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string action change by climate on kay bass (or plywood)

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by jaybary, Oct 29, 2017.


  1. jaybary

    jaybary

    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY
    Hi bassists.
    I'm kind of a newbie who registered long time ago but rarely posted somthing.
    Currently I live in NYC and I've been using M-1 kay bass 1938 and loving to play it. but these days I realize the string action is drastically changed by the weather (especially humidity) and It makes me very stressful. I have an adjustable bridge and try to make the action lower but It feels like It does not get back to what I used to feel before right away and also changes the feel on my hand so sometimes I'm embarrassed when I play some gigs in the city . Sometimes I feel like I play different basses almost every single day. I know plywood is more durable and not more sensitive than carved in terms of the climate change but this kay is something wrong. What do you think is the reason? maybe soundpost? or bridge? if so should I change it ? or is it just what it is? Thanks for reading and have a good day all
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
  2. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I haven't experienced this with a Kay bass, but I live in a much drier climate.

    It would help if you could document how much the action changes, in terms of the gap between the strings and fingerboard at the end of the board. Then we'd know the scale of the issue.

    That said, your neck joint could be flexing and failing (a common Kay problem). Look for movement between the heel and the button. As little as 1/32" of movement there can substantially change neck angle.

    If the neck joint is solid and the bass is structurally sound -- no open seams, etc. -- the fix would likely be bridge adjusters.
     
  3. JohnDavisNYC

    JohnDavisNYC

    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    NYC is pretty rough on basses... many guys I know have 3 soundposts to get through the seasons. I'd take it to Gage or another reputable luthier and have them check it out... could be sound post related, maybe your neck needs reinforcement, etc.

    John
     
  4. jaybary

    jaybary

    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY

    wow I didn't know that Kay has a common neck joint problem.. :(
    like a week ago when climate was little cold and dry the tension on the strings gets weak without any stress to play but when it comes to humid and little warm weather (like raining ) I can almost fit my 4 fingers between strings and fingerboard and it happens more often because of the season change and this change happens while I'm heading to gig. maybe I should fix bridge adjuster more often. thanks !
     
  5. jaybary

    jaybary

    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY

    If sound post is changed would it change the sound a lot? never thought about having more than one sound post.. maybe I should ask luthier too. thanks
     
  6. Bigbassguy

    Bigbassguy

    Jun 5, 2017
    I live and played a 57 kay for
     
  7. Bigbassguy

    Bigbassguy

    Jun 5, 2017
    Oops

    Played my kay for years in NYC with no problems. Maybe I was lucky.
     
  8. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    'Never heard of those symptoms on a healthy Kay. Either you have something going on with you neck or the top has some lamination issues. Take it over to Keiran at the new O'Hara Fine Instruments shop!

    j.
    www.kaybassrepair.com

    facebook @ Kay Bass Repair
     
    robobass likes this.
  9. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Yes, it sounds like something more than humidity must be at work here. It takes time for wood to absorb or give off moisture, so you normally make adjustments seasonally, not daily. What kind of strings? Guts react to temperature and humidity changes more quickly, but that shouldn't affect string height.
     
  10. jaybary

    jaybary

    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY
    yes I use Thomastik mediums on EAD and Obligato on g string.. in the middle of season mostly It stays on but like spring and fall when different weather change often happens day by day is the worst.. I will meet luthier soon thanks
     
  11. jaybary

    jaybary

    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY

    I would love to but It's too far from here and I don't have a car now :(
     
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    getrhythm and robobass like this.
  13. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I live in the Buffalo NY area, and have played plywood basses for years. We have generally the same climate. While I definitely feel the season changes in my bass, what you're experiencing would lead me to believe you need your bass checked out as others have indicated. Any change can usually be easily compensated for with small bridge adjustments. That talk of carrying around 3 sound posts sounds like hogwash to me.

    I concur that the neck or some other culprit is in play here, and a luthier is your best bet to get this resolved.
     
  14. RSBBass

    RSBBass

    Jun 11, 2011
    NYC
    I live in NYC and have a Shen plywood bass. I have some movement but nothing that requires more than half a turn on my adjustable bridge twice a year.
     
  15. JohnDavisNYC

    JohnDavisNYC

    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    Definitely not hogwash. Maybe for a plywood bass, but I know at least 3 guys who have summer, winter, and spring/fall posts. These are all top level jazz guys playing carved basses whose instruments are maintained my some of the top luthiers in town.
     
    RRR likes this.
  16. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I noticed my action has lowered slightly. Is this based on the change of season/normal?
     
  17. Yeah. Less moisture in the air means wood shrinks. That’s why people have shorter winter soundposts.
     
  18. I suppose a poor mans (or somewhat lazier) version of having several posts, would be to move the sound post a few mms towards the center of the bass (to loosen tension) for winter, and back again for spring/summer. Or..?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
  19. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    But aren't we talking about an old plywood bass in this case.....no? Apples, apples.
     
  20. JohnDavisNYC

    JohnDavisNYC

    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    unlikely that a plywood bass is moving as much as a carved bass, yeah. my main point was 'get thee to a luthier'.

    J
     

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