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razze06

How to improve playability and clarity

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Up until last week I only ever played my own acoustic DB, a mid-1990's german plywood job. My tutor thought it was fine, and the luthier that set it up after I got it said he was relieved it wasn't a cheap and crap starter bass. So i was pretty content with its sound and playability, as I had nothing to compare it with.

Until last week.

I happened to be at a work social event that included a jam session, which I signed up for. Turned to be a jazz jam session, and, mediocre as I am, I gave it a go. The pro bass player that was running it kindly let me use his bass, and the instrument was _incredible_ Under the fingers it felt as playable as my Aria EUB, which feels like a toy in my hands after using my regular bass, yet it retained the response you expect from an acoustic bass. Moreover, its clarity was much better than mine, and the notes came through much more defined than i'm used to, and through a worse amp than mine as well. Since it was me playing both, I can't blame the difference in sound on my technique. The body size was small, but the fingerboard was regular 3/4 scale.

So the question is, what can I do to improve the playability nd clarity of my bass without spending £10k on a custom job like he did? I currently have some Spiro Weich strings on mine, about 6 months old. Any idea is welcome!

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1 hour ago, razze06 said:

 improve the playability nd clarity of my bass without spending £10k on a custom job like he did? I currently have some Spiro Weich strings on mine, about 6 months old. Any idea is welcome!

My basic hybrid bass became easier to play when I changed my D and G strings to Golden Slaps (synthetic gut).  The E and A are still Spiros.  N.B. it changes the tone too, which may or may not be what you're after - more "organic" but I wouldn't describe it as more "clarity".
 

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I had exactly the same experience. I still use my ply bass as the go-to instrument for lugging to practices and jam sessions but the reality is that it’s a pale imitation of my Bryant bass.

The Bryant is set up wonderfully (Martin Penning) and makes the most beautiful noise. It’s so much better to play than the ply bass but impractical to have around the house with two toddlers. Total cost was about £4.5k with set up, new strings and a pickup but it’s worth it.

If you cant afford that it don’t want to spend that, then perhaps reshooting the fingerboard might help with the action? That worked for the ply bass, it’s now a different beast.

 

 

 

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It’s a funny old game. I’ve had a lot of very nice double basses but many of those, while being ‘OK’ have lacked the clarity and playability that we seek. Nowadays people often come up to me to compliment me on my tone/playing. My reply is that I’ve spent an awful lot of money getting there. So how to do it? I’ve always played on Spiro Mitts, never swerved in the past 50 odd years. And I’ve finally come to the ‘right’ bass. It’s a Bryant, not too expensive either.

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37 minutes ago, bassace said:

It’s a funny old game. I’ve had a lot of very nice double basses but many of those, while being ‘OK’ have lacked the clarity and playability that we seek. Nowadays people often come up to me to compliment me on my tone/playing. My reply is that I’ve spent an awful lot of money getting there. So how to do it? I’ve always played on Spiro Mitts, never swerved in the past 50 odd years. And I’ve finally come to the ‘right’ bass. It’s a Bryant, not too expensive either.

We’re the same, apart from never having met... Bryant basses are a really accessible way to get a beautiful sounding instrument. Construction is a bit rustic and the bridges are always too small apparently, but they’re amazing instruments for the price and likely to appreciate in value too.

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Posted (edited)

If you’re ever up the M4, B-b, I have a gig with a seven piece every Tuesday at Theale, just a mile off Junction 12. 

Yes, that narrow bridge is a funny thing with Bryant basses. The feet don’t quite get to the bass bar, a prob that a good luthier can sort out. Laurence Dixon in my case.

Strangely Paul Bryant has a s/h bass for sale in Musical Chairs right now. He doesn’t list it as one of his, possibly because of the less than pristine condition that suggests he could have taken it in as a part exchange. But it looks like a Bryant. And at £2800, hmm.

BTW, I’ve never considered my bass rustic. It is after all a hand made, hand finished instrument.l

Edited by bassace

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Try a set of Presto Jazzicato Tungsten. I have the regular (not Tungsten) and they are absolute butter. I recommend the Tungsten on the basis that they are supposed to have a more "contemporary" sound with greater clarity while retaining a moderately low tension and a great slick feel for shifting.

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3 hours ago, bassace said:

If you’re ever up the M4, B-b, I have a gig with a seven piece every Tuesday at Theale, just a mile off Junction 12. 

Yes, that narrow bridge is a funny thing with Bryant basses. The feet don’t quite get to the bass bar, a prob that a good luthier can sort out. Laurence Dixon in my case.

Strangely Paul Bryant has a s/h bass for sale in Musical Chairs right now. He doesn’t list it as one of his, possibly because of the less than pristine condition that suggests he could have taken it in as a part exchange. But it looks like a Bryant. And at £2800, hmm.

BTW, I’ve never considered my bass rustic. It is after all a hand made, hand finished instrument.l

I sae the Bryant there. It’s definitely one of his, shame about the inlays which I don’t really like. Guess it could be removed without my much hassle. 

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