Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Do I need a string retainer?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Aram, Sep 2, 2003.


  1. Aram

    Aram

    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I just bought a custom Matt Pulcinella 6-string.

    You can view it here: http://www.mpguitars.com/Sold Basses.html -- should be the top one (bubinga/wenge/mahogany).

    I love how the bass plays, but there slight problem with the B and C string, and I think it's because there is not enough of an angle from the nut to the tuner (it's a 3+3 setup, so B and C tuners are closest to the nut).

    The problem is, for the B-string, it's not as tight as other MPGs I've tried that do have a retainer. It's still very good, but when I had a friend simulate a string retainer (by tuning down a half step, and having him press the string down above the nut to the proper tuning), I noticed an even better B.

    For the C-string, I notice a bit of buzzing from the frets. I thought it could mean the frets need to be leveled, but I have no problem with other strings buzzing...and again, there's not much of an angle for that string between the nut and the tuning post.

    So, what do you think -- should I get a string retainer, even though it's already a tilt back headstock? Or are these symptoms of other problems?

    If yes, should I just get retainers for the B and C, or should I get the retaining bar across all strings (a la Lakland)? The latter is the way all of Matt's basses were made formerly.

    Input please!? :help:

    Thanks!
    Aram
     
  2. how many turns of the string around the machinehead post do you have? ie. could more turns put more pressure at the nut?

    but Mike Walsh of Iceni (Zoot basses) said that using a bar string retainer on a flat headstock showed an improvement over no retainer on an angled headstock.
     
  3. Aram

    Aram

    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I usually clip the string about 2" past the machine head before i wind it...though I think the angle is small enough that a couple extra turns won't increase it by much.

    Do you think there are any problems with using a retainer on a tilt-back headstock design? Would it have a negative effect on the four strings in the middle that are perfect as they are?

    -AC
     
  4. If you are trying to increase the string tension on specific strings, you are barking up the wrong tree.

    There can only be one "tension" for a specific string that is tuned properly. If you increase tension, you increase pitch. There's no way around this.

    A tiltback headstock is designed to create enough downforce across the nut to prevent rattle coming from the strings. Putting a string retainer on the headstock will increase this downforce but it won't change the tension of the string as you experience it while playing.
     
  5. Aram

    Aram

    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Hambone,

    Thanks for the response. For the C-string, I'm trying to prevent some of the fret buzz (the other strings don't buzz at all). For the B, I'm not so much trying to increase the tension as change the 'feel'. It felt better to me when I had someone simulate a retainer for that string. This was probably because the increased downward pressure rendered less interference from the frets under the B-string (thus a better feel), but I can't be sure (maybe it's psychological).

    Also, as mentioned, Matt's other basses are made with a string retainer, and they felt markedly different on the B and C-strings.

    I'm aware of the tension debate (scale length, string retainers, strings-through-body, etc), and that's not really what I'm getting at. I'll probably just have to do some experimenting. At any rate, none of this is perceptable when the bass is plugged in (i.e., I can't hear the fret buzz through an amp, and the B is very, very focused). It's when it's unplugged that I tend to notice these details.

    Thanks!
    Aram