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Which wood brings out the most mwah??

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DigMe, Oct 2, 2002.


  1. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I'm guessing that a lot of the bloom that you hear on a fretless is probably created by the material used for the fingerboard. Is this correct? If so then which wood do you feel really ups the "mwah factor?" My feeling is that it would be some kind of harder wood. This is all speculative on my part.

    Whaddaya think?

    brad cook
     
  2. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I find it hard to believe that no luthiers have any opinion on this. Anyone? At least correct me if any of the above thoughts are wrong!

    brad cook
     
  3. neptoon

    neptoon

    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    ok...i'll bite...the wood or coating on the fingerboard does have something to do with this effect...but also, don't forget about the action of the string. in my very limited experience, a fretless set up with low action will yield more of a mwah than the same bass set up with higher action. this will yield more of a thump, as mwah, from what i understand, is actually the string buzzing against the fingerboard on the bridge side of your fingertip in conjunction with the resonance of the wood it is vibrating against.
     
  4. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I firmly believe mwah is in the fingers.
     
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    What he said. Really, I find you can get your mwah with any reasonable fingerboard wood, the right setup, and good technique.

    Durability and texture are bigger concerns when it comes time to select a wood. Ebony is my first choice, morado is also good, for fretless fingerboards.
     
  6. neptoon

    neptoon

    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    i agree with jazzbo as well...the amount of pressure one applies to a string or movement of the finger will serve to enhance or dampen mwah.
     
  7. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Yep I agree with the above statements about fingers and low action, but just to add to the wood question -I really like purpleheart fingerboards for fretless. It has all the hardness of ebony, but doesn't compress the notes as much. Coated boards do swell the note more, but I find they have a pingy attack I don't like.
    LM
     
  8. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Cool! Thanks for the feedback (even though I had to drag it outta ya! :)).

    I don't play fretless but am thinking about starting sometime within the next year (after I find a job and get the money to buy a fretless bass). So I was just wanting to know what I should be looking for in order to get that sound. I didn't know that the mwah had that much to do with the technique. I'll have to experiment with that the next time I'm in the music store.

    brad cook
     
  9. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I'll be trying ziricote for a fretless in the near future... we'll see if that changes my opinions any.

    All my fretli have ebony boards (one is coated), but I've played pau ferro and composites like ebanol... Each bass has such a different tone that it's hard to really say how much the FB contributes to it. The coated Pedulla board is the most noticeable difference- very bright/snappy. The ebanol was pretty zingy too.

    I've stated before that I've played on many fretli that just didn't have the mwah, so I feel like a large part of the recipe is setup/strings/instrument in general. Can't narrow it down too much further than that, but I do know that I can get it from some basses and not others, so I feel like it's less in the technique...

    I do feel you can definitely manipulate/accentuate it digitally(w/ your fongers, that is...) Lots o' nuance in there.
     
  10. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    So having said that...what kind of setup do you feel is conducive to mwah based on your experience?

    brad cook
     
  11. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    well, most everyone favors low action for mwah, but I like it kind of 'medium', works fine for me.
     
  12. effbee

    effbee

    Mar 9, 2002
    I once worked on a Carvin fretless that belongs to a music teacher, and her complaint was "it won't mwah". I tried lowering the action, discussing her technique, etc., but neither one of us could get a nice fretless sound out of it. It always had an instantanious attack which was suitable for rock, but not so much for jazz, which is what she plays. It had an ebony board and graphite neck reinforcement and felt as solid as a rock. I wonder... can you "overbuild" a fretless so that all the strings energy gets focused right back into the string? Thats what this felt like to me, tons of sustain but no tone. Lots of attack, but no mwah. I definitely agree that the mwah factor comes from technique, mostly, but I have found that some basses just mwah better than others. And in this case, some don't mwah at all.
    For me, Jatoba makes a nice fretless board. I'm also quite fond of Purpleheart.
    Fred
     
  13. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I just got an all-wenge uncoated, untreated fretless neck from Warmoth. I'm hoping for lots of MWAH with this one. My Rick Turner with Pau Fero fingerboard has it too.