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KC Wood/Carbon and Bel Canto

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bassalova, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. Bassalova


    Nov 16, 2008
    I have Bel Cantos on my Grunert, and find these to be the best hybrid strings for decent jazz and classical works. The downside with Bel Cantos is the somewhat weak E-string. But then I start thinking about the KC Strings wooden endpin leg. There has been written some stuff about this piece. They say it opens up the bass in the lower frequencies. I wonder if the problem with Bel Canto E string is that it is too demanding, and requires a top notch setup of the bass. And I guess we all agree that these steel rods are not the best thing to put on the bass. Is there anyone who´s got some experience with Bel Cantos with KC endpin?
  2. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    I haven't tried the Bel Cantos, but yes, the wooden endpin opens up the low end. I used it some on a new bass I bought from them and used for about a year and a half and was happy with it.
    However, they have been using a carbon fiber pin recently and I have it on both of my basses. It is a carbon fiber tube with a wood core. The downside is the pin's flexibility which makes for a bit of a moving target when bowing. That doesn't bother me much and I actually like the feel of it.
  3. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Don't know where or why you got that idea.
  4. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I use an angled endpin occasionally. The difference it makes sonically is subtle at best on my bass, but many claim it makes a difference.
  5. mjt0229

    mjt0229 Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Bellingham, WA
    I have a KC Strings pegleg for my Kai Arvi, but I'm not certain it makes a whole lot of difference in the tone. It may be that my inadequate technique is preventing me from noticing the difference, but I find that the main advantage of the pegleg (apart from the Captain Ahab jokes) is that I can put the endpin in precisely to the right height quickly without worrying about slipping. I still use my steel endpin when I transport my bass and for the occasional time when I play standing up and want a little extra height.


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
    As Chuck Traeger says,when a bass is played every part of the bass vibrates, so this principle applies to the endpin as well. In his latest book he says that trying various wooden enpin rods (maple, walnut, hickory etc) the same bass produces a different sound. Two years ago i replaced my steel endpin with a KC Strings one, the model with the carbon fiber rod in a wooden housing. The KC pin changed the sound in every one of my three basses, improving the volume and the fundamentals. My TIANGE fully carved delivered a magnificent arco sound, never heard before, showing the most noticeable impovement.

    Last week i made five endpin rods from five different woods (easy to to in the University's Mech Laboratory). Fortunately the rod's diameter is 10 mm in all my basses,so trying them i found that the walnut pin is by far the winner, since it improves the resonance, the volume and the fundamentals in each one of my instruments. The improvement is more noticeable in arco playing and my magnificent PAULUS strung with EP Weichs shakes the whole house. Putting the steel rod back in each instrument the volume became significantly lower, albeit to a different extent on each bass. I also tried them on various floors (wooden floor, marble and tiles) but the walnut endpin performed excellently in each trial with my basses.

    So i strongly believe that the steel rod has to be replaced with a wooden or a carbon fiber one in each bass. I am sure that the construction of a bass (weight and stiffnes of the wood, graduation, end block etc) determines which one is the best wood for a particular instrument, but a simple trial proves that in most cases the wooden (or carbon fiber) pins are clearly the winners.
  7. tonequixote

    tonequixote Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2004
    IIRC Mr. Traeger noted that the walnut endpin was the preferred wood type in his trials. Your results seem to reinforce this selection.

    In my research on endpins commercially available, I found ebony and rosewood to be offered, but no walnut. According to Mr. Traeger the ebony and rosewood were the least desirable wood choices. Did you by any chance happen to compare these two woods also ?
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    I found that for jazz pizz playing, a wooden pin was not as good on my bass as it softened up the attack creating a sound with no edge.


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
    Well Eric, some times the general construction of a particular bass has to be matched with the proper endpin in order to have the desired results. Traeger names it "impedance matching", using a term known from Electricity. In yor case obviously the steel rod makes a better "matching". BTW, did you ever tried a carbon fiber rod? Upton sells one and i fitted it in a Strunal hybrid with excellent results.
    In my case i tried also an ebony rod and the outcome was mediocre, worse than the steel rod. I could not find a piece of rosewood to make a rod, but one of my students is going to bring me one. I'll keep you posted.
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    I use a carbon Laborie pin in both my basses and I find they sound better than the wood for my purposes but not better than steel. I can see how wood pins might be good for arco for some, possibly a darker sound.
  11. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    What vibrates better, i.e., resists vibration and passes it on, steel or wood?
  12. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    What do you mean by, "resists vibration"?

    Steel is (in general) stiffer than wood, which means it's less lossy and doesn't damp out or dissipate energy internally as wood would do. Sound travels faster in a stiffer material, too. But there are many other factors. Sound travels more slowly in denser materials. Sound travels very quickly in materials like carbon fiber, which is both stiff and low in density.... ceteris paribus..
  13. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I believe that was his point.
  14. uprightbass.com


    Jul 28, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Is not compensated for endorsements. Does not sell for profit.
    I thought I'd chime in with yet another theory.

    We want stiff, because it conducts energy (vibration) better than softer materials.

    However, we want light, because we don't want inertia. Inertia will slow down response at start and stop. It may create a little bit more sustain, but sustain from an endpin is likely not desirable due to its different amount of sustain at different frequencies (the endpin's length being the determining factor).
  15. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Musical instruments are such complex things that I suspect there really are no hard and fast rules about materials and construction. On one bass, a stiffer end peg might make it brighter- but under some conditions it might make it darker. Who knows? You can only experiment and see. One problem we have is that we can't directly A/B a bass with two tail pieces. Recording helps, but doesn't capture things like the feel to the player. And a lot of it might be subjective. I replaced the mystery wood tailpiece of my Romanian flatback with a Wittner, and I *think* it makes it more responsive and brighter... but who knows?
  16. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    exactly, drurb.

    i agree completely. what you want is a matter of your taste. a loud orchestra bassist might want something other than what a mainly pizz player would want.

    yes, stiff resists and conducts. dense and heavy ultimately takes more energy to move because it is inert, but once moving will sustain longer for the same reason.

    light is responsive, it is easy to move but will decay more quickly. e.g., a light soft wood isn't stiff enough, a hard denser wood like a drumstick is.

    so the theory would be: light plus stiff-resistant-conducive is good for making sound on the bass in an energy-efficient way: easy to get moving with but firm enough to make the bass vibrate and ring out. that is great for pizz especially, and tends towards a brighter sound. but if you play arco on a large, heavy, and dark sounding bass you might actually prefer the steel endpin because that bass might need its additional stiffness and inertia.

    interesting, last night i A/B'd a light carbon fiber end pin (it has a light synthetic rubber socket) with my older steel endpin (with heavier hardwood socket). the difference in sound was really amazing. my bass vibrated noticably better and fuller with the lighter pin.

    right, they're just sort of "guidelines" anyway... :)
  17. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    You guys have lots of great theories, but nearly all those adjustable endpins are lined with cork. I'm no scientist and will be happy if I need to be corrected, but the stiffness of steel supposedly transferring vibrations is a moot point if it's wrapped in cork, I think.

    The adjustable end pin was designed to be adjustable and convenient, not for tonal reasons.

  18. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    right, there's theory and then there's practice. (and i like practice, i do it every day. :))

    but brent, the cork is not what you dig into the wood floor, the metal point is.

    and (aside from side issue of whether or not you personally dig the spike in) that's the point. the metal endpin in the floor is resisting vibration and enabling the bass to produce sound (even if the socket has a cork lining).

    not really so much theory, it's more practice... back to the woodshed! :cool:
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I'm only going to dip my toe in this water and say that the situation is a bit more complex than has been noted here. The factors involved include 1) relative transmission of vibration within the instrument of individual parts, 2) resonance (vibration) of those parts, 3) transmission of vibration to surrounding surfaces, 4) mass damping. This is not an exhaustive list. Suffice it to say that the endpin that sounds better depends both upon the individual bass and individual preference. With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, individual "theories" not grounded in the principles of physical acoustics and vibration can be fun and entertaining to bandy about but they won't take one very far toward an understanding of what's really going on. Trial and error with your individual bass is likely the most efficient path to a desirable outcome in this case. I think mje nailed it in post #16.
  20. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    hmmm :meh:

    so our little endpin discussion is dampened. :bawl:

    for me it was ok, interesting, and even yes fun to talk, explore, and yes bandy about the difference between endpins. i don't claim to be a phd in physics, but i have ears and some curiosity and i can hear the difference.

    imho there are some general observations that can be made about the difference between steel endpins and lighter endpins, and the discussion might be helpful in learning to understand how those observations would be generally valid, i.e., for most basses.

    for me it is self-understood that how any particular endpin will sound on a particular bass cannot be stated without trying it out. that goes without saying, and it is not a particularly interesting truth or useful to say. we might as well not discuss it or many other topics, because this is after all not a scientific forum.

    and with that, i'm gone... i think i'll go burn my bass...

    :) not really.

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