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Maple board too bright for straightahead gigs?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Wilbyman, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I've been in a dialogue with my comrade, B String, about this and am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the matter...

    I pretty typically play jazz style instruments (might be a more modern shape, but jazz basses nonetheless).

    Maple boards feel great and go to tape great too. I think they're "more fun" and just feel more lively. String also last alot longer for me on maple boarded instruments...

    However, I'm getting the feeling the maple boards are just too aggressive for jazz trio type stuff where I might typically take an upright. My main bass seems like a better instrument than my old, bubinga boarded jazz, but the bubinga board seemed to sit a little better in that environment.

    What do you guys think? Any jazzers have a take on this?

    On louder gigs where I'm not blowing alot, it doesn't seem to be an issue. But on quieter stuff my bass seems about as smooth as a bull in a china shop...

  2. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Personally, I've always had difficulties getting a "jazzy" tone out of my maple-boarded Ibanez ATK even when plucking over the fretboard. It always sounded a bit too "glassy" and airy to let me mimic an upright sound. I don't think anyone ever noticed besides myself in the not-that-great big band I used to play in, though.

    I'm positive much of the brightness was caused by the pickup position, though. Rolling off all the treble helped a bit, though.
    Is the aggressiveness still there with the neck pickup soloed and the treble all the way down?
  3. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    I completely agree with you. After upgrading to my mia J with maple from my mim with a rosewood fretboard, I noticed that the maple just wasn't as... idk, subtle as the rosewood. It sounds incredibly bad ass, but for smoother, ballady-type songs, I reach for the rosewood. Have you thought of fretless?
  4. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    How about using flatwounds?
  5. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I have the fretless thing covered in my Roscoe. It's a completely different sound from my jazzes...I guess my inquiry is about jazzes, since that's my pickup configuration of choice. Thanks for the input guys!
  6. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    This is where I would be on the same page with you. I love my maple Jazz for any decent volume gig; even a straight-ahead gig. But if it's a quiet trio (like a piano/guitar/bass gig I do), I have a hard time getting that nice warm tone without it being muddy. My rosewood Jazz basses work better in that regard, and with more-or-less identical construction.

    Having said that, I believe (actually I know) that the electronics will have a greater impact on the tone than FB wood...though that does matter.

    Advice? Get a rosewood Jazz (preferably alder body too), or if you really like the feel of that bass, go for a V-Bass setup.
  7. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Interesting...how do you use the V-Bass in that setting, Marcus? I'm curious.

    I think we're hearing the same things on the piano trio stuff...I also think PU's and electronics make a bigger difference, but the OBP-1 I'm running with passive tone is pretty good for achieving a warm sound. There's still that "hard/bright" character in the fundamental.
  8. I don't agree. I have used a bass with a maple board for countless gigs where you need the type of tone you are looking for. Two words, Tone Knob. I just think maple feels/sounds better.
  9. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I've played a few years in a church ensemble so I can very descriptively tell my story. I started out playing my MIJ '75 reissue with the ensemble, and everyone including myself though it was a great fit. Then I got my Carvin LB75F with the ebony fingerboard, and that had a much warmer and mellower tone. I played a few "gigs" and rehearsals with that and brought my Jazz back to the next rehearsal. It sounded so much harsher and growlier than my carvin. I decided that from then on, I wouldn't use my maple fretboarded Jazz on any ballad type tune.
  10. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I have my 2 main Jazz Basses (well, really jazz-style 5 strings) outfitted with V-Bass kits. They are wired up to be completely independent of the onboard pickups. This presents a few problems with mixing pickups (which I sometimes want), but has the advantage of being failsafe and also to be able to send the signals independently to a mixer or FOH setup.

    I've got a few patches I like for stuff where I'll be blowing over changes. Usually a variation on the classic Jazz tone, but I'll use a few. Like a "Vintage Jazz" patch with both pups full on, through a modeled B-15 for a nice warm tone. The switch to the same bass but with the neck backed off (with no hum added though-one of the nice things about the V-Bass) and a little verb, and just a touch of chorus/delay. Not much, mind you...just a pinch to make it a bit more interesting...almost unnoticeable to others really. But I like the sound, and that will make me play differently.

    It's nice to have the flexibility too. I'll sometimes use a "Vintage P-Bass" patch if the gig is more like a jazz/R&B gig...which tends to mean more groove and less blowing. But having the flexibility is nice. The new Jazz I'm having Chris Stambaugh build is gonna sport the V-Bass kit as well...I'm hoping it to be my ultimate Jazz 5.

    Takes time to tweak tho, so expect that if you go the V-Bass route. Very underrated piece of gear, if you ask me.
  11. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006

    Don't get me wrong, I love the feel of my maple fretboard on my jazz. In fact, I really don't like much else when it comes to Jazz basses. I've always thought that rosewood "felt" to clacky. It may not have sounded that way, but the feeling was there. I feel like I just sink into my maple fretboard. I also get a multitude of sounds from my jazz, thanks to my bartolini pickups and 3 band active eq.

    Check my sig for three very different song styles with very different tones all using the same bass, my modified MIJ '75 reissue.
  12. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I disagree with you. The tone knob has a certain effect on the sound that may be what you want, but I'm pretty sure it's not the effect that Wilbyman is looking for and I know it's not what I'm talking about.
  13. EQing, Tapewounds, or those Roto Tru Bass strings would be my best guess. I've always used a P bass with jazz, just seems to fit that mellow tone better for me I guess.
  14. I have no straight ahead chops, but I suspect that a judicious use of the amp and preamp, smart use of finger positioning, etc. could yield a decent straight ahead tone with a maple fingerboard. If a player has good technique and a good sound, almost anything is possible.
  15. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I've got a passive tone knob and I use it. I roll back the tone knob whenever I favor the bridge pickup, which is pretty much all the time. It doesn't give you that full, but slightly compressed rosewood sound...it just trims your high end. I guess I'll be third to disagree.
  16. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I dont think some examples that people mentioned have anything to do with the fingerboard, i think an ATk will always sound like an ATK, even if it had a rosewood board.

    That being said,i do feel maple adds some brightness, but its tame-able. Just pluck differently, and roll the treble off.
  17. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    I've always preferred a P with flats for real jazz bass sounds, but by using only the neck pickup on a J you can get close to the same sound.

    I use a P with Thomastic flatwounds. It has a maple fingerboard. There's no problem with it being too bright, clanky, or whatever. Strings are important as well as pickups.

    A very slight amount of foam muting under the strings up against the bridge will help too. Not enough to kill sustain but just to control high frequency noise. You don't want a dull thud.

    The guys who switched from upright to electric (because that's where the money was) for jazz and studio work used flats with a bit of foam muting. They got a great jazz sound.

    I'm not talking about a Jaco jazz sound or fusion jazz sound though.
  18. ArwinH

    ArwinH run rabbit run

    Dec 1, 2005
    Southern California
    Well, I do know that when I had a straightahead gig a little while back I spent my time warming up on a mapleboarded stingray. When it came time for the gig I just felt like , from my experience that the sound out of the ebmm would not fit in that context; especially since I would be switching between electric and upright. I was looking for a more subtle change in tone between upright and electric, but not the blaring dichotomy that stingray was bound to give me.

    That said, I really like the look and feel of maple and think that in the right context it can work well.
  19. Mr_Dave


    Mar 11, 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    Employee - Basscentre Melbourne

    i've been enjoying using my maple/ash uv70s sadowsky on jazz gigs, quartets and stuff and also in a bigband... i like the fat bottom and then the nice top end clarity that just helps with being in the mix in the bigband...

    i do really want an alder/rosewood sadowsky metro for doing jazz gigs and stuff... i don't like winding the vtc/passive tone back on the maple ash because i kinda feel for me it defeats the purpose of having that wood combination, kinda like i also only really enjoy that bass with new sounding strings... but with a 60's style jazz, i don't mind old or new strings and i like panning the tone back...

    so if the band i'm playing in doesn't mind my modern sounding bass, i like it, but i'm happy to go for a more mellow tone too. i like both
  20. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    Don't discount the furry, old Jazz pickups you associate with those tones either, Will. I don't think preamps or these modern pickups found in upscale or boutique basses will get that warm, chewy, distorted tone that an old Fender (or even recent Fender for that matter) will give. Maybe you just need to keep an old dog around.

    But I do see maple being too bright on jazz basses for a lot of applications. Especially when combined with an ash body.