the mwah paradox

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hogani, Aug 9, 2001.

  1. hogani

    hogani Guest

    Jul 3, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Esteemed colleagues,

    I am perplexed with the following irony and seek your council.

    Jaco originated the fretless mwah sound playing an old, beat-up Fender Jazz.

    I have found, however, good mwah is obtainable from Pedulla's and Musicman's. The fretless Jazz's I have tried sound more akin to an upright than Jaco.

    I'm sure there are other good fretless basses; that is not the point.

    The point is Jaco originated the sound with an old, greasy Jazz, and now the new fretless Jazz's sound like they are underwater.

    What gives? Is it the set-up (like, are the strings too high off the fretboard)?

    Or is it that the old Jazz's are just great basses?

    Thank you.

    Take care.

  2. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I know what you mean.
    That is mostly due to the Setup.
    In my experience Lower Action is required to get that tons of mwah.

    Of course I do believe that Jazz Basses were better some time ago, or maybe was because those being older sounded better because of age.

    Of course the Pedulla has an incredible Mwah.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Part of it is the older tone circuits. But remember that Jaco defretted his own stuff and covered the boards with a sealant. Much of that sing comes from that bright board. Get yourself a fretless jazz bass, slop on a couple of coats of self-leveling, marine grade clear coat over the board, sand it smooth, slap some nickel roundwounds on there and see if it isn't a little more jacoish.

  4. Having an epoxied fingerboard should help a lot in the mwah department.
  5. hogani

    hogani Guest

    Jul 3, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I tried the boat laquer approach once on a Jazz Bass Special w/ EMG's. I used the spray type hoping this would ameliorate leveling. It didn't cure well, and was sticky.

    I recall in the instructional video he did, at the start, he was filing the nut down.

    So maybe action is the key.

    Thank you for your numerous and well-informed responses.

  6. OK, somebody has to say it: a big part of Jaco's tone was in his hands. That includes some of the mwah.
  7. Low action, straight neck and roundwounds. And then, as Richard pointed out, touch!

    I didn't realise you posted here, Richard. Just goes to show how observant/ forgetful I am...
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    ...and when you compare it to modern (active) fretless players like Marcus Miller or Victor Wooten, Jaco's sound usually didn't have THAT much mwha.
  9. Oh yes, for a few months now. Got kind of fed up with the H-C forums. I like this much better. Good to see you around.
  10. But it did when he wanted it to, and that's the point.
  11. Me, too. This place is great for basses, but I am still looking for a good forum to discuss guitars on....
  12. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Right! It was in his phrasing, not his fretless.
  13. Haven't really found one of those yet. I sometimes visit the Carvin and Hamer forums (since I own both). Nice folks as a rule, but a lot of preaching to the choir, and rather more guitar-nationalism than I always like (Carvin totally RAWKS, dude). However, relatively low on militant ignorance and pride in prejudice.
  14. ThunderStik

    ThunderStik Guest

    Jun 25, 2001
    Claremore OK.
    Im sure a small part of it was the tone circuits and the amps. Really it was just a combo of alot of things but more Jaco than anything else.
  15. (You are warned. I tend to follow points right through until I am satisfied I know what I am talking about). My point was that Jaco did get exceptional mwah out of his bass when he wanted it. Fretless jazz basses do offer mwah if you know where to look for it.

    I find I can get clean snappy sounds, plummy URB like sounds and good mwah out of my fretless simply by the way I play, not having to touch the controls at all. You can go from a sustained clean sound to mwah on the same note just by rolling your finger on the board. It's not phrasing, but touch.
  16. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Phrasing includes touch for me. At least it's in the German term Phrasierung.
    It's how you play notes (rhythm, vibrato, time etc.) and tone.
  17. Right. Thanks. You live and learn. I am not educated musically and know little of these terms...I was assuming that phrasing just meant the way you grouped the notes into a phrase.
  18. hogani

    hogani Guest

    Jul 3, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Yes, a lot of his sound was due to his hands, and his phrasing was masterful, but I don't think these generated the mwah.

    The litmus test is this:
    If Jaco were to play an upright, could he get the mwah? He's got the vibrato, he's got the phrasing, but I don't think anyone could get nice, fat, voluminous juicy wah out of an upright - not even the master!

    So, I think his bass had something to do with it.

    The point of my question was that standard fretless Jazz's don't have the wmah (like on a 1 to 10, a 2). Yet Jaco, with his greasy Jazz, managed to generate all sorts of mwah.

    What was up with his bass? The action was mentioned, the fretboard, too.

    So, in the event I get a fretless J and want to lose the upright/underwater sound, I should adjust the action and laquer the neck.

    Anything else?
  19. what sort of jazz are you using to compare to jaco's? is it a MIM Jazz Fretless with flats on it at a local music store? if that's the case, then yes, the setup definately has something to do with it, and the flats are going to give you that thumpy tubby sound for sure. in any case, i agree with you about the pedulla producing a great mwah.
  20. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    Folks have mentioned using lacquer on the fingerboard- big mistake. Jaco used EPOXY; clear marine epoxy, which dries rock hard.

    I have defretted a Steinberger (phenolic fingerboard) I coated with epoxy. With 3 year old ground roundwounds I get all the "mwah" I want off the back pickup.

    Low action is indeed part of the equation; it should be very low at the nut (or zero fret) and the neck should be very flat.