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Uneven volume between strings

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Luke Warm Water, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. Luke Warm Water

    Luke Warm Water Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    San Diego
    Not sure if anyone's brought this up, but I'm interested to know the possible answers to this question -

    Why is it that my D string has no real bottom end or presence, while the rest of the strings are just fine?

    I have a Warmoth 4-Jazz (Bart pups & preamp) with a solid bubinga neck - awesome. E-string, A-string, and G...all in the house. But when I play a note on my D string, it's pointless. Totally drowns out.

    I've noticed this kind of thing consistently with basses - uneven bottom end between different strings. So the big questions are:
    Why does this happen?
    And is there anyway to avoid this when building my next bass?

    Looking forward to some insight.

    Appreciate it.
  2. Some questions:
    Does it seem bad acoustically as well as when plugged in?
    Does it happen played open, or fretted, or both?
    If when fretted, is it better or worse on different parts of the neck?
    Have you tried a different string?
  3. Luke Warm Water

    Luke Warm Water Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    San Diego
    Great questions.
    Seems fine acoustically.
    Pretty sure even open is weak.
    Is consistent on all parts of the neck.
    Basically I just know that if I go to that string, it's going to drown out a bit...or a lot in certain situations.
    I've used different strings, but honestly haven't monitored it very closely. This is worth looking into.

  4. Well, if it seems fine acoustically we have a bit of a mystery since that says the string is OK.....and the pickups are blade style if I'm remembering right.. How about soloing one pickup, then the other?
    Longshot--any chance the D string isn't the same as the others? If for example you had nickel strings for E, A and G but a stainless string on D, the D would have less output.
  5. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Check the magnetic pull from the polepieces in the pickup. See if the poles near the D string are weaker.
    Touch the polepieces with a small screwdriver or similar steel object and note the force required to pull it away.

    (edited - just noticed the magnets are blade type, so this does not apply)

  6. Ordinarily a good call but these are Barts....they have blades.
  7. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Yes, just caught that.

    Odd problem if it's not the string though.

    It appears the D note on the A string is ok, but not the open D strring?

  8. frozenbolt


    Jan 28, 2013
    Just throwing this out there, as I don't really know that pup.

    Could it be a cracked winding under the D string?

    Is it possible to flip the pup around and see if the problem moves to the A string?

    Just brainstorming, here....
  9. Luke Warm Water

    Luke Warm Water Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    San Diego
    Appreciate the thoughts so far. I've always figured it was just something about the wood. I've played a lot of basses where the volume is pretty uneven. The best I can describe it is it's like one of the strings doesn't have a preamp...present, but thin.
  10. Hello I've also experienced this (weak D string) recently when I replaced my dead original 72 bridge pickup on my Fender 72 Jazz, I put in an Aguilar AG70 Jazz pickup which was weak as compared to the original Fender, so I raised the bridge pickup and it got better, but not at par with the originals. It's really hard to endure a "lemon" like that so I will replace the whole pickup set with new ones soon. :)
    I hope you were able to remedy yours.
  11. GK Breivik

    GK Breivik

    Apr 23, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I actually have this same problem with my active Frankenjazz. The open D is noticeably softer than the other open strings. The D on the A string not so much, it seems OK. The D on the G string has a pretty pronounced dead spot, though, so I’m thinking that may have something to do with it.

    I’m going to try adding a washer underneath the string tree on the headstock. Maybe the added mass will move the dead spot. Hopefully this will help the open string too. The only other thing I’ve been able to think of is that maybe the string slot in the nut is cut too wide, causing the sting to lose energy there.

    Thoughts welcome.
  12. GK Breivik

    GK Breivik

    Apr 23, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I've done some more experimenting. On my bass the open D is thinner and softer than the other strings, and the 12th fret harmonic is A LOT thinner and softer than the fretted 12th fret. This strengthens my theory that the nut is the culprit.

    Does your bass behave in the same way?
  13. GK Breivik

    GK Breivik

    Apr 23, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    OK, I'm not sure if anybody's following this thread, but I thought I'd share some more findings on my bass.

    The weird thing is that the open D and especially the 12th fret harmonic sound a bit dead, but only with the bass in standard tuning.
    A whole step up or down, and the problem is GONE.
    Fretted notes are even and full sounding.

    Compared to most of my basses the G string really does'nt have too much of a dead note problem. A little on the seventh fret D, but actually not too bad.

    The brass nut was loose, so I glued it back in, and I even
    tried to swap out the Badass II with a Hipshot vintage bridge. That did not help, but I got another dead spot at b-c# on the G-string.
    That came back off.

    My bass has Hipshot Ultralight Tuners, and I might try to swap them for Jenz tuners that supposedly help with dead spots. But I dunno if it'll help for an open string.

    The only other thing I can think of is the neck joint. This bass is a 3 bolt, converted to four bolt. it has a longer rectangular neck plate than the standard Fender plates. It is made from brass.

    Hopefully this can give the OP some ideas, and if somebody wants to chime in with their thoughts on my bass, I'd appreciate it!

    GK Breivik
  14. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    have you played the bass through headphones? which model barts are they? try playing the open d with your left hand gripping the headstock (simulates more head stock mass), any difference? I'd say if the bass is behaving normally unplugged then it comes down to pickups etc.

    also, dimarzio model J pickups have individually adjustable polepieces so you can actually get excellent string-to-string balance.
  15. karl_em_all


    Jul 11, 2013
    Dimension X
    I would suggest taking your bass to have it set up by a professional (someone who does things like this for a living). When you get it back it should feel, sound, and play like a new instrument. The guy I take mine to about once a year explained a proper set up as a balancing act between the saddles, string type, truss rod, bridge, and pickups. Ask around for who does good work in your area and invest a few maintenance $$ in your gear. Worth it.
  16. pogipoints

    pogipoints Custom User Title Holder

    Dec 5, 2005
    Just throwing this out there:

    Could your pickups be for 5 string, with the gap between coils falling under the D string?

    Bart 9j & 59j are the same size.
  17. GK Breivik

    GK Breivik

    Apr 23, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    Well, I think I found my problem.

    The neck pocket looks terrible. The micro tilt plate sits below the surface, creating a gap, and there are at least 3 unused holes under there. I’m hoping that adding two more bolts to my neck plate, making it a six bolt arrangement will help. If not, I think it may take filling the hole for the micro tilt with a dowel, too.

    Does this sound plausible to you guys?

  18. Unfortunately no, it does not. I think you have a sad case D deadspot. If this problem goes away with alternate tunings as you described, it is what it is. Messing around with the neck pocket/additional screws won't do squat I'm afraid.
    Try playing with the headstock jammed against a wall. Does this change anything? If so....
    What MIGHT work is changing the mass of the headstock. Heavy tuners perhaps. Try a C clamp to see if there's any effect.
  19. GK Breivik

    GK Breivik

    Apr 23, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    Thanks for your input!

    Pressing the headstock against the wall does nothing, neither did a clamp on the headstock. Furthermore the fretted D on the A and E strings sound just fine. It’s just the open D, and 12th fret harmonic that sound off.

    I’ve tried:
    Different strings
    Different bridge
    Adding mass to the headstock

    Detuning gets rid of the problem, but is not something I can do permanently..

    I should have taken a pic of the neck pocket. There is quite a bit of area that does not contact the underside of the neck.
  20. butcher


    May 24, 2011
    Is the sound just quieter in general or does the strength of the note taper / fade away rather quickly?

    Have you tried a different gauge string in that position? One that would change the tension on the neck?

    Depending on what you have on there now, some string manufacturers provide a tension chart at different tunings. Perhaps you could get one that has the similar tension at D as did the tuning up/down. Probably better off with trying the lighter tension first :)

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