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Muting bass alters intonation


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#1 Bloc Riff Nut

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 01:22 PM

Whenever I place sponge under my strings, at the bridge, it throws the intonation out. I've tried varying compositions of sponge and it always alters the intonation. I'm placing it under the strings of my classic vibe Precision at the bridge ashtray cover.
When an in tune string is tuned at the 12th fret it will show 1 or 2 red leds on my Korg Pitch Black tuner.

Does anyone else have this issue?
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#2 SpondonBassed

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 01:48 PM

View PostBloc Riff Nut, on 06 September 2017 - 01:22 PM, said:

Whenever I place sponge under my strings, at the bridge, it throws the intonation out. I've tried varying compositions of sponge and it always alters the intonation. I'm placing it under the strings of my classic vibe Precision at the bridge ashtray cover.
When an in tune string is tuned at the 12th fret it will show 1 or 2 red leds on my Korg Pitch Black tuner.

Does anyone else have this issue?

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#3 ambient

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 03:47 PM

I'm guessing that if the sponge is too rigid then it's maybe having the effect of shifting the bridge forward?

Maybe make sure that whatever you use is just muting the strings.

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#4 chris_b

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:06 PM

Just tune the bass after you've added the foam.
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#5 NJE

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:12 PM

This is the exact reason I sent back the Gruv Gear Fump. It totally messed up my tuning
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#6 ivansc

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:32 PM

The original foam mute was glued to the inside of the rear ashtray so that it sat exactly on top of the bridge. Only needs a very slight overlap to give the classic mute effect.... not much actual pressure on the strings, either.

And FWIW do you know how much or little that two red LEDs on your tuner represents in terms of pitch? Might well be a case of you listening with your eyes and the true effect on tuning (and certainly intonation) is not that relevant.

#7 ivansc

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:32 PM

View PostNJE, on 06 September 2017 - 05:12 PM, said:

This is the exact reason I sent back the Gruv Gear Fump. It totally messed up my tuning

Never seen one before but whoever came up with that had no idea how it is supposed to work. :lol:

#8 fftc

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 07:21 AM

View Postivansc, on 06 September 2017 - 05:32 PM, said:

Never seen one before but whoever came up with that had no idea how it is supposed to work. :lol:


D'oh! :facepalm:

Edited by fftc, 07 September 2017 - 03:53 PM.

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#9 ivansc

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 02:12 PM

How can something wrapped round the strings at the bridge end stop open strings from sounding but not stop the fretted ones? Madness.

#10 SpondonBassed

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 02:48 PM

View Postfftc, on 07 September 2017 - 07:21 AM, said:

The Frump, as I understand it, is not meant to work the same as an old school Motown style mute. It's for the slappers and tappers and is meant to only mute open strings and not fretted notes.

Is that the one that looks like a eighties' jogger's wrist band applied to the neck over the nut?

I always thought it was a step in the direction of a leg-warmer revival. Be wary. That must be prevented at all costs.



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Edited by SpondonBassed, 08 September 2017 - 06:54 AM.

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#11 fftc

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 03:53 PM

View Postivansc, on 07 September 2017 - 02:12 PM, said:

How can something wrapped round the strings at the bridge end stop open strings from sounding but not stop the fretted ones? Madness.

My apologies. I was confusing the 'Fump' with the 'FretWrap'. :blink:
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#12 ivansc

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 06:09 AM

No apologies needed, provided you are over 60. We can get away with anything.

:lol:

#13 SpondonBassed

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 09:05 AM

View Postivansc, on 08 September 2017 - 06:09 AM, said:

No apologies needed, provided you are over 60. We can get away with anything.

:lol:

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#14 lojo

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 01:03 PM

I used to throw a bit of sponge under my p bass strings for some Motown in the set when I used rounds , it was a fairly solid lump but only about 1/2" wide , took seconds to push it and up against the bridge , didn't have to worry about intonation or re tuning at that width

Edited by lojo, 08 September 2017 - 01:03 PM.

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#15 drTStingray

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 10:06 PM

My basses are more modern than that ash tray laden thing people are referring to - if you can call designed 40 odd years ago more modern - I suppose it represents an improvement on 60 yrs old - say Escort RS1600 compared to Ford Popular.

Anyhoooo - these basses, be they the 1993 fretted or Fretless, 2010, 2014 or 2016 built ones all have a custom designed individual string muting system - which Leo and mates brought over from the 60s Mustang bass - doesn't affect intonation at all from my experience no matter how much you wind them on - being able to do this means you can vary the intensity of muting by individual string or across the whole bass - and neither did stuffing a nice think sponge and scourer pad up by the bridge on a 2007 version of one of these modern basses which similarly had no effect on intonation.

Lots of other famous bassists have been filmed or pictured using a similar system with a chunk of sponge or foam rubber - Bob Babbitt, George Porter Jnr etc etc (they were using Precisions).

What sort of bass and what sort of mute equipment were you guys using to get this intonation problem - seems astonishing to me.

Edited by drTStingray, 08 September 2017 - 10:06 PM.

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#16 SpondonBassed

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 10:26 AM

View PostdrTStingray, on 08 September 2017 - 10:06 PM, said:

...a custom designed individual string muting system - which Leo and mates brought over from the 60s Mustang bass...

I quite like that individual muting system in principle but I sometimes hear people dissing it. One day I'll get to try it out.

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#17 Coilte

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 10:51 AM

View PostBloc Riff Nut, on 06 September 2017 - 01:22 PM, said:

Whenever I place sponge under my strings, at the bridge, it throws the intonation out. I've tried varying compositions of sponge and it always alters the intonation.

Try cutting a small groove in the sponge for each string. That way, the muting comes from the sponge being around rather than under the strings.

#18 SpondonBassed

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:00 AM

View PostBloc Riff Nut, on 06 September 2017 - 01:22 PM, said:

...Does anyone else have this issue?

No sponge here. Or is there?


Edited by SpondonBassed, 13 September 2017 - 10:00 AM.

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#19 chris_b

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:23 AM

This Vulfpeck track sound good (and in tune) to me, so foam is fine.

I believe Motown tracks were recorded with foam and they all sound in tune to me. My experience back then was to always be asked to put foam in. All the tracks were in tune or we wouldn't have been allowed to keep them.

The intonation will be OK, but you have to tune the bass after you've put the foam in.
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#20 chris_b

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:24 AM

If you still have intonation problems maybe the bass is slightly out and that is accentuated by the foam.
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#21 Twincam

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:26 PM

View Postchris_b, on 06 September 2017 - 05:06 PM, said:

Just tune the bass after you've added the foam.

This seems a bit too logical for basschat haha.


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#22 blue

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 11:07 PM

Palm mute.

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#23 DaveFry

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:21 AM

Try the two-piece method :-



#24 ivansc

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:23 AM

View Postivansc, on 06 September 2017 - 05:32 PM, said:

The original *FENDER* factory foam mute was glued to the inside of the rear ashtray so that it sat exactly on top of the bridge. Only needs a very slight overlap to give the classic mute effect.... not much actual pressure on the strings, either.

Sorry but just realised I missed out the most significant part - this was "as supplied by the factory" on ALL P basses at the time.

#25 chris_b

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:34 AM

Mine was in front of the bridge so killed the sound. Everyone I knew removed the foam, even if they didn't take the ash trays off.
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#26 SpondonBassed

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:48 AM

View Postivansc, on 14 September 2017 - 08:23 AM, said:

Sorry but just realised I missed out the most significant part - this was "as supplied by the factory" on ALL P basses at the time.

Carol Kaye is quite adamant that it was pants.

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#27 drTStingray

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:47 PM

 chris_b, on 14 September 2017 - 09:34 AM, said:

Mine was in front of the bridge so killed the sound. Everyone I knew removed the foam, even if they didn't take the ash trays off.

Sorry to pick on your quote chris_b - but would you guys (and Carol Kaye) be intimating ........ that Leo got this element of the P bass wrong? Blimey...

Mind you I've heard Carol Kaye describe P basses generally in less than glowing terms in the past.

And he did fix it on the Mustang as I understand so was happy to improve on designs.

Edited by drTStingray, 14 September 2017 - 03:49 PM.

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#28 ivansc

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:22 PM

(gin) Factory variations, I guess. And much as I know we all love and respect Carole Kaye,

1. She started out as a guitarist, and we all know about guitarists who play bass :D and
2. She does have a tendency toward hyperbole at times, doesn't she?

#29 chris_b

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:32 PM

View PostdrTStingray, on 14 September 2017 - 03:47 PM, said:

Sorry to pick on your quote chris_b - but would you guys (and Carol Kaye) be intimating ........ that Leo got this element of the P bass wrong?

Leo changed almost everything about the original Precision bass so he wasn't perfect . The parts industry certainly wouldn't have prospered so well if he was and neither would the dozens of P and J builders.

It shouldn't have taken a genius to work out that after roundwound strings came out in 1966 that there was no point in providing the foam mute as standard, but they kept installing it for years, like the strap button on the back of the headstock and the tug bar.

When the likes of Clapton and Mike Bloomfield wanted unwound 3rd strings, in the late 60's, Leo refused to supply them because he didn't think guitars should be played like that! Fender were good but have never been infallible.
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#30 SpondonBassed

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 06:34 AM

View Postivansc, on 14 September 2017 - 07:22 PM, said:

(gin) --- hyperbole...?

It must be the gin that made you say that because she's so modest usually.




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