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F# basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sheldon D., Sep 25, 2002.

  1. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 3, 2001
    Sheldon Dingwall here.

    We're about to start work on a prototype F# bass. I've got some pretty unique ideas that will be tested out, but I'd also like to hear from the few crazies that have experience with an F# string.

    What gauge are you using?
    Is it taper wound or straight?
    What pickups are you using?
    Are you using piezos at all?
    What scale length?
    How much use do you actually get out of the F# string?
    What would you do differently?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    wow! Hello there Mr Dingwall.. I've heard many praises about your basses here on TB.. Glad to have you post on the basses forum! :)

    F#... hmm... Maybe JT might know more about this? Or Jauqo (From what I've heard, he has a LOW C# string)

    Unless anyone else that can help..

    If i remember correctly, John Turner used a 0.180 for the F#

    JT or anyone else? :D
  3. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Cane Ridge, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    I have a Benavente 6 string being built with an F# 165. SIT is wrapping the string for me. The string would have to be taper wound at the bridge.

    Jauqo, I know can help you quite a bit. I believe he does down to a 204 and I believe has also spoken with SIT about wrapping strings, but I'm not sure who is doing it right now. He'll be along shortly I'm sure.
  4. what kind of amp rig does it take to amplify an F#?
  5. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    Is it really neccesary to have a low F# or a low C#???
    It sounds a bit to low to me, I go down to G# with my rock band and that sounds very blurry.........:confused:
  6. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Wow...I always though Bb was low, I wanna hear the notes, not feel them! (Or, wait, mayyybe I do wanna [only] feel them!). Blah, if anyone can, send me pics of these basses, and sound files, if at all possible! Thanks :D
  7. Yeah, it seems like the novax system would be ideally suited to something like this. IMO, the benefit of increased clatiry in the low end (while keeping the top end from being "pingy") and more even string to string tension are needed. I'm sure John Turner will chime in with info about his use of low F#'s on his Conklins. I know he has basses tuned to F# on both a 34" and 35" scale though I'm sure the incresease scale langth of the fanned fret system coupled to a super-rigid neck would be great.
    As far as string gauges go, he uses a .150 dean markley SR2000 and says that taper-wound strings are a must for intonation reasons. Warrior also has a .175 D'Addario XL made for their basses. Like Brian said, Jauqo III-X has a Surine 4 string strung down the C# with specailly made strings. I have played a Roscoe 7 string with a low F# at Bass NW that had a .135 on it.
    The biggest challenge with this sort of thing other than the string tension and clarity is the amplification. Though on electric bass with magnetic pickups there isn't a ton of fundemental (it's about the same volume as the 2nd and 3rd harmonic) it would still be nice to have a rig with response into the 20's for this sort of thing. Maybe piezo's or something like the lightwave pickups would be better as far as the relative volume of the fundemental. Most prosound speaker are only good to ~50 hz though. There are a few exceptions, most notably the subs from servodrive and some of the EQed systems like the Bagend ELF. With box size, low frequncy extension and efficiency, there is always going to be a compromize in one regard. If I ever go the F# route, I probably bi-amp with something purpose-built on the bottom.
    Anyway, Sheldon, I love your basses. I'd like to hear more about what you are planning.

  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i use a .165" tapered sr2000 dean markley string for the low f#.
  9. Hey John, I should have just waited for you to talk about your own gear. I am just excited to have a cool luthier asking for feedback in here. :)
  10. sheldon, anyone crazy enough to want an F# string is crazy enough to spend lots of money for it, so go all out. :D
  11. Mr. Dingwall, have you given any thoughts to a speaker cabinet that will reproduce low F# with any accuracy?

    This topic has been rather hotly debated here.

    Or, is your new baby targeted more for recording or a pro audio venue?
  12. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I am curious, is this going to be a fanned fret instrument? Also, I am assuming it is going to be a 7 string.

    Sounds cool.

  13. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 3, 2001
    Thanks for the responses so far.

    Brian, that Benavente is pretty cool! We've done horizontal neck lams in the past and I think it's a great idea.

    JT and Brian, how much "tone" are you getting out of the F# string? How useful has it been?

    Limo, there is a solution.

    Chris brings up some good points regarding the harmonics. Harmonics are where it's at.

    Of the customers that have expressed interest in an F# bass, all have systems that are IMO capable or at least have the cake to build one.

    Geoff, we've had interest in 7's and 5's - nobody's taken my offer of a 4 though ;) It's my hope that the Novax fanned fret system is enough, but if not, I've got a few more avenues to pursue.

    PS: Geoff, did you get my email? If not, please give me a shout.

  14. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    Can I ask one question???
    How is the ease of use with the F# string or the C# string, I think B is low enough, the only reason I go to G# is because the guitar player of my band has a 7 string guitar and tunes it down to G#, otherwise I think B is low enough.
    What do you guys think??
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i've been very happy with the performance of the low f# on my basses, but it does need a bit of coddling. it's naturally a very round, mellow sound, i'm thinking due to the thickness of the string, and it does need special cabs to do it justice, but nothing too extreme. i use a yamaha 1x18" pa sub, and i'm happy with the results i get.

    i often double octaves with it and notes on the low e string, and am very pleased with the depth it adds. i also like to play higher up on the neck and get a really round, dub-ish sorta sound, although i've found that even with tapered strings the intonation gets a bit dicey past the octave-14th fret area.

    how useful? well, i wouldn't construct a whole line down there, although i've experimented with it, but that's not because of the performance - more a factor of the vast difference in range between the guitars and the bass playing that low. it's a cool effect, but i haven't found the right spot for it yet.

    good luck with it sheldon, i look forward to trying one out at a namm show soon :D ;)
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i don't have any issue at all with the ease of using my low F# - it's just another string. if you think low b is low enough, then good for you, don't go any lower.
  17. hello Mr. Dingwall,

    I played one of your basses some time ago and was really pleased and intrigued by it. I think the more luthires making basses with extended range can only add to the health and logistical savvy of instrumentalists. good luck with the prototype!

    that said (written), I'll address the original questions:

    my F# is a medium light gauge (.150) taper wound from LaBella. my pickups are passive Bartolini soapbars with no pizo enhancement. my scale length is 34" and I use the notes below 31Hz B as much as I use those below standard low E. the only thing I'd do differently -- were it an option -- would be to use DR strings, but they don't wind them.

    for what it's worth, I'm playing through a Demeter preamp, a Stewart World 2.1 power amp, and AccuGroove cabs. the sound is devastating. for those who can make it, Bill Conklin and Mark Wright (of Conklin Guitars and AccuGroove, respectively) will be sharing a booth at the Anahein NAMM. what better way to check out the possibilities of the lowest frequencies!

    I hope that helped,

    from the low end,

  18. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 3, 2001
    Thanks again for the insightful responses.

    If need be, we might only be able to fret in the lower positions and go fretless further up on the F# string.

    If you had to choose the cut-off point for the frets, which fret would it be.

    Jon, this might/might not be an advantage for you higher up as it would allow you to adjust your fingering by ear and maybe get around the funky intonation.

  19. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    don't get me wrong, i don't think it's unusable, it's just that it gets a bit tougher to make sure that the notes don't go way sharp for me when performing. it could be a function of me just playing hard combined with how thick the string is to start with. i don't think going partially fretless is required at all, although that might be a cool option.
  20. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 3, 2001
    Hi John,

    The partial fretting is due to a new fretting concept that may be required.

    Also, I forgot to mention that the amount of taper in the speaking portion of the string can affect the intonation in the higher frets because of the greater taper wrap to full wrap ratio.

    If you're not doing this already, you might request that your .160" string be wound with minimal taper past the saddle - 1/8"-1/4". It will help a little.

    When I say past the saddle I'm refering to the speaking portion of the string.

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