Fretless bass strings

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Fretless bass strings

Postby Steve Gambrell on Sun Mar 09, 2008 2:29 am

I'm not a REAL bass player, but I get enough calls to own a bass. Then, naturally, GAS kicks in, and I gotta have a fretless. No big bucks, a MIM J-bass, but it's cool. Anybody know what the best strings are for that "BWOOAAHH" sound that comes from a fretless? Setup tips?
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Re: Fretless bass strings

Postby claudel on Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:28 am

Steve Gambrell wrote:I'm not a REAL bass player, but I get enough calls to own a bass. Then, naturally, GAS kicks in, and I gotta have a fretless. No big bucks, a MIM J-bass, but it's cool. Anybody know what the best strings are for that "BWOOAAHH" sound that comes from a fretless? Setup tips?


For me, it' s Maxima/Optima Golds, heaviest gauge along with completely flat relief...

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The hollow body on the Bubba Bass helps, too.
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Postby brycebites on Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:08 am

You're talking about the Jaco mwwaahhh? A low action, but not too low, and roundwound strings. The only problem with woundrounds is that they will chew up the fretboard a lot quicker than flatwound strings. I use Thomastik flats and they are very nice.

If you want something in between have a look at halfwounds. The only trouble with these is every manufacture makes them slightly differently. So much so, that some of them (d'Addario and Status from the ones I've tried) are a lot more like flatwounds, where as the Rotosound strings are what I would consider half way between wound and flat - they have the smoothness to give your fretboard (and fingers) a break but still have the clarity of wounds, which as I said, is what you're after to get that sound.
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Postby ozsubrosa on Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:32 pm

I've had d'Addario flats put on my fretless Jazz, and I'm not getting the Jamerson whump I'm after. Then again, they're new so maybe I'll like them more in a few years.

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Postby brycebites on Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:10 am

ozsubrosa wrote:I've had d'Addario flats put on my fretless Jazz, and I'm not getting the Jamerson whump I'm after. Then again, they're new so maybe I'll like them more in a few years.

Oz


In my experience you won't Oz - they're far too bright. For a start you'll really need a precision to do so ;) but for the Jamerson thump try Gali or La Bella. As a note the La Bella aren't suited for through stringing.
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Postby ozsubrosa on Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:33 am

Yes, it was the wrong sort of bass to start with, :lol: , but you know what I mean. I had the Jazz fitted out with the Graphtech Ghost piezo setup by a good tech (quite a workload, as it turned out) and wanted some old fashioned thumpy strings. I got quite disorganized (the tech lives near a very large shopping mall my wife is quick to drag me to) and did not sort out strings, leaving the choice to him.

The Dads, as you say, are really too bright for what I was after (the piezo is nice but not particularly acousticky) and, from what I'd read at The Bottom Line I would probably have gone for LaBella myself. Still, at the cost of the Dads, I'm going to play the money's worth out of them; perhaps after working on my car, eating some BBQ ribs and a few custard doughnuts without washing my hands. If that doesn't work, my arteries will be so hardened I'll keel over anyway.

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Postby brycebites on Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:29 am

You could try the Jamerson approach of smearing butter on them! Of course I don't know if that's true or not. One other point on the LaBella's - I have also found maple fretboards (should that be fingerboards being fretless?) don't help in the sound department.
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Postby 1953Vintage on Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:01 pm

I use Sadowsky Blues "Bright Nickel" (45 to 105). These strings have a clear fundamental with light tension, and get the mwaaaah thing big time. My fretless is a no-name Jazz body with an Allparts lined-Ebony neck. The pickups are Nordstrand NJ4SV running passive.

You can accentuate this mwaaah sound on most fretless basses by plucking closer to the center of the string (just over the bottom end of the fingerboard): you don't have to rely on low action. The larger string vibration will make the difference.

Round wounds will typically produce this sound FAR easier than flats.

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Postby ozsubrosa on Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:33 pm

It's a rosewood f/board (covers all bases; fret or finger :) ) and, by the looks of it, not the Indian rosewood prevalent on most guitars these days. Choosing flats was as much a case of saving the wood (don't fancy the Jaco "several coats of marine yacht varnish" approach) as seeking the thump.

As '53 says, I find that working the string just ahead of the neck/body join gets closest to the tone. Surprisingly effective (and cheap) method of varying tone; finger placement.

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Postby 1953Vintage on Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:06 pm

Surprisingly effective (and cheap) method of varying tone; finger placement.


And this also allows for less fidgeting with EQ knobs: tone really is in the fingers, isn't it.

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Postby ozsubrosa on Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:40 pm

:lol: , you reminded me. Over on Guitarsite, a fellow mod (Lee) wrote "95% of tone is in the fingers" and somebody registered to violently disagree with him. It wasn't just that the bloke reckoned a digital modeller can make anyone sound like Brian May or Dave Gilmour (I begged to differ) but he was obsessed with exactly how the figure of 95% came to.

An incredibly lengthy, and just a little bit anal, flame-war ensued :shock:

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Postby gypsy moth on Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:25 pm

I always walk/sit with my hands pointed up, so that the tone dripping from my fingertips doesn't stain the floors, furniture etc :wink:
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Postby Painterman on Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:55 pm

gypsy moth wrote:I always walk/sit with my hands pointed up, so that the tone dripping from my fingertips doesn't stain the floors, furniture etc :wink:



You too!?!

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Postby 1953Vintage on Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:16 pm

I always walk/sit with my hands pointed up, so that the tone dripping from my fingertips doesn't stain the floors, furniture etc


Rubber gloves do it for me. This way I can reuse the leaked tone.
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