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string tension at 34"


Foot

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This is a question for those of you who are very hands-on with setting up a bass (or maybe you just know your shit).

 

What I have:

A P-bass mutt with a J neck. It's the standard 34" scale and of course is only four strings, standard tuning. The action is set at a fairly low, comfortable level across all strings. The p-up's height gets closer to the strings going from E to G (farthest from the E, closest on the G).

 

What's my problem?

I'm playing high notes on the E string with varying attacks (both soft-touch and heavy-handed). Stuff in the range of A to D. This sounds flabby for lack of a better word. The notes lack definition and punch. While I don't expect to get an incredible sound here, I'd like to improve this if only by a small degree. Changing my playing position is not necessarily an option.

 

What I think I know:

Tight string tension = tight sound. This is the principle behind extended scale necks on 5-strings.

 

Also:

I had to set the action higher than I would have liked to keep the B-string tight, but after a while it grew on me
from http://www.bryanbeller.com/music.html under the Fender Jazz V entry

 

What the hell am I getting at:

 

Would increasing the action on the E string (and possibly a little on the A) improve note definition across the string's length? Would there be any adverse effects from "staggered" action (neck warping)? In your opinion, would the improvement be worth the physical demands of a higher string? Is there an alternate solution I've missed?

 

Thanks!

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Foot,

 

When you say that the E is floppy between the 5th and 12th fret, I understand. I don't know if raising the action will help because the height of the string doesn't change the "tightness".

 

You don't mention what brand/type of strings you have, or how old they are. It sounds like you need new, and perhaps better quality strings.

 

Notice I didn't say anything about the tension ratings. That's because I have a bass that has the best vibration and feel from a set of TIs with the lowest tension I've ever used. I know the tension is less because the neck (which hadn't moved in 29 years) went back (flattened out) big time. A truss rod adjustment and the thing plays great.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Foot:

Would increasing the action on the E string (and possibly a little on the A) improve note definition across the string's length? Would there be any adverse effects from "staggered" action (neck warping)? In your opinion, would the improvement be worth the physical demands of a higher string? Is there an alternate solution I've missed?

 

Thanks![/b]

As the pitch of the note gets lower, the excursion of the string for a given volume gets larger so most basses are set up with the action getting progressively higher as the string gets thicker, so avoid fret buzz or choking of the tone. Try raising the action on your lower strings, you won't warp the neck and you will increase the apparent tightness of the string. The only way to change the tension of the string is to use a string with a higher mass per unit length, i.e. a heavier gauge.

 

Alex

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Ummm, wow. I thought this was a dead thread but thanks for the replies.

 

Timothy, I have been playing for a while and I do take advantage of different tones around the fingerboard. However, this tone is not useful for the music I'm playing, yet the songs (and our bandleader) require me to use this position.

 

Tom, the reason I asked about this was Beller's quote. He seems to imply higher action means more tension. As for my strings, new Dean Markley's ground roundwounds, light gauge (.045 .056 .077 .098) changed about once a month, wiped down after each set. Of course I get a better sound when their fresh but it's still not quite what I'm after. Maybe a switch to regular rounds?

 

Alex, thanks, I think you've basically affirmed my suspicions. And yeah, I should move my pluckers around more. But I'm a p-basser and sometimes I get glued to that p-up.

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Originally posted by Foot:

As for my strings, new Dean Markley's ground roundwounds, light gauge (.045 .056 .077 .098) changed about once a month, wiped down after each set. Of course I get a better sound when their fresh but it's still not quite what I'm after. Maybe a switch to regular rounds?

That's quite an unusual gauge selection. Bearing in mind that with standard 45-105 sets the E-string has the lowest tension by a noticeable amount, I'd have thought you'd really exacerbate this with a .98 gauge E. Why do you prefer grounds to rounds?

 

Alex

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The grounds were arrived at by process of elimination about seven years ago. I did a huge test at the time, buying several sets at a time, playing them and keeping a journal on how long they lasted and what I liked and hated about each. The DMs came out on top (definately longest lasting and a musical tone I'm partial to) so I've stayed fairly loyal.

 

As to gauge, I've experimented with heavier sets in the past. My left, fretting hand gets fatigued much quicker with 'em so I've fallen back to the lights in the last two years.

 

After this thread I figure: A heavier gauge may be in order (time for some finger exercises) and I think I'll have a tech guy take a look at my setup.

 

Thanks again :wave:

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Originally posted by Foot:

As for my strings, new Dean Markley's ground roundwounds, light gauge (.045 .056 .077 .098)

A .098 on the bottom? Must sound like a wet noodle in the upper registers. Give a .105 a shot, you might like it.

 

If you're not opposed to steel strings, and you're willing to try roundwounds again, give a DR Highbeam set a chance, VERY defined, great feel.

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