Oscillation problem with Fender Bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mikeraba, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. mikeraba


    Jun 13, 2019
    I have an American Standard 2014 Precision bass. I’m having a problem of an unwanted oscillation by depressing the 5th fret of the D string and then playing it along with the A string. The pickups aren’t too high and I just put brand new strings on it today to see it that would help. It didn’t. I hear it through a Fender Rumble 100 and to a lesser degree with a Vox headphone amplifier. Does is it sound like I need a setup?
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member


    sounds like you need to tune it better (which may require a proper/good setup).
  3. guts


    Aug 13, 2018
    The slight difference in tuning between the two notes is causing destructive interference between the two waves. The peaks and valleys of the two notes are cancelling each other out in an oscillating pattern consistent with the slight difference in pitch. The greater the difference in pitch the faster the oscillation. When you're tuning your guitar you want to use this oscillation to your advantage. You set the pitch slightly low and then slowly turn the tuning key to raise the pitch while playing the reference note and the string you are tuning simultaneously. The oscillations you noticed will slowly decrease in frequency as you turn the key until you can't hear them anymore. When the oscillations are gone, your string is in tune.

    You need to check this in several places on the neck to be sure you are really in tune though. I check the 5th harmonic vs 7th harmonic first, the open note vs 5th fret, and the 12 fret vs the 17th fret. Except that on a low B on a 5 string I don't bother with the 5th vs open note, I can't hear anything down there to tune with its too low.

    The 5th harmonic and 7th harmonic method is the easiest to tune with because you don't have to hold them down the whole time to make them sound the notes. You can hit them and they ring out on their own so your hands are free to tune the instrument. Makes it really easy to hear the interference oscillations and get it precisely in tune.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  4. mikeraba


    Jun 13, 2019
    Thanks for the info but just in case you might have misread my post, I'm fretting the D string on the 5th fret (G) and then playing an open A along with it. That's where the problem is.
  5. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    There may be a high fret somewhere between the nut and the 5th fret under the D string. I've had a similar thing occur on a Fender AV '62 Jazz Bass I owned years ago.
  6. mikeraba


    Jun 13, 2019
    I'm taking it tomorrow for a setup. I'll report when I get it back. I'm sure it's something simple. Thanks for the replies.
    bbh likes this.
  7. guts


    Aug 13, 2018
    You are correct I hastily misread. My apologies.

    I think you need to describe the oscillations more thoroughly or make a recording of it for us.

    It could be some weird problem with the instrument. But it would be an unusual one. Normally the problem would persist with a single note.

    It kind of sounds like you're just hearing the harmony of the two notes. Whenever you play two different notes, the ratio between the two notes causes them to interfere in a certain way. Every interval and chord interferes differently, but each one has a certain signature oscillating warble. You can actually use it to identify chords and intervals once you become accustomed to hearing it. This effect is really at the core of what harmony is.

    The effect can sometimes be intensified by saturating the signal to an extent, like some distortion. Too much distortion though and it just becomes noise and you can't discern the oscillations anymore. It can be more or less pronounced depending on the amp and amp settings.

    I might be totally wrong. But you can check by playing other intervals and chords and listening carefully to see if they also produce a similar oscillation to the one you noticed. Though you might expect them to be less pronounced.
  8. mikeraba


    Jun 13, 2019
    You may be on to something. I’ve heard this before with my 6 string electric guitar. I’m starting to think it’s normal. I’ll still have the bass setup and see what hippie at GC says tomorrow. Thanks for responding.
  9. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    It could be a bad set of strings. I’ve had that experience and is truly annoying.
    Best of luck, pretty sure you’ll be fine after setup. Bring new strings to setup guy.
  10. mikeraba


    Jun 13, 2019
    Thanks. Put a brand new set on yesterday and it didn't help. Setup will be done in an hour and a half.
  11. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Please try one more set. High quality like dr or labella...
    Sounds like you may have gotten stuck in a production run.
    You can buy strings at the tb store...
    I know it could be wasted money but I believe it’s worth a try OR call your guy and get his opinion before heading over there.
    I mostly use labella Rx, Dunlop, Dunlop Marcus miller( for jazz basses only), I think that’s about it. Dunlop’s are bright and a touch tight. Rx has a tonal profile I really like. The highs are prominent but it seems to more or less cutoff at a slightly Lowe feq. Really improves the top end, strings have a lot of flex and you use .118 b string w no issue. They’re B strings are matched in volume to the other strings which is nice but I think you’re running 4 strings.
    Hope the insight helps. Good luck. I will use steel but prefer nickel.
  12. Callused Finger

    Callused Finger

    Feb 22, 2007
    New York
  13. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Not understanding.
    its not normal!
    I would never let gc do a setup for me. They are not great techs. If Long Island NY, I’d give you my guy.
  14. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    The intonation of the bass is set at the bridge - you adjust the screws the saddles ride on. Setting your intonation is easy and only requires a good tuner and a screwdriver. You can find lots of resources to help you with this. I recommend Jerzy Drozd's Ultimate Setup Guide.

    As far as your issue goes, it could be the nut slot is too wide. You can easily test this with a paper shim. Just slip a piece of paper under the string, at the nut, and see if the issue persists.
  15. mikeraba


    Jun 13, 2019
    Well, I'm back. Callused Finger gave a one word reply and he was right. Several other people mentioned it too. The hippy at GC asked me what the problem was and then he did the intonation adjustments to each string. The D string was off more than the others. When he finished, I plugged it into a 500 watt amp and I had to strain my ears to hear any kind of feedback/oscillation. $30 later I'm a happy camper. To be fair, the guy really wasn't a hippy. He had the hair and earring, but never called me "dude." Disqualified.
    Another interesting note, a fellow in another group said he tried to reproduce my problem, and all 3 of his basses had a noticeable oscillation. I know you guys can't wait to go try it on yours, but if you do, let me know the results if you don't mind. 5th fret on the D string played with the open A. Thanks for all the feedback. Beginner old guys like me appreciate it.