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I've owned Modulus basses with both extremes.  One had a rigid neck, low action and very brittle sound.  The other sounded great, very warm but the neck was bowed because the phenolic resin used on the fingerboard wasn't mixed properly and rigid enough.  Both had lightweight alder bodies and identical hardware and EMG electronics. 

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1 hour ago, Killed_by_Death said:

 

I guess, if people like 'warm' sounding instruments, the stiffer the better for me, I don't want 'warm'.

Yeah players prioritise playability and tone in different ways too. 

I have a Status bass that is extremely easy to play but I wish it was more traditional sounding.  But I can tame some of the liveliness with a dual band comp and maybe some different electronics would get it closer to what I'm looking for.  By comparison, I've owned a few fantastic sounding Musician Cutlass basses with horrific neck bows and eventually sold them on. My Spector is a slightly less extreme version of the Cutlass basses.  I'm hoping a stiffer fingerboard and reinforcement might help with lower action.  But it carries a risk of making the bass less growly by lifting the resonance frequency. 

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Paul Reed Smith does a Ted-Talk where he says that the woods & components don't impart a tone or timbre, it's all a process of subtraction.

Stiffer & harder components subtract less from the overall timbre. I want ALL the spectrum of the timbre I can get & then I'll subtract if I want 'warm', which is rare.

 

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1 hour ago, Killed_by_Death said:

Paul Reed Smith does a Ted-Talk where he says that the woods & components don't impart a tone or timbre, it's all a process of subtraction.

Yes, he's describing dampening. Some woods can be highly selective in the frequencies they dampen. Paul also describes in a later presentation that his guitars were all about the neck.  I agree with Paul on both points. 

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6 hours ago, Kiwi said:

Emphatically yes,  necks that are too rigid tend to produce brittle sounding basses given everything else is equal, but this is relative to other components.  It's a bit like a recipe.  If you put too much flour in a bread recipe you can compensate to a degree by adding other ingredients like water and salt.  So it's still possible to design an instrument that hits the sweet spot but only if other materials are selected to compensate eg.  a softer or lighter body to soak up harsh frequencies. 

John Diggins, having done a fretstone on my main bass, described the neck as ‘spongy’ (although it hardly ever moves). It has some flame in it. I’ve definitely had other basses - including other Rics - with stiffer necks, but as you say, they’ve always lacked the growl and openness and generally sound more brittle. 

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6 hours ago, Kiwi said:

There are some types of maple which have a better chance of being in the sweet spot than others,  flame and birdseye for example.  Some plain kinds too,  such as the stuff Ken Smith uses.  There are some types that can be too rigid like in the Skarbee Celinder I used to own and need to be laminated with something darker sounding like wenge to get back in the zone.  Wenge and flamed maple in Sei basses is very nice. 

Doesn't lamination normally make something stiffer as typically the different laminates are supporting each other? 

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1 hour ago, LukeFRC said:

Doesn't lamination normally make something stiffer as typically the different laminates are supporting each other? 

 Yes it does and if you compare different basses with a 7 piece laminated neck, they'll generally tend converge in terms of how they sound irrespective of the woods used. This is because the construction method has more of an impact on timbre as the pieces of wood laminate get thinner.  

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30 minutes ago, Kiwi said:

Yes it does and if you compare different basses with a 7 piece laminated neck, they'll generally tend converge in terms of how they sound irrespective of the woods used.

Or perhaps, the wood type/species doesn't have much effect on the tone of a solid body instrument at all.

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I find it really interesting and positive that a conversation on finding the mythical "one" has ended up talking about the difference the stiffness and construction of the neck makes. 
 

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The stiffness of the neck is a huge contributing factor to the overall timbre.

I've owned two of the same model that sounded wildly different & the biggest difference was the neck. The one with the much stiffer neck sounded brilliant, the other just sounded 'normal', like has been mentioned earlier, it sounded like any other bass.

IME laminated necks aren't necessarily stiffer, one of the flimsiest necks I've ever seen was a 5-pc Maple with Walnut stringers.

 

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44 minutes ago, TheLowDown said:

Or perhaps, the wood type/species doesn't have much effect on the tone of a solid body instrument at all.

Have you ever made your own bass?  Not from premade parts but actually made it from blocks of timber and then experimented with different parts?  It depends on what someone is looking for as well.  You might be looking for something different to what I'm looking for.  You might also be sensitive to different aspects compared to me.  But I've definitely found The One on occasion.

42 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

I find it really interesting and positive that a conversation on finding the mythical "one" has ended up talking about the difference the stiffness and construction of the neck makes. 
 

I'm guilty as charged only because I'm interested in finding out whether one-ness (in terms of what works for me) is either a matter of luck or whether there's some way to get it happening consistently.  So far it seems there are different ways to get it.  It's like a recipe.  But like any recipe, the most distinctive flavour combinations rely on maybe three or four ingredients, carefully balanced. 

25 minutes ago, Killed_by_Death said:

 

The stiffness of the neck is a huge contributing factor to the overall timbre.

I've owned two of the same model that sounded wildly different & the biggest difference was the neck. The one with the much stiffer neck sounded brilliant, the other just sounded 'normal', like has been mentioned earlier, it sounded like any other bass.

IME laminated necks aren't necessarily stiffer, one of the flimsiest necks I've ever seen was a 5-pc Maple with Walnut stringers.

 

Traditionally its the fingerboard that provides most of the stiffness in double basses.  This is why the ebony is ridiculously thick.  Approaches have changed a little with lamination and carbon composite construction though.

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49 minutes ago, TheLowDown said:

Or perhaps, the wood type/species doesn't have much effect on the tone of a solid body instrument at all.

This is obviously the subject of much debate. However the particular piece(s) of wood, species aside, certainly has a great deal of impact IME. 

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@TheGreek it's tricky as it would be a shame to stick with a Bass that doesn't sound/play/fit quite right when there is potentially one out there that does, but there is possibly also a certain amount of 'grass is always greener'; always chasing after something slightly unobtainable, a collector mentality, and the fun of getting new things  (I'm speaking about myself here - I've bought/sold 4 Basses in the last year).  

I also bought/sold about 10 fuzz pedals last year before finding the best one for me, but once I got it I was actually a bit disappointed with myself for spending so much time and effort on something so trivial. I found in the end that the £20 Behringer super fuzz doesn't sound all that different or less enjoyable to use than fuzz pedals 10x the cost.

Personally, I'm now trying to focus any dis-satisfaction I have with my sound and playing experience on needing more practice and band playing time rather than getting new gear. I'm sure I could get a Bass that makes a better P style thump, and another that has a better B string, and another that's easier to slap, or a better compressor, but probably the best use of my time is to practice more with what I've already got. 

Edited by SumOne
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40 minutes ago, Killed_by_Death said:

 

The stiffness of the neck is a huge contributing factor to the overall timbre.

I've owned two of the same model that sounded wildly different & the biggest difference was the neck. The one with the much stiffer neck sounded brilliant, the other just sounded 'normal', like has been mentioned earlier, it sounded like any other bass.

IME laminated necks aren't necessarily stiffer, one of the flimsiest necks I've ever seen was a 5-pc Maple with Walnut stringers.

 

Not necessarily related to stiffness per se, but of all the many basses I’ve owned, the ones where the necks have moved most have all been laminates (and expensive ones at that). And the absolute worst of them, by a country mile, also had carbon fibre reinforcement. 

Edited by 4000
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IME you can dial back a 'modern' sounding bass to sound vintage ('warm'), but you can't dial UP a vintage-sounding bass to sound modern.

So, I always shoot for the former when I'm 'shopping'.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, 4000 said:

Not necessarily related to stiffness per se, but of all the many basses I’ve owned, the ones where the necks have moved most have all been laminates (and expensive ones at that). 

Good point. It isn't lamination that's critical. It's how it's done, materials used, etc. If, for example, glues or resins that move/soften with variations in temperature or humidity are employed, a laminate can be less stable than a single piece of timber. Lamination can be a way of enabling less expensive timbers to be used, too. Of course, manufacturers will try to sell it to us as a benefit...

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2 minutes ago, Killed_by_Death said:

 

IME you can dial back a 'modern' sounding bass to sound vintage ('warm'), but you can't dial UP a vintage-sounding bass to sound modern.

So, I always shoot for the former when I'm 'shopping'.

 

 

IME it’s far, far more complicated than “vintage” and “modern”, or “warm” and “bright”. You can have 100 different basses that all sound similarly “vintage” or “modern” etc but they still won’t sound the same. The trick is finding the one that works best for you. When buying, I just choose the one I most like the sound of. 

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It's complicated for people who want to justify owning heaps of basses, LOL!

If I have One that can be bright but dialed back for p-bass-like sounds, I have everything I need.

 

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Just now, Dan Dare said:

Good point. It isn't lamination that's critical. It's how it's done, materials used, etc. If, for example, glues or resins that move/soften with variations in temperature or humidity are employed, a laminate can be less stable than a single piece of timber. Lamination can be a way of enabling less expensive timbers to be used, too. Of course, manufacturers will try to sell it to us as a benefit...

Well in all instances they were expensive, bespoke basses. But the most common factor, apart from the multi-laminate necks, were that the maple laminates in those necks were very heavily flamed. I could literally walk from one room to another and if there was a noticeable change in temperature and/or humidity, they moved. I had other instruments from the same builder where the maple had little or no flame and they were fine. 

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35 minutes ago, 4000 said:

This is obviously the subject of much debate. However the particular piece(s) of wood, species aside, certainly has a great deal of impact IME. 

I agree, and there's quite a bit of variability within a tree as well which can mean specifying by species alone won't guarantee predictable results.  Swamp ash for example can yield very light wood at the top of the tree and much denser wood at the bottom.  And I've already mentioned maple which is probably affected by the same considerations.  But then there are some harder species like wenge, ebony and rosewood which vary less according to where in the tree they came from.  So both sides of the argument are right.  Wood is highly variable but that doesn't take away from the fact that luthiers who are highly experienced in using only a handful of species from known sources should be able to get more consistent results.  Sheldon Dingwall makes some very consistent instruments and he once told me that the slabs get weighed to see how close they are to a target weight.  I believe EB does the same as well. 

So far my 'one' if I want a Jazz bass, involves a light weight body, probably swamp ash, a maple neck erring on the softer side with a nice, rigid fingerboard - rock maple or maybe even richlite or ebony.

If I want something for RnB or soul or anything Nathan East might play on, then it would be flamed maple and wenge neck with ebony fingerboard as a starting point.  If the neck is bolt on then the body will need to be a lightweight mahogany.  If the neck is through body then probably alder or lightweight ash.   

 

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I’m not sure it’s directly related just to the wood, but generally speaking I tend to be a fan of maple basses. Obviously I like Rickenbackers but I’m a big fan of Pedulla MVPs too. Where mahogany is involved as a body wood I’ve generally been less enamoured, although I’m aware there may be other factors at play. But maple basses IME seem to have a particular quality, a certain type of clarity and openness, that I like. 

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46 minutes ago, 4000 said:

I’m not sure it’s directly related just to the wood, but generally speaking I tend to be a fan of maple basses. Obviously I like Rickenbackers but I’m a big fan of Pedulla MVPs too. Where mahogany is involved as a body wood I’ve generally been less enamoured, although I’m aware there may be other factors at play. But maple basses IME seem to have a particular quality, a certain type of clarity and openness, that I like. 

I like mahogany in guitars a lot.  I'm planning a couple of builds with mahogany necks (laminated) and bodies.  Basses are nice too, one of my self builds has a mahogany body and it's got a lovely mellowness and warmth to it despite a graphite composite bolt on neck. My spector 5 is all maple and, judging by the neck, soft maple too.  But there is a nice purr to the timbre.  My all maple Pedulla has less of a purr and is a bit sterile sounding but that neck is dead straight and rigid.  So the action is very low.

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On 08/02/2021 at 18:12, greavesbass said:

I think most here are missing the point. There are basically with some subtle variations  three bass tones. Jaco, Squire and everyone else.

The Jaco tone is used by cruisers, pit guys and jazzers across the board with subtle variations.

The Squire "clank" and variations is used by Punks, Metal heads etc etc

And the rest which is a soft P bassy type of tone by just about everybody else.

There are no other radically different tones from those listed...unless you use a flanger reverb, or whah peddle all the time.

That's going to upset all those people who paid for both pickups on a J bass, to discover that they need only have bought one with a bridge pickup.

Just about all my basses are twin pickup, and I never play on just the bridge pickup. And I don't use overdrive or distortion.

WTF is a Jaco tone? I'm aware of his existence and that he played a fretless J using the bridge pickup but that seems quite a specialist application to describe as a general tone.

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11 hours ago, Kiwi said:

I've owned Modulus basses with both extremes.  One had a rigid neck, low action and very brittle sound.  The other sounded great, very warm but the neck was bowed because the phenolic resin used on the fingerboard wasn't mixed properly and rigid enough.  Both had lightweight alder bodies and identical hardware and EMG electronics. 

Was that due to the overall rigidity, though, or the fingerboard material? Just thinking back to when I had a Status, which had a rather clattery neck.

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