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Username: crossbones

Post Number: 1
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 11:12 pm:   Edit Post


I have a 4 string maple Elan that I purchased new in about 86.
It is/was a very bright instrument.
Over the past year or so, it seems to totally kill strings in about a day and a half. I mean, totally....
I have tried new brands of strings to no avail.
We can't use it at all anymore at our studio.
Am I just insane? There really seems to be something wrong.
It is in absolutely new shape, and I can't find anything obvious.

Any ideas?

Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 85
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 5:01 am:   Edit Post

You might wanna remove strings and clean in between frets make sure the neck is grit free,sometimes a moisture and sweaty hands will kill a fresh set of strings. plus who ever plays the bass a good hand-washing prior to playing would also help.
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 5
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 7:41 am:   Edit Post

Yeah, my hands are string killers. EVERY TIME I play I wash my hands, then put rubbing alcohol on them. They still lose that new string sound within an hour, but it helps alot. In Bass Player magazine a few years ago there was an article on a guy who plays with (silk?) gloves on both hands!!! I'm not quite prepared to go that far... (Though I've also seen footage of Holger Czukay playing with gloves on)
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 86
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 8:56 am:   Edit Post

also too how is the humidity in your studio? are there any other guitars around & do they suffer the same effects of your alembic? do you leave it (them)out of the case?
Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 366
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 6:37 pm:   Edit Post

try hand sanitizer instead of alcohol..
i bet the alcohol is making your hands too dry
have you tried TI strings?
using flatwounds?"
have you oiled the neck lately? i bet thats the reason,,,,!whatta i know?lol
lemon oil- see the support sec,owners manual
Username: crossbones

Post Number: 2
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 6:57 pm:   Edit Post

The humity is is set at about 35%.
None of the other guitars are having problems.
I keep all the basses very clean and in good shape.
This.....is a very weird one indeed.
It's almost as if the core of the bass is made of rubber.....
It's dead.
I just tried another set of strings yesterday...DR's.
Everything seemed fine. Today, after playing for a couple of hours, it's just dead. That's the only way to describe it.
I own three Alembic basses, and a variety of other brands, and I have personally never seen anything like this happen. I've been around. I'm old.
I had an ES 335 experience the same thing a few years back....but the neck had worked it's way loose.
Not much chance of this neck working it's way loose.

Thanks for ther good replies though.
Advanced Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 366
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 12:34 am:   Edit Post

Okay, is it really "eating" the strings, or is it a problem with the bass?

Sounds like you have a fairly controlled environment, and other basses. So put new strings on two basses, play both for a couple hours, then swap strings between the basses and see how they sound.

Even if there is something wrong with the bass itself, it's a little hard to imagine how it would be destroying strings. But hey, I'm old too, and I'm still being surprised...
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 482
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 2:36 am:   Edit Post

No sudden increase in string height? I would think 35% is very low - the air is fairly dry for the climate we have, and the hygrometer in our living room stands below 70. I notice that the action on our pre-1940 piano is much looser than when it stands at 75, but there's less of a difference on the Alembics - perhaps a slight increase in string height. The wood seems to lose some rigidity as the air humidity decreases.
Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 372
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   Edit Post

one would think that if its thats dry- your woods may be drying up
i would polish her up and soak the neck per the instructions in the user manual
for 5 bucks it might do the trick
have you tried adjusting the pick ups?have noticed that when i change brands there needs to be some tweaking of the pickups
trying to help from ny
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 748
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 1:05 pm:   Edit Post

I have to fight to keep humidity over 30% this time of year. If it sounds good when you put the new strings on it, I have a hard time thinking of anything that could be wrong with the bass that would repeatably cause it to sound dead after a few hours of new strings. If it were some number of hours after a battery change, you could look at the electronics. It just doesn't make sense. If the problem were in the bass, then it would never sound good.

I would delve a bit deeper into your problem description. Under 'normal' circumstances, would you dislike the tone of brand new DRs because they are too bright? If that sounds right, then it would explain the phenomenon because right when the strings are settling in to the way you would like them for months or play, they now appear too dead on that bass.

One thing to test would be to take the set of DRs off the Elan and fit them on one of your other basses to confirm that they sound good. That will rule extraordinarily bad luck with strings out.

Here's another thought - how does the bass sound unamplified? If you put your ear against the body or neck as you play, do the notes ring the way you would expect? If so, then you again want to look at the electronics. Alembic electronics are pretty modular, so you may be able to swap some components between your Elan and other Alembics, depending on what they are. I'd get help from Mica or Valentino before going that route unless you're really comfortable with it.

I might also try to plug in one of the other Alembics (minus strings) and hold it so that the pickups can read the Elan's strings while you play. I'm not sure if it will prove anything, but if it sounds pretty good, it might again point at the electronics. While you're at it, you could try the reverse and compare.

Does your problem care how you pan the pickups? If not, then they are probably okay and any electrical problem would be in the preamp section. Either way, you might try adjusting pickup heights up closer to the strings if there's room to do so. While you're playing with that, you might also see if you can bring up the pickup gain via the control pot insisde the electronics cavity.

Sorry, just a bunch of wild ideas to try to get more info about what could be wrong. There are probably more elegant ways to get this info, but I don't know them.

Username: crossbones

Post Number: 3
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 8:54 pm:   Edit Post

I appreciate it Bob!

I think, at this point, there is something terribly wrong mechanically with the bass. After a couple of hours, the strings have no more sustain. (Blump.)
I'm going to try and eliminate any way out problems, (if I can come up with any), and send it back for an evaluation by Alembic. This was my favorite sounding instrument. Very frustrating.

Thanks everyone.

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