help me a design a bass for piano string sound

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by slopeshoulder, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    Hi. Please help me design a bass for "piano string" sound.
    I don't want a Ric (too "copper pipe" sounding), but something in the Squire, Phil Lesh, Greg Lake (brain salad surgery) piano string direction.
    I'm all ears, but was maybe thinking bolt on neck, mahogany body, two dark stars spread apart. I suppose i could do a neck through design. I'd rather not have to buy an Alembic.
    What do you think/say/advise?
     
  2. bbocaner

    bbocaner Member

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    I'd do a mult-lam neck with ebony fingerboard. Stay away from anything too exotic in the neck, it should be predominantly maple. Mahogany body would be great if you do neck-through, but I think it'd be too mid-heavy as a bolt-on. Get a beefy bridge.

    As far as pickups, look at the q-tuners. They're very different than the low-z darkstar/alembic model you are trying to replicate, but they do a great job at replicating the sound with a different philosophy.

    Take a look at the AC guitars filter-based preamp, too -- although I'd check with them on how compatible they'd be with the q-tuner pickups.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008
  3. Alpha Audio Works

    Alpha Audio Works Member

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    Two words....... Modulus Quantum!
     
  4. BigDoug1053

    BigDoug1053 Supporting Member

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    I think a bolt-on neck would be inappropriate to get a clear piano-like tone. Check out neck-through the body basses. My Warwick Thumb Bass 5 has a very piano like sound and it's a neck-through. Steinbergers can also get that tone, so graphite necks might help. I had a XP Steinberger bolt on - wood body with graphite neck - and it sounded fabulous - real clarity with punch. Older Steinberger XL basses (all composite) would do it too.

    good luck!:BEER
     
  5. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I disagree.

    It doesn't make sense to me, as a neck thru or set neck instrument should transver vibration better- but IME, the most resonant basses are bolt ons.

    A maple neck bolted to an ash or alder body has historically been proven to give bright, ring-y tone. Mahogany, as mentioned, when used in basses, tends to give that middy sound that doesn't have the brightness or resonance that I associate with a "piano" like sound.

    Make sure you're going full scale and if you're interested in using the Darkstars- pickup placement is going to be key regardless of the pickup you're using. I like the typical "Fender Bass" sound. If you look at all the successful Fender basses, the pickup is always in the same scale location. With the original P, the post 57 P, the Jazz neck pickup, the G&L L series instruments- the pickup is always in the same location on scale.
     
  6. fendernazi

    fendernazi Member

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    I hate to admit it but a very long time ago i used an Ibanez Soundgear with a mid scoop and got that very same piano type sound. i wouldn't recommend anyone buy an Ibanez or scoop the mids but it is a bass that can do it.

    And bolt on is a way better direction to go for that sound. Whoever was talking about the neck thru having it is getting that tone from the pre amp in the active circuit because no passive neck thru is going to give you that sound.
     
  7. theroan

    theroan Member

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    I would model somthing after a Warwick Neck Through, Ebony neck was a great call. Perhaps a chambered body? Check German bass companies they really define boutique basses to me. A 2 piece bridge is essential. Along with a dense heavy wood.

    In regards to the neck through debate, when it comes to resonance and sustain there is no way a bolt on can compete with a neck-through. If that wasn't the case people wouldn't shell out for neck through. Boltons have there advantages but for a piano sound, neck through is the way to go.
     
  8. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    People shell out for a neck-through more often than not because they believe it's "better." I think people attempt to apply what they think would make the most sense to one continious piece of wood having superior resonance and sustain than two pieces connected together either by bolts or glue. IME, that's not the case.

    What neck through basses have this piano sound? Definitely not my Thunderbird. Not the Ibanez SR1500 I used to have, but possibly my old Rick- but the pickups didn't allow for that sound in an even distribution of frequencies- it was either really bright and plinky or muddy thuddy.
     
  9. bbocaner

    bbocaner Member

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    People shell out more for neck-through instruments because neck-through instruments take more labor to build and therefore are generally more expensive.

    There isn't one construction method that is better than another. They sound different.

    The archtypical "piano string" instrument is Alembic, which are almost always neck through. The sound can be had with a bolt-on, too.
     
  10. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    it may be more about the rig than the bass, as long as it's a clear-sounding long scale.
     
  12. Sir M

    Sir M Member

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    Norstrand quad coil pickups. Extra scale length... maybe 36" for 4 string, 37" for 5 or more. Glockenklang preamp. Maybe, piezo bridge saddles. Thats all I got... :RoCkIn
     
  13. Zilmo

    Zilmo Member

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  14. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    And according to Alembic, the ebony strips in the neck contribute a lot to that sound.
     
  15. bbocaner

    bbocaner Member

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    I don't think so. Ebony stringers in the neck is kind of an unusual feature for alembic, but when they use it they always say it contributes to a strong fundamental and good sustain. Sustain is good, but "strong fundamental" isn't what I think of when I think of the stereotypical "piano" sounding bass -- I want lots of colorful overtones. Granted, I have not heard an alembic with ebony stringers in the neck, but given how alembic describes it...

    More often, alembic uses things like vermilion, purpleheart, cherry, along with maple.
     
  16. James Hill

    James Hill Member

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    Modulus modified with 2Tek bridge.
     
  17. Zilmo

    Zilmo Member

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    To die for.
     
  18. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Ditto on the 2TEK.

    Pure genius.

    Pure, great freakin' sounding genius I mean.
     
  19. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    What's going on with the 2Tek stuff?

    I remember they were going to get things going again (was this through that Lynn guy?) and I was interested a while ago- but lost interest.
     
  20. BigDoug1053

    BigDoug1053 Supporting Member

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    My Warwick Thumb Bass 5 is neck-trough - but also has a brass nut. That nut probably contributes to the piano like tone, but the neck-through is important too. I did have a Steinberger XP bass with a bolt-on carbon composite neck that was also very barky and clear. But composite necks are very rigid and stable.

    Neck stability and rigidity is important to a piano like tone. So I stick with recommending a neck-through generally - though a brass nut or zero fret on a serious bolt on might give you the same effect. It all depends on the mysterious interaction between materials, design, and build quality.

    With so many variables affecting the tone of an instrument, the down side is that a custom instrument could cost you a lot and still not deliver the tone you seek. I would try to play as many different types by quality builders as you can to see if you can get the tone you want. I suggest checking out Warwick, Steinberger, Modulus, Music Man, and Zon. The touch basses like the Warr and Mobius are also piano like. There are some really fantastic "non-custom" basses out there!
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2008

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