setup for growl

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by lin fung, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. lin fung

    lin fung Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2002
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I'm going to be taking my bass in for a setup in about two weeks. The guy who'll work on it is very skilled, but he does work strictly on instruments for classical playing, rahter than the jazz setup I want.

    I want to have him adjust the bridge, soundpost, fingerboard, or whatever to increase the growl of the sound. As this is not a request he's likely heard before, he may need some guidance as how to proceed.

    So how can these different parts be modified (particularly the fingerboard) to maximize growliness-- without buzzing, of course? Thanks.
  2. I don't have an answer for you , but I do have a couple of questions.

    Why are you taking your bass to someone who you believe has so little knowledge that you have to tell him how to do the job?

    If he does it your way, and you don't like the end result, what then?

    If he is an expert, he ought to be able to listen to your requirements, and translate them into a plan of action.
    If he does not know where to start, take your bass somewhere else.
  3. lin fung

    lin fung Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2002
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I live in a Southeast Asian country where access to these kind of people is comparatively limited. About twice a year, a guy comes from Manila to work on instruments. He did the original setup on my bass and did an excellent job. I didn't mean to say that he doesn't know how to do a good job on my bass, just that he might not be used to hearing jazz lingo like "growl". Therefore, my thought was that if I had some idea of what kind of changes he might need to make by getting info from you folks, it might facilitate clearer communication between he and I, making it more likely for him to be able to give me want I want. I could say something that to him would be more concrete, such as, "perhaps moving the soundpost further from the bridge post would get the sound I want. What do you think? (example)", rather than just "make this bitch howl, dawg!" Hopefully, this clarifies my previous post.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I can't help you with the setup questions - hopefully one of our resident luthier types can help with that. However, one aspect of "growl" that can't be denied is the type of strings being used. In general, "growl" is related to sustain, so if you want to start approaching the growly sound, start with some strings that are known for growl. Spirocores are probably best known for this, and would be a great start. How much bowing do you do?
  5. Spiracores help the growl factor a bunch. I just put them on my bass and it increased the growl factor quit a bit.
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    You need minimal camber (scoop) in the fingerboard set-up for maximum "growl".

  7. ...and I have had good luck by filing the gooves in the nut very close to the fingerboard, almost touching. Of course this only effects the open strings.
  8. lin fung

    lin fung Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2002
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I only do a little bowing, for intonation practicing sake.

    Yes, I currently use spirocores and like their growliness. I was also thinking of trying pirastro jazzers because I've heard they are good for that, as well.

    Arnold mentioned "minimal camber" in the fingerboard. I assume that this to keep the strings from being too high off of the fingerboard as one goes up the neck. Is that right? That may be just the kind of thing to draw the luthier's attention to.

    As far as filing the nut grooves as low as possible, I've read that going lower than 2-3 business cards thickness under the strings at the nut could create buzzing. Is that right? What's the lowest I can safely go?
  9. Arnold and the other luthiers will help and I think Ray Parker keeps his EXACT action measurements written down, if we can get his attention.
    The general rule i've always shot for is the thickness of ONE busines card. I just "eye-ball" it and try to get the nut down as low as possible without any open string buzzes.
    Can you take with you a CD or some recording of a jazz bassist who you like in terms of pizz. GROWL, so that he might get an idea of what you're looking for?? Between letting him hear what you want from the recording and what YOU yourself can play to demonstrate what you want.
    The Thomastik Orchestra strings should get you headed in the right direction. Then maybe a little recorded Ray Brown Whackin' the hell out of his open E string should, in no uncertain or subtle terms give him a BIG FAT HINT at what you're after!!
    Best of luck and please keep us posted on this one>
  10. lin fung

    lin fung Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2002
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Those were helpful responses. Thanks, all.