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What's with the A string?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Fretless55, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. This could be posted in both the EB & DB forums.

    But with my six EBs and two DBs the A string is always "unique"...

    Sometimes "chourusy" or clacky or buzzy or whatever, but almost always different than its EDG brethren... (And I've used many,many different strings on both)

    I understand the ol' 440 is the standard. But the A always seems different.

    Is it music theory, physics or an act of god?

    Preemptively I'll give you, I might just be crazy...

    I really would be interested to hear from those who might know more.

  2. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Just say no to drugs and you'll be fine.
  3. Oh Jeez, thanks for that. But seriously folks?
  4. Your not the only one ! On my P-bass I also hear the A string
    "chourusy". Even after I switched from Fender Stainless strings to DR sunbeams. Maybe it´s because there is no string tree on the headstock ?
  5. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I think it just depends on the nuances of your bass and whether your setup/strings/pickups/playing/amp counteracts or enhances them.

    Even unplugged my main player has an upper midrange emphasis on the A string, a spike around 10k on the G string(especially noticeable when slapping), the E string is strongest around 300hz with some wolf tones between A and D, and the D string has about half the sustain as the other strings with subdued upper treble.
  6. +1, I thought I was crazy when I was hearing a chorus sound on the A string of an American PBass I had. The only thing that fixed it was putting flats on it. Or maybe it just diminished it beyond my hearing capacity.
  7. The A string was always a problem for Fenders. Even mine. I had to unwrap and rewrap it multiple times once so I can get that bloody buzz away.
  8. Thanks for the (pertinent) responses.

    Even with flats (fenders and TIs/ Innos. On the DBS) it's there.

    Very curious...
  9. This was the standard set by Adolf Hitler to fill us all with rage.
    I have a friend that actually believes that. To me it just sounds like a Baroque A# :rolleyes:
    damn kids and their crazy pills
  10. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Common problem with Fenders.
  11. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters

    Folklore... always fascinating.
  12. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    Nah, it's a real thing. It's usually the string needs to be wound as low as possible to give it some break angle. If the string is level it can vibrate up and down, and in doing so can widen the nut if you are an aggressive player. string trees sometimes help on the D and G strings, but you don't usually have them on the A due to its size. Make sure the A is tight in the nut and deep enough. I've made the mistake of not having them seated well and you get the vibrating chorusy buzz.
  13. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Yep, certainly on instruments with a Fender-style headstock and no string tree, the A string can create a buzz in the nut if the break angle isn't acute enough, and, if not that, the afterlength can vibrate, clashing with the note you're playing and causing that 'chorus' effect. It can play havoc when trying to intonate the instrument, tune it, or just play in tune. String retainers on Fender basses (all of them) are way overdue.

    On, double basses I think it has more to do with the resonating frequency of the body clashing with the pitch frequency, in many cases around an A. My bass does it on a G. Bowing a stopped G on the E string can actually be a real struggle at times - it's like you can literally feel the frequencies tugging at each other.

    From Wikipedia:

    "A wolf tone, or simply a "wolf", is produced when a played note matches the natural resonating frequency of the body of a musical instrument, producing a sustaining sympathetic artificial overtone that amplifies and expands the frequencies of the original note, frequently accompanied by an oscillating beating (due to the uneven frequencies between the natural note and artificial overtone) which may be likened to the howling of the animal. A similar phenomenon is the beating produced by a wolf interval, which is usually the interval between E♭ and G♯ of the various non-circulating temperaments."

    There is probably a thread on it somewhere, but I'm lazy. Does anyone know about solid-bodies doing the same thing?
  14. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011
    Re: the wolf notes, yes solid bodies do the same thing. I have had it around 4th fret on the E string, the Ab, on several of my Fenders.

    To the OP: do you wind the strings on there yourself, or do you have a tech or luthier or something that you deliver the instruments to when they get serviced and they change the strings for you?

    In my experience (particularely with flatwounds) if the string is coiled around itself as it goes from the nut to the bridge, you can get uneven sustain etc from the other strings (that aren't coiled around themselves).
  15. OP here: Thanks for the response.

    Actually I'm very meticulous in stringing up both my EBs and DBs so I'm thinking that's not the source.

    But I really do appreciate all replies and suggestions!
  16. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006

    It's exactly this. I've got a few Fender Ps and they all do this depending on the string you use, the gauge, and the angle going to the tuning post. If you use round wound, you really need to wrap the string around quite a bit and move it to the bottom of the post as you wind. It's not so noticeable with flats because they have less overtones. It's not very noticeabe in a mix either. I hear it more when I'm not plugged in.
  17. Exactly...in 15 years of playing Fenders never had a problem like that...as long as you get that A string nice and low on the post you'll be fine.

    How to Install Bass Strings Correctly
  18. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Not to shoot down all the theories....
    But on my Spector 6 string with 35" scale and an angled headstock with no string trees/retainers, all 6 strings have the same break angle.
    I often get the chorus like effect on my (open) A.
  19. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008

    Which is why I mentioned wolf tones on stringed instruments.
  20. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    My headstock is neither Fender style, nor does it happen all of the time.
    Sometimes a different set of strings (same brand and guage) will solve it.
    I've also had this happen on the E string on occasion, but not neccessarily on this bass.
    Also, only when the strings are fresh and clean.

    Not trying to argue. Just wanted to point out that I've had this happen on basses that don't meet the design criteria of many of the theories being put forward.

    This thread caught my eye as the A string on my current set on my 6 is doing this now.
    Just for experimentation I muted the afterlenths above the nut. No change.