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Too much percussive 'thud'?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by punkjazzben, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Hi all,

    Bit of a strange question to do with jazz technique. My bass's bridge/string height is set for classical playing (maybe a bit lower, because when it was done - now a long time ago - my teacher was one of Rabbath's students and oversaw the whole thing), and I'm using Corelli TXs.

    I find the setup easy enough for jazz and I don't mind the sound - except for one component of it. I have a fairly strong right hand attack, fingers along the string, and letting the finger rest on the next string down as it comes through - 'rest strokes' I suppose you'd say.

    Problem is, there is a very loud, very percussive thud sounding when my finger comes through to the next string. The thud is louder than the note itself when I'm using a piezo and amp, and this is probably the biggest practical problem. Most of my favourite players have some 'thud' in their sound, but this is too overpowering, especially playing amplified.

    I can reduce the thud by plucking away from the fingerboard, rather than across it. But this sounds thin and weak - there is no definition. I can also reduce it by easing my attack. But this is just not loud enough and I don't get that lovely growl or 'mwah' from the strings.

    Now, I'm wondering if perhaps someone might be able to offer a suggestion. Do I need to lower the strings? Do I need higher output strings (I have a set of D'Addario Heliocore Hybrids sitting around)? Is my right hand technique all wrong? Perhaps I need to have a new setup with the right strings for a softer attack.
  2. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    My guess is that it's your pickup (too sensitive). What are you using to amplify: pickup, preamp, amp? Might need to dial out some frequencies.
  3. I'd get the action up a bit and try thicker strings. D'adarrios sound really dead, but spriocore solos tuned regular may be a good next step. You will get more of a jazz sound and not loose any responsiveness to the bow.
  4. +1
  5. You might try moving your right hand up the board a little. That might mellow the attack a little...
  6. Fat bob

    Fat bob Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2013
    It is only when amplified?? Which pickup? Any preamp? I know when I briefly tried a k&k pickup w/out preamp I got only loud thud...
  7. contrabart


    Mar 19, 2010
    What makes you think he's talking about an amplified sound?
  8. contrabart


    Mar 19, 2010
    -1. I have Helicore Hybrids, medium tension on my bass and they don't sound dead at all. Enough sustain, nice growl and enough power.
    I'd say experiment with string height, which is easy when you have an adjustable bridge. If you're not sure about your right hand technique, ask someone that sounds good in your opinion for help.
    If you are talking about too much thud when amplified with a pickup, I used to have the same problem. High action and strong right hand will get you problems. Ever since using a mic I've had no problems.
  9. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    From the first post -- it's both un- and amplified, but worse in the latter case.

    I had those Corellis on for a very short time -- hated them. I wonder if you're having to attack so hard because the volume and tone from the strings is so weak. Switching to Evah weichs, and now Garbos, vastly improved things for me, and especially with the Evahs, I didn't have to work so hard for the tone. The Garbos are a little more work on the left hand, but I love the sound.
  10. contrabart


    Mar 19, 2010
    I stand corrected and apologize.
  11. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Thanks for all your responses! Unfortunately I don't have an adjustable bridge, but if I were to have any string height adjustments done by my luthier, I would ask him to fit an adjustable bridge at the time (he's four hours away and I have got to stop relying on him for small things like changing the action).

    I was thinking about the Corellis the other day. They are nice solo strings - crisp and bright - but I would agree that they lack the volume and 'thickness' of tone that you usually want in an ensemble situation. I'll give the Hybrids another go this week, and then if that doesn't work out I will search for a new string set (something easy on the left hand - any jazzers use weedwhackers? Ha! Well, I'm kind of serious...)
  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    also -1. The topic starter says he uses Corelli's right now. My Helicore/D'addario hybrids are not dead sounding. They have much sustain and sound good for pizz also. I also have tried the Correllis but they sound very weak compared to Spirocores or Helicores. Also the pizz sound was not very bright and not loud at all. So I would suggest that the topic starter tries different strings first before anything else.

    Also he said it is both acoustically and amplified so it is not pickup that is the problem. The pickup only exaggerates what's already there in the first place.
  13. I seem to remember Ray Brown revealing that, after playing through the string his fingers would hit the fingerboard and that was an important element to his sound. He said the combination of the two gave his notes more authority. I always thought of that like a bass drum shoring up your notes from below. My instinct is that you're not drawing a big sound from your bass. Occasionally ill play someone's bass who has the string height so low that I can barely get a sound out of it. Can you measure your heights at the end of the board so we can get a better sense of what we're talking about or better yet, make us a video and either drop box it or throw it up on YouTube. Is there a way to play some other basses, maybe another local player and experiment on their bass? It really sounds like a set up issue.

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