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Jazz sound post?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Mike Carr, Jan 4, 2006.


  1. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    There are three talented luthiers that are within about one hours driving distance from my home. I try to patronize each of them more or less equally. They have all done good jobs on my basses. Luthier A recently set up my new bass, with a new bridge, tail-wire and fingerboard re-shaping. I was quite pleased with my bass after this work was done.
    I decided to try a Realist on my bass, so I visited luthier B, since he has this item in stock. Luthier B proceeded install the Realist and while he had the bass up on the work bench looked inside and made the comment, "hum...classical, guy..." then reset my soundpost to a position that in his opinion is more suited for jazz playing. The bass sounds a bit different now, not better or worse while playing pizz, but seems not quite as sweet with the bow. If anything, the bass sounds like it's lost a bit of color in it's mid-range when played arco, but maybe a bit "fatter" sounding when played pizz. The thing is, luthier A knows that I play mostly jazz, and kept this in mind while setting up my bass origianaly. Luthier A can reconize when luthier B has worked on any of my basses, just by the position of the soundpost after luthier B has done his thing. Luthier A allways seems a bit annoyed when seeing my bass after luthier B moves my post, says his positioning of the post is "wrong". When luthier B moved my post, it looked to me as if he moved it a bit in a east-west fashion, it's still more or less the same north-south. Both of these luthiers have many jazz bass players as clients, some with big names. Both are good at what they do.
    Do any of you guys, Ken, Arnold, Jeff, or Nick approch soundpost ajustments in terms of the style of playing that the bass is used mostly in, or do you place a post in terms of simply where it makes a bass sound it's best? BTW, tomorrow I'll be taking a trip with my bass down to where the swallows fly to and will be visiting luthier D, who likes monkeys. It's a bit of a drive from where I live, about two hours but I'm looking forward to meeting the nice folks there. This will be my first time. I've been having some trouble with a Schertler Stat-B pickup that I had ordered from them a while back and they have been very kind to offer to help with a replacement and help with the installation. It will be interesting to see if they think my soundpost is properly positioned!
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I always prefer the smoothest, darkest, easiest Bowing feel with all of my Basses. Treble and Buzz are easy to get but hard to get rid of. Even though I played Jazz mostly as my prefrence I always had my Basses set up for the best Bowing possible. In my Spirocore days in the 1970s-'80s I still did alot of Bowing at home and on Jobs. I had a deep sounding Bass and it Bowed well enough with Spiros. Still, I never asked to have it set for Pizz.

    I would set the Bass up to sound "its" best no matter what type of playing you do mostly. The thinner buzzy pizz sound fizzles out as it carries but the deep dark fundamental tone fills the room with sound. Set your Bass up to Bow the best with the Strings you like. I get good results with Pitastro Starks for Bow or Pizz, Classical or Jazz. My Basses are always happy. :hyper:
     
  3. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Ken, thanks for the quick response! Luthier D is known for having a very large selection of strings. You mentioned some Pitastro "starks".
    What's the model of these strings, metal strings yes?
    These strings would be for my Shen Willow, I'd venture to guess that they stock them, they stock just about every kind. I'd also bet they are pretty good at setting up basses, so I might just go for it, since I'm making the trek down there. I'd really like to get the best sound I can out of this bass, since it's such a nice one!
     
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I don't personally believe there is a special "jazz" or "classical" soundpost setting. That said, I find it's in vogue in NYC to set the post far from the bridge and close to the treble f-hole on jazz players' instruments. On many basses this brings out a lot of puffy bottom. However, it can be dangerous for the bass and can anhihilate tonal definition. Oh, and if you put a bow to the bass, you can expect a wolf-fest.
     
  5. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Thank you ever so much for your thoughts on this subject Arnold!
    Now that you mention it, the bass does seem to be prone to a bit more wolf-tones since the post got moved, and it's sound has certainly got more puff to it now. Especialy when amplified, even when using an Underwood PU, which most of the time gets a very crisp sort of sound (for better or worse) because it's design and placement. It's producing some strange overtones now too, at half position Ab and A on the G string, and the same notes on the D string. These sounds really come forth when I try the bass with it's Realist, sometimes over-powering the true note. I think I'll be asking luthier D to take a good look and listen to what's been happening since luthier B moved the post away from where luthier A had placed it to begin with. It's only been about 10 days since the post got moved, so I hope the bass hasn't suffered too much for it.
     
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The Strings I use are the regular 92s Flexocor Stark/Thick gauge with the Purple/Violet silk at the tail piece. These are metal strings and one of the most popular for Orchestra playing but the Thick gauge gives a better Pizz tone and fuller sounding overall. The model called 'Original' Flexocor (blue silk at the tailpiece) are similar in gauge/thickness to the Starks but I like how the Reg. Flex models bows, especially the G string.
     
  7. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Thank you Ken for the additional info, I'll try a set! The bass has got Spirocore Weichs on it now, so it will be fun to see what should prove to quite a difference. More bass and less "mawh" is what I'm hoping for, and any reason to pick the bow more often has got to be good for me!
     
  8. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Of course you would want your post in different positions for jazz vs classical. I even have a special spot for the post for Gamalong music.

    Hey Arnold-wouldn't it be fun to have 3 other guys mucking about with yer post?
     
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Mike-
    Use whatever soundpost position that sounds best to you, and then don't let luthier B, C, D, X, or Y mess with it.
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Or luthier Nn. :bag:
     
  11. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Thank you Jeff and Nick, I just came back from Lemur Music in San Juan Capistrano, CA, very nice folks there that really know basses, the post is now right and the bass sounds good so all is well in my world. It was never really "wrong", I just worry a lot about these things, it's part of my learning curve. This is my first fully carved bass. It wasn't too many years ago that I was strictly an electric bass player, I've owned about a dozen of them over the years. Then plywood basses, a Hybrid bass, a couple EUB's, a Gage Czeck-Ease (plywood) and now most recently, my beloved Shen. I'm well into my 40's and still learning many new things about this wonderful world of bass. The in's and out's of carved basses is a most exciting part of this process, not to mention playing them! I got some of the Pitastro starks that Ken was talking about earlier in this thread. Sounds mighty meaty on my bass!