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E&A strings sounds stereo and detuned

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Steamtronic, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Hi,

    I've recently acquired a 4 string Burns Marquee bass re-issue (I'm guessing about 10 years old).

    As I move up the neck the E and A strings start to produce an oscillation or "throbbing" effect similar to when you tune by harmonics, except I'm only playing on one string. By the time I get to the 12th fret it sounds as though there are two strings sounding an 1/8 tone out - almost like when you turn the "detune" knob on a synth - but I'm only playing one string (and yes I'm making sure the other strings are properly muted). If I unplug and press my ear to the body I can hear the oscillation effect on the E and A kicking in about the 9th fret, but not the D and G.:confused:

    I changed to new strings (flats), no difference.

    What might be causing this? Is there a cure?

    EDIT:My bass has a fender-style bridge with grub screws either side of each bridge saddle. If the grub screws heights on each saddle are not even, could this be the cause? The E grubs are noticeably out from each other, but the others seem balanced.
  2. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    My first guess would be that the pickups are too close to the strings and the magnetic field is interfering with the strings' vibration. The lower strings are much more susceptible to this than the higher ones. Try lowering the pickups under those strings.
  3. Thanks Mike, but sadly that's not it.

    I'm going to pick up some small allen keys today and try to even out those bridge saddles to see if that does the trick.
  4. OK got my allen keys & evened up the saddles. No effect, but I managed to get rid of a lot of fret buzz :).

    Id already moved the pups down a bit, but decided to drop them all the way down almost flat to the body and the effect stopped. thanks Mikezimmerman, you were right.

    Now I've got two more problems!

    1. The pickups are now so far from the strings they've lost a lot of tone. I can still play & be heard but I'm missing the Burns tone.

    2. Even though I've wound the saddles as far down as they'll go, the intonation is still out. Im 1/8th - 1/4tr tone out at the twelfth fret so it looks like the only thing I believe I can do is get the entire bridge moved about an inch further down the body.