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Open E "harmonic?"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Machiavelli, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. I just got a new bass by mail and there's something odd about it.

    Whenever I pluck the open E string, I swear there's a high-pitched harmonic that accompanies it. I've never even heard of something like this and tried a couple searches with no luck.

    It's definitely heard acoustically (unplugged). It's loud enough that I cannot figure out if it is also coming through the amp, because I'm just playing on low volume with the practice amp. My feeling is that it is not coming through the amp.

    Is there something in the setup that could cause this? I've put new strings, adjusted the neck, and fixed intonation (can't lower action b/c I can't find my stupid tool!).

    Any guidance on this would be appreciated. It's so slight that I think I might be losing my mind!

    ...also my wife says she doesn't hear anything...so...um ya...it's a real possibility.
  2. rickster4003


    Feb 15, 2013
    Perhaps it is the brightness of the new strings. Also having a new bass, the responsiveness of the wood might be brighter than your current one(s).
  3. Good points, I might just need to let it settle a bit.

    Wife still thinks I'm crazy...
  4. Carl_D

    Carl_D Guest

    Could be a dud string, or it's not sitting on the witness points ( nut & saddle ) properly.... :confused:
  5. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    It's very possible. Actually, very likely.

    Where are you plucking?

    The closer to the bridge, the thinner the fundamental becomes and more of the harmonics come out. Also known as "brighter tone".

    You could also be plucking at a Node, this will also excite the harmonic of that Node.

  6. I considered that, but it seems to be there regardless of where I pluck.
  7. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    Have you checked the nut? Higher harmonics can be from a nut that has not been filed properly.

    Also, it could just be that this bass has more overtones in general....
  8. If it doesn't go away with time, try an old E string. If it's a flawed string it never goes away. Had that problem once of a loud trebly harsh secondary sound only in the E string, acoustically transmitted and non-occurring in the low B string. I thought it was my beatup bass rattling somewere and as it wasn't too noticeable through the amp i just didn't deal with it. But then I changed the strings for a really bright sounding fresh set of SS strings and it went away. Those are still on, and no rattle.
  9. Try damping with your hand the part of the string that's between the nut and the tuner peg.
  10. Nighttrain1127

    Nighttrain1127 Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    Near Worcester MA
    Or It could be that the pickups are not set right and they just need to be lowered away from the strings. The magnetic fields in a pickup can pull a string slightly but enough to cause this sound. I have experienced this myself. Also the nut not being cut suggestion is also possible. Pluck the open string and put your finger lightly on the string above the nut and press gently if the sound goes away then it is the nut. And you can make the nut slot deeper just by running the string back and forth through the slot a couple times until it is right.
  11. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Bad string, improper string installment, bad nut or bad bridge saddle.
  12. Or - a piece of hardware vibrating at harmonic frequency? Check the springs on the bridge saddle screws and anything else that might be vibrating. (That would explain the loud acoustic component)
  13. .
    Maybe check to make sure that string's not twisted?
  14. BrBss


    Jul 9, 2010
    I vote twisted string or string too close to pickups.
  15. Had it too. With Fender Nickel strings FM250 or something. Went to Rotosounds. It's gone now.
  16. Thanks for all the help with this.

    I tried a number of different possible problems, but finally just put in a new string...

    It looks as if the string was the culprit! I'm not 100% sure, because I do sorta still hear it, but it's not nearly as noticeable as it was before and is just no longer an issue. It seems that it was never coming through the amp regardless (just unplugged).

    I don't completely understand how a string could cause it in the first place, so I thought it might have been a bad installation by me. But, I reinstalled the old string and it came back, bright as ever....

    Regardless, thanks!