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why can't I pull the fundamental, why am I pulling the harmonic?

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by orbit2021, Oct 31, 2010.


  1. orbit2021

    orbit2021

    Mar 12, 2009
    Spokane, WA
    i seem to have fairly big issues with pulling the fundamental note, rather than the harmonic (as if i were thumbing the 12th) when I am playing open A D G, SORT OF on E...its about 50/50 as far as my chances of getting either version of the note.

    I thought it was simply due to weight and positioning but it seems even though I feel that my use of the bow (I play german btw) is progressing, this continues to plague me. I don't have an issue when I am "fretting" a note but I do when it's an open string, and maybe I experience it to a much lesser degree when I am playing on the first or 2nd position. Also when i am "fretting" the 5th position i sometimes have the same issue where it comes, or starts out, as a harmonic. and sometimes it will shift back and forth between the two and be very warbly (bounces back and forth very fast)

    Is this a common issue? I can't find anything on the nets referring to anyone struggling with this.

    unfortunately my bass teacher plays french..the shop that he teaches in: the guy that runs it (a luthier) spotted immediately that my neck is at too steep of an angle (the end of the fingerboard is closer to the body than it should be), because when the neck was redone it wasnt set right or something like that. so my bridge is like at least an inch shorter than i think is "standard/average".. is it possible that the afterlength of the string, being shorter, due to the neck issue, is causing my strings to exhibit this sort of issue??
     
  2. PNeher

    PNeher

    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Wow! What a lot of stuff going on in your head! That's a good thing, but can sometimes interfere with "feeling" of what needs to be done to get what you want. You have brought up a complicated question with a complicated answer, but is fundamentally the same for everyone:
    Weight, Speed, Angles, and Placement (the four bow-use factors) must always be considered on ANY and ALL bowed (and many pizzicati) notes. If you are not getting a fundamental note, it is due to the relationship of these four factors: is the placement appropriate for the string length and sound quality you are after, is the speed proportionally considered with the weight and the angle (flat, side, perpendicular or not, and on one string or more), etc.? All factors effect and are dependent on the others. Likely, too, there may be a vibration issue with your bass. If open strings don't sound as easily as stopped (shorter string lengths), it could be the bass is not set-up well or made in proportions that work (in a shape that allows for full frequency vibration). It could be the neck issue you talk about here, and certainly how high the bridge is effects vibration, but I doubt THAT is why you were/are having trouble getting open strings to vibrate fully. MOST likely it is your technique, not the German or French design of the bow, nor the bass itself -- especially if it vibrates fine in pizzicato. Anyway, observe yourself in a mirror and bow open strings at about the end of the fingerboard (placement) with relaxed arm (weight), and an EVEN, steady pull (speed) with FLAT hair (angles) straight- perpedicularily to the string (not the bass).
    Best of luck!
    PN
    PS: For some unusual bass playing, heck out my latest YouTube vids. Channel is PNeher.


     
  3. Witjas

    Witjas

    Dec 4, 2010
    Germany
    I suggest you immediately try another bass (your teacher's, for example).. to figure out if it's 'you' or 'the bass'.

    Also, ask your teacher to play the open strings on your bass.. see if he has the same difficulties...
     

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