Strange sound on Fretless B-string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BenHack, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Hey

    I have a Cort Artisan 5 string that I have had defretted. I recently installed some Basslines soap bars and a Steve Bailey tonelines preamp system. The sound is awesome and ranges from deep and fat (great for jazz) to thin and middy (think some fusion). Anyway I've noticed that if I play above the 12th fret on the B string it makes a similar sound to being out of tune. I've checked the intonation and it's correct. I also thought it might be magnetic pull from the pickups (it didn't happen with the old pickups) so I lowered them as far as they go with no change to the problem.

    I'm kinda stumped and keep getting evil looks when playing in my jazz trio because it really sounds like it's out of tune. Any ideas, Cheers

  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't see the problem - surely if you are playing a fretless you can adjust by ear and play in tune this way?

    The thing that may be causing your problem though, is the break angle of the B string over the bridge saddles - being so thick, this string might not be sitting correctly, given that you are now pressing down lower with no frets..?

    PS - you might get more and better quality replies in "setup" ...?
  3. Sorry Bruce I don't think I explained the problem very clearly (doh!!). The notes are not out of tune that's just the way I thought of describing the sound. I get that wobbling "out of tune sound" when I play any note above the 12th fret against no reference tone ie it can't actually be out of tune since there is nothing to compare it to.

    As far as the suggestion about break angle I'll have to have another look. However, I have tried to bend the string at the bridge to increase the break angle to give better intonation (in fact I broke the nut trying this at the other end:( ).

    I must agree about posting this in wrong forum (maybe I'll try thinking before posting next time:D ). How do I go about getting a moderator to move this???

    Thanks for the help, and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your jazz camp (recent post). It's heaps of fun to play in a small ensemble. Cheers
    Keep Groovin:cool:

  4. I'm no luthier, (maybe post this in the luthier forum?), but it sounds to me like both sides of the string around the finger (not just the plucked side) are producing sound, which would result in "beating" frequencies. Have you tried damping the string below the twelfth fret to see if this is what is happening? How to resolve - don't know, but I'm sure someone here does.
  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I've seen that "warbling" effect you're talking about, and I've seen it caused by a few different things. The first thing I'd suggest is to try a different brand AND, if possible, a slightly thinner gauge string.

    Changing strings on my Jerzy is exactly what fixed the problem. Changing pickups on a different bass fixed that one's warbling problem.
  6. #1. I agree with Bruce's reply.

    #2. I very rarely play my B string above the 5th fret; I just don't like the tone the B produces above that point. I know that I play my fives as though they're fours with an added low string. This applies to any fiver I've played. I just feel the string is too thick to sound good.

    Mike (prepares to get flamed) :cool:
  7. Maybe your action's too high? It could throw the intonation out the window, IMO, especially in the higher positions.

    BTW, I agree with you Mike, that's the way I see the 5, too.
  8. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    If your problems are limited to the Low B above the 12th fret, you should consider yourself lucky.

    My guess is that the pickups are too high on the B string side of the bass. This could easily account for any beating sound coming from the bass.
  9. dabshire

    dabshire Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Could it be a bad set of strings? (or a bad B string?)

  10. Hey everyone

    Thanks for the help. I've checked to see if the warbling goes away when muting the string on the side of the nut and this doesn't fix the problem. I've also lowered the pickups as much as possible yet the problem is still there.

    It seems strange since I haven't changed the strings since the previous set of pickups but I've only noticed the problem with the new pickups. I guess it's not a huge problem since I rarely play on the B above the 12th. HOwever it is uesful for playing some melodies on some jazz tunes, or to more closely approximate the sound of an upright (sounds great for the groove in Green Dolphin St).

    Hey Mike have you tried diffent gauge B strings. I've found that the larger sizes (.128 and higher) can sound really woolly which can be great for down low but a bit too much higher up. I've tried using a .120 on the B and I find it makes using the B much more similar in tone to the E (when played higher up). Until I tried this I also rarely use the B string above the 5th fret either.

    Oh and just to be clear, this is not a case of the bass being out of tune, it's just a similar warbling sound. CHeers

  11. Hey guys

    The problem is solved. I changed the strings as RAM suggested (cheers mate:D ) and the problem went away. I'm suprised that the strings were the cause but hey at least it doesn't sound out of tune now. I was using some 1/2 round strings but have changed to round wound (that was my only other option). SO even though my fingerboard will get a bit chewed up I got to hear the bass with a different sound. I think it sounds good enough now to use as my main bass.

    THanks for all the suggestions, keep holding down the bottom. C-YA

  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Glad to know your problem has been solved.:D
  13. Strings are often the cause of string problems!!

  14. :D