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Ibanez ATK tuned BEAD - Weak E string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Selios, May 27, 2018.

  1. Hey everyone,

    My main bass is an Ibanez ATK300, strung BEAD. I somewhat recently switched to using the D'addario NYXL light gauge 5-string set, 45-130, but I don't use the G string. I have used 2 sets of these strings now, and on both sets I've noticed that the E string does not produce as much lows/volume as the other strings. It gets buried in the mix when I rehearse with my band.

    Because I have noticed this with 2 sets of NYXLs, and because I've always used D'addario light gauge packs for BEAD, I think my bass may have developed a setup problem. I'm not sure if this has to do with pickup/string height, or truss rod adjustment, or what? As far as I can tell I've installed the strings properly (witness points, etc.) and my action isn't super low to choke out the E string. The B string produces a lot of volume and lows, so raising the pickup height on that side might be overkill for the B, but still not enough for the E.

    I tried using my onboard compressor on my Ampeg SVT 5-Pro, which evened out the strings a bit and sort of helped, but I'd rather tackle the root of the problem.

    Any ideas what's going on and how to solve it?
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Is the nut cut properly for the E string?
  3. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Ime many musicman pick up based instruments have an imbalance of volume sustain and tone between strings. I had a stingrai for about 15years
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I had a set of NYXL strings on a bass I received new. I almost thought there was something wrong with the bass. I put a set of standard XL Nickels on the same bass and it came to life.

    The NYXLs were lifeless. I don't understand the hype surrounding those strings.

    Grab some XL nickels or even some slinky strings and try them. If the problem is still there, it's an issue with the bass. If not, it's the strings.
    csc2048b likes this.
  5. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Lower the E string?
  6. Yes, as well as the B string, I had this setup done professionally by more or less “the best tech in town” a while ago when I decided that I wanted this bass to do the BEAD thing.

    Interesting, although the ATK pickup is very much it’s own design.

    Hmm. I used to play regular XL nickels for the longest time. I liked them but the NYXLs really feel great to me. Maybe I’ll revert back to the regulars and see what happens.

    I’ll try this. I prefer a medium action, so I’ll have to try and find the middle ground.

    Thanks for the replies!
  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    So, if you use your old strings, the volume is even across all the strings?

    Maybe "the best tech in town" has an opinion on your situation?

    What if you install the A string in the usual position? Is volume okay?

    Have you tried installing the new strings E-G? Maybe the B string is causing some kind of problem?

    Have you tried an HPF? I picked up the Broughton always-on and when I dialed it up to around 80, the strings on my E-G evened out in volume.
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  8. I also think it's the strings, and that trying a completely different set will either prove or disprove this.
  9. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Crazy. I have a set of NYXLs on my fretless 5 and after a year of string searching I’m over the moon with these. On the other hand, I tried a set of TI Jazz Flats on the fretless and hated them. Slapped em on my ATK305 and that’s where they’ll stay forever.

    At some point I’ll try the NYXLs on the Ibanez and my other fretted as I bought 4 sets of them. @Selios I hope you figure it out.
  10. I'm going to try reverting back to the XL Nickels soon and see what happens. If it doesn't solve the issue at this week's rehearsal, I'll take it back to my tech.

    I've never tried an HPF, actually. That's interesting though. Like I mentioned in the OP, I can sort of compensate with a compressor (onboard my Ampeg, or my TC Spectracomp), but I want to narrow it down to a root setup issue if there is one.

    I'm going to pick up some XL Nickels today, probably. I used them for a long time and they get the job done. I do really like the feel of the NYXLs though. But, if they aren't any good otherwise, then they aren't any good at all!

    Part of my problem is how long I've been compensating for this issue without tackling the root of the problem... I've used 2 sets of NYXLs now, and one of them was on the bass for months. Now I've got this new set on, and the problem persists. I honestly can't remember if I had the same issue with the XL Nickels, but I'll find out when I revert back to them.

    I'm a bit surprised to hear some of the opinions that the issue is the NYXLs as well, because I think they feel amazing and the tone coming from them is really good too. But I can't have inconsistency with my string volume, so I'd better try going back to the XL Nickels before I commit to any more NYXL sets.

    One other tricky thing about this issue is that it's pretty difficult to tell that there even is an issue when I'm playing alone. The strings sound fairly consistent outside of a full band mix, but at rehearsal it is very apparent how much volume and lows are missing from the E string. Sometimes it's practically gone from the mix completely.

    Again, thanks for the replies!
    KeithAlanK and Element Zero like this.
  11. I have an update,

    I decided to take my bass to my tech first instead of changing back to regular XLs, because I like the sound and feel of the NYXLs that I wanted to give them a chance at staying on the bass. My tech said the issue was the relationship between switching to the NYXLs and the height of the actual magnets in the ATK pickup.

    I got the bass back today, and the pickup is raised significantly. The action on the strings is slightly higher and playing it feels really good to me. We plugged it in at the shop and I could tell there was a difference. Tomorrow is rehearsal, where I will really find out if that E string is coming through the mix or not. Update to follow.

    As an added bonus, the ATK pickup is now raised enough to use as a thumb rest. Never could do that before. Score!

    Thanks for everyone’s help. Final verdict coming tomorrow.
  12. Update: the professional setup completely resolved the issue. Today’s rehearsal was great; the bass was a dream to play and I could hear every note in a consistent wall of solid low end. Awesome!
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