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Playing near the bridge

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe P, Nov 10, 2004.


  1. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    My first new thread!

    Something that's baffled me is how many bassists say that they play real close to the bridge. I play an American-made Peavy Foundation 5-string (got it for $150 used! I recently played a - was it Korean? - made model at a music store, and it was awful; terrible tone, no sustain, all the knobs wiggled - eesch. This one seems nice; really.). Anyway.. it feels and sounds quite strange to me to pick or pluck near the bridge - I consider it a 'special effect' - it sounds weak and thin - I think of it as sounding like the bass is 'out of breath' - and the strings feel tight, more like solid bars. I use the sound, but I think of it for lines that are to sound depressed or distant or have a 'feeling of despair' with finger-style, and a 'surf'-sound with pick (if I'm not TOO close to the bridge; else it sounds like a distant, desparing surfer!). I usually finger-pluck over the neck pickup. Sometimes very conciously plucking right over the middle of it when that's the only pup thats dialed-up, because if I stop the string by only using the plucking finger it tends to better mute all the harmonics along with the main fundamental tones. I often pluck even closer to the neck, even right next to where the neck ends (THEN the strings seem a little TOO floppy for me to control well, but I'd way-rather have that than too stiff-feeling). I usually use the neck pickup or both pickups (the 'both' configuration is the only way I can get hum-cancelling on this bass, but I like the more open, 'woody' tone also for a lot of things). The bridge pickup alone sounds very thin to me, but if I use bridge only, roll the tone off all the way, and pluck between the neck pup and the neck, it sounds a lot like a double bass to me. Oh! - I'm running a 140W Hartke 'Transient' head with a Hartke 4X10 aluminum-cone cab, and a Boss compressor pedal always ON. The pedal is set for medium amount of compression, with the attack delay turned up pretty far, so the punch and dynamics are not all sucked out of it - I DO like that compressed sound, though!

    So anyway: where am I at here? Is it just the bass? Am I thinking about this wrong? Do many of you guys get solid, punchy, nad'sy tone near the bridge, or is that more of the 'growly' thing I read about? Doesn't it feel really un-responsive and wierd to play where the strings are so stiff like that down there near the bridge?

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  2. Wildside

    Wildside

    Jan 12, 2004
    theater of pain
    i also think it sounds too thin and special-effecty to play very close to the bridge. I like the "growl" you get by playing over your bridge pickup, but i've seen some guys plucking right next to where the strings enter the bridge. That sounds way too thin and feels too weird for my liking.
     
  3. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Something is not right with your bass, prolly a setup is needed. Playing over the bridge give you more definition when playing a lot of notes. Over the neck is a deeper rounder tone. But if you can't play near the bridge because it sounds weird then the pup is too high or low, if your strings are really wobbly your intonation isn't correct.
     
  4. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hmm... I know the intonation is correct; I strobo-tune that myself, but that's about where my setup knowledge ends.

    I should find a good setup person - I really should know how my bass is capable of sounding. A setup might improve my wolfy-sounding B-string too (that can be caused by a too-high pup also, right?). I need to find some sort of 'guru-type', I think - one can't just trust whoever's in the back room at the music store, right? In fact now that I think about it, isn't it true that anyone who would just say "OK then we'll get that set up for ya, and have it ready on Wednesday" without consulting me on my playing style and the type of music I'm playing and whatnot, would NOT be a good setup guy, right?

    The 'tight strings feeling funny' thing is certainly not something that would keep me from playing there! - at one time, of course (not all that long ago), the whole bass felt funny! If I got a good, more distinct (but still full) sound down there, I'd work to play over the bridge just as accurately as I do in my favorite spot over the neck pickup.

    Joe
     
  5. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI