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Keeping the good, changing the bad

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by RiverFunk, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. Since I'm kind of new, I'm going to say.. Hello!
    Anyways.. I'm on a budget because I'm paying for university. But I'm also a interested musician and so I need a good bass. But I can't simply buy a "good one" because I'm not rich yet, hehe, so I want to know the best I can about the not so good basses I get to play.

    I'm on my 4th bass and it's an OLP MM. It's clear for me what I liked and didn't like in each bass I owned, and in this OLP I've managed to increase sustain a lot by filling the gaps between the neck and body with paper, and raising the neck from the body joint about half one mm with paper as well. Since this adjustment the sound of the bass is noticeably better (sustains great), however from G to E, each string has less lows to its sound. In this order, they sound progressively less sweet (G sounding very sweet, E thin). This was also verified when playing it accousticaly (not an electronics problem).

    So here goes the question, is there a way to discover if this is a neck or body problem? I prefer to know this and upgrade the bass accordingly, than simply assume it's crap as a whole because it's an OLP, and the secret for an even and good sound is in how much money the instrument costs.

    I've noticed one part of the body produces a different sound when tapped. Does this mean anything..? Is there a similar test to know more about the neck?

    Thanks, keep playing that thing,

  2. You get the prize for thoughtfulness and restraint. It's refreshing to hear someone think about their instrument in ways besides the "I need a new bridge - which is better" sort of approach.

    You've already discovered one of the things that makes higher end basses worth more money and that's the level of parts fit that you get with better engineered instruments. By filling the voids with paper, you increased the neck to body acoustic coupling and that brought you the sustain. Unfortunately, the paper is killing some tone IMO. That's not too surprising - paper is a little soft to be used for so much filling. It's better if used just for a thin shim. But you are on the right track.

    Now, as for body or neck being the heart of the problem, I look at it like this. For what they are, necks are pretty simple. If it's maple, it's probably as good as the next maple neck - nothing too unusual here. The body is another thing though. If it's a softwood - basswood, agathis, or something else like is used with lower end imports, that could be the problem. A step up to alder, ash, walnut, or some of the other denser or more resonant woods, will give you a definite tone change.

    Make a new body with a really well fitted neck joint and you'll probably have a bass that better replicates the higher end sounds you've got in your head.

    BTW, your tap test isn't to revealing after the bass is constructed. Finish and hollow areas affect the tap tone. BUT, tap testing the raw boards BEFORE construction can yield better results if you know what you're listening for.
  3. Edit.. From G to E it sounds thinner, not from A to E.
  4. Thanks, I always thought the neck was more important for even sound across the fingerboard, than the body. I was about to get a new neck made... Now I'm going for a new body.

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