Right-hand feel of "high-C" string vs "string height" compromise?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by kumimajava, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. kumimajava

    kumimajava Supporting Member

    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    Since starting to play 6-strings, there no matter how hard I try to adjust my setup, the right-hand feel on the high-C is odd. It always feels like the "drop" in height is much more noticeable than between any other set of strings.

    For example, moving from A->D, or D->G, the string-gauge decreases, but it the change in the feel near the bridge is minor. But going from G->C, I always face a trade-off. If I want a sensibly low string height, because of fingerboard radius and string diameter, I need to drop the C saddle very low; this gives a big "step" down in right-hand feel, going from G to C.

    On the other hand - to keep the right-hand feel more consistent, I'd need to raise the action to a place where the C string height is much larger than on the G.

    Since I'm new to the wonders of the high-C string, I'd appreciate input from you guys that have played 6-strings (or 5-strings with high-C) - which side of the compromise do you prioritize? Consistent string-height, or consistent right-hand feel?

    Or - is there something I've totally overlooked from my setup process?
    dkelley likes this.
  2. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    What strings do you have on this bass?
    kumimajava likes this.
  3. kumimajava

    kumimajava Supporting Member

    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    I've had the same issue on multiple basses - every one I have is affected to some extent or another. Flatter fingerboards tend to have a less prononced "step".

    But, for a list of where this has happened:

    12" radius, with D'Addario XL's, LaBella flats, and Zon roundwounds
    16" radius, TI Jazz flats, DR roundwounds (don't remember exactly what type)
    20" radius, KenSmith burners, LaBella flats (least difference at this radius fingerboard)

    I have, also, tried to set the strings in a way that the "outer" radius of the strings at the bridge follows teh contour of the fingerboard - but using this approach to set the comfortable height on the hi-C then pushes the G way too close to the fingerboard; I get a lower effective string height on the G than the C (at 12th or 24th fret).
    Vinny_G likes this.
  4. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Huh... I must confess I've never encountered the issue of which you speak: I own three different basses with high C strings (with three completely different neck shapes/designs, made by two different manufacturers) and the transition from G to C string feels logical, natural, uneventful on all of them. But to be fair, I haven't had to do any setups or adjustments on any of these basses in years, not since they were setup by pros. So I don't know how hard it was to get them to the point where it ceased to be an issue. Sorry.
    kumimajava, gebass6 and Nashrakh like this.
  5. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    I also ran into this when I was a 6 string player. It has to do with the additional width of the fingerboard and bridge. The wider you make it, the more of an "arc" is created (which is why longer radiuses can be good), which exaggerates the "hump" in the middle and the feeling that the G and C strings are further "over the hill" plucking-wise. My last 6 string (Carvin Bunny Brunel 6 FL) had a 12" radius, but even that could have been flatter.

    So, the only thing that helped noticeably for me was to just run the action on the C a little higher than the other strings. I tried other things including just trying to get used to it, but that seemed to work the best. I didn't like doing that, but it was the only thing that really helped. It also raised the C higher off the pickup, which helped reduce the whiney C string syndrome a little along with.

    Otherwise, try to get the longest radius on the board you can find. I personally don't see why the darn thing couldn't be just slap completely flat (radius of infinity). That'd solve about 4 different problems at once, and introduce only a little difficulty with the fretting hand (IMO). But see if you can get 14" or even more on a 6.

    kumimajava likes this.
  6. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    What are the string gauges you use?
    kumimajava and Vinny_G like this.
  7. kumimajava

    kumimajava Supporting Member

    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    I have a feeling that with a few years' of practice, I might also forget about this :) Glad to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    Bob_Ross likes this.
  8. kumimajava

    kumimajava Supporting Member

    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for this response - I'll try this again. It's a shame that my currently favourite 6 has the tightest radius - as you said, the one with the flattest doesn't have this issue to the same extent.
  9. kumimajava

    kumimajava Supporting Member

    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    For the D'addarios, it's 130-32 (45 on G, 32 on C)
    For Labella DTF, it's 128-29 (43 on G, 29 on C)
    And for TI Jazz flats, it's 136-33 (43 on G, and 33 on C)

    The TI's are on a bass with a rather flat fingerboard, and feel most "natural"; that's also where the change in gauge between the two highest strings is the smallest...
  10. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    I was wondering about the change between the G and the C versus between the other string like the D and the G. If the percentage change is significantly different,you are going to feel it more.
    kumimajava likes this.
  11. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    I only have one 6 string bass, I can’t say I’ve encountered this issue.
    All my basses are set up pretty much the same; 2/32” on the high string 24th fret graduated to 5/64” on the low string. After reading this I picked up my 6 to double check... don’t really feel any difference string to string.
    kumimajava likes this.
  12. bobsax


    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    Rather than start a new thread I thought maybe I’d ask you guys this
    Is it possible to take a regular five string and tune it up a fourth?
    my first five string was a cheap $75 rogue that when I got it was way too sharp but I didn’t pay attention at the time. I think it may have been tuned up a forth? When I tuned it down the strings were really floppy but it seems like they may have tightened up or else I just got used to them.
    It was my first bass guitar actually. I’m a DB player So I was pretty ignorant of the instrument. The bridge was way out of tune also so that’s another clue that it may have been tuned to HighC.