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New midtier bass de-tuning too often: bad technique, bad machine tuners?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ulvs, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    I have a bit of a problem. My relatively new (I own it for few months) Marcus Miller P7 4 string is having problems staying in tune. Actually, my old bass 4 string Fender Precision Special (MIM) also didn't stay in tune well, but I wrote it off at the age and the suffering the instrument has gone through. Don't know, maybe it's my playing (to keep it simple, I hit strings hard). In fact I have developed a rather bad habit of checking every string after each song. It's not like the bass de-tunes after every song, but after every second, maybe every third it does, so it's better to go safe then to play a song with a de-tuned instrument (been there, done that, it's horrible).

    About my playing, well, I try not to be biased about it - maybe my bad technique is the reason of this de-tuning. I'm one of those players who breaks strings on his bass guitar quite regularly (3-5 times a year). In fact, I broke the G string last rehearsal even tho I didn't use it (that tells a lot about my possibly a bit too chaotic right hand movement). BUT playing hard is a must to get the tone I'm going for. You really can't get that attack without hitting that string hard. To illustrate my point, here's a clip from a gig I played in few weeks ago (I put it on 4m39s where I play a part with hitting strings hard, but it's best to listen from start) -

    I'm sorry that I have to give you such example of my playing as it's not the best/sharpest in this example - I'm off time too many times. Btw, something had bitten my left arm near the wrist (the spot where watches usually are), it was swollen hard for 3 days. It was a bit uncomfortable and painful to play. But I've played in a lot worse states (Can't stand? Then sit or lie down!) and the show must go on!

    Anyway, what's your opinion on this? Maybe I should get new tuners?

    Been looking at set of Gotoh GB10 for 60-70 USD in Ebay. They look nice (good reviews), also cheaper then Hipshot by quite a lot (at least a 1/4th).
  2. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Sure, go ahead. Spending money for new tuners you don't need is the remedy to fix poor technique, improper maintenance on you bass, and is generally a panacea for all you ills.
    lz4005, JLS and Zooberwerx like this.
  3. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    Tnx for reply. So can you tell me more about which part of my improper technique could be responsible for the de-tuning?
  4. String binding in the nut perhaps?
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    We're probably dealing with a bad string install and/or questionable set-up.

    PSPookie likes this.
  6. PSPookie

    PSPookie Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    FWIW, I didn't hear anything in that clip that couldn't be accomplished with a softer touch and different settings.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    First, I really liked the music. Rock may be dead in America but its always nice to see that the other hemisphere still likes it and is always making it new.

    You mentioned the age of your old bass causing it to go out of tune. Load of poop.

    What catches my suspicions is that you say you’re always tuning. I have to ask if you always tune UP TO PITCH, never down. Meaning if you’re sharp you loosen the string down below pitch: tuning the E: drop down to F# or lower and then back up to E.

    Also, if you could post a pic of how your strings are wound on the machines it would be helpful.

    The others are right though that if you break a lot of strings, you can find better ways to do your thing without kicking the crap out of your strings. You would be able to play lighter, and achieve the same results.
  8. ulvs


    Aug 7, 2004
    Thanks for the replies. I've googled a bit about string setups and checked my bass today, and yes, it seems that the last time I changed strings (day before the gig), I didn't wind up the E string correctly (without making an angle).

    And I actually understand that one can get the tone I'm going after without that chaotic hitting of strings, e.g., you can approach the first sway of the hand more lightly, but still dig in hard with the pick at the end. I guess that in the end I have no excuse to keep doing what I'm doing as it's impacting my performance in a bad way (wrote this sentence instead of the first thought that came in my mind about how It's so natural for me to approach my playing in a bit of an over-the-top manner).

    @96bird, thanks for the kind words. They mean a lot for us as we're doing this mostly for the fun of it, but still someday would like to go on a tour to US/Canada/etc. But, yeah, the language barrier is real. We don't sing in English mainly because it's so easy to sound cheesy as an Eastern European singing in English. Anyway, sadly I agree with you about rock being dead in US (also UK/West Europe), but here on the outskirts of known civilization (Latvia and other countries nearby) we sure do appreciate all the history of rock music (thanks US/UK), but we see no need to replicate something already heard. So we mix it up a bit. And I myself also like the result. Too bad it's so hard to export this kind of material.

    And you're right, it seems that lately I haven't been paying attention to the way how I tune strings. I actually remember that once I ALWAYS did as you're writing, e.g., going from low to high, not from high to low. Thanks for the reminder.

    Conclusion: need get to rid of bad tuning habits and restring the instrument correctly, no need for new machine tuners.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
    96tbird likes this.

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