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Muddy E String-is there a fix-I don't think so.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by PPLJC, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. PPLJC


    Jan 21, 2012
    I have been playing for about 45 years and am getting together my old high school garage band, The Swiss Navy, the band that later spawned the original PPL. I've owned 50 guitars (almost all of which I wish I still owned) and a half a dozen basses and beaucoup amps. I really want a good sounding bass for the gig, so I'm going around to friends, listening to basses to see if I can find one, to barrow, that has a clean E-String.

    I have never owned and have only played 4 electric basses in my life, that had a clean, no harmonics, E string. One was a 1964 Jazz, there were 2 wide neck 1959-ish P basses, and a 1980 Stingray. The problem is more noticeable with a pick, and is more common than herpes.

    I once had a Les Paul Recording Bass that was the sweetest thing I ever played, BUT it had the worst, lets call it "wolftone", of any bass I ever played. You could hardly tune it.

    I tried everything (strings, bridge, nut, neck adjustment, muffling, you name it) to fix that wonderful bass. I even carved and tapped a bridge piece for the e-string out of dogwood (and exceptionally hard wood) for the adjust-a-matic bridge.

    I've tried BadAss type heavy bridges on other basses. No help. I've heard it on short, medium, and long scale basses. It sounds more prominent when a pick is used.

    A friend of mine owned one of the clean 1959 P-Basses and I had a 1970 P-Bass with wolftone. We switched every component, one piece at a time to try to figure out the cause, and the problem always went with the body. It's an acoustic problem. Anytime I pick up a bass the first thing I do is put my ear on the top wood, usually the top horn, of the bass and pluck the E. You can hear it.

    I currently own an $80 Import Peavy, that I bought on Ebay. The E is alllllll-most clean.

    What do you know about this. Personally, I see it as an unfixable, and very frustrating problem. What do you think?
  2. I think you'd be better off experimenting with different string types. Have you ever tried a taper-wound end? Those are usually just done for B-strings (if you think you have trouble with muddy E's, try B's for a 5-string!) but you may be able to find a E with taper in some brand.

    You could also vary the gauge of the E-string. "Clean" to me would mean higher tension, lower gauge as my starting point.

    You haven't mentioned whether you use flat or roundwounds....that will have a lot to do with your perception of "clean".

    If you use or are open to use flatwounds, you might want to give Rotosound 77's a try.

    Another string brand to check out could be Circle-K. They seem to accommodate a lot of special situations.
  3. PPLJC


    Jan 21, 2012
    Thanks for the reply. I always use Rotosound 77's. But it's a problem is on most basses as I can tell. As I said when we switched parts on the P-Basses the wolftone always went with the body, irregardless of neck, electronics, or strings.
  4. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    You went to an awful lot of trouble. If I was that dissatisfied with my instrument's sound, and went to that much trouble to resolve it, and still couldn't resolve it, I would definitely switch instruments. I love the tone of my P and J basses.
  5. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    "Anytime I pick up a bass the first thing I do is put my ear on the top wood, usually the top horn, of the bass and pluck the E. You can hear it."
    I agree. You can hear it. Before I will plug a bass in, I check the same way. I usually pluck from E to A and if it passes that test, I play it to see if it rattles my rib cage. IF so,
    its a keeper.

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