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Studio bass for player with smaller hands


Philip OKeefe

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Hey folks, I've got some questions for you.

 

I'm considering getting another bass. I currently use a older (8 years? I forget :o ) Ibanez SR400, and I really like the neck a lot. It fits my small hands better than any other full scale Problem is, even with the P/J PU combo, I find I'm not completely crazy about the tone - I wish it was a bit punchier, a bit better defined. I suppose I could swap out the pups and electronics, and I may do that... or I may get another Ibanez model a little higher up the line. so, here's my questions:

 

What basses would you recommend for a fairly competent player who has fairly small hands?

 

I tend to like basses with narrower necks. Full scale is preferred for sonic reasons, but I might consider a short or medium scale if it REALLY sounds good. Sonic versatility, or at least good sound, are "musts" - I will use the bass primarily for recording.

 

Like I said, I like the Ibanez SR series necks a lot, and I may just get another one of those. But I don't want to overlook anything else that might be cool either. Price range? I'd like to keep it under a grand, retail price, if possible.

 

If I decide to do a pup / electronics swap, what would you folks recommend? It's a P/J bass config, and I'd rather stick to that if I'm going to do a swap - so no routing please. :) But I can do complex electronics installations, so if it is a pup / active electronic pair that you have in mind, then that's okay.

 

Again, it's a bass primarily for studio use, so flexibility of tones would be nice. Styles it will be used for could range all over the place - from hard rock, to folk, jazz to country to blues to powerpop.

 

All suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated. :)

 

Thanks!

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Have you tried the Fender MIA Jazz basses? You can get one used for around 750 bucks give or take and they sound great in the studio with lots of versatility.

 

They also have slim, fast necks. If you want slimmer and faster check out the BenLoy Jazz bass, aka the GeddyLee Jazz bass.

:thu:

 

Goodluck, man

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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If you like the unplugged tone of the bass then the electronics upgrade may be the answer. I'd strongly recommend an active EMG P/J set, running on 18V power - very clean, clear and accurate. Responds well to changes in technique - will go from reggae to funk to rock just through changing your attack and plucking hand position. Records effortlessly, finding just the right space in most mixes.

 

I wouldn't upgrade (or add) the preamp without changing the pickups and I wouldn't expect a preamp upgrade to be all that beneficial for studio use - I'm sure you have far better outboard preamps available.

 

Alex

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Try a Rick and a Kubicki (if you can find one)

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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I can't remember the last time I brought ONE bass to the studio with me, because I don't believe one bass can do it all. Using your specifications on a shorter scale, narrow neck, I come to two recommendations:

 

-a Hofner/Hofner clone (Beatle bass style) for the classics, country, pop, etc. 32" scale isn't too off the intonation mark and you could use a slightly lighter guage on it, say 40-95. Flatwounds? yeah, I think so. The Korean clones are especially nice; mine is an Epiphone Viola.

 

-the first-generation Fender Stu Hamm signature model, 32" scale. I don't know if it's still being made (the current model is a 34" scale methinx) but it had a J/P/J configuration. Stainless Steel roundwounds.

 

As always, IMHO. :wave:

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Fred, I have considered getting one of the el-cheapo Hofner clones just to have "something different"... besides, I'm a Beatles freak, so a Hofner clone would be fun to have - although I wouldn't want to rely on one exclusively.

 

Has anyone tried one of those Musician's Friend "Rogue" Hofner copies? Their online customer reviews say it's surprisingly good, especially for the current sale price of $199.

 

Maybe the Hofner clone and a pick up / electronics upgrade for my Ibanez would be the best option. Any other suggestions for pickups in addition to the EMG's?

 

Thanks for all the input folks - you rock. :thu:

 

PS Subsonicbass, I'm not a teenaged girl, so the T-Bird is out. :)

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I have a 4001, and I can't imagine not being able to get whatever kinda tone I want out of it. They are more versatile than people give them credit for. I usually have flatwound strings on it, which I think makes a BIG difference. It is simply a fantastic recording bass, I find it really consistent throughout the neck and I'm always happy to record other people who play Rics, too.

 

And it IS what that McCartney guy used in the studio, too. ;)

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Originally posted by Lee Flier:

I have a 4001, and I can't imagine not being able to get whatever kinda tone I want out of it. They are more versatile than people give them credit for. I usually have flatwound strings on it, which I think makes a BIG difference. It is simply a fantastic recording bass, I find it really consistent throughout the neck and I'm always happy to record other people who play Rics, too.

 

And it IS what that McCartney guy used in the studio, too. ;)

I agree. Listen to The Beatles, Yes, Deep Purple, Moterhead, etc. and you will heard a lot of diversity. The Ric can snarl like few others, but it can be mellow too.

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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Hey Phil,

 

It's worth giving a MIJ Fender Geddy Lee jazz bass a try. (We call it the Ben Loy jazz around here.) About $500 with a neck even slimmer than a typical Fender J.

 

Replacing your pickups, if you like the sound of the bass unamplified, sounds like a reasonable path to follow. There are lots of great pickups available on the market, especially for P/J replacement.

 

If you're looking into pickups w/ pole pieces (e.g., Lindy Fralins or Rio Grandes or some DiMarzios), pay close attention to their spacing and the spacing between your strings. For optimal performance you'd want each pair of pole pieces sandwiching a string.

 

One way to avoid that is to look at bladed pickups -- e.g., Bartolini classic bass series or some DiMarzios.

 

Also, measure the pickup routs and check them against the dimension specs of any p'ups you're considering.

 

Lastly, I'm not as big a fan of EMGs as C. Alex. However, I do like how they sound in Spector basses -- there seems to be a great match there. Try searching this forum for past threads about pickup replacements and use search terms like "dimarzio" or "bartolini" or "EMG" or "Bill Lawrence" or "Seymour Duncan", etc. This may inform you about a wider set of options. Also consider Nordstrand pickups, which probably won't come up in your search.

 

Good luck!

 

Peace.

--SW

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Yeah, Macca used the 4001, but only post-1965. :) And I do like them, so if I come across a good deal on one I might consider it. I still slightly prefer the Ibanez neck though, so I will probably hang on to that and do a pup swap - it does sound pretty good unamplified.

 

It's worth giving a MIJ Fender Geddy Lee jazz bass a try. (We call it the Ben Loy jazz around here.) About $500 with a neck even slimmer than a typical Fender J.

 

Thanks for the advice SW. :cool: I'll try to give one a try too. BTW, may I ask why you call it the Ben Loy? That reference is going over my head...

 

Any other pickup suggestions? (I will do a search, but it doesn't hurt to ask again here... ;) )

 

Any thoughts on that Rogue Hofner copy? For two bones I'm not expecting much, but if it's useful, I may get one.

 

Thanks again to everyone for the great advice. :thu:

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If you had extra cash to spend, I'd say get the better models in the Ibanez SR series (such as the SR1000). They are a very good bass, especially for a MIJ bass.

 

I'd also seond the suggestion to go to the Carvin factory and try out some of their basses.

 

And if you are thinking about the Rogue, I'd say don't. Unless you want to replace all the hardware and electronics. :D

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If you want to stick with Ibanez, I guess this is where I make the shameless plug of my own equipment. I'm playing a BTB400 which I am quite pleased with. I have about average sized hands I guess and it's easily playable for me...it feels very comfortable. The body is a bit bulky (although not very heavy) but that's not a problem in a studio and with the stock electronics, I'm finding more and more sounds I can produce every day between my amp eq and bass knobs. Quite versatile. It's a 35" scale but I'd say it's at least worth a try. Check out the neck specs on the Ibanez website to see if they may be to your liking.
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Phil,

 

Our own Ben Loy is one of our number who owns and uses this model. He uses a picture of himself playing it as his avatar. More importantly, a number of folks here have seen Ben at shows where he is playing the thing. And, Ben has an outstanding Anniversary model StingRay that has been relegated to it's case, so this Fender thingy must be pretty damn good. Most of all Ben is a humble but outstanding player, so we renamed the bass for him.

 

I would agree that a BenLoy bass would be a sound ( ;) ) choice. You might also want to consider a Brian Moore bass. These puppies have fairly narrow spacing. They are available with many pickup options, including piezo and 13pin electronics. I thought this last item might appeal to a studio wizard, since you could do all sorts of fancy electronic things with it. They are in your price range in a simple configuration, but adding the fancy stuff pushes them a bit beyond.

 

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 Philip O'Keefe:

Any other pickup suggestions? (I will do a search, but it doesn't hurt to ask again here... ;) )

 

There are really a lot of great options out there for replacement P and J pickups. Here are a list of brands, in no particular order, that all have models in their lines that would provide quality tone:

 

Seymour Duncan

DiMarzio

Bill Lawrence

Nordstrand

EMG

Bartolini

Lindy Fralin

Kent Armstrong

Lane Poor (if you can find them!)

Rio Grande

Aero

 

Since your bass is a P/J combo, you will probably want to get a J pickup that is humbucking (two kinds -- stacked humbucker and in-line dual coils). If you choose a single coil J pickup, you will have some 60-cycle hum, which may or may not be an issue for you -- but seeing as the primary goal is recording, you might prefer less noise in your chain.

 

I have Nordstrand pickups in my Nordstrand bass and I love the sound of the whole package. They are, however, Carey's "Fat Stacks" which you couldn't use in your bass. I've played a bass w/ his J pickups, and they were lovely.

 

I have Bartolini in-line dual coil J pickups (Classic Bass series) in my Carvin and I've been very pleased with the tone.

 

C. Alex has already admitted his satisfaction w/ EMGs. I'm sure others will chime in.

 

Good luck!

--SW

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I'd rather avoid 60 Hz hum if I can avoid it on the bass... I can deal with it with my single coil guitars, but on bass, it's usually more of an issue than on Gtr IMO. So stacked humbuckers or other "noiseless" models would be a good choice I think.

 

I'm familiar with many of the brands you mentioned - I guess I was looking more for suggestions on the relative sonic merits of various different models. :)

 

Thanks again for all the great suggestions! :cool:

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Originally posted by Philip O'Keefe:

I'm familiar with many of the brands you mentioned - I guess I was looking more for suggestions on the relative sonic merits of various different models. :)

 

I figured that you were headed in that direction, and was intentionally being lazy by not addressing the issue more specifically. :o:)

 

Let's assume that you pick up another bass, be it Fender Ben Loy J or Hofner copy. Either way, you can hope that the new acquisition will give you some options for vintage tones. Given that, you could focus your replacement pickup search on those that may provide a more modern sound (e.g., clarity over warmth). In this case, active EMG or Seymour Duncan pickups might be the answer. Some Bartolini offerings probably fit the bill here, too.

 

If you want a more vintage vibe I would probably lean toward Lindy Fralins, Nordstrands, or Rio Grande pickups (although I don't know if RG does a humcancelling J pickup). You can get the Rio Grandes pretty darn hot if you want.

 

Also, DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan Basslines offer some charts of different models' bass, mid, and treble output. This might be useful to you just in comparing what those companies offer.

 

Given that we're talking about an Ibanez SR bass, a full-blown vintage sound might not be possible based on the other construction specifics of the instrument. Thus I'd suggest investigating Seymour Duncan (NOT the Antiquities series), Bartolini, and EMG offerings at first.

 

I don't know enough about Lane Poor, Aero, Bill Lawrence, and Kent Armstrong to offer help with those brands.

 

Does this help at all?

 

Peace.

--sweets

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I'll also give a nod to Carvin - if neck-size is the most important issue, they have FAST necks - not unlike the slimmed neck of the Ben Loy Jazz. The pickups are quiet for studio use, and you have a passive switch on the LB70 I believe (or the LB 20, which is actually passive all the way).

 

If you're just using for studio and aren't worried about asthetics, then definitely check out their "guitars and basses in stock" for a great deal.

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S-UU sums it up pretty neatly. Here's some further info from David King.

 

One point of his that I'd highlight is that EMG pickups often sound the same from bass to bass. This could be considered a bad thing on expensive basses because you could be losing out on the intricacies of the fancy tonewoods but on the flip side you've got to love a pickup that can make a cheap-ish bass sound (vaguely) like a Fodera!

 

Running the pickups on 18V rather than 9V power opens up their tone and makes the sound more true to the bass and less characteristic EMG. It's your call whether you want more extended and cleaner highs, deeper fatter lows and expanded dynamic range, or grittier highs, faster lows and a somewhat compressed and thus very punchy sound. Easy enough to experiment with or even wire switchable.

 

The other point is that "they record well and engineers love them". I can confirm this based on my experience with my old Warwick. They go down brilliantly onto tape (or hard disk) and I've always had very pleasant dealings with live sound engineers DIing my bass and rarely needing EQ or compression.

 

My final piece of propaganda centres on the number of session players that use old Fenders with EMG pickups, including Lee Sklar and Alex Al.

 

I'm done. ;)

 

Alex

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Yeah, and James Jamerson used a P-Bass too... but I'm not Carol or James... ;)

 

Call me a wuss if you want, but if I can find a bass that sounds good AND plays easier, I'd rather go that route than find something that sounds good but is a struggle to play. :)

 

BTW Yoda of the bass world, nice to meet you! :wave::D

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Nice to meet you too, Philip.

 

One of my students is a 14 year old girl. She is barely 5 ft. tall and is now the proud owner of a Fender Jazz bass.

 

Next year she will be the bassist for all three of her high school's bands. She doesn't seem to have any problem playing her bass.

 

Carol Kaye's pivot method of fingering will make playing any bass more comfortable. Use of Simandl fingerings (which were designed for an neck length of 41") will also make the bass manageable.

 

But of course can buy an Ibanez SR something or other with a "fast neck".

 

Your original question said you wanted a bass to play in the studio, which is an entirely different question than finding a bass that is easy to play.

 

Yalk to you later.

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

Carol Kaye's pivot method of fingering will make playing any bass more comfortable. Use of Simandl fingerings (which were designed for an neck length of 41") will also make the bass manageable.

 

I'd definitely be interested in more information (links if you have them) on both playing techniques. :thu:

 

But of course can buy an Ibanez SR something or other with a "fast neck".

 

I already have the Ibanez, and as I said, I really do like the neck. Is a Mustang bass more comfortable to play for me? Yes... but I'm not willing to make that sonic compromise. :)

 

Your original question said you wanted a bass to play in the studio, which is an entirely different question than finding a bass that is easy to play.

 

Here's where I am afraid I have to disagree with you. A great sounding bass is priority #1... but you can have the greatest sounding bass in the world, and yet if it's not comfortable for someone to play, they're not going to be able to get the best sound out of it. I do think that a instrument that a player is comfortable on is usually a better choice than something they are uncomfortable with, all other things being equal. There is a fine line there, and obviously (to me at least) you don't want complete garbage sonically for the sake of easy playability, but OTOH, if you can get pretty close to sonic parity between two basses, but one is more comfortable for the player, then that one should get the nod.

 

At the end of the day, playability AND sound are important to me... and I am not willing to settle for major compromises on either point.

 

I do appreciate your input and suggestions - thanks! :thu:

 

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

Find a bass that sounds the way you want it to sound.

 

And then deal with it.

I agree with the above statement. I have relatively small hands, so when I switched from my cheapo 4 string Samick (I miss that bass :cry: ) to an Ibanez BTB405 (5 string) my dad was all against it, saying that the neck was way too wide for my hands etc.

 

I tried several models, including a lot of 4 strings (though I wanted a 5 :D ) but ended up getting the Ibanez anyway, small hands or not. So yeah I may have to stretch a bit here and there but I wouldn't want to trade in this bass for a more "comfortable" model.

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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