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When tuning, the strings 'snap'/'jump'

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by johnny_bolt, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Hi Everyone, I'm not sure how to describe this, but it happens when turning the tuning machine up to the correct pitch. I re-tune when necessary by always tuning up. I first tune low, pull the string a pull times to get out some tension, and then tune up.

    This is a new set of paper-wrapped rockabilly strings that were put on for me. I've played on the bass for a couple of hours now, so the strings aren't totally new at this point, and I've retuned it many times.

    My other upright has jazz strings and I never have this issue. It also stays in tune like a rock.

    From my electric bass experience, this is usually attributed to the strings getting caught up at the nut. Is that pretty much the diagnosis? And if so, is there a remedy?

  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    One remedy I've read about is to rub some graphite on the nut. It's also worth looking very closely and seeing if the grooves in the nut are wide enough for the strings.

    But even with mainstream strings, a couple hours is still new. It might be worth giving it a few days.

    On my own bass, there's still some "snap and jump" on the two nylon-cored strings, even after a couple years of use, but the steel cored strings on E and A are rock solid and very well behaved.
    equill and johnny_bolt like this.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It might be hanging up at the bridge as well...
    fdeck likes this.
  4. Graphite is likely the answer to this problem. I use a pencil to get it into the slots of the nut, and it works nicely on both guitar and bass.
    Thanks to Ed Fuqua's suggestion, I'll start applying it to the bridge of my upright as well.
  5. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    I don't know about those particular stings, but you did bring up a good point in your first paragraph.
    I have always tuned upward on my basses. If a string is sharp, I too, always tune down (below) and then upward to the desired pitch. Tuning upward keeps the string taut and easier to control. When tuning downward, the string loosens and flattens in unpredictable increments.
    Just my way. Works for me.
  6. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to buy some graphite lubricant or jsut find a pencil. Great idea.

    I'm not sure about the string sizing. I'm going to take the bass to a guy here in town and see what he says.
  7. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    good thread y'all, thanks for the tips
  8. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Curious, are you all referring to the creaking sound a bass can make when tuning past certain point? I know my rental and current bass always do that when making larger tuning adjustments.
  9. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    > the creaking sound

    Yep. FWIW, I brought the bass to my teacher yesterday and he wasn't concerned. (I am, because I want my bass to be perfect, lol.) He said it was just the strings 'slipping' because they're new.
  10. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    'Sounds like the nut slots are a little tight and the string outer wrap is binding.
  11. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Morro Bay, CA
    Graphite on the nut, as others have said, is the most likely cause. While your "lubing it up," spread some graphite in the bridge grooves too!
    johnny_bolt likes this.
  12. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    Thanks! So, really just rubbing a #2 pencil around in each slot will do it? Or should I get a $6 tube of powdered graphite lubricant?
  13. A pencil is fine.
  14. johnny_bolt

    johnny_bolt Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    And this reminded me to report back: a pencil completely fixed the problem.

    I loosened each string a bit, one by one. And with a pencil I had lying around, painted its nut groove black. No more noise when tuning, and it's staying in tune much better too.

    Thanks, everyone!
    equill likes this.
  15. I have a 8B pencil just for that purpose, works great! ;)