_train
    (Paul)
     
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I think it's the first finger.

    When your thumb finds the heel, the first finger will be over the octave D on the G string if it is a D neck.

    Most newer basses have D necks. If you base everything on the harmonic reference points, maybe the D neck makes more sense.

    I kind of look at it the same way I look at a beveled fingerboard. If the bass is otherwise a good bass with a nice feel and sound, I wouldn't let the D v. Eb neck issue be a deal breaker.
     
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    As mentioned already the First finger plays the note as your thumb rests on the heel. This is not an exact science and can vary a bit exactly where your first finger will find the D or Eb perfectly in tune. In time, one gets used to his/her exact Bass. Mant Basses are inbetween D and Eb as it is not easy with a Bass to make a Neck Graft to play perfectly in tune with the Various String Lengths and Neck/note stops. I have some Basses that are barely a D or closer to Db.

    Also, the Nut can be modified at the top and the String length shortened to get a more accurate stop at D or Eb if necessary. I did this a few times and most recently with an Italian Bass (Loveri) with an Eb neck a 42 1/2" string string length. I made a 5/8th long false nut and cheated the bridge up 1/2" from the F notch to sit parallel to the top of the notch instead of centered. The Bass Bar allows this usually and requires re-setting the sound post as well. The Bass now has a D-neck and a 41 3/8th string length. Much much better now than before for my taste.

    Also, if the length is in the middle, moving the Bridge up or re-cutting the heel of the neck if there is enough wood is another option to tune your stop.
     
  5. The David Gage article was interesting, though I was taught the "D" would be under the first finger. I guess which finger is really not important, as long as it is a solid physical reference that is easy to find and remember.

    LowEndGal - My feeling is that having that very important physical reference give your a reliable "D" is more useful than having it give you an "Eb".

    The D natural is common to most of the scales and arpeggios you will be playing, regardless of the type of music you play.
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've never bothered to check or care what kind of neck was on any of the basses I've owned. I can't imagine why it should make any difference beyond the first 15 minutes you pick up a bass for the first time (finding your bearings), but that's just me.
     
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    There are notes way up there??? :p
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Hey, we're not talking about the 'Nosebleed' section in the stands.:rollno: Just the Mezzanine!:)
     
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Either way-- you drop your hand down to the heel and the fourth finger is over the D or you drop your thumb in the heel and the first finger hits the D.
    Then there's the Gage article..
     
  10. LowEndGal

    LowEndGal

    May 11, 2005
    Albany NY
    Can I just say a big THANK YOU to all of you for this valuable information. I know it may not seem like much but I really do thank you. I don't come here very often, but when I do, I'm never disappointed and always find whatever information I'm in need of. So, again thanks so much.
     
  11. Actually, after reading that Gage article, I took a careful look at my bass and watched what I was doing.

    I think there are really two things involved:
    1. Where do you normally position your thumb in relation to the first two fingers of the left hand. I know many teachers teach to place the thumb directly opposite the second finger (Gage), though my teacher specifically wanted me to keep my thumb opposite the space between the first two fingers.
    2. As mentioned in the article not all basses with "D" necks have the notes falling exactly in the same places.

    So depending on how you were taught, and how your bass was built and set up, there is likely to be some variation. But it really doesn't matter, as long as you learn to find the spot (wherever it is) consistently.
     
  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    I agree completely with everything you said. When I play in the lower positions, my thumb is behind the first and second fingers. When I slide down to hit the D with my first finger, the curve in the neck, understandably, results in a slightly different position of the hand with my thumb "in" the curve. I'm sure you all know what I mean! As far as I can tell, everyone here is correct, including the Gage article, and they are all actually consistent. In any case, I have always determined whether a bass has a D-neck by sliding my entire hand down to the heel and seeing what note the fourth finger hits. On my current bass, it is as dead on to a D as I can imagine it being.

    Note in edit-- I just realized that I wrote "my current bass." I can just hear my wife saying, "I thought that was it!" :)
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well it's easy to check against the open D or harmonic...?
     
  14. spdrswb

    spdrswb

    May 26, 2005
    All basses I've played so far were between D and Eb, closer to d. I was tought to test it with middle finger, with a perfect hand shape (thumb in face middle finger). I call these basses Dplus ; - )).
    As always, there is no standard for DBs so the sad fact is that I have to get accomodated to each instrument. For me, the first one or two minutes are spent for finding reference points and feeling the strings and the overall resonance, in case of new instruments.
     
  15. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    DRURB, thanks for the statement below!

    "As far as I can tell, everyone here is correct, including the Gage
    article, and they are all actually consistent."

    You also noted,

    "In any case, I have always determined whether a bass has a D-
    neck by sliding my entire hand down to the heel and seeing what
    note the fourth finger hits. On my current bass, it is as dead on
    to a D as I can imagine it being."

    I have found this on the majority of basses I have played. The one advantage I can see of using the fourth finger and the side of the hand is there is very little variation between the alignment of these two parts of the hand (at least on my hand), whereas the angle between the thumb and first finger can vary by several inches....
     
  16. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The 4th finger should be E or F. If you get a D with the 4th finger with your thumb resting on or in the heel of the neck then your stop is about a C. Way way short for a modern neck.
     
  17. As long as you don't call her your "current" wife-just tell her you now need an Eb neck because all the other guys have one. :) I doubt any wife ever thinks her husband is done dreaming (and probably vice versa) and that's as it should be.
     
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Ken, you either misread what I wrote. Yes, the fourth finger is E or F if you place your thumb in the heel. I said I slide my entire hand down. That means the edge of my hand is in the heel. At that point, the fourth finger hits the D and on my bass it is dead on. This has been true for every D-neck bass I've ever played-- an yes, there have been many. I am talking about the same positioning eh_train described:

    "Here's how you tell whether it's a D or Eb: Hold the neck with your left hand, and let your hand drop down til it's resting on the heel (where the neck joins the body). In that position, the note that your baby finger plays on the G string is (usually) either a D or an Eb...."
     
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004


    Right you are! Truth be told, my wife has been great in terms of support and encouragement, especially when I said I wanted to pursue my dream and begin studying jazz with a world-class bassist. My statement made for good humor (I think-- Are you reading this, dear?). :)
     

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