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Help me solve this playability issue...

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by andruca, May 12, 2005.


  1. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Hi everybody!

    First of all, I'm not sure if this belongs exactly in the "STRINGS" section. Just chose the closest option. If it doesn't, just move it to a more apropriate place.

    I got a gig for a ska-punk band and I've been a little challenged regarding speed and precision with both hands. I normally use my 2 Fernandes Gravity V basses, but this time, my Stingray5 felt like the best option for this genre. The thing is I'm having a hard time playing accurately some of the rapid bass lines. I started a "fitness program" for my hands to get fitter. I can really play (I've been a bassist for 17 years now and definitely CAN play, record and gig constantly -just not too much ska or punk-). But last night I practiced these songs for the first time with one of my Gravities and WOW!!!! I could really play fast and accurate, with an absolutely amazing feel and songs really kept moving fine with ZERO problems. I started comparing both basses setups and bassically arrived to no conclusion at all. I use exactly the same string brand and gauge on both (.040, .060, .080, .100 and .125). I have them setup exactly the same (I've done it for years with my basses and since a couple of years ago I do it for others as an extra job, so I know exactly how to do it). Both basses are 34" scale (although I'm afraid string length is a little larger in the SR5 due to the longer headstock and a little longer bridge (from ball end to saddle). The neck on the SR5 is a little thinner than on the Gravities. String spacing at bridge is 19mm on the SR5 and 18mm on the Fernandes. But hell!, the Fernandes is SO MUCH EASIER TO PLAY! It feels softer (not loose at all, the B's still great). I think a .040 gauge is light enough and don't feel the need to go lower (and don't know if that would be a solution for my SR5 -if it definitely is, let me know, I'd switch to .035 in a second!-). The difference is definitely THAT big, believe me. And I don't seem to find a logical reason why!

    I'm desperate! Please, I need you to post any usefull comment or suggestion. I definitely need to make my SR5 a more playable tool as its sound fits better in this new (for me) style I'm playing. Thanks so much for your help!

    ANDRUCA
     
  2. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What about the amp. If it was turned up louder or EQ'd to cut through better, you may have been able to use a lighter technique (= greater speed / endurance).

    You don't explicitly mention it, so I'll ask the obvious - have you practised with both basses side by side, playing the same track on each one and perhaps recording the results to help you evaluate them?

    Wulf
     
  3. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Thanks so much Wulf! And yes, I A/Bed them both side by side last night and the difference was so obvious it amazed me. In fact, I was able to play with a very light touch with the Fernandes, which I could not do with the SR5 (not just on my picking hand but in my fretting hand too). It was simply harder to play (more tension, you know, strings feel very heavy to play). I use light playing and as a consequence I can achieve a very low setup (which both basses have, they're both VERY low set up) and this makes my basses even easier on my hands. The gauge is exactly the same but in the Fernandes they play like the .040s they are while in the SR5 they feel like .050! Is it possible that the extra string length favours a noticeable increase in tension? Just in case I'll try some .035 set I have tonight. Thanks again!

    ANDRUCA
     
  4. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Did you fiddle around with the EQ settings on the Stingray and the amp? Sometimes the "sweet spot" for the sound you're after can be a fairly small target! Or perhaps you can do some tweaking to get the right kind of sound with one of the Fernandes basses? Of course, if you normally use on of the Fernandes basses, it could be a familiarity issue.

    I'd love to be able to get my hands on both basses and try them to give you a second opinion - that's unlikely to happen, but do you know any other bassists you could consult with?

    However, if you've got a .035 set, give those a go first and see what results you get! Let us know how you get on!

    Wulf
     
  5. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    That 1mm one way or the other makes a big difference going fast.
     
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't know that changing gauges will help you. Like a previous poster said, that 1 mm makes a lot of difference. You could check your nut height on the SR...maybe that's a little bit higher too.

    Or you could do what I'd do...play the Fernandes and don't worry about it.
     
  7. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What was the result with the lighter strings?

    Wulf
     
  8. Stingray fivers actually have 17mm spacing, just FYI
     
  9. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I measured mine from center of string to center of the following and it was clearly 19mm.

    I played with .035 and it was really fine (maybe a little on the too light side). I'll keep looking for the lightest possible .040 or the heaviest possible .035 to find the perfect balance. I'll keep you informed. Thanks everybody for your opinions and suggestions!

    ANDRUCA
     
  10. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Interesting... so your experience is that similar (identical) sets of .040 strings on two 34" basses feel markedly different, with the Stingray being much tighter? There's an important reminder for everyone who wants to find "the best" strings; it's going to depend on your bass! ;)

    FWIW, I'm presently using a set of Status double-ball rounds based on a .035 G string on my six string Sei (main bass, 34" scale, neck through), which I find great in terms of both comfort and sound... but your mileage will vary!

    Wulf
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The thing that strikes me is the neck profile/shape - are they different?

    I much prefer necks that are flatter, front to back, over necks that are chunkier and thicker - I'm not talking about width across the fingerboard !

    So - basses with necks that are shaped like a D on its side are much harder to play for me, than necks which are flatter .
     
  12. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)

    Exactly! In fact I always found the Stingray 5's neck easier to play than most others (including the Fernandes) and this difference is perfectly noticeable when A/Bing them. But the whole thing reduces to string tension (which stays -or feels- way lighter on the Fernandes). I know that both basses being 34" scale it shouldn't be different but they certainly do feel different (the SR5 feels like having more tension, even with a rather low setup). Obviously, a .035 set reduced tension a lot (maybe too much). I'll do a wide range of test and error with it until I find the exact point (begining with a new .040 set I found which is ligther for the lower strings than the one I was using previously) and set the action as low as possible. I'd still like to have the Stingray with .040s. I'll tell you by the end of the week. Thanks everybody again!

    ANDRUCA
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think there is a thing about the stiffness of the neck, which does affect string tension - so if these two basses do have different neck shapes/profiles - there's your reason!

    I think this again is one of the reasons you have to try before you buy with basses - it's often very difficult to pin down exactly why one bass feels better than another - until you actually try them out!!
     
  14. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I've had the Stingray for years and always felt it was ok (coming from several awful Ibanezes prior to that). But last year I bought my 2 Gravities and stopped using the Stingray for months. Maybe I've grown soft :) and have to become a man again, who knows... Maybe in a couple of weeks I'll get used to my good old Ray again. I achieved my playability aims with the .035 set, just not the perfect feel. I'll just keep trying different sets of strings until I find the most comfortable one and that's it. Thanks!

    ANDRUCA
     
  15. andruca

    andruca

    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Last weekend I did a complete setup of my Ray and definetely it was a setup problem (although I previously checked it several times and it was within my regular tastes). I could perfectly return to the previous .040 strings. Bassically I added a little more relief and then I was able to lower the strings significantly. Now it plays very nice. Adjusted intonation then and that's it. Thanks everybody for helping!!!!

    ANDRUCA