List your favorite statements about bass guitar that many people consider true or logical, but have yet to be proven in any way. I'll start with a slew of them. And feel free to provide evidence to prove these myths. I would love for some of these to be taken off the table.
I'll bite. FWIW I've been a guitar/bass tech for over 4 decades. Primary instrument is electric guitar. I play acoustic guitar and I play bass. I played bass for Bo Diddley for one show, he shook my hand afterward.
Bass IS a completely different instrument than guitar, I play a bass like a bass. Gigged for 3 years as a bassist, kept the groove going.
1. A heavier bridge increases sustain in a meaningful way:
This is simply not put correctly. A more rigid bridge will increase sustain in a meaningful way. Weight is often a side effect of increasing rigidity. If there is a path for resonance, allowing the string to transfer energy anywhere, sustain and eveness of response will be compromised. This could happen at the bridge, most bridges are pretty rigid. Put a Kahler vibrato bridge on your bass and suddenly you will notice a disappointing difference in the tone, even if you don't use the whammy bar (which will NOT stay in tune). While I feel bad about the 2-3 basses I've ruined by installing the Kahler, when a customer brings you a bass and a new bridge and asks to have it installed - you do the best you can.
2. Fretboard wood on a fretted bass changes the tone:
The differences would be pretty subtle. Ebony or a composite both change the tone on an acoustic guitar beyond any doubt. The neck wood is also a factor.
There are lots of variables. It is rare in my experience to change a fretboard to another wood. Usually new strings would be put on at that point.
I would say the complexity of doing a fair analysis make it justifiable to pout this one to rest.
3. String through changes the tone noticeably:
Anchor points do make a difference but you have to do a fair comparison here. Some bridges offer both string through body and string through the bridge with ball ends on top.
My experience is that there is no significant tone change when using the same bass with the same bridge that allows both styles of stringing. Put to rest.
4. Length of string past either witness point makes any practical difference:
Most of the time, this means different types of bass. Most solid body basses do not have much string beyond either witness point and the string is rooted to a relatively non-resonant anchor on both ends. So it would be difficult to measure or hear. Clamp a couple of blocks of stiff material on top and below the strings between the bridge and the tailpiece on a Hofner Beatle bass and you will notice a big difference. Easier still, with your amp turned up, play the strings between the tailpiece and the bridge. They will all make a note that you can hear through the amp. That note and it's related octaves/harmonics will drain energy from the part of the string that is played at those frequencies - resulting in an uneven response that is further exacerbated by the resonance of the hollow body. So yes, it can and does make a difference for some basses.
There you go, 2 out of 4 explained and the other 2 dismissed. 50%, not a passing grade but "progress" perhaps. Cheers, Kuru