Wow, dead E string problem fixed

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by sb69coupe, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    I had a problem with a seemingly dead E string on my project assembled fretless jazz bass. The string had noticably less ringing and sustain than the other 3 strings. I had previously tried switching strings, filing the saddle, and filing the nut slot to no avail. The problem was evident on both an open string and when "fretted" anywhere on the neck. Today I found the root cause and fixed it for the pricely sum of $0.00.

    I had the bass strung through the body, The saddle for the E string is pulled very far toward the rear of the bass, away from the neck. This was causing an extreme bend angle for the .105 gauge flatwound E string to bend over the saddle on the bridge, nearly a 90 degree angle. The best I can tell, this was causing a less than ideal seating of the string within the saddle, hence the "dead string". I strung it through the rear of the bridge to get a more traditional angle of the string over the saddle and viola! problem solved.

    This was a nagging minor problem, and I did some searching for "dead string" on the forum to look for possible solutions. I don't remember ever seeing any mention of this cause, so I wanted to pass it on if it can help someone else.

  2. Jimmy P.

    Jimmy P.

    Apr 5, 2005
    Tokyo, Japan
    That's very useful information - I have strung my Jazz BEAD, and the B string saddle is almost all the way back (rearward) to achieve proper intonation. Although the string takes a sharp bend at the saddle just as you have described, there isn't a problem with a 'dead' sound....but I am thinking of switching to the Quann BA 2 bridge to try to lessen the bend in the string. Thanks for your report.
  3. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    Try getting your hands on a lefty Fender neck and throw that on your basses... When you go to tune to BEAD, the reverse headstock will give you a ton of extra string length for the low B and stop any flappyness...
    I am going to build a bass like this and will let you know how it goes. I read this in Bass Player mag with tim from Audioslave and RATM... He does this.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Extra string length beyond the nut or the witness point on the bridge has no affect on string tension. Do a search for this, it has been discussed extensively.
  5. Trev Wilkinson has discussed the problem of too acute a break angle over the saddle causing a "false" witness point and it screwing with intonation. The idea is that the sharp angle actually makes a short portion of the string just in front of the saddle practically solid stiff, effectively "shortening" the string and causing it to intonate "sharp". And what do we do when it's sharp? - yep, we pull the saddle back to lengthen the string and that action aggravates the sharp bend problem further! It's tough to win in that situation. I like string thru basses, I do believe there's a little to be had there but only if the termination point of the string is well back of the saddle so that the angle over the saddle is nice and gradual, more like it is at the nut.

    Trev's high end bridges have adjustable break angles to help with this in the larger gauge strings
  6. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    But Jeff, it looks cool :cool: