flats w/ quick decay

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by dancehallclasher, Mar 13, 2001.

  1. basically i want something that will make my p-style bass sound like an upright, i.e. dark, fast decay, thumpy. any suggestions?
  2. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    You could always go with the Labella James Jamerson set and shove a hunk of foam under the strings by the bridge. You'll get big thump, and quick decay with this setup. I had some on my PBass fretless, and they sounded good, but I took them off and dropped some Joe Osborn flats onto it. Not quite as thumpy, but they sound great. Of course, it will never sound just like an upright, but this is about as close as you are gonna get.

    Be prepared to adjust your truss rod for the added tension of the Jamerson flats (.050-.110). They are huge.
  3. Foam packed under the bridge just doesn't sound right. If you have a Fender, get a bridge cover, the curvature gives it a nice even distance from all the strings. <a href="http://www.kingbass.com/">David King</a> says the rectangular foam keyboard handrest pad you can get from any office supply is made of the stuff (he warns to give it the squeeze test before paying), and I went and got one, and yeah, it's the stuff, just $8 or so. Try as hard as you can to inspect a vintage Fender with the intact mute. If you take my advice based on my faulty memory, you're in for a lot of trial and error. OK, you were warned. You want to cut it about 3/8" or 1/2" thick (if I remember my '63 P right), about 1/2" wide, and as long as the upper inside surface of the cover. Starting at the G string end edge in the middle, cut the corner off straight ending at the long edge halfway between the D and G strings (the idea is to have about 2/3 as much foam muting the G string as the rest; I can't for the life of me remember which side goes toward the bridge, you'll have to try both ways). Try playing it, listening for the best sound. Adjust thickness and positioning inside the cover as you go. Keep cutting new ones until it's just right, you have lots of chances in one keyboard handrest pad. Use Weldwood contact cement on both surfaces, wait until dry to touch, and then very carefully position the two and smack 'em together. If it's wrong, rip it out and hope it doesn't frag. If it frags, heck, make another.

    <a href="http://www.pyramid-saiten.de/">Pyramid</a> nickel flats give a very classic sound if that's what you're looking for. They're very easy on the frets and fingers. The short scale ones can be ordered with an optional .095 E string instead of the standard .105. I wanted to try the .095 in long scale so I asked them to make me some when an order for the short scale .095 came across their desks, and it did, so I now have two of those to try out. The .105 is the deadest one in the set is why I wanted to try the light one (also because I want to try different, lighter B gauges for the <a href="http://www.dpcustom.com/">DPCustom</a> P5 I have on order; I ordered that as a pure flatwound P5 machine).

    <a href="http://www.thomastik-infeld.com/">Thomastik</a> nickel flats actually sound more acoustic than any other flat, but what electric bassists call acoustic and what sounds like an URB can be very different--Thomastiks will make a P sound very much like an URB with, you guessed it, Thomastik Spirocores (attack the strings closer to the base of the neck). This is not a dead sound by any means but I love it.
  4. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Of course, this will only work if you want to install a bridge cover on your bass...

    I used a makeup application sponge (about $1.29) under my bridge cover, and it worked just fine.
  5. Well, the Fender mute works very differently from other bass mutes. It is pushed into the strings from above with some force, yet the Fender mute is rather close to the bridge, maybe even touching some of the saddles, so it doesn't have undue influence. The advantage is consistency. It is not sensitive to direction or force of attack. When you pluck the string, you are largely moving it sideways, but since the string is buried in the mute, it mutes well, and at about the same degree across a range of attacks from ballad to Jamerson. Nor is it sensitive to string height. Whether you play an open string or a fretted note, you get the same amount of decay. If you have ever tried adjusting a Ric or Gibson or MM mute, you will have noticed how twitchy adjustment is. That's because they touch the string far enough away from the bridge that they have too much muting power. Getting them to kiss the string "just so" is very hard. I have recently seen a new bass mute that works like the others in that it is pushed into the strings at a distance from the bridge (from the side away from the player). It looks like it probably shares the problems of the others. The Fender is built right. The curvature of the cover and the pressure, consistency, and placement of the foam are essential to its success. It's a shame when you buy the bass or just the cover, you don't get the strip any more.
  6. hmmm, interesting stuff. is there anyone who makes a mute that would clamp onto the bridge and mute the strings from above?
    I remember that "Fretless at the flick of a switch" add on device- I think that used a sitar type buzz effect though- maybe it's possible to put a foam muting pad in instead....
  7. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I think the TI Jazz Flats come closer than others to emulating the accoustic bass tone.
  8. I find TI flats to have a rather long decay compared to many.

    One string which is very nice and has a very quick decay is the GHS Precision Flat. They seem to be made really well with a really smooth feel. The tone is very dark. The reason I don't use them is that I generally like a little longer decay, but if short decay is what you're after, these are probably the strings for you.

    BTW, the decay length of double bass strings is just as varied as electric bass. There are some strings that have very long decay times (Thomastik Spirocore) and some that have very short decay times (Pirastro Flatchromsteel), and some are in the middle.

    The other thing that sometimes give people the impression that the decay of double bass strings is short is the fact that a lot of pizzicato players have rather poor technique. A lot of guys simply aren't holding the string down efficiently enough to let the string ring to its fullest. There's an awful lot of 'clutching' and 'grabbing' going on with the pizz guys.
  9. > A lot of guys simply aren't holding the string down
    > efficiently enough to let the string ring to its fullest.

    Yeah, and that's a big electric player's problem, too. The manifestation is a little different (on electric, it's fret buzz that no amount of bridge/neck adjustment will fix), but the cure is the same: play forte with the left hand (bury those fingers in the fingerboard) and mezzoforte (or less) with the right. I'd been playing for years before I heard that little saying. I wish it had been painted on the back of the first bass I owned. It does take a good bit of practice for the body to break the habit of automatically exerting symmetrical efforts with the hands (which normally ends up being more with the right than the left).
  10. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Actually, I just took the TI's off of my Precision and put Fender 9050 ML's on. These are the most URB-ish strings I've heard, comparing to say, Dave Holland on Bitches' Brew or something like that. Very strong attack, probably more sustain than you want. I used 9050 L's before, and on this bass anyway, the .005" difference between the L's and ML's made a big difference in sound. They are very stiff strings, but I like that.
  11. Try this inexpensive method first. I picked it up from Bunny Brunel at a bass clinic. Take a small scrunchie (what girls use in their hair) any color of your choosing, and place it over the headstock and down to just past the nut to cover the strings. The scrunchie should mute the strings and you can position the scrunchie to obtain your desired sound. Works for me and it works for Bunny. :D
  12. thanks for posting everybody, very educational. unfortunately my bass is not a fender so i don't think i can get the bridge cover, i suppose i'll try the fender 9050s.

    btw, kickassrocker, that method is useful for many-stringed basses to stop strings from ringing out accidentally, but won't do anything to reduce sustain on a fretted note. good tip though, i saw bill dickens do the same thing at a clinic i went to.