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Alembic Club » Owning an Alembic » Fun Stories » Archive through July 31, 2004 » Five-String Fretless « Previous Next »

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Username: stormcrow

Post Number: 1
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 8:53 am:   Edit Post

I have the most amazing bass guitar ever... yet I have need of some help in tapping into it's abilities! For starters, this is the first fretless I've owned, and therefore don't know what kind of strings to put on it... I was told flatwounds kill the tone, but that's my only advice thus far. I put a little lighter gauge strings on it, but think that was a tone mistake. I'm also wondering what the q switches do... I can hear a difference, but don't really know what's going on when I switch them.
Intermediate Member
Username: wayne

Post Number: 108
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 10:59 am:   Edit Post


If you spend a bit of time doing a search on "q switch" on the club, you'll find tons of technical info about them. I'll try to give a quickie here:

The "tone" controls are actually low-pass filters. They cut everything above a certain frequency. The range is 350 to 6k. So, completely counter-clockwise you're only getting 350 and lower sent to the amp. Wide open (clockwise) everything up to 6k makes it through.

The magical "Q" boosts the frequency that the filter is set at. If you have a 2-position Q, then the boost is (typically) 8dB.

Now, about the strings: Flats do NOT kill the tone, they change the tone. The only thing that will KILL the tone are bad strings. Flats will have a more old-school sound or more of an upright bass sound - less edge. I personally use Thomastik Jazz Flats. I tried the D'Addario Chromes and love the E-A-D-G but the B was dead on every set I tried.

Lighter gauge is only a mistake if your ears tell you it is. Lots of folks in the club use light gauge and love them. I still prefer 45-130 for my fretted basses (the Jazz Flats only come one way).

Other than tone, the only difference between Flats and Rounds on a fretless is how quickly they eat up the fingerboard.

Pick a set, play them for a while, then discuss with someone whose opinion you trust what is lacking the tone you're getting out of the bass. It's all trial and error - we've all done it - and we're all still doing it. Enjoy the ride!

Username: stormcrow

Post Number: 2
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 10:28 am:   Edit Post

Hey, thanks Wayne... that helped tons! Now I know about the Q's, and knowing if half the battle! When I bought my alembic, the dude that owned the shop I bought it at was a bass player, and had lots of crazy basses... he's the one that told me flats would kill the tone. I thought since he'd been playing bass for 20 years, he knew something I didn't. So I'll probably be trying to find some good 45 flatwounds, to see what happens! Thanks again!

- kurt

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