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J-Bass Heaven

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tonedeaf, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. tonedeaf

    tonedeaf Supporting Member

    For a while, I was on the verge of getting a little tired of my MIM Fender Active J-Bass, but I'm back in love. . .

    I took a theater gig playing swing, pop, gospel, boogie-woogie, and crooner standards from the Depression to Post-WWII. They wanted me to play upright at first, but some of the styles didn't feel suited to an upright, and my upright chops are probably not quite up to par for some of the faster numbers, so I decided to try to go both ways with my J-Bass. I put some LaBella tapewounds on her, and some foam from a bicycle helmet under the strings (great stuff - not too firm, I can get some liveliness out of the strings when I want to, but get a more mellow, muted sound if I ease up on the attack).

    Anyway, I am back in love with the J-Bass. I am learning a lot from this show about changing tone with my right hand. If I move up toward the neck and sort of pluck parallel to the strings similar to the way I would play an upright, it gets smooth, smokey, and mellow. If I move back between the pickups and pluck more across the strings with a little firmer attack, I can get more of a dry, growly, punchy, funk tone.

    I am playing through an Eden WT800 head and an Ampeg SVT-15E cab at moderate volume, with a post-preamp signal going to the board right out of the head. The soundman is great, he and I are working well together. As usual, he appreciates my not needing to turn my amp way up on stage. I just have it loud enough so I can hear myself just a little louder than my monitor mix.

    Anyway, this has been a great opportunity to expand my musical horizons and get re-excited about a great bass.
  2. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    Glad to hear I am not the only one playing this music!!! I play an SX Jazz
    to which I added Bartolini's through an Ampeg B100R in a 14 piece Big Band. Rolling off the tone a bit and plucking over the fingerboard gives me a perfect upright tone on those old tunes.
  3. Do you have any pictures of this foam that's under the strings? I can't visualize what it is you mean.
  4. tonedeaf

    tonedeaf Supporting Member


    I'll try to get some pics for you once the show is over this weekend. For now, I'll tell you that it's about 1/2 inch and a little longer than the width of my strings at the bridge. It is somewhat sponge-like in texture, but less dense.

    My bicycle helmet came with a couple of extra pieces (I think you can velcro them in to improve the fit if needed), which I stuck in my top dresser drawer and re-discovered completely by accident, just at the time I was thinking about what I could use to mute the strings with. This stuff strikes the perfect balance of muting without totally deadening the strings for me.