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Godin A4 questions (truss rod wrench, strings)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by craigb, Jun 9, 2003.


  1. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    After much pondering about the content of my post (a string question and a setup-type question) but applying only to a single bass model, I decided for better or worse to put it in "Basses" (although "Misc" was a close competitor).

    Background: I picked up a used Godin A4 (fretted) and am really enjoying it. I had one in the past and sold it because of ergonomic issues but am working carefully through those and it looks like I'm going to be able to keep this one. It may become my #1 as well, and is the first one I pick up to play at home. It arrived with some kind of roundwounds on it and they are just miserable tonally (zingy, pingy and maybe "chirpy"? with tons of string noise).

    I've ordered an assortment of strings to try out on it Fender 7120 nylon filament wounds, Fender 9050M stainless flatwounds and Fender 9120 nylon tapewounds. I'm looking for feedback on what strings other A4 users use and like - and what they consider the characteristics of them (more acousticy, more upright-like, more aggressive, etc.).

    From my searching I see that Max Valentino will be recommending TI Acousticores and while I really like the TI Powerbass I've used on solidbodies in the past I really worry about the low tension. I may have to try a set just to see how they do. But I hope to eventually find a semi-hollow (or maybe solid-body) with piezo and magnetic pickups and those wouldn't work there.

    Question #1: What strings do you use on your A4/A5 and how would you describe them? I'm going for a sound that will work for rock (classic and newer alternative stuff) and classic r&b/soul (motown, stax, etc.) which are what I play most.

    Question #2: I know these different string sets are going to need a setup on the Godin - since that is a truss rod adjustment only, and mine did not come with any tools, what is the correct wrench size and type (t-wrench? L-shaped allen wrench?) to adjust the truss rod? Do I have to remove the neck to do this (it doesn't look like it). Godin hasn't responded to my queries on this yet.

    Thanks for the input A4/5ers (and other users of similar basses). Extra discussion points if you have time to kill are:

    - anybody used a solid-body w/piezos (Turner Electroline, Ibanez EDA) and how does it compare to a semi-hollow like the Godin A series?

    - any recommendations/comments on a semi-hollow (or maybe solidbody) with both piezo and magnetic pickups in the mass-produced market (Yamaha BEX4C, Spector Q4P, Fender Precision A/E, Fender Precision HMT, Ibanez EDA, . . . )
     
  2. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Hi....
    I have both an A4 fretted and A5 fretless (I guess it pays that I am also a Godin Endoresee)and use both of these as my primary instruments.

    I do use Acousticores (TI) on the fretless, which, incidentally, is set up with a high C string. I recently converted the fretted over to a tenor bass, and use it for chordal solo-bass stuff, and have Acousticores there also, but when it was strung a a regular tuned bass (well, regular for me anyway..I do use several altenate tunings) I found that TI Jazz Rounds spoke a little clearer on that bass.
    (I guess it pays that I am also a TI endorsee!)

    Every bass is slightly different, and you need to find what "speaks" best for you.
    That being said, I would like to point out that the Acousticores, which were developed by Rick Turner and the folks at TI, are the only string designed for use with piezos. They produce and incredible array of tones, from faux-upright to snappy Stanley-esque sounds. Yes they are light gauge and tension, but on basses such as the Godin this is really a good thing. The lighter tension allows for great dynamic response...and it puts your tone back into your fingertips; change your attack or fretting pressure and so your tone changes also.

    I have also used Jazz flats on these basses. On the fretless the flats give a very good upright sound (even better than Acousticores) and on the fretted they sound very much like my '67 P Bass. Their tension is higher than either Acousticore's or Jazz Rounds, but still much lighter than traditional flatwounds. They are also brighter than other flats; you can even slap on them. They gauge out at roughly the equivilent of a .40-.100 set, so their "feel" may be more like you are used to.

    Acousticores really work well with piezos,and deliver a full and warm tone, with none of that dreaded "piezo chirp". Yet, the other TI strings, except for power bass strings, employ a silk underwrap which also kills any chirpiness of these ferrous based strings on piezo systems. Power bass strings have a more "traditional" tension, are much heavier (a .107 E string) and a very high ferrous content in the core. I have found these to work exceptionally on magnetic PUS but not so good on piezos. With an ABG, or semi acoustic, the lighter tension is indeed a benefit as it prevents any excess pulling up on the bridge. The lower tension also helps to intonate the strings better, which can be problematic with fixed bridges such as on the Godin. And, with piezo's, lower gauge and tension reads out as more tone...just the opposite as to magnetic PUs (piezos are quite different beasts, with dramatically wider frequency and dynamic ranges which present both tonal enhancement and their own unique tonal anolmalies and problems).

    One nice thing about TIS is they just get better with age. I used to change strings three times a week til I found TIs. Now, I can leave them on for months...and I play a lot, both as solo artist and a session/sideman player in LA.
    Some have complained about the "stickiness" the Acousticores develop and have desired to have TI try to make a flatwound bronze over nylon core strings (which would be mechanically VERY difficult). Rick Turner passed this tip on to me: lightly sand the Acousticore strings with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. It flattens the windings just enough to make them slip and slide on glisses.....takes out any string/finger noise, and also polishes them nicely removing any of the oxidation which bronze windings are prone to.

    As to the question of the truss rod wrench: Is you Godin a newer model? The way to tell is if the headstock has a glossy finish it is new (2002-2003) and the ones with matte finishes are older.
    The newer ones have a two-way truss rod (which was a nice added improvement) which is a different size than the older models (my fretted in a 98 while the fretless is a 2003).
    Both use "standard" allen wrenches. I am not sure of the exact size, or if they are american or metric measurements. The thing to do is find one of those Allen kits with all sizes (borrow one from someone with tons 'o tools) in both standard and metric sizing..and try them till you find the one that fits. Then go out and buy that size.


    Hope that helps you out......

    Max
     
  3. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    I should probably also point out, that with Acousticore's it requires a VERY light tounch..this is true of Jazz Rounds and Flats, also.
    Due to the light gauge and tension, you will not need to get the action that low. I have set up my Godins with quite low action,to faciliatte many of the techniques I use but have a rather delicate touch with right hand (even when slapping). Many players find basses impossible, or at very least difficult, to play without buzzing. If you dig in hard, then lowering the action, or flattening the neck, is probably not neccessary..even with medium action the Acousticores are incredibly easy to play.

    Max
     
  4. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    I knew I could count on you for some great information, Thanks a bunch Max.

    This A4 has the matte headstock (if I remember correctly, it's at home). I'll try my various allen wrenches to see what fits. I suspect it will be an english size since Godin is a North American company.

    I'll have to give the TIs a try after I check out the Fender strings I bought. I got them because they were relatively cheap and would let me try the various basic types (flats, tapewounds and the nylon roundwounds) on it. If none of them really do it for me I'll get some of the TI acousticores and maybe the jazz flats and try those (as much as I liked the powerbass on my solidbody they wouldn't be right on this bass).
     
  5. Hi

    Checked out this thread, and it's more info about Godin A4's than I've been able to get anywhere! I bought an A4 from Sam Ash in NJ, it was a slightly gouged demo so I got a reasonable price. But it came without a manual, and I've been trying to get a response from Godin now for about a month, but they just flat out refuse to respond!

    My questions are:
    1] Does the A4 fretless come with a manual, or doesn't Godin write one?
    2] If it comes with a manual, can I get one?
    3] There are two compartments in the back. Which one is for the batteries? What is the other one for? How do I open them; I tried to open the one I thought had the batteries, but it only opens halfway out and gets stuck there!
    4] It came with metal flatwounds. What size are these, and what make? Can I safely replace these with nylon tapewounds? (I want as close to a dbl-bass sound as possible...)
    5] There are three tone slider controls, and one volune slider. Above these there's an empty slider slot, with no control sticking thru? Is this a flaw or defect? Why is this empty slot there?

    I believe I have a 2002 or 2003, as the headstock is shiny black. Why in hell can't I get a decent response from Godin? The A4 seems like a good instrument, but if the company doesn't want to know me, I'm gonna take it back to Sam Ash before my month is up! Screw them, if they can't be bothered with their own customers!!!
    Greywoulf :meh:
     
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I have the older Acoustibass model (fretless). It came from the factory with flats on it, I have never changed them.

    A piezo bridge pickup is going to give you a lot more harmonics than any magnetic pickup, which is probably why you are noticing so much string noise.
     
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    1. My Godin came with zero paperwork. What kind of manual do you need for a bass anyway? I know, to figure out how to change the battery :D

    3. I have an older model, the battery was accessed from the top...can't help you on this one!

    4. You can use any strings you like. They do not even have to be metal, because the pickup is not magnetic.

    5. The extra slot is there for...who knows! It's just there. Godins have always had this "feature".
     
  8. First of all, the Allen key size you need is probably in millimeters, 4 or 5 I think.

    The strings I was using on my fretless A4 were Elixirs, since I don't like flats, and they were a bit easier on the ebony board.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    I had mine open yesterday - it's older (matte headstock) and the compartment in the "upper horn" has the battery as stated (in a nice clip, too).

    The Godin site says there are Godin branded strings available but I've never seen them. D'addarios ECB81 Chromes Bass Flatwound set seems to match what Godin puts on there by default (.45-.65-.80-.100). I picked up a set of these to try the OEM strings and see how I like them.

    I had an A4 previously that had Fender nylon roundwounds on it - they gave it kind of a big "nylon string guitar" sound and were pretty thumpy with some palm muting. Rob Allen puts La Bella 760N nylon tapewounds on his basses so they should work well on the A4 as well.

    And a "Strapture"-type strap works wonders on it for me as far as balance and positioning go. www.strapture.com - although I've been unable to contact the company and order a real on so far.
     
  10. I'm aware of Godin's site and it's message about how busy they are and about people who get upset if their email isn't responded to "in a few days"... However I tried to reach them almost a month ago, not their so called "few days". And I disagree with their premise that other companies do not allow direct contact via email; if you have a problem Hartke will respond to you fairly quickly, as will other companies also. I think Godin is just careless (and possibly even disrespectful) of their customer base...

    But anyway, thanks to all here for the great info and quick responses to my questions; helping each other is (to me) what this web can be all about... I think I've got enough info and support now to allow me to keep this good-sounding A4, regardless of Godin... But God help me iffen it needs repairs or something; what happens then? How helpful will Godin be then, if one cannot contact them?:meh:
     
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Try the phone...email is still not the most reliable way to reach many companies.

    They have the same hassles as you do with computers going down, service provider problems, etc.
     
  12. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    I would agree..the telephone might get a better response than e-mail..at least more direct.
    For whatv itn is worth, Godin is saml complany with a small staff, and so e-mail's do not always get responded to ASAP.

    Ok..as the resident expert on these basses, lemme try to answer you questions.

    On your bass the back compartment, under the bridge, is a flip up battery compartemnt. The other, on the back of the upper bout, is for acess to the preamp. The battery does only flip up half way, and then un;atches to slip a 9v battery into it. If you have not ever dealt with these before, perhaps you take it to a knowledgable repairperson for a set up, and have him/her show you how these work so as not to force it and cause some damage.

    Godin ships with flatwounds of the Godin brand...made by D'Addario, and are basically the D'Addario Chromes Flatwounds gauged at .45-.100
    You can easily, just as on any bass, sitch those out to the strings of your liking...although to go real light (i use a .85 E string) may require replacing the nut.

    The sliders on top are (from top to bottom): volume; treble (freq centered at 10k) mid (freq centered at 200 hz) and bass (freq centered at 50 hz). the bottom slider "hole" is purely for aesthetics and is empty. The sliders also serve a function of releasing vibrations/air from the internal chambers.

    There are no manuals for these basses.


    Max
     
  13. The flip-up battery box is on newer models only. Older models had the battery hidden inside the same cavity as the preamp.
     
  14. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    The allen wrench size to adjust the truss rod on my A4 is 5 mm. It was a good news-bad news series of events figuring it out.

    Put a set of the D'addario chromes on it because the rounds that came on it are way to zingy/pingy. Action comes out nice and low, relief that I'd be satisfied with on my electrics, but the E string is pretty darn buzzy. I decide to try and loosen the truss rod so there can be some more relief and higher action to avoid so much E string buzzing.

    bad news: socket size is between the sizes on my set of english allen wrenches
    good news: my "pocket-knife" style set of metric allen wrenches make it look like it's 5mm
    bad news: they won't fit in the adjuster because they aren't L shaped
    bad news: Lowes only has sets of allen wrenches not individual ones so buy a set of metric L-shaped allen wrences (not all bad, tools are good)
    bad news: 5mm wrench is too long to drop into adjuster in space provided
    good news: Dremel tool can fix that (shortening the wrench, not hacking the bass)
    bad news: I can't loosen it any more (it's fully loosened, maybe?)
    more bad news: I can't tighten it either - it seems to be stuck (or broken?)

    So I try to put a .105 flatwound E string from another (Fender) set I've got. That's the only string giving me problems so maybe that would result in a primo setup.

    bad news: The end of the string near the ball is too wide to go in the slot in the bridge. No .105 E string for me! :mad:

    Well, I see a couple of choices:

    1) get a small rattail file and widen the slot in the bridge slightly to allow that .105 E string in there.

    2) take it to a luthier to have the neck checked out

    3) try to find a .105 set of flatwounds with smaller diameter near the ball than the Fenders.

    Right now I'm leaning towards doing #1 for now and #2 at some undetermined future time (when I run into a setup problem I can't solve myself).
     
  15. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    The proper sized Allen wrench should really not be a problem to obtain...most likely at any hardware store....but..before you jump off twisting the rod around, you should know that the newer models have dual action rods, so what you may think is loose my not really be.
    With any acoustic instrument, action and releif needs to be a little more apparent than on solid bodies. The lack of magnetic pull against the strings allows for great string excursion and a wide vibrational arc.
    It took me a long time to get mine where I want it..which is very flat (no relief) and fairly low action...but, I play with an exceptionally light touch, too.

    Since we are discussing these rather unique and wonderful basses (as you all know by now, I use mine almost to the point of exclusivity...)
    I strongly recommend putting on Thomastik-Infeld AcousticBass strings. These are the only strings designed for piezo equipped basses, and what they do for the tone of the Godin is truely remarkable.
    They are a phosp[hor bronze winding over a nylon core, and unbelievably responsive. They were designed by Rick Turner, who knows a thing or two about piezos and tone!

    Yes, they are light gauge (.041,.053,.068,.086 on the four string set) and very low tension, and that will require you alter (read:lighten up) your right hand technique a bit, but the reward will be a much heightened dynamic response, a truely versatile tonal range and color pallette, and a noticeable abscence of the dreaded "piezo chirp" which comes so easily from ferrou-based strings.

    Best of all...they last and last. It is not uncommon around players of these strings to only change them once a year! They actually get better with age.

    Sound wise, alothough they feel quite unique, they can cut through a rock or r/b band. Unlike black tapewounds, they are actually bright sounding. Ican get both snappy marcus/stanley like tones as well as a very believable faux-upright sound by just chnaging hand pressure and location.

    I have found, tho...that TI Jazz Rounds or even jazz flats on my fretted A4 provide a very vintage-fender kind of vibe and tone. TI Flats on the A4 sound almost identical to my 67 P bass, which, incidentally, also sports TI flats.

    I am really glad to that quite a few of you have "discovered" the joys of the Godin A series basses. I think they are quite exceptional and terrific basses with a very unique and musical tone.

    Max
     
  16. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    Just as a followup Godin just replied to my email with truss rod adjustment info (4 or 5 mm wrench, don't need to remove the neck). So even though they are slow they did get back to me.

    If I ever need to contact them again I'll use the phone.

    I will try TI Acousticores some day but it will have to wait until after I get my A4 checked out by a luthier - the action with the D'addario Chromes is acceptable but since I can't loosen the rod to raise the action with them I know putting TIs on there wouldn't work without the ability to adjust the truss rod (since they have even less tension).