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String height type on EUB vs DB

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by KodyAudette, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. KodyAudette


    Apr 30, 2012
    Hello all, I am finally the proud owner of a Sojing "Crazy Eight" Electric Upright Bass. As background on myself I've played BG for years and I'm finally working up towards a DB (as soon as I can sock away enough cash for a real one). In the meantime I am starting Simandl studies with this on my own and looking for an instructor. So here's where I'm at: There are tons of resources both here on TB and on the net for string height recommendations, string types for different sounds, purposes, etc but they are almost all geared towards the DB and not necessarily an EUB.

    My EUB is 3/4 scale with the same general dimensions as a regular DB, but here's the thing, unlike all DBs and some EUBs, I have a solid body, in fact the bridge sits on the crosspiece of a shape that looks similar to a cross between a treble clef and an 8. Weird, I know. It has a piezo built in under the bridge. So here are my questions:

    What is your opinion (especially if you play a solid body EUB) about string height and why? I know that on a DB many players want higher strings for more pressure on the bridge/top and more volume. Are there any other advantages to having higher strings on a solid body EUB or should I set it up lower for playability?

    What is your opinion on how the stated character of strings translates on an EUB? Obviously there's the added dimension of EQ. I would assume that as far as how the bow interacts with the string should be more or less the same since it's the same scale, same tension, same nut, same bridge, same tailpiece as an upright, I'd think that the pizzicatto response should be fairly similar as well right? Anyone have input on how the fact that the bridge is on a solid piece of wood rather than a resonating top affects sustain, etc?

    Just looking for any info on these things as I can get. I'm currently ordering several different kinds of strings to see what may work best for me but I'd like to minimize the hundreds of dollars that I spend to find the right strings. Also this instrument is enough of a physical challenge as it is so I'd like to minimize how much I have to fight with it. Haha.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who has any input!
  2. I have not played my EUB (home made) with a bow yet so I don't have any info for you there.

    I find having somewhat high action yields a more authentic upright sound for pizzicato style playing. I found that the lower the action, the more it started to sound like a fretless bass guitar - which is cool, but I'd rather just play a fretless bass guitar if that's the sound I am going for.

    Low action on my EUB also results in sustain for days, weeks, even months. Not what I am shooting for and raising the action tames the infinite sustain issue nicely.

    The higher action will wear you out quickly at first and you'll have to spend a number of hours building up your strength before you take it out on a gig.

    Regarding strings, I have NS EUB strings on mine - and they make it sound too much like an electric bass guitar, IMO. To be fair, that's exactly what the packaging said they would do, and I didn't know until I tried them that that was not the sound I wanted.

    When I replace these strings, I'll be going for some more traditional upright strings - Spirocores or something along those lines. They are pricey! My EUB is a five string which automatically adds a good $30 to $50 over the price of a 4-string set... Live and learn.

    Also - once you put those strings on, leave them on and don't do a lot of de-tuning/re-turning where you loosen them to flop, then tighten them to pitch. I had to do that during the build process and I broke the G string because of it. I replaced it with a Spirocore and that's when I discovered how much better Spirocore's sound. Much warmer, much more authentic.

    I keep saying "authentic" - I hope you know what I mean by that. Warm, rich, full, not brittle, crisp or "piano-like". The NS strings are much more "piano/EBG" sounding.

    So - summing up: Higher action yields more authentic upright sound and feel. Lower action yields more electric fretless bass guitar sound and feel. I don't know about arco yet.

    Good luck!
  3. KodyAudette


    Apr 30, 2012
    That makes a lot of sense now that you mention it. It's also what I observed when I adjusted mine last night, I lowered the action from about 1.5" (at the end of the fingerboard) to more like 3/4". I definitely noticed an increase in sustain, which in my case was a good thing. I think because the strings that are on it from the previous owner are basically the nylon weedwhackers, they've got a thump with no sustain or real character. It sounds pretty good for a rockabilly/bluegrass sound but I'm looking for something with a little more character and midrange presence.

    So after lowering the bridge it's definitely easier to play (though if that were my main concern I'd just stick to my fretless) and the sustain feels a little better, but since the previous owner had no idea how to wind strings I was attempting to trim back the excess string and rewind them and of course I cut back my G string a little too much. So, now I've been forced to make myself afford some strings. Haha.

    I found a good deal on some Helicore Orchestra that seem like they'll be a step in the right direction. They should bow well and the consensus seems to be that the sustain is generally moderate (when compared to other strings on the same bass) also they should be fairly dark without being just a formless thump. I hope they're a little closer to what I'm looking for. I also managed to find a Spirocore E for $7 on eBay so I ordered that and we'll see how it compares with the Helicores.
  4. Very cool. Enjoy!

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