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Terminology Question...

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by mchildree, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    A recent thread reminded me of this...I knew early on that a DB had a "fingerboard" as opposed to that other unmentionable thing. Somebody admonished me about using the term "action" not long ago, and I still do not know the "correct" term to reference the playability/setup of a DB.

    Anyone bored enough to fill me in?
  2. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I agree with you. Those terms are for a bass guitar player, not a bass player. ;)
  3. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004
    ...term "action" not long ago, and I still do not know the "correct" term...

    String height, I imagine. (?)

    Hey, Mike, how's the before/after w/ your Cleveland? Is it as good after repair?
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    You know, it's a little hard to know for sure; I didn't have it for a few months so it'd be hard to compare before/after. In the interim, I played EUB exclusively so I REALLY forgot what the "before" was like. Now that I have it back, it sounds and plays wonderfully and I can't tell anything changed in terms of tone. I think I like the feel of this neck a little better than the other...I don't know why but I do. Wishful thinking, maybe?
  5. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004
    That's good to hear and is a little, er, relief. :smug:

    I took happy delivery of my golden colored Cleveland last June and was among the vast group who cringed to hear about the accident. Glad it's behind you.
  6. ispider6


    Jan 30, 2005
    In my experience I've heard it called both "action" and "string height". I prefer "action" and all my fellow classical buddies know what I'm talking about. If anyone ever tells you that the term "action" is not to be used when talking about DB, they are either ignorant, elitist or just plain wrong. :spit:
  7. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    "Action" is a guitar word which refers to the height of the strings, the relative curvature of the bridge and the neck relief. Using the word "action" to refer to a double bass' string height is incorrect, incoherent and inelitist. ;)
  8. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Now I remember who corrected me the first time...and didn't tell me what the proper term is. That's twice now, Arnold! :D
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Please forgive me Ahnold, I forgot the proper term. Since I don't want to be excluded from the He-man Luthiers club can you refresh me?
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I like "gooshiness", i.e., "them strings is sufferin' from an excess of gooshiness".
  11. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Maybe goosheeness would actuion for that moosheeness that some basses have!
  12. ispider6


    Jan 30, 2005
    Are you suggesting that you can't use the word "action" when referring to a double bass? Or just that "action" equals more than string height? In any case, using the term to describe the string height (by your definition) is not incorrect, but simply incomplete. And when mchildree referred to "playability/set-up", I'm sure he was talking about "action" rather than just string height anyway. In any case, this seems like a silly thing to argue about. :)
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Use any term you like for string height, but if you drive Arnold into an insane asylum and out of the luthiery biz, you'll have a whole bunch of angry New Standard owners all up in yer a$$. :smug:
  14. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Actually, when I think "action" on my DB, I'm thinking a combination of these things:

    string height
    curvature of the bridge/strings (I only play pizz)
    neck angle (for nice feel down in thumb position)
    string tension
    consistent response

    ...and sometimes...those looks the Wife is giving me up on the bandstand :hyper:

    So, looking back on all those terms, would SETUP be more appropriate? This would seem to give all the credit to the person who setup the bass and not as much to the bass and builder. Of course, in my case, those are all the same guy.
  15. I usually go with "bunge", myself.

    While we're on the topic, I guess "scale length" too vividly evokes the image of horizontal metal strips, hence we stick with 'mensure'.

    (who secretly enjoys the small terminology differences between URB and EBG as part of the fun)
  16. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    For referring to string height specifically, I suggest use of the term "string height".
    ispider6 mentioned this was a silly thing to argue over. Someone has to create some friction here now that Branstetter has signed off... :scowl:
  17. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    I hear the term "action" so often that I use it sometimes myself.
    We are, I believe, referring to "Playability".
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I agree that action is most often used with fretted instruments. It is not the fingerboard alone that makes the action. It also includes neck bow, bridge height, neck stiffness as the string is vibrating and the strings used on the Bass.

    With the Double Bass, you have all the same with the exception of the Frets. Action IS Playability. I know it has a 'laymans' ring to it But it does describe how the instrument plays. I believe it is used on Pianos and Saxes as well if not most instruments we know of.
  19. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    'Action' doesn't doesn't bother me at all. I do love to watch A.S. have a stroke (and offer no other term) when the word crops up. I think that I use it to describe (in general) how high the strings are. For example, "It feels pretty loose and easy, even with the action up that high."

    Now -- come to think of it, maybe action is shortened from 'String Action'? In other words, how far the string must be 'actuated' to stop it for pitch? A quick dictionary lookup makes me think that this word (action) might be approriate, if a little pedestrian for A.S.

    Also, string length is fine with me. 'Mensure' sounds like a fit that women are wont to throw during The Change.
  20. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    There is a He-man luthier's club? Is there a she-man luthier's club, as well? Get some action from them, why doncha'.