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Why do I hear volume inconsistencies across strings, but the techs do not?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by u84six, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. u84six

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

    Nov 8, 2006
    I bought a (Jazz style) bass not too long ago (fairly expensive one at that) where the E string booms and the A and D strings are quite weak. I've tried all sorts of fixes like adjusting string height, adjusting pickup height, changing strings, tried with different amps, speakers, etc, and nothing fixes it for me. So I sent it back to where I had purchased it for them to look at and no one can hear the problem. How can it be just me? I own 7 basses, and only one other bass had this problem and it was my Stingray Classic 4 H, and I actually followed youtube vid to fix the problem with that bass and now it's fine (it's a pretty well known issue with some of those basses). So the 5 other basses I own (Fender Ps, Ric, etc) do not have this string volume inconsistancy like my new one. Why am I the only one that hears this problem? Is there anyone else whose ears are sensitive to this kind of thing? So frustrating!
  2. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Sometimes it's resonance, the vibration of an open note hums the right pitch for the hunk of wood and the whole instrument seems to be alive, and on other strings/pitches, not so much.

    There are live and dead spots on most instruments, IME. I guess the trick is to not over compensate, striking harder or avoiding using those areas.

    Keep playing, it all comes out in the wash
  3. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    What is the fretboard radius?
    Do the pick ups have raised pole pieces on the A & D string poles?
  4. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    First, techs are sometimes over-rated on their abilities. Many times, it's lack of abilities. If it's a problem to you, it's real enough. If it were me, my two choices would be to either solve the problem, or get rid of the bass. I've had several basses that had the same issue. Here's what's worked for me. In addition to PU adjustment, the biggest fix I've found is getting larger (fatter) D and G strings. Sometimes, the reverse will work too, smaller (thinner) E and A strings. Or in your case, the offending strings may be different ones than mine, but you get the idea. Either way, you're increasing or decreasing volume of the offending strings and that should be leveling the output. I've done it both ways with great results. Good luck.
    shawshank72 likes this.
  5. A few years ago ,I was running through a Peavey mark 6 head with good results. I had G.A.S for an Ampeg head and got a chance to try out and A-B an Ampeg SVT 350 ( solid state) with the Peavey. The D and G strings on the Ampeg sounded weak. I did not have any heavier strings to try out so I simply passed on the SVT 350. It is quite possible that heavier strings would have helped but I didn't try that. It can be an amp problem as well as a string problem. As stated above , it can also be a guitar problem.
    Not too long after that , I picked up a full tube SVT and there were no problems with it and I have been using it ever since. Same bass and different amps definitely had different results.
  6. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    I think that most of the time issues like these just aren't intense enough for us to pick up on them, but with a flat pickup and radiused strings it's gonna happen and depending on the other factors involved may or may not be noticeable.
    I'd say your best options are either pickups with adjustable poles, raised A and D poles or a whole different bass altogether
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    flat J pickups bug me for the very same reason; the "fix" as such is to lower them more than maybe you'd like, so as to reduce the difference between one string's distance and the next (inverse square law and all that).

    or, "what @SamanthaCay said".

    i wonder about that; typical string sets (45, 65, 85, 105) already have heavier middle strings in relation to the outer ones, and it's been suggested that the convention arose for this very reason, to balance better over flat J pickups.

    look at d'addario's balanced tension bass set, it thins out the middle two (and fattens the E a little) to bring them all into the same tension range. 45, 60, 80, 107, and it really does feel more even right across the strings.
  8. u84six

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

    Nov 8, 2006
    I would hate to get rid of the bass. I love everything about it other than this one issue. So I will try what some have recommended and fatten up the A and D strings. The interesting thing about it is that the G is closer to volume with the E. So in the end, the E is the loudest, then the G, then the A, then the D. I've tried 4 different sets of strings, 2 standard, 2 light. None of them made a difference. So I will try a custom set this time.

    Also, the Jazz pickups are not really flat, the poles bump a little at the A and D as if the manufacturer compensated for a similar problem. Unfortunately, you can't adjust the poles. They're fixed.
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    It seems important to note that the techs who aren't hearing the problem are the ones working for the people you bought the bass from. Just sayin'.
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Is there actually a procedure for adjusting polepieces to produce a balanced string-to-string response? I mean other than using one's ears as my hearing is kaputzio...just ask my wife. The closest I could come up with is running a bass through a mixer mic channel solo'd / PFL and using the bargraph for visual confirmation. Certainly not perfect and wrought with inconsistencies in the process.

  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    well hell, just drop them down a little bit, especially on the E side, and call it a bass!
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Depending on where I stand in my so called "music" room I notice different notes are louder or softer than others. In some spots the open A is week but stronger in another spot, in another spot the middle of the A and D strings are weaker and the first 5 notes on the G string will boom along with F on the E string in another spot. This happens with all my basses.

    Have you listened through headphones?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2015
  13. bass71


    Nov 18, 2007
    My 71 P has a similiar issue with a very quiet E string. I've tried everything imaginable to sort it..I've even considered shaving down the back of the very thick neck in order to move the resonant frequency. Anyway I cant get rid of it, its a great bass and to buy another would cost loads more green than I can really justify.
    If anyone else has had this problem I sure would appreciate any advice.
  14. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    oh god don't do that!

    i assume you tried the obvious thing, raising up the pickup under the E relative to the other strings?

    given that, here's a weird one: have you checked the actual magnet pull under that string? take a little ruler or screwdriver or something and feel how much pull the magnets are creating when you lift it off of them; i've heard of strange situations causing the de-gaussing of pickup magnets, killing the pickup's output.
  15. u84six

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

    Nov 8, 2006
    At this point, the manufacturer of the bass is sending me a new set of pickups (as the last resort). It will be interesting to see if it actually fixes the problem (I have my doubts).
  16. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    worth a shot, but if these J pickups already have raised A and D poles, the answer really is to drop the whole pickup down a bit; that reduces the difference between one string's output and the next, at the cost of overall output.

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