Not A Bass Player But....

soundchaser59

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I play enough to record bass tracks for my own songs. I do play with a felt pick, never learned to play with just fingers, except when I play two notes at once like a spread 6th.

I'm using a short scale Mustang since I have small hands and short fingers. The main issue I have is the low E usually sounds flabby and loose, especially if I dig in or play it open. The other strings can do the same if I strike too hard on the open string.

I'm wondering if I should move away from the light gauge strings and go to something heavier and stiffer. Would I go up one gauge or two? Maybe get a low E that is still a bit heavier than what comes in the set?

I don't play leads or do bends so maybe using heavier strings won't be a bad thing for me. Thoughts?
 
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Dismalhead

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I've got a SS Mustang too, a Player Series. I put a set of DR 40 - 100 on it. Can't say I'm completely happy with it though. Too bright, lots of string noise, still floppy low-E (which I don't remember having an issue with on my old Squier Jaguar SS). No idea if thicker strings would make it better or worse.

I think next time I'm gonna get a set of flatwounds.
 

schmee

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I finally put a set of strings on my Squier Jag SS bass a while back. made a huge difference and my old low E string was floppy also. I put on EB Slinky .105 flat wounds and it's much better overall.
 

Dostradamas

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I would try and dump the pick.

Plant your thumb and walk your index and middle finger up and down strings.

It takes some getting used to but if you stick with it you will never look back.

Think of the tip of your fingers as the pick tip and infinite attack control is much more attainable

I feel the floppy sound on the low E is coming from the plucking attack.

Each string on a bass seems to need a slightly different attack to attain level sound.

Adjusting that accurately with your wrist / hand is more difficult than with the tip of your finger.
 

StoneH

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I recently bought a bass for recording, and the first thing I noticed was the strings would sustain for days. It may be cheating, but I bought one of these. It seems to help with a "floppy" E as well.

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soundchaser59

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The only person I ever thought sounded good on a short scale bass was Jack Bruce.

Next time you're in a music shop, try a full scale bass. Any one, doesn't matter. You may find it's not as daunting as you think it is.
I got rid of a fender jazz because of the size.
 

Killing Floor

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Maybe not heavier gauge but higher tension. Or a different string set. Make sure if you buy a new set to get the correct scale strings. Personally I got used to softer feel strings such as Thomastik Infeld Jazz Flats. The tone is consistent throughout the range and no floppy feeling low E or B.

Just like guitar, there’s no best. Just experiment. Try a few sets.
 

mexicanyella

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I suggest photographing or writing down your rig settings as you have them set currently, and then spend some time playing closer to the bridge. Less flop with any gauge of string. With or without a pick, it will be like visiting a new planet, but hang with it, experiment and adjust your gain/compression/EQ as needed to approach what you want to hear.

Unless you play close to the bridge already, You might find you need to bump the low mids or even the lows and dial back the upper mids and/or highs to mitigate the twang and restore some of the sonic mass you’re now missing as you’ve edged into the tighter twangier string zone.

But it will definitely alter the flop factor, and there is no shame in experimenting with letting the amp do some more heavy lifting.

Maybe you’ll find a combination that works for you this way. Or maybe you’ll hate it. But it’s worth trying it for awhile.

For reference, I play a P most of the time, fingerstyle with flats, and I tend to pluck right over the back edge of the pickguard (so between the split P pickup and bridge). I thought it sounded thin and twangy and felt stiff to play there at first until I told my amp to get with the program and help a brother out. It ended up working out for me once I adjusted to the feel.
 

Dave W

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Random thoughts, take them or leave them:

1. No matter what anyone claims, felt picks were originally designed for ukuleles, not for bass. Use a a conventional pick, preferably stiff (like the carbon/nylon Pickboy Edge) and you'll be able to use a lighter touch. Or learn to play fingerstyle, with a light touch. It's really not hard, just takes a little practice and everything will fall into place.

2. I love my Gibson EB-0, but no matter what anyone claims, you can't get long scale sound on a short scale bass, no matter what you do, and it's especially noticeable on the low E.

3. D'addario ETB92 black nylon tapewounds (in the proper scale length set) are low tension on the neck but very stiff feeling because of the way they're made. That's what I've had on my EB-0 for years. They aren't floppy at all.

4. Unless you have a physical infirmity such as arthritis, you can play long scales. 5' tall Suzi Quatro can play a long scale bass. Ever see Francesca Alinovi of the Lovesick Duo? Her upright is way taller than she is, and her playing is awesome. I have short fingers and limited flexibility, and I've been playing long scales for years.

5. A Fender J has one of the largest bodies. There are plenty of long scales out there with smaller bodies.
 

Twang-ineer

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As a player who mostly plays short scale, Yes you need heavier gauge string with a more rigid core.
Rotosound BS66 Swing Bass 66 Billy Sheehan Custom Stainless Steel Roundwound Bass Guitar Strings - .043-.110 Medium Long Scale 4-string

Join Truefire, watch the Stu Hamm videos. The man is an institution when it comes to bass instruction.

Also, the tone of bass, mostly comes from the hands, much more so than on guitar. Learning to get the string moving correctly makes all of the difference in how the instrument translates. In short... ditch the pick. As stated earlier, a rigid pick can be a very specific sound that can be very useful. I use a 3mm stubby right behind the bridge pickup. A felt pick just adds to the poor articulation and lacking "punch" that you are likely experiencing most certainly on an open E.

Find a bass you like and if it is 34 or 35 inch scale, just capo it to the scale length you like. Really, you can capo a bass too. Dunlop Trigger Capo fits across a 5 string bass at the third fret , just fine.
 

wulfenganck

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I'm mainly a guitarplayer mayself and play bass only in an orchestra. I also have rather small hands, but a longscale bass never was such an issue, I could adjust rather easily. I guess it's more about the overall size and the pint where the neck is adjusted - I probably wouldn't feel comfortable with a Firebird bass.
I have switched to a 5-string (practically every song with brass is in keys like e flat or b flat and playing those on a 4 string with regular tuning is annoying.) last year and it also was okay. I still have to look more often on the fretboard to remind me of hitting the right string, but it's getting better.
I play with my fingers, but more like a guitarplayer, i.e. fingerpicker with thumb, index, middle- and sometimes ringfinger.
The bassist in my band keeps laughing at me for my picking style, but if it's okay for Sting, I'm fine with it.
Higher gauge may help, but not substantially. After switching to the 5-string I had to by a new cab, my old speakers couldn't handle the low b string sufficiently.
So, maybe it's the amp that makes the shortscale sound flobby?
Anyway, if you're looking for a voluminous and ronded full basstone, a shortscale might just be the wrong instrument?
 

maxvintage

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I've never understood why guitar players think they have to buy a short scale bass. Millions of people--many of the women with small hands--play standard scale basses.

But as you've noticed the biggest problem with short scales is you don't get as much dynamic range--if you hit them hard they get floppy and you have to learn to baby the low strings.

this is much much much less pronounced on a 34 in scale bass.

I have a fanned fret 5 string bass and thats the entire point of fanned frets, evening out string tension so you don't have to baby the low strings. It's a joy to play.

I sometimes play short scale basses, but the advantage of the 34 inch scale is in the more variable attack
 

johnnylaw

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P Bass, flatwounds, fingers. That’s all you need to know.
Its a forgiving formula that will invite you into all sorts of unexplored territory regardless of you hand size.
 




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