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"Tightening" up the tone from my E String ......


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Hi,   
My P Bass eString lacks definition.   By this I mean that compared to the other strings it is rather boomy and sustained with little attack.    This is the case whether fretted or open, but probably the effect is more noticeable when the string is played unfretted. 

I've swapped out the pick up for a high quality one and adjusted the string heights (up and down).   I've also tried a variety of strings on the bass from Thomastic infelds/ LaBella flats, Fender Flats and Sadowsky roundwounds.     All in all these changes, whilst they each change the tone somewhat, do not resolve the issue of the E String sounding less defined than its counterparts.  

The only things I can think of changing now are the Nut - either get a new one or get it checked out to see if the slots are OK for the strings, or replacing the bridge.

I guess the alternative is that, for me, the bass is a bit too Old School/Motown.

 

It plays really well, the neck is great both in terms of profile and width/depth.

 

So, does the panel think that this is just a characteristic of the Bass - kind of a "baked in sound", or, are there other thing to try to get it a bit more even across the strings?   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How are you 'hearing' the bass - could the issue be down to the amplifier? How does it sound played acoustically? I always think a low action and less relief gives notes a bit of growl/clank which helps add 'definition' and removes that flat sounding 'buh buh' wooly vibe. I know you've tried changing action so maybe give the truss rod a try.

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Hi Ped - Thanks for that.  

Yep should have been clearer - for each set of strings I've adjusted the truss rod to get the action as low as I can without buzzing - so it's pretty low.    The sound is the same whether listened too via Beyerdynamic 770 Pro  Headphones from Mixer plus high quality Headphone Amp or through either of my amps and/or cabs.   

Acoustically it's hard to say other than there is very good sustain across all the strings on the bass.  Tonally there may be a little difference for the E-String.

The bass has been set up/fret levelled etc. recently, but I have to admit that the alternative stings were all tried following the set-up.   

Can't say there's a definitive difference with detuning the E String. 

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You say the action is low - but make sure the E string isn't too close to the pickup. Although this can often mean that you get a higher level of output from individual strings, I have found previously that it can adversely affect the E string.

 

The theory is that if the string is too close, the magnet can dampen the strings vibrations.

 

Worth a whirl trying to lower it a tad anyway. I find that I have to lower the top of the pickups slightly more than you may think...

 

What strings are you using, out of interest?

 

Best of luck sorting it 

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I’ve found that I need to have the pickups under the E way lower than the rest, at least 4mm lower than the A to start with, then adjust once with the band to get it right. At home on a small practice amp this generally means that the E is weaker but on a gigging rig it’s then where I need it to be. 

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Hi,  Thanks all,

The strings have been all sorts ... but now LaBella Deep Talkin flats 45 - 105.

The issue isn't one of volume really, its more the lack of attack and too much sustain.  Currently 4mm between top of Pup pole and bottom of string.  I've tried more but didn't seem to help - I'll have another go tomorrow, but 

I'm not sure I could get the clearance between the E and the pickup 4mm lower than the A - it'd be a huge gradient and I imagine I'd need to raise the string heights hugely to achieve this.   Surely the right edge of the pickup would stick up like an Iceberg!   I'll fiddle tomorrow .............. 

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Not quite sure, but they have been checked over by the guitar workshop.  They are not the originals (which I have) so I guess they are upgrades to the originals done over the last few years.    I'll disembowel the instrument and have a look as soon as I get time - probably later this week.   Or I could see if someone could supply some replacement pots etc.   If only I could find someone who did that ...........😇.

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High pass fllter takes out useless flabby mush. See if you can borrow a rack crossover unit with 1/4", before they are all chucked in skips. Amp fx loop to crossover, mids to fx return. Set low range to around 60hz and if it's a three way set the high split up in the gods so you don't miss your sizzle.

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3 minutes ago, Pirellithecat said:

Hmm, I probably wouldn't be happy doing that certainly not until I'd tried to understand what's going on - after all it could just be my "perception" of the sound.

 

Are you able to record and upload a clip of you playing the bass?  Then people might be able to say if something sounds wrong to them, or if that's just what a P bass with La Bellas is meant to sound like (as alluded in your opening post - perhaps it turns out it is just not your preferred sound).

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Is the neck really well tightened as a not firmly screwed (and maybe screwed up too 🙃 ) neck acts as a dampener. And a too soft body will act the same way.

 

If there's a shim, check that it's made out of hard material.

 

Otherwise @chris_b is right and just sell it. Bad instruments do exist and by Fender it's even a kind of epitome. The good ones are quite rare simply linked to the fact that they assemble parts without caring if they really fit together and just sell the whole as an instrument, not giving a sh*t if it's good or bad : they just have to make profit. Harsh for some, but it's the plain truth.

 

The funny thing is that I'm still looking for a very good sounding P-Bass after more than 30 years : there's always something wrong and I've played a lot and owned a lot too...

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in my experience the E string does sound a bit 'loose' and seems to lack a bit definition, careful EQing helps, but it's the nature of the beast, notes played on the E string above the 5th fret don't seem to sound as defined as those played on the higher strings, but they can cut through better in the mix YMMV

Edited by PaulWarning
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Sell it and buy a reverse P bass. 

I can't hear what you're hearing so can't say for sure, but maybe your just don't like the sound of a standard P bass. 

A reverse P put the E/A pickup closer to the bridge to give slightly more attack and less boomy, with the D/G side nearer the neck to give a fuller, rounder sounding top end. The result gives a better balanced sound across all strings, and solves the woolly low end, thin top end inherent in a standard P. 

This is of course subjective and open to debate but that's the theory and it might just fix your 'problem'. 

Maybe try one out. 

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16 hours ago, Dan Dare said:

I find a lighter E string sounds clearer. It might be counter-intuitive, but most would agree that the upper/thinner strings have better definition. Try it. It works for me.

Good call, I use 45-100s or 50-105s now which I find sounds a lot more balanced than the traditional 45-105 or 50-110.

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Well, I've been trying some of the ideas concerning action etc. and I think I'm getting somewhere .........   I do think that the E strings sits rather high/appears disproportionately "large" on the nut, so I reckon the nut will need fettling.  And I like the idea of a slightly lighter gauge E string.  I guess that'll need a "Ready Aim Fire" approach - ie change string, do nut (to fit new string) if necessary, check action ....... PLAY! 

I'll let you know!

  

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In addition to all the great advice above...

 

If you stick your ear on the top horn and play the E (unamplified), does it sound mushy?

 

Is the E-string saddle stable enough on the bridge, or is it sliding about a little too easily?

 

If you screw the pickups right down, as far as you can, does it improve things?

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