E string Problems

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Thomas Stone, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. Hello all

    Would like to bounce my current problem off the TB forum:

    My E string sounds great when played open (pizz), but when stopped i lose nearly half my volume.

    The growl from the fingerboard nearly drowns out the fundamental.

    I'm currently using a spirocore e string, but the problem seemed more pronounced using a superflexible E string.

    When bowing the stopped notes seem stunted, there appears to be no ring off when i remove the bow.> i know spiro's aren't best for arco...but it was the same with a superflexible

    I have no problems with my other srtings.

    Does this seem like a problem with the scoop on the fingerboard?

    The relief looks good when a flat edge is placed on the board.

    when i'm back in london i'm taking my bass in to a luthier, but i'm out of town for the moment.

    any opinions would be great, thanks
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Seems like a soundpost adjustment to me.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I have the same problem with the Superflexible E. It just seems to have a lot more harmonic content than fundamental. I do not notice this with a Helicore Hybrid E though. So the string could be part of it. The fingerboard could surely be part. The soundpost maybe not so much but it is worth having the bass looked at.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I don't know what growl is, but if you're losing volume it's probably because you're 1) not stopping the string with the necessary firmness, 2) your string's too low and it's rattling against the fingerboard...you'll definitely hear this when you bow it, and/or 3) you're not stopping the string in tune.

    The ring from the bow happens through sympathetic vibrations from the other strings that are affected by the note you play...which means you've gotta be in tune with the other strings or it's not gonna happen. If your fingers are touching the other strings when you play on the E string you're killing the ring that way too.

    Just some thoughts take your bass to the luthier too and good luck!

    Oops you're using Spiros...yeah those things ring for days maybe it's more of the strings being too low than anything else
  5. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    +1; I had the same problem with the Superflexible E, of all [um well.... that would be 4, I stuck with the same Spirocore E for over seven years] the Es I had so far it was the thinnest sounding.
  6. Thanks for the ideas.
    I'm getting the bass to a luthier asap and i am coming to the conclusion that a nudge of the soundpost could reslove the issue (heres hoping- although the open E sounds good)

    Stopping pressure was one of my early ideas so i experimented by using a rubber tipped g-clamp to stop the string at various points, rather like a giant capo.
    Bowing still sounded muted and pizz was all "thunk" and noise from the fingerboard - growl for want of a better word, it would actually sound great if there was more oomph and fundamental.

    My action on the E string was 11mm (raising or lowering did nothing to remedy the problem) and the sound couldn't be described as a buzz so i checked the scoop using a metal metre ruler and all seemed good. Too much scoop?
    We'll see.

    thanks for the reponses
  7. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    Hi Thomas,
    Could you post a followup? What did your luthier do, did it get resolved?
  8. hello Dwight

    The folllow up is still to follow i'm afraid; I broke my wrist in the build up to christmas and have only just got the bass to a luthier.

    He seemed to think fingerboard scoop is acceptable, and was hoping that sound post adjustment would correct the problem.

    He seemed initially puzzled as the open E sound is fairly good, but the sound seemed to kill itself once the string was stopped.

    I'll post a full follow up next week after i collect the bass.
  9. I get this too - Spirocore Weichs - so I'll be interested to hear if you manage to resolve it.
  10. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    Thanks Thomas,

    I'll appreciate that.

    BTW, Christmas in London must be a pretty wild affair. Hope the wrist is better.
  11. OK everyone the moment you've all been waiting for.

    I collected my bass just over 2 hours ago.
    what's new?

    well the sound post was tweaked to the treble side a tiny amount and south a tiny tiny amount.
    The results on the E string seem good, but every other string has improved in tone too, so proportionally the E still dips in volume and fundamental when stopping the string.

    However the other work done on my bass (new end pin, reinforced neck joint and repaired shoulder chip) is so good that the instrument feels like a new beast.

    A few weeks back i put an obligato e string on, for bowing reasons (i played a gig with my band even with a broken wrist, but i simply droned the E detuned to D)

    this new string simply changed the tone and bowability but had no effect on the stopping problem.

    ha ha as for christmas in london I'm sure it can be wild, but this year mine was the usual quiet family thing (quiet apart from all the usual christmas meal rows)

    Next step a new bridge.
  12. Hi Thomas, thanks for the follow-up.

    I wonder if the problem is that that's just the nature of our basses? I suppose with mine the E-string even though it is louder when open than when stopped is still quieter than the other strings. My bass is a small-bodied gamba shape and maybe it just isn't big enough to make the E project.

    What size is your bass? Do you think that might be a factor?
  13. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Maybe you should play it louder, or slower.

    I notice with my bow, I need to play the e string much slower than I used to think I should. Maybe you can do this experiment, and visualize your pizz finger is a little bow, and needs to move slower on the e string. I think most basses are going to be quieter down there, but if you get the string vibrating the right speed, you should get more fundamental.
  14. Sorry, Alex, I don't quite get what you're saying. Do you mean I should be ahead of the beat on the E-string since it takes longer to sound, or do you mean I should be squeezing the sound out of it instead of attacking it, or what?

    Seems to me if a string vibrates slower its pitch would be lower...
  15. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I think when you excite the string you excite it at many partials, or nodes. You basically make all the harmonics ring. If your e string sounds tinny or not very full it can be because it is not vibrating in a good ratio that allows the fundamental to come out, and you may be vibrating it more at the octave. If you are doing this, and can add more friction to the string, you can make it vibrate more fully along the fundamental. More arm weight or friction or a slower finger can make this happen. With the bow, it is more noticeable.

    An experiment for you to try: Play a harmonic with your bow on the estring so it makes a very clean sound. keep moving your bow very fast back and forth and close to the bridge. Once you get the speed down, take your finger off the string, but keep the bow moving at the same speed. You should be able to keep the harmonic sound going with about 5 min practice.

    What I am saying is that maybe you are doing this same thing with your finger when you pizzicatto, and that the speed and weight of your finger can alter the sound. If it is too light and fast, you may be getting more of a partial vibration instead of getting your whole string to vibrate.
  16. Okay, that makes sense. I'm afraid I don't even have a bow, but I understand what you're saying about pizz. I'll experiment with my technique and see what comes up. Thanks for that.
  17. jb6884


    Jan 30, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    Hey all, I'm having a similar problem, but with A and E. I can deal with the growl by just pushing the string down harder and making an effort to stop the note to produce even tone with the D and G. My real issue is that the A/E sound extremely tinny open. The G and D have a really nice woody boomy type tone. Very different from A & E. I don't know if this sheds some light on what it might be, but it's extremely hard to get the octave A harmonic on the A string too. Never experienced this before with any other bass. Any ideas? The bass is a '39 Kay C-1 with Spirocore Orchestras.
  18. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    how thick is your neck/fingerboard? That sounds like a lot of kays I have seen. Did you ever have any wood removed? Sometimes the necks are not thick enough.
  19. jb6884


    Jan 30, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    No wood has been removed from the neck, but the fingerboard (which was a previous ebony replacement) was planed down/dressed recently. Also, the strings are about 3 weeks old. I've played quite a bit in the last 3 weeks though, and each day especially after the bass gets warmed up, the tinny sound does seem to be minimized.
  20. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    maybe it is just new strings