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Hey peeps. I did this one a while ago but thought I better join this group as I have two commissions for basses starting soon. They are both for legendary bass players here in Australia. The first is a 2-stringer because the player saw Hall & Oates bass guy with one in the 80's. I was on a tour with them last year and didn't see a 2-stringer bass, but anyhoo... The second will be a 4 stringer.
This one was build #18. I'm finishing #31 now so it seems like a long time ago. I found those jewellery boxes that are made to look like books. They are made out of mdf/particle board and covered in vinyl so acoustically they are crap, but for a bass they go OK. The demo was played by the guy who has now ordered the 2-stringer. It only has a piezo in it. At that time it was a disc under the lid. I wanted less box handling noise and fret clack (basses are REALLY clacky) so I changed to a rod piezo in the bridge but if anything that was worse. Obvious conclusion: you have to use bass mag pickups in a bass, well at least a crappy box bass like this.
So here it is, with disc piezo. I have to say it sounded pretty good thru a bass amp but you have to be so careful how you play it or you get a lot of extraneous thumps and stuff.
Any advice on 2 string basses would be very welcome. E A? String spacing? I'm thinking of using a bass humbucker pair (usual cheapie on ebay) but aligning them one under each string with all 4 poles on that string so each string would have its own pickup and I'll get heaps of output with each string exciting 4 poles.
Your builds confirm you as a craftsman. Ever check out guitarfetish.com for pickups? Solid quality. BTW I'm not associated with them, just a very satisfied customer.
Too kind. I've since added the cheap p bass humbuckers and it sounds great.
Suggest D-G tuning. That would give a nice useful low D which is always a popular note. Especially in rock. A-D would also work out well for me. But I think the style of music and the preferred keys he plays in should best dictate that. For spacing I'd stick close to standard bass string spacing on a 4 or 5-string. Most bass players have a definite preference about that, so I'd ask what his favorite or main instrument is and copy the string spacing off of that.
Also, the low E string is used as a thumb "anchor point" by many bass players. So put a small hump or rail on the body of the bass about a string space or so away from the low string. This gives him something to hook his thumb on in case he doesn't play with a "floating" hand. Run it between the neck and the bridge becaise many bass players mover their hand up and down the length of the plucking area to get different tones out of their instrument.
Godin used to do this on their A4 basses (see below), and of which I am the proud owner of an earlier fretless version that uses the same design BTW. :-))
For piezo I'd go with a good quality element rather than just any old alarm element type. And put in a decent preamp to control it. Ideally 3-band. Piezos sound really harsh (crappy?) on a bass without a good (and not too red hot) preamp.
They also sound best mixed with a regular mag pup AFAIC. By themselves they sound a little nasal . Even on my Godin, which has a top notch onboard preamp, I find myself wishing it had a regular mag pup I could mix in to get a more versatile sound. Despite playing with a light touch I still have to push the treble almost all the way down, keep the mids just a bit on (about 1) and the bass at about 30-60% - and all that with the preamp volume down around 2 to get a workable sound. Push it up above that and I get honks and thumps and clanks galore. I love the thing. But it's a real challenge at times for me to play it and get a controllable sound.
So do your customer a favor and put a passive mag pup on it too.
Just my tuppence anyway. :-)
Thanks for the tips. It's nearly finished. It will have a couple of P Bass humbuckers in it and same piezo/preamp setup as the Book Bass. Although now that I have the magpups in the Book Bass, putting a piezo in seems redundant. He wants it very dubby anyway. Might not put the piezo in.
String spacing is a bit tricky on a 2 string because you don't want the neck so thin it feels like a broomstick. I ended up making the spacing quite wide (16mm). It's fine because he plays double bass too and that is WIDE string spacing. And it's a 29" short scale so it isn't too hard to get around.
He sent me E and A shortscale flatwound strings.
Yeah, I put a rail on (same as Book Bass).
Didn't want to say this earlier since you're the builder, but now that you brought it up I'd suggest dropping the piezo too. IMHO they don't add all that much to the bass sound. Especially during a live performance on stage. And if he ever does need a more "acoustic" sound in the studio, they can always close mike it and mix that signal in with the pickup signal on the board. Again just my 2 cents - and worth exactly that much. :-))
Don't forget to post a video or sound file when it's done. I'm always interested in anything bass.
Yeah, eK. You can hear the piezo, then the magpups, in action in the Book Bass here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r436LQw5Ma8&list=UUaj91dAbWESE2T...
The piezo isn't too bad. Pretty flat on the preamp, just wound some treble off. But the humbuckers are much better. As you know, playing the piezo sound is very demanding because it picks up so much fret, neck and box noise. This is a disc installed the way I always do them. I tried a rod under the saddle but it didn't sound as good. No blend pot, just a switch. There is really no point in blending them, just select the quirky piezo or the solid magpup sound and there's heaps of variation in your right hand anyway, plus the tone pot and preamp eq.
OK, all done. Here's a demo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64dRbc7Ka9E&list=UUaj91dAbWESE2T...