Questions About Convenience

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Scott French, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Hello TalkBassoids,

    Since the commercial user policy came into effect however many months ago I have pretty much stayed out of this forum and stuck to the luthier zone. According the the CUP I can post here to get product development feedback and I'm at a place where I could use some info. I'm curious about players opinions on a few instrument features.

    I'm largely interested in player's opinions on flip top battery compartments. Is not having these a deal breaker for people these days? How about quick release bridges? Is the convenience of just hooking the end of the string into the end of the bridge something people have become accustomed to or are you still willing to string through the body? Do you generally change your strings and battery at the same time?

    Something else I'm curious to hear about is intonation adjustable saddles. I'm curious how many people really use the ability to easily adjust their intonation. Almost all acoustic guitar and some basses (Rob Allen, F Bass Alain Caron, etc) have stationary saddles. You can argue about the fretless basses not really needing the adjustments but its hard to argue about the millions of acoustic and archtop guitars with solid saddles.

    I'm guessing basic info on all of these topics is floating around but I'm really interested on hearing how often you change your strings/battery (at the same time?), how often (if ever) do you adjust your bridge, and most importantly what features are "deal breakers" when you look for a new instrument.

    Thanks for taking the time!

    Scott French
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Flip-top battery compartments...anything to do with batteries is a deal breaker for me now. But I think no battery compartment looks better. Something a little cheeseball about the compartments.

    Quick release bridges...nice but not a deal breaker for me.

    Intonation adjustable saddles...a definite must! I accept them on acoustic guitars but I don't like them. On a fretless it's not so important, but it definitely is on a fretted bass.

    Roundwound strings get changed every 10-15 gigs, flatwounds never get changed. When using an active bass a lot (which I don't do anymore), I'd change the battery every six months. I re-check my intonation with every new set of strings.

    What breaks a deal for me? Nothing in particular. I'm not a huge fan of burl and spalted tops and most fancy woods, but I'd live with it if the bass really spoke to me. So far none of them have, though. I'm also not a big fan of lots of knobs and switches. I'll deal with 4 knobs but I don't care for switches all that much. They never sound good except when they're full-on. What I am a fan of is good solid workmanship that has a great sound and a fair price. And whammy bars. Got to admit a fetish for the bass whammy.
  3. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Flip top battery compartment: not a deal breaker, but definately nice. About a month ago the battery was dead on my Fender Zone (screw on cover) when I set up for a gig, and I had left my tool kit at home. I played my backup bass, but I really would have liked a flip top battery compartment.

    I adjust the intonation every time I put on a different guage or type of string. Adjustable saddles are essential for me.

    I change strings when they sound dead. How often that is depends on the strings. I don't like a lot of treble, so I probably leave mine on longer than most people.
  4. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    I dont' like 'em. Batteries come in different sizes and some of them don't fit well. Give me a MusicMan style compartment (old style, they use flip tops now).

    Never thought about it until I got my Sadowsky. I like 'em but it's not basic point on my choice of a bass.

    I always clean, check intonation, battery, etc. when I change strings, but I don't change 'em at the same time. If you are thinking about a battery compartment under the strings/pickguard, not a good idea (IMO).

    A must on a fretted bass

    I like to change the battery as soon as it doesn't read full on the cheap tester I use. I keep those batteries for tuners, etc.
    I check the intonation everytime I change strings or set up the bass.

    Quality of workmanship, tone, playability and customer support. Everything! :)

    your welcome.
  5. Active basses must be about the only piece of gear on this planet where you have to remove maybe half a dozen screws to replace the battery. Granted that you don't have to do it often, but the same can be said of remote controls and alarm clocks and there are no screws on those. My current #1 is a Warmoth and I was delighted when I found I could have a flip top battery on it.

    IOW, if I ever order a custom bass for which I'm going to be paying big bucks, if it's not a standard option, I'll get reeeeaaaaally annoying till they agree to install it. On stock basses, I wouldn't go as far a saying it's a deal breaker, but if I'm hesitant between two similar ones, one with, one without, it will of course tip the balance towards the one with it.

    The reason is very simple: I know batteries don't die suddenly in the middle of your solo, but if for some reason I suspect it's running out, I love to have the option to go click-out the old one-in the new one-click between songs, just for peace of mind, rather than have to reach for the backup or spend the rest of the gig wondering if it's really starting to distort or it's my imagination.

    Another issue with the usual arrangement is the screw heads wearing out and of course the wood if there are no inserts.

    Quick release bridges: doesn't make a difference to me.

    Intonation: I'm pretty much set in the type and gauge of strings I use as well as action, so if you build me a bass with a fixed bridge specifically designed for those strings and action, why not, but I wouldn't buy the one-size-fits-all thing.

    I change the strings when they're starting to sound dull and yes while I'm at it normally I change the battery too and check relief and intonation. Since I never change string gauge/type, I've never had to re-adjust intonation after the initial set-up.

    Deal breakers (assuming good fret work and everything else in good working order): probably the most important one is playability, which in my case means neck profile (I like them chunky), string spacing (I need to be able to slap comfortably on a 5-string) and balance. And then tone, of course, but you can always fine tune by changing pickups and electronics if needed (so no odd sized pickups / routings, please!)
  6. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND

    Not a deal breaker, but I do like having the battery separate from the rest of the electronics.

    Not picky on bridges.

    I always use the bridge to set my fretted intonation. I'm fanatical. I want every note in tune, and they are as close as you can get on my bass.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I remember this being a big thing for me....

    A few years ago, I used to own an (old) Yamaha TRB6P which was a very nice bass (Piezos bridge) and it had one of those easy-change battery I was away from home near Cardiff and I was playing that evening ... decided to change the battery but put it in the wrong way round...

    Disaster!! Active electronics were fried and the bass didn't make any sound at all without the battery being engaged - dead bass!!

    I borrowed a bass and then took it next day to a local shop that had a lot of basses and a resident tech - he looked at it for about half an hour and decided that it was too specialised for him to fix...but he could get it fixed in a few weeks!!

    I was in a panic, as I had several gigs coming up over the next few days and my fellow band members would have killed me if I had no bass!!

    So I looked around and deliberately picked a passive bass Fender RB5 so nothing like this could go wrong and did an exchange (at a loss to me :meh: ) !!

    But ever since I have been realy biased against these quick change battery compartments and have been very careful about changing batteries!! :mad:
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Happy to help, Scott...

    1) Flip-top battery compartment - Handy, but by no means a deal-breaker, especially if the bass has an active/passive switch. If the battery dies suddenly, it's much more useful to me to be able to instantly switch to passive mode than to take a few minutes to change the battery.

    2) Quick-release bridge - Not essential. I do prefer either a quick-release bridge or through-body stringing with ferrules on the back over a standard Fender through-bridge style, just because I always seem to scratch up the body behind the bridge when taking the strings off and on those.

    3) Adjustable saddles - Nearly essential on fretted, as much for action as for intonation. I can see where a non-adjustable bridge fits for certain types of instruments (like the Rob Allen), especially if you're wanting the string to be resting on wood/bone rather than metal, but it really has to fit with the specific instrument, and it'd still be nice to have a good way to adjust the action even if the standard intonation was good.

    4) Changing battery/strings - It varies from instrument to instrument, because the sound of new, bright strings suits some instruments better than others. I never change them at the same time, though.

    5) Essentials/deal breakers - Tone, playability, workmanship, comfort, beauty...those things outweigh any specific "feature" for me.

  9. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Thanks for the replies! frandiaz has me pegged. I am trying to figure out a way to hide the battery. The best I could think of is under the removable wooden bridges I have been working on (change with the strings). I would like to find a way around those battery compartments all togther actually. I've put the battery in with the electronics, away in its own little compartment, color/wood matched covers, recessed and plain surface mount. I am not really happy with anything and the last thing I want to do is put a big black rectangle on the back of my instruments.

    I guess the obvious answer is to get away from active electronics but I have a feeling that would really cripple me in the "boutique" market. Active electronics usually means a lot of knobs too and I'm not a fan of those either. :/

    I appreciate all the feedback.
  10. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    What about a small metal rectangle? It can be chrome, black or gold, matching the hardware and it can be engraved with your brand logo, model name and serial number. Kind of like a classy dog tag. It can be recesed (is this the correct word?) into the wood.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    First off, I don't think you have to make it active to sell to the boutique buyer. I think interest in active electronics is waning a little, and while I think you should always offer it as an option, I don't see it being something that wouldn't sell the bass if you kept it passive.

    However, if you do offer active, you'll have to figure out what to do with the battery. Ever think about making a control cavity cover out of the wood you use for the body? It would be some extra work, but it would look better than plastic.
  12. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Both good ideas, but for now I am trying to do away with the rear mounted control cavity cover(s). I am chambering the body in a way that I can load the electronics through the bridge/pickup holes. I don't really want people messing around in the electronics so with passive its no big deal to do it this way. When the battery gets added into things it becomes a problem finding an easy way to get to it.
  13. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I wouldn't buy a bass if it was that hard to change the battery. You need to be able to change it during a gig. I normally change my batteries every few months and normally have no problem, but like I said in an earlier post I had one die prematurely on a gig recently. You can't always count on a battery making it to the next string change.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    I definitely prefer a 'quick load' bridge...helps to keep the finish of the bass looking good longer. I have a topload Jazz that with regular and frequent string changes on the road has some wear due to the angle those strings had to go in.

    ...More important than a separate battery compartment is a true active bypass switch.

    ...I wouldn't buy a bass where I couldn't adjust the intonation (or action).

    ...I wouldn't buy another bass where I had to take the neck off to adjust the neck relief.

    ...I do get nervous every time I have to pull out the 6 screws to get to the batteries of one of my basses...I'm always careful, but the maker did not use threaded inserts, and I worry about wear on the screw holes. If its a bass that's going to be around for 50 years, and you're going to change the batteries several times a year, that's lots of wear.

    I'm digging the battery compartment on the Dingwall Z and Prima series. No tools needed and it's not one of those flip boxes either. Check it out @
  15. ikickuintheballs

    ikickuintheballs Guest

    Mar 25, 2000
    Freeport, NY, USA
    I like how the battery setup is on my warwick; they use a plastic cover that is easily taken off when you depress two clips and pull up. On my old Ibanez that I sold (EDB600), it was such a chore taking out the 4 screws to get to the battery.
  16. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    One thing for sure Frenchie, it WOULD definately be a deal breaker if I had to remove the strings to gain access to the battery :(

    - Ugly.
  17. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    What about a matching wood cavity cover held on by a set of magnets or something? I think this would be the best of both worlds.
  18. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Are you reluctant due to the aesthetics of a rear cavity/cover, or because of the added work involved?

    Assuming it's the aesthetics you worried about, why not just just use a rear cavity for the battery and fashion a cover with a veneer of the same wood as the body?

    Or... You could always go the route that the builders of my Lightwave fretless took... Rechargable NiMh battery pack stored in with the electronics wired to a charger jack next to the output jack ;) My wife still rolls her eyes :rollno: when I tell her I need to charge my bass :smug:

    - Ugly.
  19. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    If the bass has a battery, it should have a reasonably fast way to change it out that does not strip out wood screw holes. Machine screws with brass inserts are great, as is a seperate compartment with 2 screws (both to make it faster and so you dont run the risk of bashing the circuit while you are fumbling with the battery in a dark club. Passive modes are great too, but not always possible (as with active pickups).

    I greatly favor a quick release bridge for a bunch of reasons, including not marring the finish behind the bridge, and making it very easy to install strings without twisting the cores. It won't break a deal, though.

    More important on bridges to me is the ability to use a nontapered B string without having to move the saddle forward to get the string in and out. This is one of the reasons I sold my Sadowsky and Mike Lull basses :eek:

    IMO, the most functional bridge around is the wilikinson (and derivatives) as found on Zon and MTD basses among many others.

    I change strings far more often than I change batteries.

    It is absolutly essential unless the player wants to stick with the type of strings and action you chose when building the bass. Taper cores and regular strings intonate differently, action can effect intonation, as can player touch (players with a heavy touch and high action pull notes sharp). If your players are custom customers (so you know their string and action preference when building), and they live nearby (so they can come in for a restring and saddle reposition if they want to change), then a fixed bridge could be cool, and would probably yield great tone. For a wider audience, they will probably not work out well.
  20. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Hmm, how 'bout a battery access panel on the side of the bass, maybe with a wood cover? It's a little less obvious than a back panel, but still more practical than something under the bridge...