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Question for Experts: Sustain vs. Sound

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by basswraith, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. basswraith


    Mar 10, 2003
    Here's a question to debate. I have recently done a lot of reading and experimenting with metal vs. wood vs. carbon fiber for various parts to on the bass to improve sound. There is one school of thought that says that any metal on the bass is reducing the volume and tone.

    However, this does not necessarily address the issue of sustain for pizzicato (jazz playing). This is a very different issue and it's the one I'm most concerned with.

    Take for example parts on a jazz guitar. If you have an archtop guitar with a wooden bridge, wooden bridge saddle and wooden tailpiece, then you have a louder warmer sound. BUT, it's substantially "plunkier", with not much sustain. Put a modern metal saddle, bridge, and tailpiece, and you have reduced the volume, changed the tone, but increased the sustain dramatically.

    The same principle would apply on bass. So if a guy, (me) is interested in exploring the boundaries of increasing sustain, then it would follow that there are some things that could be done to increase sustain but actually decrease the acoustic tone. Afterall, the more energy you allow out of the string and into the body, the more volume you may have, but it's the transfer of energy OUT of the string that is the decay process.

    An all metal bass with metal bridge and parts would sustain like crazy, but probably sound very bad.

    So, any and all thoughts would be appreciated. I'm thinking about fingerboard thickness issues, how would the Dr. Tomastik tailpiece affect all of this, metal vs. wooden tailpiece, tailpiece wire material, etc.

  2. What's your goal?
    Get the maximum sustain but still have a good tone and decent volume?

    EUBs usually have more sustain than AUBs, but need to be amplified.
    So what do you think of EUBs?
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Forget the tailpiece route. What you need is a really hard bridge.
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    At one time, Bob Gollihur (All Hail!) was trying out a composite bridge made by Moses. I don't know if he ever decided to sell them, but they do exist.
  5. basswraith


    Mar 10, 2003
    I guess I should have clarified. I'm talking about my particular bass. It's a 1920's German bass.

    Not interested in an EUB.

    I do have a good hard bridge...it's a Despiau with nice tight grain.

    thanks, any more comments are welcomed.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The first things that come to mind when looking for sustain are strings, fingerboard quality/density, and setup. What are you using, and what have you tried?

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