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Tips on Playing an Explorer Shaped Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by peabody, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    I just picked up a bass that has been on my GAS list forever...an Alembic Exploiter. If you are not familiar with the Exploiters, they are Explorer shaped basses modeled after John Entwistle's Spyder basses.

    Anyway, here's my question....the strap button is located at the neck heel...which I'm sure is the case for a lot of basses (like SG shaped basses, for instance). However, I've been playing Fender-like basses with the button on the top horn all of my life, so this totally new to me. I find when I play it with a strap, the bass has a tendency to lean forward, away from my body, so I have to hold it to back with my right arm to keep it playable.

    It has a strap lock, and I inverted the connector on the strap so it connects on top of the strap as opposed to underneath it. I thought that might help keep it closer to my body. I tried it first with the connector on the bottom of the strap, but it twists the strap when it connects. I'm not sure if this description makes sense without pictures, but I'm not sure how else to describe it.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on how to make this a little more comfortable to play? As an FYI, there is no way I'm going to relocate the strap button because this bass is way too beautiful to add any holes to.

  2. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    rest your elbow on the bass.
    Look how the Ox played his.

  3. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Many great guitar bodies simply don't work well for bass. Gibson never really figured this out and since this is a copy of a Gibson design you are stuck with bad ergonomics.

    Either mod it, learn to hold it down with your right arm, hold it up with your left hand or sell it and buy something with proper balance.
  4. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Yamaha, Fender, Rickenbacker, BSX. I'm Marc!

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    As right as you are, I still love Explorer basses.
  5. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I've seen people run the strap over the front of the body rather than behind, I assume to remedy what you're describing.
  6. bigalbass


    Dec 12, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    I have played a Warwick Buzzard bass John Entwistle model and I would recommend perhaps trying a standard strap button as opposed to the strap lock. I prefer strap buttons because I chance my strap height often, and I didn't feel the "loose" feeling that you are describing. Good luck with an awesome bass!
  7. Hmmm..... Tips for playin' an Explorer-style bass..... SHRED ON THAT BITCH!!!!
  8. I wear my basses high & never experience neck dive. I know Explorer-shaped instruments look cooler lower, but I guess neck dive would be the trade-off.

    If your bass isn't already heavy enough, you could attach some type of counterweight to the rear strap button to balance the bass.
  9. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I'm guessing there are a few Exploiter players out there who can give you some good recommendations as to making the bass balance as well as possible. My suggestion would be to use a wide strap. I'm glad to hear you don't plan on drilling any hole.

    Best of luck. BTW, that's a beautiful Alembic.

  10. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    Thanks everyone for their advice.

    Just as a clarification, what I'm experiencing is not neck dive. The bass itself is very light and well balanced. What happens is, because of the location of the top strap button, the bass tips forward away from my body.

    I did a Google Image search on The Ox, and it shows him playing this type of bass quite often. It looks like he had the bass positioned pretty high. I'm going to try some different straps and experiment with the playing height to see what happens.
  11. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I know what you are talking about.
    My Gibson SG bass does it too. I call it "roll out" It gets worse with strap locks.
    I rest my forearm on the body.

    You really need to bring that bad boy to one of our GTG's
    Next one will be around the beginning of February.
  12. VinKreepo


    Nov 13, 2009
    Just remove the strap lock and screw the strap to the bass with a washer on top of the strap end. Simple.
  13. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    As long as it happens during the week, I might able to be there. I have kind of a unique situation (because my job was relocated) where I spend Monday - Thursday in the Cities and then I'm in La Crosse (which is home) for Friday and the weekend. It's kind of a drag to have to drive back and forth all of the time...but it sure beats unemployment.

    One other observation with this bass...
    The bass itself is unbelievably light, however the case is a monster. It weighs a ton and is a good 4" taller (and much wider) than the rest of my bass cases.
  14. kjpollo


    Mar 17, 2008
    Everytime I see a thread about an Alembic Exploiter, I keep expecting/hoping to see my old one pop up. But mine had a quilted maple top and Alembic's P-J pickups.

    Sadly, I was never able to get over the ergonomics of that bass. It was incredibly well built and sounded amazing (even for a hack like me). But I just couldnt bond with the body shape no matter how much I tried- and that killed me. Like pretty much everyone who buys one- you KNOW what I was after- to at least LOOK like The Ox even though I cant play anywhere near what he could do.

    I was younger and a LOT thinner then so I really didnt have much of a problem with the face of the bass tilting away from me. I just could not find a suitable right hand playing position. I tried lengthening and shortening the strap, resting my elbow on the upper bout, tucking the upper bout well under my right arm, etc. but for me, nothing worked.
    As beautiful as that bass looked, and as great as it sounded, I always felt like I was fighting it instead of playing it and after about 3-4 years, I ended up moving it along through the late Ed Roman's East Coast Music in Danbury CT.
    I remember seeing Ed's ad in the back of various music magazines in the late 80s & early 90's and my old bass was clearly visible in the ad.
    I've always wondered where it ended up.
  15. vondran


    May 13, 2012
    I've played around alot with strap button positions and what you describe is common when you have button on the heal of the neck. Essentially the bass can pivot on the axis of the neck and having the strap come up behind the body, pushes the top out. One solution is to run the strap over the front of the bass near the bridge. The other option is you get used to play with the right foot forward as I found that helps keep it tilted back if it's hanging low. The other option is to wear it high (like SG players).
  16. if you get bored with it... I'll buy it.... and, we are almost neighbors... :p
  17. I've always played mine like this, and now when playing a smaller bodied bass I find myself missing that nice arm rest.
  18. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I'd go over to the Alembic forums and ask the same question.
  19. Hi.

    To an ALEMBIC :eek:

    You just have to be kidding.

    I've played mine (EPI LTD) that way as well. It's a rather strange feeling to switch to a "normal" shaped instrument after that.

    Without relocating either of the strap pins, the "roll over" will always be there since the majority of the body weight is above the line of balance. Running the strap over the rear horn helps, but I've never gotten used to playing that way.
    It's IME worse for Firebirds and Explorer guitars and You constantly see players of those instruments running their straps that way.

    You can obviously grow a belly large enough for the bass to lean against. Mine helps me, that's for sure :).

  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I tried so hard to like the Explorer shape. I love to look at it and I thought I looked quite badass with one. But these issues plus the left arm reach being very long, and I had to give it up.