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The Stambaugh Twins...it's all about the scale!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RAM, Jan 16, 2005.


  1. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I need to say this thread is less about the basses than it is about the scale difference. See, these are two identical basses, made by the same luthier, same wood selection, same hardware, same electronics, same action, same neck-relief, etc. The only difference is one is 34" and the other is 35". So, what would you expect?

    I'll tell you what I expected: My Jerzy is a 34" and has a "B" string that would rival any of the best 35's on the market. Also, I have tremendous respect for the very talented Mr. Stambaugh, who built two of the nicest Stambaughs I've come across, and I've played several. Thus, I was expecting little-to-no difference. Boy, was I wrong! :eek:

    The 34" had a nice B string, better than some high-end basses I won't mention so I don't start a flame war. However, it was not nearly as nice as the 35". The 34" was a little looser feeling than the other strings and didn't quite match the clarity and tightness of the 35", although I'm told stringing it through the body, which is an option on both basses, tightens the "B" string right up.

    The 35" was a little bit more of a stretch for my giant hands, but still comfortable. Yet I still found I could maneuver on the 34" with greater ease. In addition, the strings on the 35" were much, much higher tension than on the 34". The 35" also sounded a little brighter, perhaps of the greater tension on the strings???

    I will say this...I think both basses are amazing! I wouldn't hesitate to put either one on my short-list, and if I was actually in the market, I might have a really hard time deciding between the two. Given my great experiences with my 34" Jerzy, I was blown away that there could be such a noticeable difference with the 1 inch! Whodathunk? :D

    Here's a link to the basses...
    http://luthiersaccessgroup.com/isstambaugh5.html
     
  2. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Seattle
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
  3. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Cool way to get to compare scale length vs. string tension--on two identical basses.

    IMHO, this is the only way that this comparison can be done right, anyway. Taking basses from 2 different builders with different scale lengths isn't fair, because we all know that some builders' 34" basses kick the heck out of another one's 35" scales.

    BTW, those are 2 very sweet basses. I certainly wouldn't mind owning one. :)
     
  4. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Very interesting. Still, I'd have been interested in seeing an even more stringent test. You say that the overall string tension was much higher on the 35". That suggests to me that probably the same gauge of strings, more or less, was used on the two basses. If so, naturally they would be at higher tension on the 35", and this would change the tone all by itself.

    What would really be interesting, to me anyway, would be to put slightly lighter strings on the 35", such that the string tension when tuned to pitch would be equal on the two basses. (The strings would ideally be equal in as many other ways as possible.) *Then* see if the 35" scale sounds a lot different from the 34".

    If the 35" is still significantly better when string tensions are equalized, then you could really say that a 1" difference in scale length, in and of itself, plays a significant tonal role. If not, that suggests that the difference you hear is mostly due to increased string tension, and that a comparable improvement on the 34" could *possibly* be achieved just by going to a heavier string. My guess is that what you'd hear is something in between the two, but that's only a guess.

    Again, thanks for the report; I don't mean to sound like I'm nitpicking. It's just that the applied physics of the bass kinda interests me.
     
  5. Um, in the interest of truth and justice for all, and applied physics for dummies...

    I don't think the two basses are the same - at least the pic shows something different. Perhaps there is a good explanation?

    Does the bass of the left have a third pickup?

    If it does (and I don't know right now for sure) does the third pickup's magnetic field, either alone or in conjunction with the other two, have an effect on the strings?
     
  6. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    Silly Hambone, I think that's a ramp.
     
  7. tiefling

    tiefling

    Aug 19, 2003
    Washington DC
    looks like a ramp to me.....
     
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Looks like a ramp to me too.
     
  9. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Yea, but that being on one and not the other kinda doesn't hold to the "Twins" statement, since ALL things aren't the same. While I can't think that the ramp would make a difference, it is an issue. Either way I'LL TAKE ONE OR BOTH RIGHT NOW!!!! Hand'em over and nobody get's hurt!!!
     
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Well, the A string on the second one is tuned about 1.4 cents flats so I guess you're right... they aren't identical.


    :bag:
     
  11. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Oh, a wise guy huh? I'll kill you last. :D
     
  12. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Take the damn ramp off then :rolleyes:

    :D :D
     
  13. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    It's a ramp.

    I guess it could make some difference... :p
     
  14. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, but I tuned 'em, so they're no longer differently tuned. :p :bag: :ninja:
     
  15. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I highly doubt it, though. ;)

    I still happened to like the comparison. Good post. :)
     
  16. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    I hadn't checked out LAG's site in a a while so I went in and looked around and in the description it says

    So the ramps are apparently not installed, but they must have stuck one in just for the Photo.

    And for the record IMO the ramps would make aprox. <0% impact on the scale lenght debate. And as far as my previous statements about them not truely being twins if one had a ramp and the other didn't I stand corrected.
     
  17. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    One ramp is installed, the other is not.

    I don't think anyone actually believes there's a difference made by the ramp, except in trying to poke fun. No biggie. There's still a noticeable difference, but both basses are incredible!:D
     
  18. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    How do the basses compare to your Jerzy Drozd soundwise and playablity wise?
     
  19. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Good question. Although I had my Jerzy with me, my main intention was proving myself wrong about an inch.

    However, IME, earlier Jerzys, including mine, tend to have a slim neck profile that's rounded like a "C", a shallow volute, and lower gain pickups. Newer Jerzys tend to have more of a "U" neck profile, though equally slim, and a big volute. Both neck shapes appear to feature an assymetrical profile reminiscent of an MTD 635, particularly in the older neck shape. In fact, Gard has a 635 in his shop with a neck shape nearly identical to my Jerzy!:eek: btw: I'm a HUGE sucker for a beautiful MTD:D

    The one thing I remember about the Stambaughs is they tended more towards a "C" neck profile, a la Elrick or Fodera. The string spacing was similar on the Elricks, Stambaughs, MTDs, and Jerzys I've played. The string tension on the 34" (perhaps not surprisingly) was nice and "springy" like my Jerzy.:D

    Sound is a very tricky thing. IMO, each builder has a certain wood that is their signature, when it comes to tone. IMO, Stambaugh's signature is with Mahogany. He really know how to get a real rich low-mid growl out of Mahogany that I haven't heard from anyone, including Fodera. My Jerzy has a Walnut body with a low-mid warmth I haven't heard from many other basses, though his signature seems to be Etimoe. Etimoe has a rich low-mid response, but a touch more treble bite (a la swamp ash) than walnut. The etimoe basses I've heard lately have all included Jerzy's own signature pickups which are significantly higher gain than my Barts.
     
  20. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Very well written. Thanks.