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String size in regards to fretless tone?

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Nfp01, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. More specifically to Michael and Steve, but anyone with experience can be of help:

    How does the size of your strings impact the tonal qualities of your fretless bass? Will you get more or less mwah with a certain gauge?

    To Michael: How do you achieve your tone in this beautiful video of you and Adam Werner playing Will Ackerman's "Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit"? I have posted recently my thoughts on this video - the fact that that tone is pretty much where it's at in terms of fretless. Obviously, as a teenager I will not be able to go and buy a Zon any time soon, so I have to make do with what I have, which would be a Fender Jazz.

    Of course, the Zon's graphite neck must make worlds of difference in the tone, so I'm stuck there aside from paying $400 for a Status neck or something. I intend to drop a set of Barts in at some point, but I figure that as of now, the aspect of my bass that I can most easily experiment with is strings. I seem to recall you use lighter gauge D'addario XLs? If this is correct, do you use them for the tone, or to augment the Hyperbass's tuning changes?

    And, to anyone else: feel free to volunteer any useful information. I could really care less about my fretted tone, for some reason or another, but I'm OBSESSIVE over my fretless tone.

    One last thought: does anyone have useful exercises for practicing intonation?

    Thanks all,
  2. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    Hey Nate,
    Michael is using his ebow for the begining singing notes of the tune and then uses it intermitently using his fingers to pluck some notes and the ebow to make the sustaining notes.

    You can do a google on ebow and find out more about it. I've seen Michael use this and it is a great tool. He at one point was also using two inorder to get two strings to sustain.

    As far as string gauge is concerned it really is up to you and what you like. This will vary from bass to bass as to what sounds good and feels good. For example on one of my fender jazz basses I uses a fairly heavy gauge with the E string at 105 but on my other jazz bass I use 100. You would think that they would seem the same and have the same tonal characteristics but this is not the case. One just handles a thicker gauge better than the other due to the nut, bridge, woods and electronics.

    So, I would say just buy different gauges and experiment.
  3. On Michael's "Junior" bass (Custom Sonus/Hyperbass hybrid) he uses super light guage D'Addarios (EXL220, .095, .075, .060, .040). On his regular Hyperbass he uses D'Addario piccolo strings (EXL280, .052, .042, .032, .020). And as for practicing intonation on a fretless, try practicing in the dark :D

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