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weight and sustain

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AndyPanda, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. I have an old Yamaha BB2000 that came out around the same time as the SG2000 guitar that Carlos Santana had a hand in. According to legend, Santana believed that the heavier the guitar - the better it sounded (or at least more sustain) ... so Yamaha put a heavy brass weight under the bridge. The weight is not fastened to the bridge - the weight is fastened to the body.

    The brass weight in the guitars is well known ... but I couldn't find any ads or reviews mentioning a brass block on the bass.

    Anyway - I pulled the bridge off my BB2000 and there is a heavy brass weight screwed into the body. I pulled the brass block out and weighed it - nearly half a pound.

    I played the bass for a bit and the only difference I notice is that the bass feels so much better on my shoulder :)

    I'm not saying there isn't a difference ... I'm just saying I couldn't hear or feel a difference other than the comfort of less weight.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I have never noticed a correlation between weight and sustain on a bass.

    And I have never played a bass (be it light or heavy) that didn't sustain long enough. I have had a couple of Fenders with the classic 5th fret C on the G string dead spot. But even that sustained long enough. Just not as long as other notes on the same bass.

    I guess I have never played a song that required a note sustaining for 20 seconds either.
    Winfred, Atshen, Eikari and 3 others like this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    .. .. ...so I would enjoy your bass half pound lighter and not worry about it. Those basses are sweet anyway.
    kcole4001 likes this.
  4. Well, from a Physics perspective, it's a double edged sword, because:

    Once the instrument is resonating it should remain so for longer given more mass.

    Getting the whole instrument to resonate becomes more difficult with more mass.
    gebass6, mantaraya and FourBanger like this.
  5. I've been searching a bit more. Apparently Alembic used to put brass blocks under the bridge (found one post saying that all the brass hardware added up to 1.5 pounds) ... and there were some posts suggesting some alliance between Alembic and the early Yamaha BB2000.

    Anyway ... thought it was interesting to find that heavy brass block.
  6. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Even if I bought the weight/sustain thing,

    I'll take the savings in weight any time. :thumbsup:
  7. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    On all my basses it's more sustain and wait cause we're gonna be here a while. And weight has nothing to do with it.
    Billybladez66 likes this.
  8. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    And even if i bought the weight/sustain thing (which I don't), I would think the weight would need to be with the wood (body/neck), not some metal weight bolted on somewhere. :)
    Billybladez66 likes this.
  9. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Done correctly, it is a way to enhance resonance of which sustain plays a role. It effectively grounds the bass more dynamically. The whole "high mass bridge" trend is the easy way (by simply adding the bridge) to move toward this.
  10. I have thought about this many times, especially since moving to lighter and lighter basses. I don't believe simple weight alone is the deciding factor on sustain. In fact I bought a lightweight used Tune last summer and noticed right away that it sustained better/longer than most of my basses. (20) in case of point it surprised me so much I timed it at just under a full minute audible, through an amp at low volume. I was shocked, the bridge is high mass but the bass is just a maple topped mahogany body. I think the bass is around 8.5 lbs. IRRC.
  11. I happen to think the differences all these little "tricks" for improving sustain are laughable compared to the additional sustain I get with my compressor pedal.
    Fat Steve and cheechi like this.
  12. I put a steel block in the floating bridge of my Strat & the sustain was improved, but that has more to do with the transfer of the string vibration, or perhaps less transference to the body.

    I think that if you could isolate the vibration to be only between the bridge & nut, you would have the greatest sustain, but I think that's impossible w/o dampening the strings.

    In other words, I'm imagining a world where the body of the guitar/bass did not vibrate, but the strings did.

    I wonder if those metal to metal aluminum guitars & basses have better sustain over wooden guitars & basses.
    gebass6 and distortion81 like this.
  13. barginkov


    Feb 1, 2012
    L.I. New York
    I have had many heavy fender an misc man basses that have sounded great and some not that great .. I have sadowsky metro 8 lbs on the nose and sounds great. I think some sound better than others.regardless of being heavy or light.FWIW
  14. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I haven't noticed a correlation between weight and sustain, but bridge design, neck stiffness, and overall structural rigidity seem to affect it. For example, when I replaced the bridge on an MIM Jazz with a Gotoh, I noticed a more focused tone, with more sustain. The most sustain I've experienced is on my G&L USA M-2500, which has a high mass bridge, ultra-stiff quartersawn neck, and six-bolt neck attachment.
    JustForSport likes this.
  15. My sustainiest bass is a Rob Allen Mouse 30 that weighs about 5.5lbs.

    I used to think more weight meant more sustain. When I was a guitarist, a heavy USA Gibson had more sustain than a cheapo basswood import. There was a little more to it than weight. ;)
  16. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Rigidity adds to sustain. I think that it's easier to get rigidity with heavier woods but it's by no means exclusive to heavier woods. Chip Todd told a great story about how he and Hartley Peavey disagreed over this and that Hartley insisted that the T40/T60 line be heavy.
    Rodger Bryan and M.R. Ogle like this.
  17. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    As an assistant recoding engineer many years, a band was working on a piece of music that had a section that called for holding a single bass note for something like 4 measures without volume loss. The bassist didn’t like the sound of an 1176 or an LA2A to help with this.
    The senior engineer, went into the shop and came back with a regular C-clamp. Putting this on the headstock made a huge difference.

    OTOH, I have had a pile of Fender basses that had plenty of sustain regardless of weight.
    The only bass that has proven to have more is my neck through Spector.
    Perhaps that makes a difference.
  18. jbd5015


    Nov 23, 2009
    Boalsburg, PA
    Weight isnt going to change much. For a bolt on neck, id say the joint is the most important factor to sustain. Im having a bass refinished, shaped, and weight reduced. Its a parts bass, so the fit was pretty bad. Hoping to have some conclusive results when its finished. The neck pocket will be addressed and tightened up as much as possible.

    Also switching from a neck plate to countersunk style washers with BIG screws.

    Easy/cheap way to combat this problem? Compressor!!
  19. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Stiffness of the neck and the mass/hardness of the bridge and frets are the key factors in normal sustain. Normal, as opposed to getting sustain from amp feedback.

    The stiffer the neck, the less vibration it absorbs. The harder and more massive the frets and bridge are, the more vibration gets reflected back into the string, not absorbed by the wood underneath.

    That's why arguing over the effect of wood on tone is usually pointless. A fretless with a low mass bridge will sound completely different than a bass with extra jumbo frets and a super high mass bridge, even if the bodies and necks are made of the same woods. Same goes for one piece necks vs multi-piece laminates.
    JustForSport likes this.
  20. Khronic

    Khronic Richard J. Naimish Banned

    Oct 24, 2006
    Grand Junction, CO.
    "Tone sustaining capability of a string is a direct function of the rigidity of it's endpoint connections"....C. Leo Fender This is from one of his patents.

    I've been at it over forty-five years and to this day all the best sounding and playing Basses I've ever touched had one common characteristic, they were all live instruments. You feel as well as hear a live instrument. For me this tactile feedback has always been hand in hand with all the sustain I've ever needed.

    Even neck throughs work as a construction. Drop a half pound of brass, or pretty much anything else, into that construction and it will definitely change the sound, unless it somehow changes the rigidity of the end point connections it should have no effect on sustain.

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