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weak tone

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by frbass, May 1, 2003.


  1. frbass

    frbass

    Apr 27, 2003
    Vienna,Austria
    I got a full carved Strunal and the sound was like I expected but there is a weak (less Sustain) area between the F and the A on the E string. If I tune the A string down to the same notes it sounds also weak - so it sould be no problem of the fingerboard (string buzz) otherwise the same notes on ocatve higher don`t sound weak. I took the bass to a luthier and he adjusted the fingerboard, the soundpost, the bridge feets and put on new Spirocore. It`s a little bit better now but it`s still a big difference between the notes in this area and the rest. Does anyone have an idea what to do?:bawl:
     
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I think you either have too much fingerboard camber (scoop) in the area, or the bass' body just does not resonate that low. Causes can be an overly large bass bar, thick top, sloping shoulders, or a host of other ills. Bob...?
     
  3. If the Strunal is fairly new, it may just be a matter of it needing more time to get played in. However, I totally agree with Arnold that the problem is probably just the way the instrument is built. Mass produced instruments tend to be built overly heavy so that they will be stronger and able to take more punishment ass opposed to taking the time needed to tweek them for the best sound possible. Being carved only means that it's not laminated. It doesn't mean "hand made". A CNC carving machine can put out a hundred basses, and they will all have exactly the same graduation with no accounting for the vast differences in woods. Many of these instruments are quite good considering the price, but you can't expect them to sound or play like a truely hand made instrument from the hands of Arnold, Jeff or Nick for example.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'll probably get scoffed at for saying this ( **CKLLOAD, my current luthier-type personage of choice, already refers to me as "Mr. Picky" ), but on my bass I noticed that my E string growl, volume, and response speed improved dramatically when I scooted the bridge feet a bit over to the bass side. Nick's theory was that I probably accidentally whacked the bridge that way whilst putting it in the car early on in my ownership, and I got used to the sound.

    From what little I understand from the woodworking prismhead types here on the board, too thick of a bass bar can restrict and stifle the vibration of the top. The best way to remedy this is to have the bass bar adjusted (shaved/planed down) to where it's more responsive. However, on cheaper instruments, this can be prohibitively expensive. On my anonymous middle of the road new carved bass, I seem to have accidentally discovered the "unrecommended" way to get more bass response, which is to edge one side of the bass bridge foot slightly onto the top, which gets the top vibrating in a way which benefits the E string volume and tone (at least on my bass). Mind you, I'm not recommending this as a solution (as I don't wish to be planed and sanded to death by any of the "woodies" around here), but it did seem to help my bass, and I'm a'keepin' it that way until I can afford to do the thing right or get a better instrument. Fortunately, I'm thick skinned enough to let the scorn and derision from the luthier contingent roll off whenever they decide to apply it. :) YMMV.
     
  5. OK Chris - I don't want to get picky with you, but exactly what do you mean by "edge one side of the bass bridge foot slightly onto the top"? Where is the foot of the bridge sitting in relation to the bass bar (before and after)? and...Has it occurred to you that by moving the bridge in relation to the bass bar, you changed it's location in relation to the sound post too? I'm sure you are familiar with the change in sound of a bass by moving the sound post in-out or up-down. Convince me that it is the bass bar change rather than the sound post change!
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm not sure I can do that, but I can try...I've taken the bass up to visit DR. LLOYD for adjustments, and he's been very patient with my fussiness. The first time, he did some FB dressing and a soundpost adjustment, and noted in passing before taking the bridge down that it was over too far to the bass side. After the adjustments, all of the strings sounded really good except for the E string, which had lost its voice. After a few frustrating gigs, I remembered what he had said about the placement of the bridge when I brought it in, and said "what the hell" and moved it back over to where it had been. Immediately, the E string improved. I took it back later to see if we could get the same effect with a soundpost adjustment, and he patiently tried for several hours to get that sound with the bridge sitting where it was supposed to be, and made some inroads. but once I got it home and played it on a few gigs, I still felt it was lacking and scooted it back again, and immediately the growl and presence returned, only this time so much so the better because Nick had improved the soundpost placement already.

    I had emailed Arnold about the situation, and he said that sometimes on a bass with a thick top like mine, a wider bridge blank will bring out the bass response. I asked Nick about that, and it turns out that my Aubert bridge is already the largest stock width available. In both my own and Nick's defense, I didn't have to move the bridge very far, and I understand that moving it a bit off of the support of the bar is not a great idea structurally, which is why he wanted to try everything possible to avoid it. But each time, there was the sound when I moved it. The same does NOT hold true, however, for my American Standard, whose sound turned to mud when I tried the same thing out of curiosity.

    I don't know if that's proof or not, but it's what happened. Nick's a great guy to work with, and as Arnold explained to me in a PM, when he calls me "Mr. Picky", that roughly translates into "Hey, you're a Bass Player". I suspected that already, but was glad to see my suspicion confirmed. :)
     
  7. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Mr. Picky (or Durrl for those of you who haven't worked on his bass) is a very special customer. I always look foward to seeing him... leave.

    (is that too thick?)

    Chris' bass does have a more pronounced low-end when the bridge sits closer to the bass ff-hole; i.e. more over the bassbar.
    I tried to reproduce the geometry of this by recentering the bridge, and setting the soundpost closer to the treble ff-hole. Results- more low end presence, but not as much as the off-centered bridge. To make matters more interesting, his bridge blank is about pretty wide- 165mm if memory serves. A 175mm blank would just be too damn big for his bass.
    Actually, his top is quite stiff, and the bassbar could use some weightloss. But, he's saving up his money to buy a carved Shen...


    frbass-
    I've played other Strunals that didn't have much low-end. Bob's right about factory carved basses being thick and heavy. Obviously, it's hard to talk about your instrument; we haven't seen it.
    Where did the soundpost sit/ where does it sit now?
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    nyuk, nyuk, nyuk....
     
  9. Nick - just for the sake of discussion, let me propose a different way of looking at the situation. I think that you and Chris are looking at the wrong foot of the bridge for the source of improvement. Why not say the bass sounds better when the G foot is closer to the center seam? If that is the case, perhaps you need to install a bridge with narrower feet rather than wider so that the E foot remains in its original postion but with the G foot is positioned where the existing bridge's G foot is when the bridge is moved. Because of the stiffness of the plate under the E foot, I can't think of a logical acoustic reason for that to be the cause of improvement. However, the G side (being relitively flexible) position change could change the position of the nodes (the vibrating and non-vibratings areas of the plate) very easily.
     
  10. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Well, there could be something to that... next time Chris makes it to Sincity, we'll fuss and fool around some more.