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Why does my bass feel loose and then tight?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Santinotafarell, Oct 6, 2019.


  1. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    So i play a 3/4 wilfer made juzek upright bass and currently have evah mediums on. The strings have always felt tight, and the sound sounds... tight sounding. Yesterday i went to try some gut strings the A D and G on the bass and the sound totally opened up, i loved the gut strings.

    When i changed out the first string to a gut (G string evah with the G gut) the rest of the Evahs actually felt looser and the sound opened up. What is this a symptom of? The weird thing is after i put the evahs back on they felt totally loose and the sound COMPLETELY opened up.

    On my gig the next day the band noticed my sound had changed and that there was actually life and body to the sound.. and i didn't hint that i had done anything differently. Well about 3 hours in to the gig unfortunately the bass slowly started going back to feeling tight.. What is this a symptom of? Humidity? Sound Post? String tension? I suspect that it has to do with there being too much pressure on top of the bass and some how squeezing the sound post... but how do i get my strings to stay loose? Any ideas on what might be happening? My remedy right now is to detune the strings two at a time until they are not applying any pressure on the bridge and then loosen up around the tuning pegs. I leave them like that for a couple minutes and then tighten them back up. I have to do it to all 4 strings, the G and D seem to affect each other ( i.e. when i loosen up the G the D feels a bit less tense) , but the A and E seem to only get looser Individually. I would have to do this every hour or so because that's about how long it takes before i start to notice it " tightening" back up. When i do that it really does leave me with the correct feel and an amazing sound but obviously this is not practical on every gig...Help me please! I reallydread playing on the bass when the bass is in "tight" mode, but i love playing it when it is in " loose" mode..
    Thanks,
    Santino
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  2. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    Why didn't you leave on the guts? :D Just sounds like the Evahs are a little too tense for your bass, maybe takes a few minutes for the body of the bass to compress onto the post.. ?
     
  3. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Evahs are like that, the more the older they are. When you take them off and put back on the core stretches as tight as it was before, I quess that`s what happening. Evahs tend to feel tighter when they age.

    If you want lots of tone with relaxed feel, put those guts back on and cranck the action high up. And don`t use Evahs with them, go for lower tension and looser feel instead ;)
     
  4. Maybe your soundpost is too close to the bridge foot or too long for the position it is in now.
    Gut strings are lower tension, so the top might have been coming up a bit because of the lower tension. It takes some time (days) until the top settles due to the new top pressure.
    Go to a DB luthier and let him inspect and reposition/shorten the soundpost and your Evahs might sound better. It’s worth the money.
     
    Santinotafarell likes this.
  5. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    they were my buddies i don't own a pair of guts... yet :)
     
    unbrokenchain likes this.
  6. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    Thanks.. now if i shorten the soundpost, will i still be able to use the guts strings as well? Or would it then become to loose for the soundpost?
     
  7. Let a professional do that. It is rather inexpensive and he knows his stuff. Don‘t ruin the soundpost yourself.
    And if you do not have the proper tools and knowledge to set a soundpost it is a good indicator to visit a luthier.
    You might to watch him and listen what he says. It might need several attempts to find a good position, so don‘t judge the luthier bad if he doesn‘t get it in the first attempt.

    Depending on where you are located the top might rise and fall with climate changes, but either steel core strings or gut strings (approximately 2/3 of the steel core tension) should hold the post in place anyway.

    Here in Germany the climate doesn‘t change as much and quickly as in the US. I never had the soundpost falling when I needed to work on tailpiece or bridge, but I do this with the bass lying on its back.
    Even a hard impact that knocked off the bridge in a train running to a different exit door because the one I have entered had a bad opening switch let the soundpost stay in place (luckily, because it was in the night and I had a concert one and a half days later and the following day was a holiday).
    I know enough about soundpost setting that I don’t want to try it myself in a hurry and without the proper tools or experience.
     
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    You don't show your location, so... If you are in an area that features frequent changes in humidity, the top will rise and fall, more on a carved bass, raising and lowering the strings and creating different pressures on the top, which also affects the soundpost. I find this to be just business as usual for my bass and live with it accordingly. Bridge adjusters can be very useful here.

    That being said, your bass may like lower tension than the Evahs, so you should try Evah Lights or another lower tension string. The Evah mediums are quite a bit harder to play in general, IME.
     
  9. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    I've experienced changes like that myself: one day the bass feels really responsive and others it's just dead. Wood is organic and does move with the environment even after it's been cut and made into a bass, and some pieces are more stable than others. I remember hearing a story of a famous player sending an electric bass back to the maker due to neck stability problems with a note that said something like "I think this bass still wants to be a tree".
     
    Santinotafarell likes this.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    ^^^^This. And they aren't the good kind of tight either; some strings are "tight, but alive", meaning that you have to dig deep but you get rewarded when you do. I find Evahs to simply be "tight, but hey... at least they're tight" once they reach a certain point.
     
  11. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Evahs, req, w and solos were my go-to " steel " strings when I got my butt kicked by gut strings. I still like many aspects about them but they sure have their drawbacks, like this particular one. I`m happy using Evah slaps for either E or EA now, but they`re completely different story comparing to their tighter siblings.
     
  12. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.
    You went two extremes- Evah has really high string tension, guts are really low. That's a pretty drastic change. The difference is the amount of downward force being applied to the bridge and the pull from the EP Socket. If you have a thinner top on your bass, then lighter tension strings will probably open it up.

    You can adjust the post, but the differential shouldn't make that much difference in the fit of the post. A luthier shouldn't adjust your post at full string tension. That's how top damage occurs. The strings should be about a third lower when you're moving the post.

    Lots of things can be done to adjust tension. Raised Saddle, TP material, Tailwire length, post placement, etc... a good luthier can run you through this process and find what works for your bass.

    FWIW,
    BG
     
    Santinotafarell likes this.
  13. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    Thanks, I threw on some Pirastro Carlos Henriquez edition Chorda Guts. The feel is a lot better, and the sound has a lot more body to it and sounds like a bass, but it's got that complex gut string sound now which is a lot different then i am used to. I will keep them on until It's time to change strings again or I decide go back to the steel string sound. When I do I'll get weich Evahs and see if that does well like the guts in terms of opening up the sound and the better feel. If it is tight with the weichs as well I will experiment with those options ( raised saddle, TP material, Tailwire length, Post Placement.) Maybe i would have experimented with that first, but I've always wanted to get experience with guts and they seem to fix the problem for now. Thanks all for the help!!
     
    unbrokenchain and Reiska like this.
  14. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    That describes exactly what i was experiencing with them.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  15. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    John Clayton seems to get a nice big warm sound out of them somehow.. I don't understand how when they are so tight Hah.
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Well, for one thing, John Clayton is John Clayton! :D But I saw him this past summer at ISB and he stays pretty relaxed with his right hand; he gets a big sound, but doesn't dig too deep for more. Which is probably another way of saying he's wise enough to understand the parameters of his setup and to accept playing within those. I am still in search of this wisdom...
     
  17. Santinotafarell

    Santinotafarell Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    We'll that was short lived... The A string gut with silver winding already started coming undone and is buzzing bad... Now I see why people stay away from wrapped gut. 125$ string completely unusable in less than 1 gig. WEAK! Now looking for an unwound gut A. The wound E is holding up at least, but sure is frustrating having to put my old A string back on... Lol back to finding solutions where can I purchase an individual new unwound gut A string? Hah...
     
  18. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Hey @Santinotafarell , I play a Gamut Pistoy light A string. If I were to buy one now, I`d take the light+ or medium gauge. These are stupid expensive but will last forever if you take care of it. I had Carlos Chordas on top but felt that they were too stiff and tense for the Pistoy light A. Now I have a Pistoy light+ D and a no-name ( possibly Pyramid ) medium gauge G on my bass, the E string is a Evah Pirazzi slap. This makes a far more balanced setup than with Carlos Chordas on top. For those I`d pick up a medium gauge Pistoy, for more even feel.

    If you haven`t played a plain gut A string there propably will be a technique adjustment perioid involved. The low tension makes faster playing, and time playing in general, different. However, the plain a provides a tone and feel that you can`t get elsewhere. Not for everyone but I love it.

    Good luck!
     
  19. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.
    You need to make sure there is not a "catch" in the nut or bridge slot, or you'll keep replacing those expensive strings... run your fingernail through the string grooves and see if you can feel anything that the winding would bind on.
    BG
     

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