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More Newbie adventures! (Don't try this at home)

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by magicd, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. magicd


    Aug 12, 2013
    Hey all. I joined Talkbass within the last two weeks and I'm loving this site. I posted that I had bought a new bass. This is the follow up.

    I found a CCB on Craigslist and bought the bass for $430.00 Since then I've purchased a Hurley pickup and a Konig and Meyer stand. I'll probably pick up a bow in the next week or so.

    As I was mounting the jack for the pickup, the bass made a big Twang sound and fell apart...

    The wire that holds the tailpiece on had separated at one end. It looks like the brass bit that crimps onto the wire let go. POS. I didn't want to try to repair junk so I decided to replace it - with a coat hanger! I used a blue coat hanger because I'm sure they sound the best. The repair worked perfectly. I set the bridge back up and retuned. I took the opportunity to move the bridge slightly back. Basically I lined the bridge up with the center notches on the F-holes.

    Yesterday I was browsing Talkbass looking for information on action. As I looked, I found mention of soundposts. What's a soundpost? We don't have those on slabs. As I read about the elusive soundpost and how they drop loose sometimes, I started to wonder if my bass still had a soundpost installed. I didn't hear any clunk when the tailpiece came loose.

    So when I got home from work I checked the bass and yes, there is a soundpost inside. It's actually located about and inch lower that the G-foot on the bridge. I was quite relieved. It also turns out that I have just about the lowest action the bass will take without buzzing. It looks like there might be an upward bow in the fingerboard at the end. I might mess with pulling the fingerboard down a bit so it's ruler straight, and then I might mess with the action some more. Maybe not...

    So last night I used the bass for the first time on a recording. I've been a professional musician for over 35 years with electric bass as my primary instrument. Last nights session was for a local singer/songwriter and was done in my friend Alecs studio. We used a Radial DI and JDK pre amp on the Hurley piezo. We used a Blue Dragonfly about a foot off the F-hole (forget what preamp, but something nice).

    I was so blown away by the sound! We got exactly the tracks we needed. Obviously my biggest challenge is intonation, but after a few takes, we got the part. This is what I've been looking for for years. I have a Kala UBass and an acoustic bass guitar, but there is nothing like the real thing. I intend to get a lot of use out of my new CCB.

    At some point I'll get the chance to play a better bass and then I'll know what I'm missing. But for $430.00 I am one happy camper. Also, as far as the pickup goes, I can't imagine a better sound. I may not be an experienced upright player, but I am an experienced studio rat. There is nothing about the sound we got that I felt needed to be changed.

    Yeah, I know. Who is this newbie that fixes his bass with a coat hanger and boasts about it? Well let's put it this way, if I had to spend $1500.00 to buy the bass, I'd still be using the Kala on tracks. My Frankenstein CCB is just what I need for right now and it is a blast!

    Again I will thank the forum and posters for a ton of valuable information (now I know what a soundpost is). I intend to keep reading and learning. When I get the bow, if I can't do what I want with it, I may go take a master class at that point.

    Life is good!


  2. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011

    I'm no pro, but I would suggest a lesson or two, just to avoid injury due to improper technique. Upright is a physically demanding instrument and if continually played with poor technique can lead to problems.
  3. magicd


    Aug 12, 2013
    Thanks for the advice. The guys over in the slab section never warn the newbies about back strain from carrying SVT heads.

    In my first thread here several other posters responded by telling me to go take lessons. Apparently that's the standard welcome.

    I took three years of upright tutoring in school. Played in the community orchestra etc. I dabble a bit with classical guitar so I am hip to proper left hand technique.


    KUNGfuSHERIFF Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2002
    Upstate NY
    1. Your bridge and soundpost are in their proper place. Good work.

    2. The coat hanger will probably fail eventually, and it's not doing your sound any favors. You want light and flexible. 18" of 3/16" flexible steel cable and a hammerlock crimp from Home Depot will be dependable and sound better. $5 outlay, tops.

    3. You do not want your fingerboard to be ruler straight. The string moves in a parabolic arc and the board has a specific amount of relief carved into it. On the other hand, fingerboards warp, and if the end of the board starts to look like a ski jump, it's time to have it serviced. I wouldn't push down on it too hard, either. They can break.

    4. What fmoore said. Seriously.

    Welcome to the Dark Side!
  5. magicd


    Aug 12, 2013
    Whew! I am so happy the soundpost didn't fall down when the tailpiece let go. I do think this bass was set up by a pro at some time. It's too playable to be just off the boat.

    Ah. I was wondering about the sonic effect. Most likely I'll swap this out if/when I change the strings. I'm not in a hurry to risk the soundpost again.

    More brilliant advice. The action at the octave point is about a half inch. At the end of the fingerboard it's a quarter inch. So if I understand you correctly, that's the way it should be? In any case, I'm not having trouble playing, so it can't be that bad.

    Is my playing that obviously bad?

    Thank you for the info and the welcome!

  6. I'd definitely recommend a few lessons if you pursue playing with the bow. The risk of injury isn't as great as a lot of people profess imo. I know tons of rockabilly & bluegrass players who never took lessons and don't particularly care about proper technique. Nevertheless, playing correctly will make for a more enjoyable experience for all, especially when working with the bow.
  7. othefool


    Feb 25, 2004
    Chico, CA
    I have to say, this is the nicest "new to db just bought a CCB" thread I have ever read.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed. What's different here is that the OP went in with eyes wide open, knows what he has, and is trying his best to work with it. He deserves all the help he can get here. :)
  9. Congrats Magicd!


    As a permanently injured rockabilly/bluegrass/blues player, I dislike your assessment of the risk of injury. Perhaps you are right, and the risk is lower than many assume, but why risk it at all? Still, Kudos for encouraging lessons.

    Magicd, if you never get around to using a bow, still take some lessons. They're worth far more than the pain and agony of an injury not to mention lessons being super cheap in comparison to doctors consultations and therapy.

    Why risk your playing health at all?

    Have fun!
  10. Vigilantelove


    Aug 14, 2013
    +1. I played in orchestras and had strict teachers all through high school and college but I've still got some shoulder issues. Learning technique is key to loosening up, playing well, and keeping up your "playing stamina".
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Yup-- even with a healthy respect for the potential for injury, it happened to me. Judging from the experience of others here, pros and amateurs alike, no one is immune.
  12. magicd


    Aug 12, 2013
    Hey all. Thanks for the kind replies!

    Yes, I am convinced. I'll go take some lessons.

    On the subject of injury and pain, I notice there is a thread going right now in the electric bass forum about exactly that.

    I spend way too much time sitting at a desk, working a computer. I have to make sure that my posture is a symmetrical and upright as possible. More than once I have found this out the hard way. I recently got a new office chair and within a week I had a pinched nerve in my left shoulder that was extremely painful. It took me a week of messing around with chair adjustments before I got back into a position where I could work for too many hours again.

    In general I need to stretch and exercise more, but without proper posture at work, I am in big trouble. Interestingly, I got the upright while the pinched nerve was already in progress. The position of lifting my left arm up to play actually brought relief. The skeleton doesn't like imbalance. You can tell when you've put yourself out of balance and when you're getting back into alignment.

    As a geezer, I've taken up yoga. Very helpful!

    So I think that for some people, they can end up with pain when playing, but the source of that pain may be something other than the playing itself.

    When I first started learning bass it was impressed on me that I needed to have proper posture and hand position if I wanted to play properly. I took that seriously and it helps me to this day. So yes, I understand the value of "doing it right".

    Thanks again. I'll post more as I go through my newbie odyssey.

  13. Vigilantelove


    Aug 14, 2013
    That's especially true when you have prior injuries. I actually have a bum right ankle, a screwy left wrist and a messed up left shoulder, all from non-musical injuries. These previous injuries caused my posture and form to suffer, and that made those injuries worse. It's a vicious cycle sometimes. I went back to a teacher a few years ago because of this and I also worked with a holistic chiropractor. I had to figure out a way to play that would work without causing me undue physical pain. Whatever path you take, you'll still need to find your comfort zone. I agree that learning proper technique helps, but you also need to know your body to learn how to play for lengths of time without tiring or pain.

    Good luck with everything. Keep us posted!
  14. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    My wife has herniated disks up high, and has similar discomfort in her upper back and shoulders. She also spends way too much time at work, and at a computer. She got one of those yoga ball chairs, which forces good posture, and it's made a big difference for her. YMMV, IMHO, etc., etc.
  15. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    You are wise beyond your years whatever those are.

    If you have an omni mic, stick it up just under the fingerboard, an old Swedien trick. Of course he used an altec cokebottle but it works with others. I like my altecs but also a CMV563 w the 55k cap will do wonders up there. A U67 off to the side a little above but not pointing at the F hole also can sound like magic. The tonal variations from DB you can get just by changing mics, mic patterns, and placement in the room are impressive.

    As a fairly new DB player whose played slab all my life I found these help when working more challenging parts. Just don't use them as a substitute for learning proper hand positions...

    He also sells a soundpost installation tool that is probably a mandatory tool for any DB'er. Except me because for some reason my soundpost has always been glued in!

    Yeah, I felt the same and still do. It's an unruly wild beast that surprises with what it can do. And a bonus is that after working out on the upright I feel like I can snap my P neck in half with one hand.

    As a fellow studio guy I heartily recommend you learn some basic bowing and decent vibrato techniques. They are very cool abilities to have in your toolbox.

    And wait until you start experimenting with the different kinds of strings, including gut. You are in for a treat.
  16. Not quite how it should be; nearly the same at the octave and the end of the fingerboard. Sounds like your neck has too much relief, which is often because it has bent forward; a luthier can fix this, but it takes a bunch of equipment you're unlikely to be able to lay hands on easily.
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Agree that's not how it should be but if the neck were bent forward, wouldn't the height of the strings off the board be greater at the end than at the octave? Dave mentions that the board is bowed up at the end. In any case, something is clearly amiss. A string height of about 13 mm at the octave? At the G-string? Yikes!

    Dave, I think you've done the forum a service here and I thank you for your play-by-play account. You were quite realistic with regard to what a CCB would be and you're willing to make the repairs. All of this is amounts to a valuable story for those who might consider buying one. It documents why we generally recommend against them for newbies unless the circumstances are very special (e.g., no other realistic choice, willing to be a DIYer, etc.).
  18. magicd


    Aug 12, 2013
    Great posts from all. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

    As far as the fingerboard goes, I think it's warped. I'm going to guess that the proper repair would be to replace the fingerboard, but I'm not in a hurry to spend that money just yet.

    Hey, there's no money above (where) the fifth fret (would be if it had frets) anyway.

    When I get around to it, I'm going to try a fix myself. I can push down slightly on the fingerboard and it looks like I expect it should be. That should be an interesting post...

    I find it interesting that some fixes people do are luthier-only, and other fixes can be ghetto and still effective. For example there's no rubber tip on the end pin. I bought a rubber tip on eBay for five bucks and it turned out to be for a cello. So I went back and did some reading and realized all I needed was something I could pick up at any hardware store.

    No question I got exactly what I needed with this bass. It's already in use on sessions.

    I have a friend with an expensive upright electric, and I don't find his axe any easier to play than mine (as long as I stay below the octave). I'm sure at some point I'll get to play a more high end bass, but for now I don't know what I'm missing, so I'm a happy camper.

    And if I try to stand on the bass in a psychobilly frenzy, I'll be sure to film the first attempt for youtube!

  19. If the bridge is lowered as far as is reasonable, and you have too much curve in the neck, you get more height at the octave. If the bridge stays where it was, you're correct. See the geometry now?
  20. pmarche


    Oct 22, 2005
    Salem Oregon
    My first bass was very similar to the one you have. I would like to suggest a new tailpiece... especially if the one that came with it is metal. Between that and a new set of strings and possibly a new bridge... you can peak the possibilities of the sound from her. These are slow modifications you can take as she makes you some money here and there. Oh... possibly a new bridge too ;-).