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Hellcat VI strung in A sounds like crap

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JimmyTheSaint, Aug 4, 2005.


  1. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    I just got one of those cheapo OLP MM5's, and I thought it sounded so good that I tried stringing my Schecter Hellcat VI with the same gauges and tuning (D'Addario 13 18 30 44 56, and Danelectro 74) but the Hellcat sounds so lifeless compared to the MM5. The MM5's construction (and aesthetics) looks to me quite inferior to the Schecter, so I assume it's just a matter of the pickups, right? The Hellcat sounds great as a short scale bass with Fender VI strings, yet the lowest two bass strings seem the deadest when it's strung as a baritone. I've tried tuning both guitars to A and Ab, and adjusting the pickup height on the Schecter, but the MM5 sounds better on all the guitar and bass patches in my DR-880, going through a PA. Am I missing something, or is it that the Hellcat VI just isn't meant to sound its best as a baritone? I haven't tried the MM5 as a bass tuned to E.
     
  2. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I've been thinking about one of those baritone/bass guitars. If I'm reading your post correctly, you're saying that the Hellcat sounds good as an E-E bass? But not so hot tuned A-A. That would be cool with me (sorry) since I'm interested in E-E tuning, but not A-A.

    BTW, on the A-A issue, is it possible that you just have a bad set of strings? Seems odd that it would sound good with an A string in the second nut slot, but not in the first.
     
  3. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    The Hellcat sounds good as a bass with an A in the second nut slot. I just can't make the Hellcat sound good as a guitar. I had never played a baritone before, and must say I was surprised at how well it sounds with conventional guitar chord voicings. For example, major thirds in the bass, and closed voicing, barre type chords work fine in A (and Ab) but are unuseably muddy in E a fourth down. Then I thought the higher quality Schecter would sound even better restrung, but the only way I can think of to describe this disaster is "lifeless." I've played many different guitars and basses over the years, and I'm not dedicated to any particular sound (or ergonomic feel), so I'm not inclined to reject something that merely has a different sonic character than what I'm used to. I guess I could experiment with different sets of strings, but the sound I'm getting is so far off from what I was hoping for that I suspect it's not just the strings. I mean, the D'Addario set I put together is a reasonable choice: it's what Alembic recommends for their baritone Orion, for example.
     
  4. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    That does seem weird. Sounds like good news for me :) , bad news for you. :( I'm going to swing by Guitar Trader sometime soon and check out the Fender Jaguar baritone and see how it sounds. I like the idea of a Bass VI. Not sure if I like the actuality, having never played one, but we'll see.
     
  5. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    I've wanted to try a baritone Jag too, but no store ever has them in stock. I don't hold out much hope for it as a bass: it's 28" scale, S-S, but I always prefer humbuckers and the Hellcat VI is 30" scale so tuning it to E and Eb (which is what I do) works fine.
     
  6. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Seattle
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    You might consider different strings...

    Ernie Ball makes a Bass VI set in their slinky line (#2837) that I have been consistently happy with. They are an E set so you'd have to get a single high A for the A set (a plain 14 or 15 if memory serves) but I have used these for both tunings and have been disappointed only once, having gotten a dead D string. I keep several sets on hand as they are out there but not terribly common.
     
  7. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    I think those are the strings that came with my MM5. I'll try a set on the Hellcat VI and see how it sounds. If it still sounds bad to me, I'll figure it's just one of those taste things that I'm never going to get used to since you're saying that the Hellcat VI works as a baritone with that set of strings.
     
  8. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I have the Baritone Jag Custom and I love it. The actual scale length at the saddles is closer to 29" as intonated at the factory. It definitely has enough oomph for bass duties, and the single coil pickups are fat-sounding but super quiet. Haven't tried it A to A or B to B. Wish I could have tried the Hellcat VI, but the Jag was kind of an impulse buy.
     
  9. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Seattle
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    I've used the slinkys on my bari/basses which are 28.5" scale and on my old Fender Bajo Sexto (wish I had that one still) at 30.5" scale.

    As yours is closer to the latter I am betting they ought to be jus' fine.
     
  10. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    I tried an identical set of the D'Addarios on the MM5, and it didn't change its sound, so I went back to the Hellcat VI and put the D'Addarios back on. This time, though, I unwound the end of the D'Addario 074 so that it would fit in the tuner instead of mixing in that Danelectro. I also intonated the Hellcat, and boy did it need it. In fact the lowest two saddles have no more adjustment room, but it intonated OK. Now it sounds fine, somewhat better than the MM5. I think I was reacting very badly to some unbalance in the bass due to the Danelectro string not mixing well with the D'Addarios. That made me go sour on the whole guitar. The bad intonation might also have been affecting my impression of the sound.
     
  11. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Seattle
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Glad the instrument's not a waste to you...

    I'd be interested in your opinion of the slinkys.
     
  12. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    I ordered up some of those Ernie Balls. The MM5 came with a hang tag that said "Ernie Ball slinky" and the gauges of the factory-filthy strings all matched. The D'Addarios sounded pretty much the same. so I suspect new slinkies will be comparable on the Hellcat. Meanwhile, after playing the Hellcat VI baritone for a while, now my regular electric sounds rather thin and hopeless. I wish I'd discovered this whole baritone thing a long time ago. I wonder how 28" scale baritones measure up?
     
  13. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Seattle
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Pretty well. Warmoth and USA Custom offer up necks that can be swapped out for stock and give you 28.5" - and it does the E and A both quite proud. I owned a Warmoth 28.5" semihollow that was killer.

    I have yet to play one but I've heard good things about the Fender Jag bari.

    My current bari is a 28.5" scale and I love it - more meat than I could ask for and it's wired with single coils. The one I had prior to it was a Tele Bajo Sexto that was 30.5", and while it was a great instrument I am delighted to have the one I've got.