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Mike Pope's 6 setup

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Stingus, Apr 2, 2004.

  1. I was looking at the new Bass Player, and in the article on Mike Pope, I noticed that he has his low B strung in an unusual fashion. In fact, his E and A look funky too, but his B is strung Over the peg as opposed to Under (hope this makes sense)

    Speaking as someone ready to cross into the extended range world, and considering Mike Pope's rep as a technician under the strings as well as on them, is there any particular advantage to this?
  2. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I noticed that in BP, too. I've heard/read that extra string length beyond the nut makes for a better sounding B, and that some makers intentionally position tuners to allow a little extra space... but his is pretty extreme, eh? - looks like he swapped what I'd think would be the A string tuner post for the B, and added a funny-looking string tree??? I dunno, I'm not looking at BP right now, but if recent memory serves...

    I don't know anything about the physics of the extra length... maybe someone else will chime in who can give a better explanation...

    I dunno, but if nothin' else, here's a bump for ya. :cool:
  3. Do you mean as in this link ? (Scroll down for the pick of the headstock with "extended B" tuners).

  4. Yep. except for the funky string tree.
  5. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    That's Fodera's "Extended B headstock", and the string tree is Mike's personal add-on.
  6. If no one has noticed, the B is strung 'backwards' from the other ones...
  7. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Fodera has been doing this "extended B" stringing for a couple of years now. It is really amazing how a simple, yet somewhat innovative mod like this can truely effect the sound, and more importantly the feel of the B string!
    I tried a Fodera Matt Garrison with this set up and it had a very remarkable B string...even with a 33" scale!

  8. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    This has been discussed quite a bit in the basses forum, and it's quite "controversial." I've played a couple Fodera's with this type of headstock and personally have never really noticed a difference. Not saying that it doesn't make a difference but I've seen some argue that it can't possibly make the bass play better because of the laws of physics. I have no opinion either way however because I don't consider myself well informed enough to have one.
  9. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    I have a very rare Edward model Fodera and they come standard with the extended peghead. Ecuadorian bassist Edward Mozina commissioned an instrument from Vinnie Fodera in 1999. Fodera's David Beasley writes, "It is for all intents and purposes a modified Emperor elite with longer and pointier horns. It's also the first bass to have the extended-B peghead. Edward had also opted to go for a 2" thick body being that he had selected light swamp ash for the body, this gave the bass a resonance not usually afforded to swamp ash of thinner proportions. This instrument showed me that a well thought out bass didn't necessarily need a preamp onboard to sound great."

    What remains to be clarified is whether, all along, this was Edward's original idea or if it was conceived by Vinnie at Edward's request or if both of them collaborated over a span of time or what. However what is clear is that this was the very first Fodera model to have this feature and it's not simply achieved by restringing differently. After inspecting my bass it seems as though the headstock had to be widened ever so slightly to make a little more room for the B having to be strung backwards. It's quite obvious that the E and A string posts are moved in slightly towards the center of the peghead as well. The truss-rod cover is shifted slightly and consequently the top screw is not in its' normal place equidistant from the edges of the plate but closer to the left edge. The B-string post is not simply where the A would normally be. Since the B-string is wound opposite on its' post a backwards-operating tuner is installed to keep the tuning motions consistent. So when you tighten the B it's the same counter-clockwise motion as the E and A.

    I believe Edward received his bass in late 1999 so it's been around for quite a while although many people might not have known about it or cared to have it as an option. I can say without a doubt that this makes the B-string sound like it's attached to a piano soundboard (let alone the rest of the bass). It's a possibility to get that sound from having a phallanges-busting 36"-scale length. My Elrick platinum singlecut 6 has a 36"-scale length and both sonically and feel-wise it is a toy compared to the Edward. Before I bought the Fodera I tried out an MTD 6, a Ken Smith Black Tiger 6, a Sukop 6, and many others at different shops for a week and this bass obviously spoke to me. I think that there's not only something really special about this bass to begin with but that the extended-B peghead pushes it over the edge into a completely different realm altogether. Now that Fodera is doing a lot more orders for 33" instruments the extended-B peghead is quickly becoming more commonplace. Mine is 34" and it sounds absolutely unreal. In the following quote David Beasley is replying to an inquisitor of the validity of the design. He says, "As far as the extended B peghead goes, it really does work. If it didn't every 33" 5-string would have been returned to us because of floppy B-strings. And, in order for it to be a sales gimmick we would have to charge extra for it which we don't."
    Controversial? I think not.


  10. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    oh yeah stingus. i read on mike's site that he specifically wanted to have a fender-style headstock instead of the angled headstock they normally use so that's why he has to use the string tree and then he's got the extended-b thing goin' on at the same time. i agree that it looks pretty strange.

    i remember some really complex article by rick turner explaining how the length and angle of the non-vibrating portions of the strings coming off both the nut and the saddles critically affect the overall feel and the sound of an instrument. i'm thinking that if anything, it's easier to get a consistently greater break-angle over the nut with the extended arrangement. Fodera already has a pretty extreme back-angle on the headstock and it's common knowledge that the greater the back-angle the better for a string's resolution and responsiveness not to mention it keeping the string from leaving the slot in the nut when slapping or playing hard.

    check out http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/foderabassguitars to see a front-angle shot of my angled-back headstock in all its' weird glory. it's on the front page and hopefully will be there a little while longer.

    happy thumping,

  11. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I quess this means that every medium scale 32" Alembic 5 or 6 string has been returned because of floppy B's, right?

    I think most bass manufacturers know that the extended peghead deal doesn't make a difference which is why you don't see all of them following suit or the players asking for it. You think the extended peghead design makes a difference to you? Cool. The consensus backed up by physics has yet to see a difference other than psychological.
  12. Billdog


    Feb 27, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    Until I see some quantitative proof I am not convinced. And a sales gimmick does not require that you charge more money. A sales gimmick can just be a feature that attracts customers to your product instead of someone elses. By saying they would have to charge more for it to be a gimmick, they are implying that the buyer would buy a Fodera either way and that the model of Fodera is the only choice they are making. I'm not saying it's not true, and I'm not saying don't buy it, because Fodera makes a mean bass. I'm just saying this extended B is hype in my opinion until I see someone graph the signal produced by a regular B string and one by an extended B string with all other features on the two instruments being the same. In conclusion, Fodera still rocks because Wooten, Burbridge, Pope, Garrison, etc. all play them and because they sound, look, and feel amazing. :D
  13. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Although Matt strings his E,A,D,C
  14. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    But don't the medium scale basses use medium scale strings? They are designed for that shorter length while, as far as I know, the 33" basses use standard length strings. Of course the Alembics would not be returned because they are just fine as long as you're using medium scale strings, right? And please tell me about the concensus backed up by physics as I haven't heard anything either way.
  15. thepontif


    Apr 24, 2004
    Designer Fodera Guitars/Michael Pope Design, Inc., Trickfish Amplification
    The extended B helps to tighten up the B string. I don't remember the specific physics behind it. It's a small improvement which is more valueable on shorter scale basses. Remember, a shorter string sounds a higher pitch unless the tension is reduced. Sound waves are not produced by a string vibrating up and down. The sound waves travel from one end of the string to another. You can use fatter strings to compensate which slows down the speed of sound in the string through an increase in mass, but that's not always desireable. Most guys I know use regular gauge strings. The flat headstock on my bass was an experiment. It won't be on the next version which is being worked on now. I agree that the string tree is ugly too. The next bass will be similar, but if things go the way they appear they will the new one will have some really unusual technology in it in terms of pickups. I'm not going to say what, because I want to make sure it works completely :) But suffice it to say it will solve an old problem.
    -Mike Pope
  16. GooseYArd

    GooseYArd Guest

    May 15, 2003
    Allow me to refer you to my somwhat absurd post that describes how the extended peghead design does not actually change the tension of the string.


    The extended peghead is just one of those things that seems like a clever idea, and seems like it ought to be doing something, but actually does not do anything at all.
  17. thepontif


    Apr 24, 2004
    Designer Fodera Guitars/Michael Pope Design, Inc., Trickfish Amplification
    As I think back on it, my original reasoning for wanting the B in the farthest position from the nut was that I wanted the E and A tuners in the same position they would be on a 4 string. I wanted to try to make the E floppier so it wasn't so twangy when I slapped. The flat headstock was part of the same intention, where I tried to simulate some of the components of a fender jazz neck. The neck is one piece of rock maple with one truss rod and when you pull out the fingerboard extension, it's 20 frets. Anyway, there are other factors besides the simple vibration of the string. There are lots of frequencies occuring, first of all, not just a fundamental. There is an attack, where the string is stretched and released which causes a small amount of slippage in the nut parallel to the string. The length and tension of the string beyond the nut, and it's angle relative to the vibrating portion do affect the end result. Also, there is the down bearing on the nut and bridge which, possibly, is one of the very most important components in stretched string intrument design. We're not trying to uncover mechanical concepts that have never been found here...it's not about measurement or concepts ultimately. Bottom line is, it is a no compromise way to make an incrimental improvement in the performance of the B string (unless the looks are a problem for you) and seems to us (me and Fodera) to have real benefits. If you've ever looked at car engine tuning it's a similar animal. You see a car that generates 300 hp and think, "why do I want to spend $1500 for an exaust that offers an extra 6 hp?". Then you figure out that there's a big picture and that 6 hp is part of it. Then you plan accordingly, taking into account what it is you're trying to achive, and what your willing to give up in the process. As for someones comment about marketing gimmicks...Fodera doesn't do that. The extended B doesn't cost extra money and they only do what needs to be done for the end result. They don't need help selling basses. They need help building enough. Marketing is not an issue for them...otherwise they WOULDN'T use the extended B because there are fewer people who would buy it because it's wierd looking. There are plenty of marketing gimmicks out there...like guys who bolt together instruments and sell them as "hand made" at comparable prices. You want to go where the saw dust is for a good instrument.
    -Mike Pope
    jsxtal likes this.
  18. thepontif


    Apr 24, 2004
    Designer Fodera Guitars/Michael Pope Design, Inc., Trickfish Amplification
    The credit for the original idea goes to a bass player in LI named Mike Frost. He tried to get Fodera to do it a while back (mabye like 97 ish) but they wouldn't. I thought of it independently (with different goals in mind than Mike) and Vinny (who had forgotten about Mike Frost's original request) did the drawings for my bass. Edward was hanging around the shop a lot (I taught him a bit at the Collective) and he saw the drawings. He decided he wanted that on his bass which was to be finished soon. Vinny felt funny putting something designed for my bass on someone else's first and asked my approval. I didn't care so there it was. Meanwhile, Mike Frost got really Pi$$ed off...oops! So anyway, he gets the official credit for the Fodera version, although I think this is something that had been thought of by many other people over the years.
    -Mike Pope
  19. thepontif


    Apr 24, 2004
    Designer Fodera Guitars/Michael Pope Design, Inc., Trickfish Amplification
    Well, GooseYArd, that link doesn't present anything more scientific that what's been discussed here, although it's colorful. True that once you get the string vibrating, and the whole instrument is doing its sympathetic thing, the nut locked or not locked probably doesn't make a difference. But how does it respond to repeatedly having the crap beat out of it at varying volume levels. Or how does it handle attacks at different points along the string. How well does it stay in tune. Here's an example. The B string normally has to go over the nut, make a bend down, then another quick turn around the tuner. If you have a bass with a steep headstock angle, the bend and turn becomes difficult for a big fat .130" thick string to make. The bends should be, in theory, immediate so that there is a perfect angle with no rounding of the corners but in truth that doen't happen. The less time the string has to make the change in direction before making another turn, the greater the likelyhood that the string isn't absolutely straight after the nut. If it's not straight, it's easy for it to give up a bit of slack as the string is attacked. This makes the B feel floppy, even though once it's going, it's fine. If you don't get it right away, it feels wrong. Try this, put a set of strings on your bass and play for a minute or two. Then, go around the bass and push down on the strings before and after the nut, and before and after the bridge to sharpen the angles there. Tune it back up and play. First of all, the bass will probably stay in tune a LOT better, and it will feel different. In some cases REALLY different depending on how your bass is set up to start with. Fact is, there are MANY things going on here besides a string vibrating. And as for the psychological effect...psychoacoustics is a real thing. Hearing and feeling happens in the brain, not the ears and hands. You can argue all day long that something sounds a certain way, but all you can really be sure of is that your eardrums are probably experiencing the same vibrations as the other guy's. We should avoid putting down subjectivity. You can't have good music that is purely objective.
    -Mike Pope
  20. GooseYArd

    GooseYArd Guest

    May 15, 2003
    I have no idea and make no claims about how such a setup would sound, so don't get me wrong there- the article I pasted dealt only with absolute string tension, since the only claim I was aware of for the extended peghead was that you got string tension commensurate with the longer string length, as if you had expanded the scale for that string by lenghtening the section behind the nut, which doesn't work.

    I see what you're talking about regarding the string break angle. I think what you are trying to say (and forgive me for getting all scientific, I just need to have some way to explain it :) ) is that if the angle of exit of the string from the nut is not precisely perpendicular to the nut, because the string is not flexible enough to straigten out after a tight turn, then what you have got is a situation where the elasticity of the string material itself is dissipating more energy than if the string entered the backside of the nut perfectly perpendicularly. This is a strain situation, where angular stresses on one side of a fulcrum point.

    When you press down on the string, you are actually stretching the core material, causing the angle of exit to more closely match the nut groove, and additionally, you are reducing the elasticity of the string core at the point where it undergoes the greatest repeated physical stress. So you are pre-stressing it to reduce its tendency to deform during playing, causing you to get out of tune.

    It's kind of curious- I wonder why nobody ever thought of simply lenghtening the nut? Doing this would allow the string a smoother angular transition over the break, and it would reduce the tendency of the string to "wobble" in the nut, i.e. the short piece of string moves in the opposite direction of the long piece when the nut slot acts as a kind of pivot point.

    A mechanical locking nut is another alternative that guarantees that the string can exit the nut at the correct angle.

    Also it just occurred to me that the strings should not be exiting the nut perfectly perpendicular to the nut, because the span of string from the nut to the bridge is not parallel to the center line of the body, since the spacing is wider at the bridge that at the nut. We need to make sure the nut slots are angled correctly to compensate for that, too!

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