Ever have a bass with a dead low E?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mmbongo, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Over the years as I went through various basses, I had a few that had totally nothing happening with the E string. These were not cheap basses either, I had an early USA Lakland, a USA Spector/SSD, and a USA Hamer Cruise. Man that Lakland and that Spector really broke my heart because they were such fine basses otherwise.

    Something funny just this second occured to me as I'm typing this...after typing 'USA' for all those basses I realized that I only had this problem with USA basses! My Japanese ESP J-Four and my Korean G&L Tribute have the BEST E string sounds I've ever had!

    Anyway, has anyone else encounted this? An otherwise fine bass with a wimpy E string sound? I tried every string brand and type made, and changed pickups on all those basses. Even acoustically they were just dead. I had the Spector and the Lakland about 10 years ago and it still bugs me thinking that I could have done something to fix it instead of just getting rid of them. I really miss the feel of those 2 basses, just not the dead E.
  2. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    I've had a wimpy E string on a Rickenbacker 4003. Tried different strings. Tweaked it every way I knew how. Took it to a highly respected tech and had him set it up. It just never got to where it sounded as good as the other strings. There has been an ongoing discussion for years on the Ric forum about this, so apparently I wasn't the only one to experience it.
  3. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I thought for Ricks it was the narrow field the pickups have. I used to get a lot of dead E strings from Rotosound back in the early 80s but nothing like that lately.
  4. droskobass


    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
    yeah, every 5 string I've ever tried :rolleyes:

    no seriously, check the pick up and string heights. Raising and lowering the pickups makes a huge difference in output.

    if the pickups are too low the output will be weak. too high and the magnets will actually pull on the string. kill the sustain and make it sound "warbly".

    also check: is the silk wrap on the string going over the saddle or nut? that'll kill sustain for sure, is the Rick's string mute hitting the E string?

    ...but I guess you tried all of this...time for a parametric EQ!
  5. loend68

    loend68 Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses, T.C. Electronics
    A dead low 'E' on a US Spector? Really? I love Spectors because of how good the open 'E' sounds!
  6. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Yep. It was an SSD era Spector. I'd still have that bass (and probably the Lakland too) if it wasn't for that dead E. I probably would have stopped buying basses at that point...but here I am....still shopping :)
  7. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    +1 on the rick 4003. I've owned 3 of them and they all had moderately quiet E's.

    Going to a lighter gauge string helps with that somewhat as well as raising that side of the bridge PU. Plucking with a lighter touch helps too.

    I suspect it's the pickups somehow because acoustically the sound is pretty even...

    On my Fender Jazz I had the opposite problem - the E was the _only_ string you could hear. Nothing I tried helped, it was even the only audible string when played by other guys who were much better players than me.....


    BIGREDSIX Supporting Member

    Another Ric with a dead "E" - my (brand new at the time) 1974 4001. Flats or rotos, it didn't matter. A real shame as that was a beautiful instrument. It all worked out in the end though as I traded it for a early 60's P-Bass (also back in the day)!
  9. A Squier JV Precision I used to own had this. Anything below the A on the E-string sounded thin and hollow, acoustically as well as amplified. A shame, because overall it was a nice bass.

    Lately I've been on the hunt for a nice Precision, and I tried (amongst many others) a 70's Fender with the same problem.
  10. PrivateHigh


    Jul 19, 2009
    Long Island
    My precision's E string sounds dead when I string through body, but toploaded, they sound fine.
  11. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Yep I had an American Fender Jazz bass with the weakest E string in the history of time.


    Dec 27, 2007
    I find that hard to believe, the open E string of my Spector Euro is my secret weapon, it rings and sings with growly tone forever, but if i ran into a lemon of that kind, i would facepalm and shoot it like a wounded horse...with tears in my eyes and all...:atoz:
  13. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    When I saw this thread title the first thing I thought of was Rickenbacker.

    My 4003 had the same issue, and apparently it is, or was, a common one. :meh:
  14. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Funny post - I just noticed last night I think the E string is low output on my bass...but I have 5 others, so it gives it a unique tone I suppose
  15. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Another thought; how low are your saddles? With the radius curve the E and G (std 4 string mind you) are going to be the lowest strings and they will have less angle on them; shimming the neck slightly may require raising the saddle, thus increasing the ammount of pressure on the saddle. I've had this issue with a couple of basses, it can't be that uncommon.
  16. DanTheMan2112

    DanTheMan2112 Formerly known as dannnnn Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2007
    Beaufort, SC
    I had a G&L L-2000 with a similar problem. The E string wasn't softer, but the tone was drastically different-kind of dead. I could never get it to sound consistent, even with brand new strings. It was very disappointing because it sounded really good, otherwise. :(
  17. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    My very first axe - Fender Bullet - was pretty bad. I wrongly blamed it on the shorter scale.

    Later on, I had a '77 Jazz, which had some great vibe, except the A string was dead! I changed strings, pickups, nothing worked. Weird...

    I've had good luck since then. (Though it can be hard to find a 5-string with a real good low B.)

    My Nash Jazz bass makes every other E string seem dead by comparison.
  18. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    never on a bass I've bought... But I've played a few in stores with dead strings. I have to think this is a function of A) pickups B) nut defect. Both are resolvable.

    Now, dead spots in a neck, that's another thing altogether...
  19. ajb


    Mar 20, 2005
    This thread really hits home for me. A while ago I bought what I thought was going to be my dream bass: A Lakland USA Joe Osborn. But it had a dead E string! The lack of sustain, especially on notes C and above, was noticeable and eventually made me hate the bass after a few hours of playing it. I was able to return it but when I look back on it I am still disappointed. I really wanted to love that bass.
  20. Hoover

    Hoover Inactive

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    No, but I had a 5-string with a low B that was so dead it sounded like it was coming from a completely different instrument. Every other string, whether open or stopped, sounded fat, full, live, ringing, electric; they had the full spectrum of sound and dynamic range, the kind of firmness and clarity that all bassists covet and many instruments only aspire towards.

    But the B string was dull, lifeless, anemic. It was much more restricted in its upper harmonics, had less "meat" on its fundamental, had a slower attack, didn't sustain as long, and had less output. It was freakishly different from the other strings.

    I tried different strings, no luck. I tried different string mounting techniques (the bridge offered two different anchor points, ostensibly to allow for different string tension), no luck. I checked the pickups, they were fine.

    That one string just sucked.