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Question about singlecuts and harmonics...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I recently had the pleasure of putting my mitts on a Fodera Emperor II singlecut 5 string. This was my first encounter with a singlecut. The bass felt really, really nice, but one thing that struck me about it was that the harmonics seemed to have little life, although it sounded fantastic in every other respect. The friendly and knowledgeable music store guy I was talking to told me that this is a characteristic of singlecuts, saying basically that increased body contact with the neck yields a greater emphasis on the fundamental tone. This makes sense, and I don't doubt that this guy knew what he was talking about, but I would also be curious to hear what others have to say about this....

  2. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    I can't say I've noticed it on any of my personal SC basses. I've had a lot of Single Cuts come through the shop as well. I've never sat down to compare that aspect between different basses and brands, but all basses are different. It might be that particular Fodera or it might have some really old strings.

    Maybe someone else has had some of the same experiences as you and will speak up.
  3. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I have no hands-on experience with singlecuts, but: I wouldn't think that a stronger fundamental would make the higher harmonics sound that much diminished. After all, the "middle" harmonics (2nd, 3rd, probably through 10th or so) are the "meat" of the sound - it would be raising them in proportion that would make the high-end seem lesser.

    IME strings make a huge difference in terms of harmonics up there.

    It may be that singlecuts have less lively high harmonics (I really doubt it though), but it's not for the reason he gave you. :)
  4. I don't have a lot of experience, but I'm not sure being a singlecut is really the crucial factor. The instruments I've owned with the strongest harmonics also had fairly pronounced low-mid growl. The only singlecut I've played, my Nordstrand, has decent harmonics, but nothing like my Wals, which were/are very strong in the low-mids. OTOH, I've played other bolt-on double cutaways which had harmonics that were not as good as the Nordstrand.

  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Dead strings sounds about right.

    Yes, if the construction does increase the level of the fundamental slightly, the higher harmonics will seem lower by comparison. But I see no reason why increased stiffness of construction would decrease any levels or sustain.

    And these people's experiences would appear to bear this out.
  6. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Strings were fine... if the consensus turns out to be that this isn't the normal way of the singlecut world, I might be inclined to chalk it up to fluke factors (maybe my ear/brain wasn't going to process harmonics that day) and a bassist/salesman who didn't have a ready answer for my comment, but who thought that he'd be more likely to sell me a nice bass if he agreed with me and/or reinforced my opinions... who knows?
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Sometimes a particular harmonic doesn't sound, due to the fact that the pickup position exactly coincides with a node for that harmonic. However, a) this would not affect all harmonics, b) the effect would only be present on one pickup of a multi-pickup bass, and c) if this were the case, then you would hear the harmonic acoustically, but not through the pickup.
  8. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Suzhou, China
    I'm not buying it. My Nordstrand singlecut 4 has DEADLY harmonics. They're actually incredibly strong throughout the whole range of the bass. It sounds like that Fodera had either bad strings, or an unstable neck. Just because the neck is connected to the body at the 12th fret doesn't mean the rest of the neck to the nut is a stable piece of wood. Remember, the less stiff the neck, the more it robs the vibrating string of energy. It'd be worth it to throw on a new set of strings if you were considering buying it. I guarantee that it's not the design. I'd also be curious to know what the body and neck woods are, as well. I owned a Fodera 4 string bolt-on with an ash body and maple neck/board, dual-coil Duncans and it wasn't a very harmonically responsive bass, either. It was a bit of a dud. OTOH, I've had one with an alder body and ebony board and Bart Js, and it was great! A possible thought about those dual-coils....I haven't played a bass with a set of those in it that I cared for, especially because the lack of harmonics. Maybe a factor? I certainly don't believe that the design is the reason, though.
  9. Not sure it was the dual-coils, since Wals have killer harmonics. More likely (to my mind) is the difference in the woods, with maple/ash likely to be a bit more scooped in the mids, and mids seem key for harmonics to me. Strings seem to make a difference, too--I seem to get much better harmonics on steels than on nickels, even when the nickels are new.

    This is obviously a very small sample, though.