Low output on A and D string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stacker, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. stacker

    stacker Inactive

    Feb 24, 2010
    Greco Rick 'faker, ceramic magnet pups. Never really noticed it before as the bass was in for some fret-work and I took forever to pick it up but tonight I noticed the A string doesn't ring fully. Nothing is inhibiting it but when I played a few runs across all four strings the output of the A is lower than the others, though the D isn't far behind. It's more pronounced on the front pup, as in the E and the G are really loud.

    The front pup has four unadjustable pole-pieces and a bar magnet across them. It could be the strings so I'm going to change them first but just putting this out for discussion.
  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    IIRC, this is one of the complains from their recipients
    too bad it's not on one side, then you could lower the pickups on one side & raise on the other

    new strings might fix your problem though, because there shouldn't be any reason for the center of the coil to be weaker, unless the magnets are faulty
  3. stacker

    stacker Inactive

    Feb 24, 2010
    Yeh, it can't be the magnet, can it?

    Will get some new stings this week.
  4. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    has it been in a high temperature situation recently?, or near really heavy magnetic flux? like a generator

    Gordon Sumner put his bass up against a boiler before a show & he and Andy Summers' pickups both got completely degaussed
  5. stacker

    stacker Inactive

    Feb 24, 2010
    Heard about the AS story.

    It's been in a tech's den, getting the frets done. It can't be the magnet if the E and G are considerably louder. I'll buy as new set of strings and at the same time take a peek under the hood. I'm seconds away from just buying an alnico job on ebay, anyway.
  6. XontheP


    May 24, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    Think about it. You have a radiused neck, and flat pickups. Your E and G strings are closest to the pickups. By playing with the pickup height and string height, you could probably get them close in volume.
  7. stacker

    stacker Inactive

    Feb 24, 2010
    What, even when I raise the G and E at the bridge? Naah, it's nothing to do with the neck radius/string height. Anyway, strings bought and also a cheapo alnico toaster copy. We'll see how the strings go first.
    bench likes this.
  8. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    Maybe give the pickups the "tap" test for audible signal strength? Any small metal object will do, tap the poles while the bass is plugged in. If the vol discrepancy remains, it's not the strings. Quick, easy test that costs nothing.
    Honch, wisconsindead and stacker like this.
  9. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    "Low output on A and D string"... Before I did any mechanical work on the instrument, I would learn more covers which utilize these strings... I'm just sayin'...
    Remyd likes this.
  10. It could be that your A and D strings are going dead.
    It might also be a case of string to pickup distance
    being unequal due to the strings following the neck radius.
    quickfix and Honch like this.
  11. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    I had a similar situation happen out of the blue with the stock MK1's on my Ibanez SR500. Replaced them with USA Barts, no more issues, changed literally nothing else. I'm sure people more educated than me will tell me I'm just stupid, but the pickups sound better and they work...ymmv
  12. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Look, do like this first (I've done this):

    Just swap the places of the strings where it's possible. Put the "thinnes sounding" string in the place of the thick E-string. Since a nut carved out for a thicker string may very well take a thinner gauge string temporarily for these purposes. Check if the thin sounding FOLLOWS the string. It's no use putting the D at the A slot since the D is thin also.

    You can put the thinnest G - string in the A or D string nut slot temporarily. And check if it behaves the same. Now do not put a thicker string in any thinner string gauges nut slot, or you may ruin the nut slot, and it may very well crack as well as the string height will be way off. Now the following:

    1. If the weakness follows the string (ie the D is weak too in the thick E-string slot) it may very well be the string sets composition. Regardless of the same gauge, they don't tell us if the inner core is of the same gauge all the way through and just wrapped with thicker wrap. It's called core to wrap ratio. Some manufactureres favors THINNER core even as you go up in gauges for added bending flexibility, however - contrary to popular belief - it is weaker magnetism too. I sure want thicker core as I go down in note, and want's thicker core strings as well as thicker gauge. The "oomph" and "beef" and initial "punch" through the pickups are heard better, if that's the case. Not all magnetism comes from the core of the string, but most of it. Otherwise, just wrap a steel core around a nylon string, put it over any pickup and see what happens.

    2. Well then, then it's the pickups. It depends on where the magnets are placed, in the bottom of pickups or the poles have been magnetized or demagnetize. You can get pickus remagnetized, but it's very very hard to get exactly right, and some magnetize them after winding, and some magnetize before winding. If pole pieces arent adjustable something might have happened to them. Pickups (regardless of ceramic, alnico or whatever) can get de-gaussed when just thrown together in pairs, and keep them as handy, while you pick them up from the drawer, if they have been removed from the bass and stuck together laying around in a drawer for a couple of weeks or months. People (not even music stores) knows this. People think they preserve their magnetism by sticking - say - three singlecoild strat pickups together and let their own magnetism hold them together, so that you can pick them up - all three - at once as one package so to speak. This is a no no.

    I always had problems with the outer strings, since the magnet fields are sort of running out out there. If it's weak in the middle of the strings, chances are that something has happened to the pole pieces magnetism (individually) or that the radius of the string/neck doesn't follow the staggered pole pieces at all. If they're not staggered and completely flat, there's the culprit, should the strings/neck have any radius. If the pole pieces are flat and strings are radiused to follow the neck in a "slight arc" the distance from the pole pieces to the A and D string are longer, than the E and G string and thus, poorer/weaker output.

    This can't be cured with any pickup height adjustments, or new strings.

    EDIT: A properly staggered for radius pole piece on any Ric shoud look like this:


    The middle pole pieces are higher. If it has rails (toaster) pickups it should have a slight raidus too, and not flat:


    Joey's Bass Notes - Recognizing Rickenbacker Bass Copies
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
    stacker likes this.
  13. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    If the pickups are a)non radiused b) non adjustable pole pieces, all set FLAT, then you have no option but to change out the pickups to proper replacement ones, either toaster pickups that has proper radius, or with adjustable pole pieces. Period. This may be your only option even if they've becom degaussed too, because it's more worth it.
    stacker likes this.
  14. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Buy some Joe Bardens instead, and get the radius right from the start on (they'll cost you a bundle, but you won't complain ever about any output from any string...;)):

    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  15. stacker

    stacker Inactive

    Feb 24, 2010
    I've just had a good look at that pup and the A & D poles are indeed, for some fricken reason, a tad lower than the E & G. This, combined with the radius measurement, may be the issue. I say 'may' cos I'm not entirely convinced.

    Can't blow wonga on the Bardens as I'm needing that kind of cash for a set of TV Jones Magna'trons for the Gretsch. Won't spend money on RIC either. There's a guy over here who rattles toasters up but he takes forever so until I decide which route to follow there's a little Chinese alnico toaster on the way, just for a temp test but need I'll sling those new strings on when they arrive.

    I could always try whack the slugs on the underside.......:woot:
    Honch likes this.
  16. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Do not whack the slugs, you make break and destroy the "bobbins" if there are such things on your Ric pups. You may ruin the windings too. It all depends on how the pickup is made, wounded, and if it's waxed (potted). OR not. You can do with right mechanical machinery but you have to press them very very slowly at high torque, and it's ... well yada-yada best left to a pickup winder or expert.
  17. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    You could show us pics of your pups. Is the neck pickup made out of rails, and the bridge pup of poles?
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    This can sometimes be fixed by lowering the pickups.
    It lowers gain as a whole but minimizes the difference between strings.
    stacker likes this.
  19. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    A tad lower even? Not even flat, flushed level? Hmmm....that's strange, very strange as you can't adjust them. Usually either all of them are completely flush, or radiused slightly or adjustable. Never heard of any neck or string with "negative" (or concave) radius...:confused:
  20. stacker

    stacker Inactive

    Feb 24, 2010
    You're right, they can't be lower. It must be my eyes.

    Here's the pup. I have the G side of the saddle unit a tad high cos it's really loud. You can also see that the G side of the pup is quite low compared to the E.