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Help for the Ignorant <-- This is Me!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by HWK2, Sep 15, 2000.

  1. I have some questions about the bass guitar which I have been "playing" (if you can call it that) for 5 months.

    My first question is, I see that alot of people post threads about the kind of wood used in the bass body/neck/fretboard. I am just wondering, since as far as I know, the pickup picks up string vibrations and sends them down wires into an output jack, and into you amp, what difference, insofar as sound goes, if your bass is Alder or Plywood? Or if your neck is Maple or Particle board? Or your fretboard is Rosewood or.. well, Maple.

    My second question is, I have now come into possession of an Acoustic 370 head, and Acoustic 301 bottom. This is the only bass amp I own, and I am broke (being 16 and jobless sucks!). One thing I know I have to worry about is the volume, which will never go above 1.5 (Maybe, if I turn down the onboard volume on my bass!) but the question I have is, if anyone out there owns one of these BEHEMOTHS! (head weighs 56 pounds, and the bottome weighs in at 173 lbs) could anyone give me tips on what seetings they have their equalizer set to, for different kind of sounds. I am partial to alot of bass, but not so much that it kills the musical aspect of the note, but alos, I don't like the tight punchy sound that some from turning up too much trebble.

    My last question of this really long post is; I am hearing alot of terms in this forum that i am not really clear on. Some examples might include: action, and active or passive basses. This is all I can think of off the top of my head, but if anyone would be willing to explain these..

    Oh, I thought of one more question. What guage string should I use? I've tried 50-105 (I think something like that) once, but they were too big for my nut. Anything I can do about this problem? I did like the way the D and G strings didn't sound like my friends guitar on the heavier strings, but the E and A would not fit right in my nut. Also, is it even possible to describe in words how a tape wound/flat wound/round wound sound different, or is this something that I need to check out for myself? Ok, that is really it.

    Thanks, I know that is a lot to read :p
    I really appreciate all (any) of your help :D

    Thank you!


    [Edited by HWK2 on 09-15-2000 at 12:38 AM]
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    1) The acoustic properties of an electrified instrument do affect the amplified tone. A pickup is for all intents and purposes a dynamic microphone, the sole difference being that a pickup senses the motion of a metal string whereas a dynamic microphone senses the motion of a pressure-sensitive metal diaphragm. To the extent that a dynamic mic can differentiate the timbres of different acoustic instruments and voices, so too can a pickup. That being said, some pickups, like some microphones, have strong voices which can overwhelm the acoustic character of the instrument.

    2) No idea about the Acoustic rig. Sorry.

    3) "Action" refers to the distance between the strings and fretboard or the distance between the strings and the pickups. Different players have different opinions regarding whether higher or lower action is better. Action is governed by saddle and nut height, as well as "relief," ie. the curvature in the neck.

    An "active" pickup is one which is wound with fewer coils of wire than a "passive" pickup. Active pickups generally yield a more open tone with more high end andless midrange, but also generate less current than passive pickups and so are usually paired with a powered preamp (power usually comes from a 9V battery). These aren't cut-and-dried distinctions; there are active pickups which can generate a signal without a preamp. Conversely, passive pickups are often paired with an onboard preamp to increase the range of useable tones.

    4) Standard gauge for electric basses is 45-105. Try those for a start. The difference between string types is pretty obvious: roundwounds are bright and have lots of sustain, but chew frets and loose their brightness over time; flatwounds are mellow-sounding, easy on the frets (or fingerboard, if you play fretless), and don't change much over time, but tune to higher tensions and don't slap all that well. The term "tapewound" is usually synonymous with "flatwound" but can be used to designate a string that is wrapped with plastic rather than metal tape.

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