Help me design a bass for slapping

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Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:11 am

Dear MIMF,

Please help me design a lightweight bass for slapping.

I'm an acoustic guitar guy, and I'm increasingly specializing in classical and finger style guitar.
So I have no idea what makes a great bass.

I'm thinking of building a Moll MIMF bass, and asking Jason Lollar for the pickups.
Currently, I'm considering a Port orford cedar neck through with walnut cap.
I'm thinking of a 34" scale, with twin carbon reinforcements.
The wings may be chambered.

The friend I'm building for will probably be happy with anything, but I'd like this to be awesome.

Any tips on what makes a great bass?
I'm thinking of a stiff, resonant body.

-Matt
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby David King » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:56 am

Well If your friend is a "slapper" he'll have a much better idea about what he needs than any of us. If he's not a slapper then I probably wouldn't encourage him in that direction but that's just me.
I'd start off with 21 frets and put the front pickup pretty close to where it is on a Jazz bass (6.2" from the G string saddle).
I'd probably start with a maple neck and a maple fingerboard but he's not into that then ebony board or anything you can find that's harder. Dymond wood®/ pakka wood® have certain properties that work well with roundwound strings. Unfortunately they smell terrible when you sand them...
The single most important aspect is getting the fret board flat so that when the string are on and you have a gentle neck relief you don't have any fingerboard "falloff" above the 15th fret. When you slap a string you want that string to hit all the fret tops down the fingerboard at the same instant so that the string bounces back immediately with no weird gyrations going through it. (Think like you were a jump roper here.)
As the violin guys like to repeat. "The only secret to a good instrument is to get a thousand little things right".
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:31 pm

David,

Thanks for the reply.

My friend actually doesn't know what he wants.
He mainly wants" lightweight" and "sounds great."
He showed me a YouTube clip of an inanez ergodyne bass.

Does that help?

I emailed Louie Atenza, and he recommended EMG active pickups.
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby John Meyers » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:23 pm

I would do like David said and do a maple neck with maple finger board bolt on. Lightweight ash body. Do a MM style pup in the correct MusicMan stingray position. If you want to add a little something more add a Jazz bass pick up in the correct neck position. You should do active electronics as well. This combo will give you/him what they want. The great thing about this pickup option is you can make the bridge MM style pick coil switchable to get a close to full on Jazz bass tone as well. Also low action makes for a sweet slap tone. Pickup compnay options: Bass Line, Nordstrand, GFS would be my top choices and if you want a real hi-fi sound (mho) then go with EMG or Bartolini. Electronics: 2 band or 3 band will work: Again Bassline, Nordstrand, Aguilar, Sydowski and then again EMG and Bartolini.

Hope this helps.
I don't make mistakes, I make adjustments!
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:01 pm

I appreciate the tips.

Btw, why a bolt on? It's actually easier for me to do a neck through.
Why maple?
Am I going for stiffness, mass, dampening?
Is there a specific wiring scheme that you recommend?

Lastly, is that list in order of preference?
As in are basslines your favorites?
Matthew Lau
 
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby David King » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:26 am

Btw, why a bolt on? It's actually easier for me to do a neck through.

Matthew, bolt-ons have the reputation of being punchier whatever that means. I think a good bass could be made either way.
Why maple?

Maple's purported virtue is it's brightness. Slappers can never seem to get enough treble out of their instruments so we try to pack in as much as possible at the start. A lot of bass players seem to have substantial high frequency hearing loss, not sure why that is but they blow out a lot of bullet tweeters. They don't seem to notice that hiss when they boost their treble knobs past 11 either.

Am I going for stiffness, mass, dampening?

All of the above.

Is there a specific wiring scheme that you recommend?

Standard issue is volume - blend- tone *but some will insist on volume - volume - tone. If you give them active controls they will use (and abuse them).

Lastly, is that list in order of preference?
As in are basslines your favorites?

John should answer this obviously but I'll give my out of date and highly jaded response anyway. ;)
Bartolinis will give the flattest frequency response but may be a PIA to get your hands on if you need to get a specific model.
EMGs are very much a love-em or hate-em thing. That's partly due to that fact that they sound pretty boring and there's no way to get away from their sound.
There's a whole lot of bs surrounding pickups, they all work well in a good bass but it takes an exceptional pickup to make a lousy bass sound good.
You could do a lot worse than the EMG passive HZ line. The Nordstrand big singles have been the flavor du jour for a number of years now so perhaps that's a safe bet too. I've been winding all my pickups just so that I don't have to think about this stuff any more. There are many many very competent pickup makers around now, too many to try them all in a lifetime.

Preamps are all going to be pretty equivalent give or take a few HZ. Most of them are still using TL072s (which came out in 1978!). East pro is still top of the line. Bartolini is probably still the quietest. I use a lot of Auderes but I don't know that I'd recommend them to a first time builder. Getting the gain structure just right is critical and that means designing a pickup around them.

If you use the Moll plans you will have a really hard time keeping the weight down. The last MIMF bass weighed in at 11 lb. Anything over 8 is a stretch in my world.
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby John Meyers » Wed May 01, 2013 11:52 am

David King wrote:
Btw, why a bolt on? It's actually easier for me to do a neck through.

Matthew, bolt-ons have the reputation of being punchier whatever that means. I think a good bass could be made either way.
Why maple?

Maple's purported virtue is it's brightness. Slappers can never seem to get enough treble out of their instruments so we try to pack in as much as possible at the start. A lot of bass players seem to have substantial high frequency hearing loss, not sure why that is but they blow out a lot of bullet tweeters. They don't seem to notice that hiss when they boost their treble knobs past 11 either.

Am I going for stiffness, mass, dampening?

All of the above.

Is there a specific wiring scheme that you recommend?

Standard issue is volume - blend- tone *but some will insist on volume - volume - tone. If you give them active controls they will use (and abuse them).

Lastly, is that list in order of preference?
As in are basslines your favorites?

John should answer this obviously but I'll give my out of date and highly jaded response anyway. ;)
Bartolinis will give the flattest frequency response but may be a PIA to get your hands on if you need to get a specific model.
EMGs are very much a love-em or hate-em thing. That's partly due to that fact that they sound pretty boring and there's no way to get away from their sound.
There's a whole lot of bs surrounding pickups, they all work well in a good bass but it takes an exceptional pickup to make a lousy bass sound good.
You could do a lot worse than the EMG passive HZ line. The Nordstrand big singles have been the flavor du jour for a number of years now so perhaps that's a safe bet too. I've been winding all my pickups just so that I don't have to think about this stuff any more. There are many many very competent pickup makers around now, too many to try them all in a lifetime.

Preamps are all going to be pretty equivalent give or take a few HZ. Most of them are still using TL072s (which came out in 1978!). East pro is still top of the line. Bartolini is probably still the quietest. I use a lot of Auderes but I don't know that I'd recommend them to a first time builder. Getting the gain structure just right is critical and that means designing a pickup around them.

If you use the Moll plans you will have a really hard time keeping the weight down. The last MIMF bass weighed in at 11 lb. Anything over 8 is a stretch in my world.


I do not think I need to say anything more than what was said. Perfect! As for the list I gave for pickups and electronics. They are in no order. The Basslines I have never used but like alll the sound samples people have posted in other sites to know i like them over other pickups. These were post by other people doing pickup test in the same bass. I am with David EMG's I do not like anymore. That used to be the pickup of choice but I do not care for the pickups and I really do not like their electronics, there is just no life in them. For electronics I would go for pre-wired. because I have a post going on now, trying to trouble shoot a Bartolini electronics I have, no fun.

Good luck and let us know what you do.
I don't make mistakes, I make adjustments!
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby David King » Wed May 01, 2013 5:02 pm

All electronics come prewired by default these days except for maybe Aguilar. I never cared much for their offerings from a technical standpoint.
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Wed May 01, 2013 8:30 pm

I'm probably going with Port Orford Cedar.

IMHO it's like maple on steroids, but lighter.
It's a good substitute for Spanish cypress on flamencos.
My stuff is old, air dried, and about as hard as maple.

For pickups, I'm enlisting Jason Lollar to recommend a set and wiring scheme.
Finally, I'm asking Roger Sadowsky for final build advice.

My friend would probably be thrilled with anything, but I want this to be awesome.
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby John Meyers » Thu May 02, 2013 11:41 am

Keep us posted. I have never heard of Port Orford Ceder before, I need to look that up and check it out.
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Thu May 02, 2013 10:24 pm

I may end up building two, as an experiment. :)

One: maple neck/centerblock
Two: pure port orford cypress

I'll try to use the same hardware for both--hipshot bridge and tuners (my wallet is crying).
I'm seriously tempted to use Gotoh's instead.
The walnut caps will be from the same board (if possible).

-Side note: Jason's pickups will likely cost more than the materials for both basses combined!
I'll probably put it in the bass my friend chooses and wind my own for the other one.

-Side note 2: what is a good wood for screw retention? I have ebony, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak.
I'm tempted to inlet it into the horn and base for the strap buttons.
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby John Meyers » Fri May 03, 2013 3:20 pm

Matthew Lau wrote:I may end up building two, as an experiment. :)

One: maple neck/centerblock
Two: pure port orford cypress

I'll try to use the same hardware for both--hipshot bridge and tuners (my wallet is crying).
I'm seriously tempted to use Gotoh's instead.I think the Gotoh stuff is of good quality. I have used their sealed tunner and they work great and I also have a bass with one of their old 3 way bridges on it and that thing is solid and their stuff does not cost as much
The walnut caps will be from the same board (if possible).

-Side note: Jason's pickups will likely cost more than the materials for both basses combined!
I'll probably put it in the bass my friend chooses and wind my own for the other one. Wow that does not sound cheap

-Side note 2: what is a good wood for screw retention? I have ebony, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak.
I'm tempted to inlet it into the horn and base for the strap buttons.

I would think ebony, cherry or maple[color=#4000FF] would work fine[/color]
I don't make mistakes, I make adjustments!
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby David King » Sat May 04, 2013 2:32 am

For screw retention, any wood but end grain. Do you have a plug cutter?
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Mon May 20, 2013 8:42 pm

nope. I was thinking of inlaying it.

I honestly think that I'm probably overthinking things.
I'm still debating between building with a maple centerblock/neck or port orford.

I'll probably just build one bass, and do the best I can on it.

-Matt
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby Matthew Lau » Mon May 20, 2013 8:56 pm

I'm still puzzling through the idea of stiffness vs mass for tone.

As an acoustic guy, I always though that the aim was for "liveliness" and the avoidance of dead spots.
That port orford is in between spruce and spanish cedar in weight. It's about as stiff as honduran mahogany (it's old growth salvage).
To me, the physics of a solidbody is a mystery.

I was totally wrong. It's not for a slapper, but for a fingerpicker (can you please change the title, moderator?).
I'm torn between making a very light, very live tone and going with a trusted recipe for tone (all maple seemed to work well for alembic).

Oh, and Louie also recommended maple for the mass.

Any pointers?
I'm a bit indecisive here.

-Matt
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Re: Help me design a bass for slapping

Postby John Meyers » Tue May 21, 2013 8:50 am

If you are still wanting to build a slap bass just use the norm maple neck and maple or ebony fingerboard and if you are doing a neck through or set neck then use a maple center block. Make wings out of what ever you want. Make sure you place the pickups in the right spot center position and back toward the bridge. If you do this I do not see why there should be any issue with tone.
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