String clearance over soapbar - How much?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by gapupten, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. gapupten


    Dec 29, 2004
    I can't make my string clearance over my soapbar pickup greater than 1/4 inch without increasing the action to way more than I want.
    I have a bartolini soapbars and the screws are down as far as they can go. I normal like to play with very low action but that makes the clearance about 3/16th of an inch. At that low level, the sound is not clean. The best description I can give is that there is little decay in the sound levels from the first thump to the after strike vibrations. The output is much higher than a single coil Bartolini J pickup I have on another bass. The situation improves as the clearance increases. There is more definition in the sound.
    Am I describing a situation that would occur as a result of the stings too close to the pickups? Somewhere I thought I read that the clearance needed to be more on a soapbar than a J. And for some reason I recall that 3/8" was proper for a soapbar setup.
    Anyone have any ideas?
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    the only Bart soaps I've had were M34C's. I set them as hi as they'd go without driving the strings into them and there was no problem. I've had a lot of different Barts though and it was the same thing.

    What you're describing does sound like pups being too close but the distance you're talking about is extreme in my experience even for high output pups.

    If you've got an NTMB preamp you might try backing off the gain on trim pot or the gain on the amp.

    Something here really doesn't sound in line with my experience with Barts. I've never had a Bart that was above a medium output pup, and that's pushing it. And for that, it wouldn't need to be a quarter inch from the strings.
  3. gapupten


    Dec 29, 2004
    I had not thought of preamp gain. It was a little high. But that, as you suspected, and as it turned out, was not the problem.
    I failed to mention in my post that the bass is a fretless. After thinking about the problem some more, I decided that the problem may have been made worse by the fact that I had almost no bow in the neck. This resulted in too much of the string touching the neck causing wierd harmonics after the string had been struck. Anyway, adding more bow allowed me to reduce the action.
    So you were right, it was not the Barts causing the problem at the bottom of the string, it was too much board contact at the top of the string.
    Your post allowed me to think about the problem in a different light.
  4. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Glad you got it figured out.

    Didn't know your exact situation but I've had enough pups in general and Barts in particular to know that was not characteristic Bart. Some Barts aren't characteristically clear, but any Bart I've had wouldn't distort unless driven.
  5. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Glad you found a solution. My personal experience matches luknfur. Barts up as close to the strings as you can get them without them touching. At least, that is what has always worked for me.