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Setup in relation to tension

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Sam Dingle, Jun 23, 2018.


  1. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    Just got a new hybrid bass that has a very light string tension. Same string hight (near bridge) as my carved and Spiro mediums on both basses. Is this a setup thing or just a case of 2 basses being different. My hybrid with mediums feels like playing spiro lights on my carved. The sound is loud though, I just over play and theres buzzing.

    Because the E was a little lower tension I threw a Stark E on and it feels much better and much more like my carved bass. I can play that string with the same power as carved bass and it sounds great. Anything I can do to the setup or just throw starks on the rest and move on?
     
  2. I like soft, so I would be tempted to work on setup on the other bass. I assume they are of similar string length?
     
    Sam Dingle likes this.
  3. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    Yep similar scale lengths. I like tension and pulling. It’s boring otherwise haha
     
  4. I go a bit for the oomph-oomph sound, though it can become too much. My plain guts are at 13-17 mms, so I get to pull a bit anyway. But sorry, guess this is a derail.
     
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Could be setup, but could be "built in" differences between basses. I had to sell a bass that was perfect for me in every way, except that it had too much string tension for pizz playing. I tried adjusting my playing style to fit the bass, and tried every trick in the book to lessen its tight feel, but in the end, nothing made it play as comfortably as my other bass.
     
  6. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    Thats what I'm wondering. Jacking the action up another turn helped though so I'll mess with it. The heavy E string evens out the weak feeling medium E. This bass came with guts so I don't know HOW that would have felt to me.
     
  7. Overstand measurements? Angle of neck set?
     
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Sounds like you're looking for higher tension, so yes, higher tension strings and/or raising the bridge will accomplish that.
     
    Sam Dingle likes this.
  9. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I can agree. For lack of a better term it feels like the other 3 strings are so low in tension that they roll under the fingers. Plus they are super bright.
     
  10. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Have you compared the fingerboard scoop between the two basses? That has a huge influence on "perceived tension".
     
    Co. likes this.
  11. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I don't have the 2 basses together yet but can you explain what fingerboard scoop is? Maybe I can eyeball it
     
  12. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Oy vey! "Scoop" is described as "relief" on fretted instruments. It is the curvature of the fingerboard along the length of the string. If you lay a long straight edge over the FB you will see that it is not flat, but slightly "scooped". This is necessary to keep the strings from buzzing. To be brief, more scoop means higher action in the lower positions. Preferred for lower tension strings, and perhaps gives a more "meaty" sound. Less scoop gives you lower action in the bottom octave, and makes the bass easier to play. The trade off is that lower scoop will make the action higher in the upper register. The amount of scoop has a huge effect on the character of the bass, and most good modern setups lean toward low scoop.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
    Steve Boisen likes this.
  13. Suppose I adjust the neck into a slight back bow, then level the frets with a file. Thereafter, can I adjust the fretboard flat, and have relief as result of the ‘scooped’ frets?
     
  14. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I just did the same thing. I had a bass that was "THE" sound for me. It also recorded really well. The problem was the string tension. Even with the low string height, I was just working too hard. We did a tail piece extension and more. I don't think my new bass sounds as good as that bass, (yet) but I'm still breaking it in. It's certainly easier to play than my previous bass.
     
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  15. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choice™ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I don't think that will help the situation with the OP's new upright bass.

    - Steve
     
    Sam Dingle likes this.
  16. Lol. I missed that part of the story.
    I was kinda off topic in asking a question about my bass from someone who is knowledgeable. :)
     
  17. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    You realize that the tension is a function of string mass and length only. If a bass feels tight it is not because of higher string tension (unless it has a longer mensure), but other setup and construction issues. I think very often it's a poorly scooped FB and maybe too high a nut. From there you can look at top tension (basically bridge and saddle height). Table thickness is important, but you can't do much about that. The tailpiece isn't really at play here.
     
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  18. Yes, but why would you? Anyway, wrong forum.
     
  19. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    The tailpiece extension was my luthiers idea. I've seen it used on uprights many times. What would you have suggested to alleviate the problem, without spending a bankroll? I know its not the string length, scoop, or nut. I've experimented with different steel strings and gauges. What's next?
     
  20. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I did a raised saddle on my too-tight bass, and it had no effect on tightness. The Marvin wire tailpiece also did not help. We raised the tailpiece up a bit and that didn't do the trick either. I brought the bass to at least 4 renowned luthiers to no avail, although a new, little scooped, fingerboard did help playability, but not tightness... I tried all kinds of strings including Velvet and Spiro and Evah solos tuned down. Plain gut D and G did feel looser, but I didn't want to go that route. I gave up on the bass.
     

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