Tweaking a weak E

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bebopalamabama, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. I'm completely new to the DB. I bought a Strunal bass from Thomann recently. It arrived with a set of strings that most people think are only 'so good'.

    However it sounded pretty much OK, and I also ordered a set of Spirocore Weich at the same time as I thought having done research on this site that they might make learning a bit easier than the strings that came on the bass.

    I took the bass to a local luthier and he sorted out the bridge (which was not setup well at Thomann) and the action at the nut, did a bit of work on the fingerboard for me and replaced the soundpost. He then strung it for me with the Spirocore Weich's

    Now the playability is greatly improved but the E string now sounds substantially less good than the A-D strings. The other strings have a really good tone, a great 'mwah' and volume.

    The E in contrast now seems to lack sustain in comparison and sounds dull compared to the others, I think the volume is about 25% less.

    I tuned the A string down to E and it sounded louder than the actual E string, obviously its too light a string to be tuned that low, so I kind of think that it proves the instrument as a whole doesn't lack the ability to sound an E, so maybe its the string, the soundpost or something else.

    The luthier said the original position of the soundpost as supplied by Thomann was 'unconventional', but it seemed to be in the range of positions that people suggest is OK on forums like this one.

    My gut feel is that I might need a 'second opinion' on the soundpost position.

    The original luthier suggests that I should put a heavier gauge string in the E position, but I feel I should make sure the soundpost is optimised before tweaking other variables.

    I am aware that my playing technique is probably not yet there for the E string, and I now know it might require different technique to the other strings, but even if I just clamp it down or play it open, it has not got the charisma of the other strings, so I don't believe its just my beginners incompetence that is at the root of this.

    Any other advice that might help me at this point?
  2. Could be a defective string. It happens.
  3. I'll put the old one back on and see if that gives an indication
    Michal Herman likes this.
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    You could try the old post back in its old position, too... I think I'd give the bass a little time to settle in first, though.
    powerbass likes this.
  5. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Nashville TN
    It depends bass to bass. my carved bass sounds great with a full set of mediums and sounds very even with a set of weich. My hybrid sounds uneven with a full set of medium spiros but the heavy E evens it out.
    Bebopalamabama likes this.
  6. The fundamental problem, pun intended, is that the corpus of a typical 3/4 bass is too small to pump fundamental of low notes. It’s all a workaround.
    powerbass and DoubleMIDI like this.
  7. Yes but, the A string dropped to E sounds better than the E itself, so I think more is possible
    Sam Dingle likes this.
  8. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    As the Sheriff first mentioned, you may just have a bad E string. It's much easier to rule that out first before having more changes made to your sound post.
  9. The E of the 4/4 Weich set is a bit weak when new. The A sounds better because it has a smaller diameter and is more flexible.
    Strings get longer over time and more flexible. Play the E a lot and loud with the bow (as well as the other strings) after a few weeks or months they will get better.
    Cheez and Bebopalamabama like this.
  10. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris

    Nov 17, 2006
    Brighton, MI
    Keep in mind that the Player’s Perspective is not always accurate in terms of the sound/tone being projected from the instrument.

    I think we’ve all perceived some kind of deficiency on our instruments to have it sound totally fine 10 feet out front.

    I’m not saying there isn’t an issue, just that the player doesn’t always get the full picture.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I am in the habit of pretty much automatically using a heavier E string than the rest of the set. For Spirocores, that would mean Weich G-D-A and Mittel E, or Mittel G-D-A and Stark E.
  12. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Nashville TN
    I currently have 2 basses that feel better and more even this way. One bass sounds perfectly balanced with a full set of spiro mediums, but the juzek and hybrid both have loose feeling E strings compared to the rest of the set.
    Bebopalamabama likes this.
  13. tsheldon


    Jun 20, 2005
    Western New York
    Before doing anything I would first have someone else play the bass and listen to what it sounds like out in front.

    I had the pleasure of playing the LaFaro Prescott which was on loan from ISB to my preferred luthier. I couldn’t believe the bass had such a weak “E” string especially after hearing it on so many records. My luthier proceeded to play it while I stood in front and it was super powerful.

    The low notes just present differently to the player on many basses.
  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Most basses that I have played have a slightly weaker E. Maybe that's just the nature of the beast? Maybe you miss the 'tump' because there is no string below?

    Possible solution as suggested above is to put a slightly thicker E string on it. It will help a little bit but not totally solve it. Not sure how much they can do with the soundpost if only one string is weak?
    Bebopalamabama likes this.
  15. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    Play it facing a stone wall up close and see if it still sounds weak.

    And as others have pointed out: its a brand new bass, with a newly positioned soundpost, new strings and a newbie player: play it as much as you can for a few weeks or months, let it al settle in and then repeat the facing the wall test.

    Unless you’re having a few gigs lined up with that bass I’d first give it some time.
    gnypp45 and Povl Carstensen like this.
  16. Loads of great advice, thanks for all the ideas and insights.

    I put on the Mittel from the Spirocore set and it made quite a bit of difference straight away and has improved further since then.

    I love the organic nature of an instrument like this and they way it matures over time like a good wine or whisky.

    I'm completely new to the DB as well, so of course as I practice I'm able to get better sounds out of it as well. Its such an enjoyable journey. Today I found myself playing some of the opening of Ron Carters 'Loose Change", its such a fantastic trip.
  17. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    A trick that sometimes helps if your strings have a ball end is threading the E backwards through the tailpiece - so the ball is in front. This'll give a sharper angle and a tiny bit more tension to the E and it might speak more forcefully.
  18. Tried that trick. Didn’t do much.

    The OP would be better off finding a way to reduce the mass of their instrument. Lightweight individual tuning machines, lighter tailpiece if OP plays pizz only, hollow or wooden endpin.

    The instrument should be just sturdy enough not to tear itself apart or break easily. More weight means less sound.