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Low girth G string

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Uncletoad, Feb 6, 2005.


  1. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I always play my DB amplified on gigs. I generally play quite loud. I get a fabulous sound on the E A and D strings. Tone is big and fat with lots of sustain, girth and punch. The G-string is mostly unusable in that context. It’s thin and has no bottom end. Its gets swallowed up in the low midrange of the other instruments in the ensemble. When I play on the G my bass lines loose their support and the bottom drops out.

    As such I end up playing on 3 strings. The open G is decent but every time I walk above it sounds like I quit playing.

    Playing the instrument acoustically I notice almost the opposite. The G-string is strong and clear all the way up, the A and D excellent and the E string is quiet and underperforms. It’s especially dead in the low F# G and G#. This is completely opposite of the electric sound which is huge in that register.

    I use an old German Plywood with Spirocore Solo’s in standard tuning. I use a full circle pickup into a PMB II amplified by a Euphonic EA 800 driving two EA VL 208 boxes on 90% of my gigs. I run the EA 800 flat with no EQ almost full out as far away from me as I can get it and use the PMBII to control volume and tone by my bass. The bass knob is usually just barely cracked open to no further than 9 O’clock. Midrange cut a bit from noon and treble cut to about 10 o’clock.

    I’ve tried moving the EQ around in a bunch of different ways. I’ve tried Eqing with lots of meddling on the amp and a Raven True Blue. None of those things help much. Generally they get me further away from a supportive big tone. I may not be approaching that right.

    I played on Labella gut strings for a while, Spirocore Orchestra’s and Weichs. They all had their strengths and weaknesses. I can elaborate if need be. The G-string issue was prominent in each case. It was best sounding with the gut string. The E on the guts sounded like dung. Both the Guts and the Orchestras were really hard to play. I like the low tension thing.

    I moved the Full circle to the G-string side and while the G was louder it still had no bottom end and the E string sounded weak and thin.

    I tried a bass max on either wing with and without the full circle. Not the right direction either.

    My preference would be to have 4 big sounding strings. I miss my G-string. I put this in this equipment category but I’m not limiting my thinking in that regard. Playing style, strings, anything is on the table. Ideas?
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I would hazard to guess that you're getting too much volume from the bottom three strings rather than too little from the G, and this is because your amp rig is boosting the low end considerably. The G string isn't putting out anything in this 'boosted' range, thereby making your high end seem to disappear.

    Do you play with the cabinet on the floor? Get it up on a chair or milk crate.

    Dampen the after-string (between the bridge and tailpiece) to help cut flabby lows.

    Chris Pizzgerald is an advocate of the hi-pass filter to cut the low end that is exaggerated and unnatural. Might look into that. A lot of modern Slab rigs bost the hell out of the low-lows, which is a drag on the real bass.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Pickups are notorious for sounding different on different basses. I don't have this same problem with the Full Circle on my bass, but I have had this problem on other instruments. A couple of things you might try:

    1) The iAmp 800 has a really nice low parametric band which can be used as a semi "high pass" filter. Starting with it set on 40 or 50hz, try cutting the crap out of it until the bottom end clears up. If you are missing punch at this point, you could boost the 200hz area a tad to compensate.

    2) My Full Circle sounds better when the phase is reversed. I have no idea why, or even how this is possible on a pickup with only two leads, but there it is. With the phase reversed, the low lows are cut quite a bit, and the sound is more geared toward the higher frequencies. Your PMB should do this easily.

    3) If the above things don't help, you could try to balance the output of your instrument by either putting a heavier string on the G than the others, or raising the string height of the G in relation to the others. Either of these things should bring out the fullness of the string quite a bit when amplified. Spiro solos are pretty loose strings, and may simply not get the bridge moving much, especially if the string height is low.

    4) Last, a mic may help add fullness to the G. It always worked for me, although at high volumes, this becomes its own issue. Good luck!
     
  4. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I find that the G and sometimes D response from my homebuilt EUB sometimes are not consistent with the A and E. I use a small graphic EQ when using my Contra or other none-iAMP 800 gear, but have gotten good results with the 800's semi-parametric EQ. The D and G are in the 80-160hz. area. I'd zero in on 100 hz. on the EQ and boost it a good amount, move the slider to locate a sweet spot (hoping you'll find one), and then back off on the amount as needed. It's worth a shot. I also have a habit of turning up the midrange controls on my VL-208 cabs in a lot of situations, to enhance clarity for notes in that freq range.
     
  5. I believe you've actually got too much rig there, which is exaggerating the low end. I'd be happy to take one of your 208s off your hands, at a fair price, and that should clear it right up for you. ;)
     
  6. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Good ideas. I need to mess with the EQ thing in a bit more detail. Seems like everything I work out in rehearsals or practice rooms doesn't translate to the bandstand. Tweaking on the gig is tough. I run out of hands and my arms don't reach as far as feedback does. Neverthless I'll give those things a try and report back.

    I mentioned the strings mostly because I have a love hate relationship with them. The acoustic sound of the Orchestra Spiros was really great. I couldn't make it through the marathon 2 hour sets I get into without loosing the ability to play part way through. I'm in a constant struggle with carpal tunnel stuff. In addition it seemed like my feedback problem got worse with higher tension strings. When they weren't feeding back they sounded really great. The Solos are easier to play, sound more gut like, but are also prone to me overdriving them. I might try the weich again, I can't remember how they responded anymore. I was considering Garbos and Corellis too.

    I agree that phase reversal helps immensely. I haven't messed with my action in awhile. I'll try that too. I always forget about decopling from the floor. I play way to loud to use just one cabinet. I tried that and almost blew one up. They are to hard to come by to risk that again.

    Whenever I've used a mic in the studio in addition to the pickup the sound is always outstanding. I play way to loud to get a mic in on the mix live.

    I'm seduced by the "artificial" big low end I'm getting. The other players love how it sits in the mix. Hopefully these changes can give me the whole bass without loosing to much of that big supportive tone.

    I'll report back after this weekends gigs.
     
  7. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Nice weekend of tweeking on two decent gigs.

    Here's what worked. Used the EA800 EQ to roll off the lows. Found it worked best set at 40hz and rolled off 8 or 10 db. I then actually pushed the bass back up on the Preamp to the 10 o'clock area. Set the second band around 180ish and boosted just a tad. Maybe 3db, maybe not. While I was at it I rolled out above around 3K a bit. Got rid of any clanking and racket I didn't need.

    G string improved. A ton. Still not all there but closer to realistic balance. The low G on the E string seemed to be a bit weak but that is also consistant with the acoustic sound of my bass.

    Tonight I put the Spirocore Mittels back on. Changed my setup a bit. Lowered the action a tad, shimmed the nut just about 5 thousands as it had worn through to laying on the fretboard. Way big tone. Mucho Macho. In tune again. I may raise the action back after I get past the stumps I played with tonight. The E was a bit choked from F to G#. Some of that is a technique thing. I need to focus on a better angle of attack on the E and G strings.

    Got me thinking about the "spirocore zone" and a Stark E. Or perhaps a bit more camber in the board.

    Thanks again for all your help. The experience shared here really is amazing. Cuts through months or years of random experimenting. I can make more movement in tone in a week with these focused exchanges than I'd make in god knows how long on my own.
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Go for it! That string is a mother.
     
  9. Might I ask first what your bass sounds like acousticaly? Is it even soundiing that way? When is the last time you had some soundpost work? You might find your uneven string problem can be resolved w. a soundpost adjustment and of course this is even important for plywood instruments. I fiirst try w.clients to get their basses as even and full sounding before we tackle the amp,and then we check that out because sometimes we need to go backwords if the bass feeds back or has other issues.Aot of different stuff here w.the player,their set-up and their rig.
    Glad you have learned so much from this forum.
     
  10. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    While some folks may be a bit put off by all of the tone tweaking options of the iAMP, it is nice to have them when you need them, IMHO.

    With regard to strings, I am fairly happy with my Heliocores that I have right now (and which I put on for some arco work), if you know that you are going to be amplified, and don't need a lot of acoustic volume, the spirocore weichs are probably my favorites. Boy do they blow with a bow, though...
     
  11. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    "Might I ask first what your bass sounds like acousticaly? Is it even soundiing that way? "

    Sounds pretty even acousticly on the A, D, and G. The E string between F# and G# is kind of dead. I haven't messed with the soundpost. The placement, structure and fit seem right on the money by what I am familiar with but I'm certainly no expert on those matters.

    Ordered the Stark E. I'm a glutton for punishment. Into the Spiorocore Zone I go.
     
  12. A trip to a Bass luthier might reveal that your bass is choked by a tight soundpost, especially if it is dead on the E string.Do yourself a favor....
     
  13. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I was wondering about the soundpost before when addressing other setup issues. It does seem to be in there pretty tightly. Is there a possibility that by loosening up that fit a bit it would increase it's feedback potential dramaticly or unbalance the sound in some other way? I've considered addressing that but have stopped short for concern about feedback. I know for some here it is blasphemous to consider electric concerns over acoustic however I never play without an amp outside of individual practice situations.

    I haven't seen coversation yet about the subtleties of soundpost fit anywhere and the fine line between acoustic properties and electrical realities. All the same though a more powerfull E string is never a bad thing for me.
     
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Phil:

    Have you ever spoken to the guys up at The Loft Violin Shop? They worked some wonders on my Kay.

    Tom.
     
  15. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Well sure I could always do that. They are far better at that than I might ever be. If I was only interested in how it played and making it the best it could be I'd have taken it there already. I've spent more time on working on this guy (i.e. away from doing billable things at my bench) than I would have spent on them doing it.

    Thats not really the point though. Having someone else do it shortcuts some of my process. You see I believe that learning this work is an extension of my growth as a Luthier AND as a bassist. Understanding the subtleties of this work and the final results of my interventions (good and bad) help me develop new skills and a greater understanding of instrument repair. In the long run I think I'll be a better Luthier AND a better player. All experts started as novices.

    Or maybe I'm just a foolish old guy playing with expensive toys I don't know.
     
  16. All I can say is I do alot of soundpost work this time of year and some because the client has not had any work done for some time.[Like siince last summer when the post is supposed to be long] If yours is tight as I said it may be choking a certain region of your bass.Other things to consider are as you said the subtleties of the soundpost fit which might involve a different location to get what you are looking for in sound.
    Also a few other factors would involve your bridge: How thick it is in certain areas ,how deep your string notches are,the fit of the feet and their thicknesses, and of course the fingerboard scoop and how well it is dressed.
    So you see it's not just the soundpost,but maybe a few things you need checked before you arrive at the best sound for your bass acoustically.
     
  17. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Makes sense. The first time I fit the feet of my bridge it sounded weak and diffuse. Once I spent several hours with lipstick and a violin knife it sounded tons better. I'm aware of the complex relationships between subtle details that take a lifetime to master. I appreciate everyone taking their time to elaborate on their experiences with them.