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Earthing problem with Tapewound strings on my Fretless.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Blazer, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    A few weeks ago, I completely overhauled my SX Jazz bass. Re-finished it white (it was black), Replaced the white pickguard with a tortoise shell one and replaced the stock neck with a Vintage tinted Alparts Fretless neck with ebony unlined fingerboard.

    I then strung it up with Labella "TrueBass" Tapewound strings, they feel wonderful and give that warm upright-like growl. With the Bridge pickup solo'ed and with the tone rolled back I am able to get a really luscious "Mwaaah" from it.

    But the problem is that the bass has a severe case of 60 cicle hum because of the tapwound strings not conducting. The only way I can skip this problem is to play with the palm of my hand on the bridge but I don't like the sound it gets when I play there. I really like the stock pickups and currently haven't got the means to replace them, so what can I do?
  2. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    A couple of suggestions;

    a) Scrape the tapewinding off of one string where it meets the bridge saddle. I'm not that familiar with tapewounds, so I don't know how hard this would be, or what problems it might cause

    b) Attach an alligator clip on one end of a wire, leaving the other end stripped enough to make solid contact with the bridge. Attach the exposed wire to the bridge, i.e. unscrew the bridge slightly and cram the wire underneath, then screw the bridge back down, or solder the wire directly to the bridges ground, uh, earth contact, whatever works.
    Use the alligator clip to clamp onto the ball end of the string, or to bite through the tapewinding of one of the strings behind the saddle. Tell everyone it's a customized piezo wiz-bang that's a key ingredient in your tone :)

    Basically, just find a way to get string metal in contact with the bridge, and your problem should go away. I'm just an electrician, though, not a luthier. Maybe someone else has a much simpler and more attractive alternative.
  3. put stacked humbuckers in there...

    my wishbass has a single KA soapbar (humbucking) and is strung with LaBella Deep Talkin' Nylon Tapewounds AND is dead quiet!

    By the way....I LOVE LaBella Nylon Tapes, too...I have them on two of my basses (one fretless, on fretted)
  4. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    It is a bigger problem than this. The only reason the bass will get quieter even if the strings make an electrical contact with the bridge is if a person touching them. Even if the strings make a connection, the fact that you are still touching the nylon(?) means that you're still insulated when you're touching the strings. While safer, this setup is typically noisier.
  5. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA
    Very interesting about the alligator clip. I noticed that Chris Wood of Medeski, Martin and Wood had an alligator clip flipping off his A string when they performed at the Britt Festival this past summer. I would have never seen this without binoculars. I wondered what was up and now I am even more curious.