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String spacing and proper technique....

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by ceeprm, Nov 4, 2003.


  1. ceeprm

    ceeprm

    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    Steve
    Ive been playing 5 string for about a year (had been playing 4 quite a while before) and when I started I realised that I wasn't going to get far without using 'proper technique' ie thumb behind the neck classical guitar style due to increased neck width- I had been using the thumb over the neck method previously. After getting to grips with it though I found that certain string-string runs were more difficult to execute and that I needed closer string spacing than on the bass that I had- so last month I bought a Ken Smith which has fairly narrow spacing (9mm nut 18mm bridge) which is amazing until I try to play certain pieces and i still find that the spacing is too wide. Is there anything I can do technique wise that can compensate for slightly too wide spacing or will I just have too trade for a Warwick (my second choice) with narrower spacing?
    thanks for your time
    Philip
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    String spacing is a very personal preference thing. I'm sure there are generalizations that can be made relating to the size of your hands if they are either very small or huge great shovels, but by and large it's about what you feel comfortable with. If the string spacing on the bass you've got doesn't feel right, it may just be that it doesn't work for the way you play right now. So you've two choices - change the bass, or change the way you play! :D

    It's also worth considering how it sits alongside your other bass(es) - I'm finding that switching techniques across from my 4 string to the 6 string fretless is tricky because of a minute difference in the string spacing, so beware - if you plan on using the basses interchangably (as opposed to having specific basses for specific techniques), you may want to go for two that are at least similar in string spacing, if not identical...

    enjoy

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  3. ceeprm

    ceeprm

    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    Thanks- I'l give it a few more weeks with the smith and then decide what to do. One thing Ive always found about basses with a fixed string spacing is that the G string (4 or 5) seems to be slightly further away than I want it to be- thats why I like adjustable spacing bridges to bring the G string in a bit. The smith is fixed which might be part of my problem- it does sound so good though!!
    cheers
    Philip
     
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    If you think that the neck seems too wide with the behind-the-neck technique [BTN] (compared to the over-the-neck technique [OTN]) you're doing something wrong, because this simply cannot be.

    OTN always limits your finger range compared to BTN, so the neck width shouldn't matter as much with BTN. With BTN you can spread your fingers better so you can play wider necks.

    Your problem is probably that you're not used to the new posture yet.
     
  5. ceeprm

    ceeprm

    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    yeah but its not the neck width that Im having a problem with, its the spacing of the strings- due to me using the BTN technique I think I require my strings closer together than with OTN- trying to play certain pieces results in finger strain. Ive tried a 5 string Warwick LX and streamer stage II with the wery narrow spacing and they seem to be much easier to play....
     
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Is "over the neck technique" actually a technique or just a shockingly poor way to play a bass?!!

    Anyway, interstingis this topic..

    I have a 5 string Fender P bass, which has a hugley wide and deep neck and very wide string spacing.
    A few months ago I picked up 3 basses from a mate who sold up some studio gear - one of which is Washburn Xb500, which I've been using for the purpose of slinging in the boot for rehearsals. It has a much narrower neck and narrower spacing. I've found now that I actually prefer this £300 washburn over my £1100 Fender. The more I play the washburn, the more I realise the Fender is holding me back somewhat - I find myself tripping over my fingers more often on the Fender than on the Washburn.

    The Fender has a much cleaner and better sound, the quality of the instrument is much much higher, but I find it very difficult to play now I've found a bass more suitable to my playing.

    I'm now gonna have to sell the Fender and find something more suited to me... bummer cause it is SO nice :(

    I guess I'm just saying what Steve has already said - it's personal certain necks and spacing fit certain peoples hands and you have to find a bass that suits your hands.
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Maybe we should do a swap - I've been through similar things. So - I had a few lessons with Franc 'O Shea who played some amazing stuff and I thought I wanted to do something similar.

    Now he played a Tobias bass and around that time I happened on a good one, at the Bass Centre. So I found the narrower, assymetrical neck incredibly easy to play and so I could play faster stuff more easily. The smaller size of the bass made everything easier - but it was also an incredibly well-designed and executed concept for neck shape.

    But more recently since taking up EUB I find myself thinking differently and don't actually want to play loads of notes - but rather the right ones with good tone. I now tend to think that having it easy, was actually holding back my development.

    So - I could play stuff which sounded impressive, but wasn't melodic in solos and wasn't really saying anything. People have commented on how my playing is better on the EUB when I play less notes, but concentrate more on good time and good note choice.

    So - now I try to apply that to my BG playing as well - which is why we might want to swap instruments!!?? ;)

    But then - I thought you were going for an EUB as well?:confused:
     
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    There's something in that for sure!

    Strange how we all know that less notes is SO much more, but we all still want to 'blow, whenever we get the opportunity ;)

    Well I'm thinking of purchasing an EUB next year sometime, but if you're serious, I'd be happy to get together sometime and do a joint try out of each others basses. And of course I'd pony up the cash if a straight swap wasnt in your favour! I think you mentioned that your Tobias isn't one of the newer, lesser quality, models before?

    Although I will say now that my Fender has two slight dings in the back of the neck where my bleedin stand gave way Grrr :mad:

    I have very thin long fingers, so the wide spacing means I can actually get my finger tips between the strings! :eek:
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was sort of half-serious - it is a pre-Gibson Tobias, hand-made in the US by Michael Tobias' crew - so I'm a bit loathe to give it up...but on the other hand I'm not playing it much at the moment!! :meh:

    Maybe we could just try them and maybe do a temporary swap for a limited period - might be difficult to arrange though. I think sometime in the future I might regret it if I let it go permanently - say, if I got to be in a really good Jazz/Funk band !! ;)
     
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    You're probably right there.. if it's a nice bass and you get on with it, very wise to keep hold of it even if it does gather dust a little!

    And.. a temporarey swap would be a bad idea on your part, I'm a total clunk! I'd be bound to drop it or something!

    Example, I bought a 4 string Stingray (again) a few months back, this guy came round my house, got out this bass and it was in PERFECT condition - I picked it up and smashed it on my desk immediatley putting a small dent in the back of the body... you should have seen his face!!! Of course I had to buy it, good job I wanted it anyway!
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would love a Ken Smith bass - I tried a 6-string in the Bass Centre and it was the best I've played I think - but it was nearly £4,000!!

    But I'm mystified, as all the Ken Smith basses I've tried, have had very wide string spacing?

    Which model are we talking about - are specs on KS's website?
     
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yeah, I've played, unplugged, two smiths they have at the gallery - a five and a six.

    apart from the fact that i think they look aweful - the body shape is just repulsive.. they neck on a smith is a perfect example of what I dont like to play!

    Like Bruce says, wide spacing, wide neck, and very flat - like an ironing board... not my cup of tea at all!
     
  13. ceeprm

    ceeprm

    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    Its a CR5M: 9mm spacing at nut 18mm at bridge- I thought this was regarded as quite narrow - but still fractionally too wide for my fingers at the bridge!!! It does play and sound amazing which is my dilema...

    [​IMG]

    The body shape is an aquired taste- I think you have to see them being played to appreciate them.
    This one may be for sale soon...
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it looks great - I'd love to have one of those - where did you get it?
     
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    You know I was thinking that as I typed. I've only ever seen them in shops and mags and I admittedly really dont like them, but basses often look very much different when being 'worn'.

    That does indeed look like a real beauty I must admit despite the fact that I'm not a fan of fancy woods, esp flamed and the body shape would still put me off.

    Nice coloured facing though, even if the flame isnt to my taste.

    Howe much did you pay for it? New, or second hand?
     
  16. ceeprm

    ceeprm

    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    Bought it for £1200 off a guy in Camberly who had just bough an MTD 535 . The basses claim to fame is that it has been played on a Liberty X album!! I may consider selling it- Martin Peterson is ordering me a Warwick SS2 to try and I wouldn't be able to afford both...
     
  17. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Ooh, I'd keep that to yourself ;)

    I once owned an Ampeg SVT2 that did an AC/DC world tour. Still not exactly "cool", but it beats the Liberty X any day ;)

    Martin Peterson is just the man isnt he! I love that shop!
     
  18. ceeprm

    ceeprm

    Jul 15, 2002
    Edinburgh Scotland
    I dont know- Some of the basslines on pop stuff are pretty good!! :D
    Martin said he would send me the bass and I could return it after a week if I wasn't happy- can't get better service than that!! Although I might go down and try every bass in the shop to make sure its the right one!!
     
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Agreed... and the women in the band have nice boobs ;)

    Yeah that is good. I'd advise going down there.. day off work etc, you may as well, well it'd be rude not to?!