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How Low Action on a EUB???

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jokerjkny, Sep 25, 2002.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    I know on most fretless' you can incredibly low low action cause of the lack of frets, but is it possible on my EUB too?

    anyone playing with one set super low? how's the tone? i dunno if i wanna go thru the trouble, if it aint worth it.
  2. Larry Kaye

    Larry Kaye Retailer: Schroeder Cabinets

    Mar 23, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Every time I pick up a double bass or an EUB, my left hand dies about a minute into it. The strings are just rediculous. My respect and pity go out to all upright bassists who have to play with the strings that far from the fretboard!!!

    I would also love to know if any EUB players set up their basses with equivalent to electric fretted action let alone fretless!! Is that possible with an NS or other brand or are we dreaming?

  3. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC

    The NS basses I played had nice low action. I mostly play upright, and I often set the action high, but on my EUB I set the height really low. I think it was about 3 or 4 mm at the end of the fingerboard on the G string. I figured that an electric upright is always going to be amplified, so why have high action and dig in? There's really no reason you can't get the action as low as you want, if you're willing to pay for a good fingerboard planing, and you don't mind playing very lightly.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    On a REALBASS, lowering the action that much kills the tone as well as the volume. Plus, you can't get deep enough under the string to dig the tone out past a certain point - a point past which you might as well be playing a fretless slab instead, since it's going to sound like one. But on an EUB, if you're using magnetic pickups of some kind it might not matter so much.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    When I was looking to buy an NS EUB, I tried out several at the Bass centre in London. One of them had really low action - hardly any clearance. It was quite playable, but to me it sounded less like real Double Bass. The others were a bit higher and sounded more authentic - less like a big Fretless BG.

    Having had my NS CR5 for few months now I definitely find that the more I play it like an acoustic instrument and really pull the strings and get underneath them, the more it sounds like an amplified double bass. So if I concentrate on shaping the sound of the note acoustically, it sounds much better - whereas if I just play lightly for faster passages, it is indistinguishable from a fretless BG.

    I was also lucky to get some objective feedback recently - so I took both my EUB and BG to Jazz Summerschool, where I did a lot of playing with a small group and we had the same tutor for most of the week.

    So the tutor - Stan Sulzmann who is a very experienced Jazz pro : composer/arranger/sax/flute player - gave me a lot of advice and feedback.
    He tried to get me to put more energy into my playing to get the group working - playing lightly with low action just did not get the rhythm section "happening" or swinging, but the more effort I put in, the more energy was given to the soloists.

    I recorded a lot as well and his advice definitely helped my playing as well as sessions with the three bass tutors on the course during the week.

    But anyway, I was well and truly convinced that action affects your sound, how you play and the overall feel that you get!
  6. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Big agreement with Bruce. When I had my NS I found, although you could get the action extreamly low, it sounded much more like a authentic acoustic upright with higher action.
  7. In order to play with such a low action, the fingerboard must be perfectly shaped.
    On the other hand, you'll get a fretless-type tone, way too much 'mwhah' for my taste, and you'll need to pluck the string very lightly in order to avoid string buzz and rattle.
    Better play a fretless...
    You'll never get a DB-type tone with very low action on a EUB.
  8. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    What francois said. I've been fiddling with my Bugbass, trying to get better tone and the next step was going to be replacing the stock LaBellas. But before I did that I raised the action so it was closer to that of my UB. Voila! *Much* better tone. Less like a fretless electric and more like a proper upright.
  9. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    One of the things that maybe needs to be addressed is why your hand gives out after after such a short time. If the bass is unplayable, that's one thing, but I suspect part of the problem might be in technique.

    One of the really important things I learned from a teacher was not to squeeze the neck but rather to pull the strings back into the board, almost like pulling the bass to you. He showed me how he could finger the strings and get a good sound even without using his thumb on the back of the neck. This also greatly reduced hand fatigue.

    That said, the bass does have to be in playable condition for this to work. But the thing about really low action on an EUB is that it really ends up sounding like a fretless electric; so why not just play fretless electric. I have a Knutson Messenger bass and it really sounds best with the action higher. Good luck

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