Muted E String Tone

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by B. Graham, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Hello Bass Fellows,

    Before I ask the question, let me state that I'm sure there are many variables that could be causing what I see as a problem: a very muted E string tone. I'm just hoping to narrow down the possibilities by asking you experienced folks. I have played bass (off and on with upright) for 25 years, but it's not my career. I actually haven't been working in my career since January (layoff), so a lack of financial resources for repairs/modifications is an issue as always.

    The bass is the '39 Kay I've posted about here before. Setup: Corelli 370TX strings that are pretty new. Hill ebony tailpiece with a cable tuned to a 4th. The fingerboard is too thin and bowed and will be replaced when I can. It's got a good soundpost that appears to be well positioned. The bridge is pretty thin, and doesn't have much in the way of feet because of the fingerboard issue.

    A, D, and G all sound great open or otherwise. The E sounds muted, more quiet than the others, and has less sustain, depth, and articulation.

    So, what should I consider as the possible cause?

    Thanks very much as always.

    Bill Graham
  2. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    What are the heights of the strings? (measured at the end of the fingerboard, between the FB and bottom of the strings)
    I suspect the E is too low.
  3. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I'll measure them. The measurements will probably be too low. Because of the thin FB and the bow, action is high in the middle of the board, but low down at the end.
  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    My Engelhardt suffered from very similar symptoms. An instructor that I work with some re-positioned the post a bit and it helped.

    I play weichs, but changed only the E to a Mittel. That has gotten the bass fairly balanced across all the strings.

  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Corellis are notoriously thin and Kay tops are pretty stiff. I think you need a more powerful E string (thicker, more tension) to drive that bass in the low frequencies. Also, get inside with a mirror and make sure the bass bar has not pulled loose at the end(s). This is a pretty common Kay problem.
  6. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I jusst got it back from an overhaul so I think the bass bar is fine. I will check though.

    I thought the Corelli's would be a good choice based on reviews and such, but I guess the combination with this top is not a good one.

    I've considered Obligato's, Innovations, and HeliCore Hybrid's.