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Helpful hints and simple mods from fellow bassists...

(some of the tips below are permanent and irreversible - please use your best judgement
before you modify that vintage or precious bass!)

How to make your bass hang at a 45° angle
by moving strap buttons around...

(tip submitted by paul sikivie)

...I used to think that there was something wrong with my technique that made playing while standing up uncomfortable. But the bass is really a young instrument, and maybe our hero Leo could have put a little more experimentation into strap button placement.

In any case, I much prefer the way I have it now to the way it was. I like not only for the bass neck to be at around 45 degrees, but I also hang my bass pretty high; I couldn't do the Flea thing - covering my naked genitals with my instrument. Just some info for ya...

So this email should have 2 gifs and a jpeg attached. The gifs were drawn with a mouse. Don't laugh. The first one illustrates the button placement. It's pretty faithful to the countours of the bass.

The next one attempts to show how to stitch your strap to shorten it, while still being able to adjust it. This is necessary to accomodate the shorter distance between the buttons. I hope you can decipher these.

The last jpeg is from a Lakland center-fold type photo I had on my computer. I drew in the spots where the strap buttons are now. Of course, the actual bass is a Peavey Foundation [woe is me], but the positions are pretty accurate, I think... Have fun! -paul

To your Alembic: "Stay!"
(tip submitted by John Buchholz)

if you've been visiting this site for a while, you may have noticed that we (lots of us bunnybassers) seem to be preoccupied with 'fixing' those pesky nose-diving basses. alembics have been singled out as an example of great looking, great sounding basses that nevertheless seem to be prone to nose diving. well, here's an ingeneous little solution to the problem, submitted by john buchholz (multi-talented messageboard moderator, champion sax blower, cement pourer, basement digger, etc.):

you put the top end of the strap on first. then you pass the strap over your left shoulder (you gotta read these instructions in a mirror if you're left handed), pass it around your back and under your right arm, then across your chest back to the same strap button. attach. using this method you won't need to use the strap button on the 'bottom' of your bass. you have to do it in this order otherwise the strap may pull itself off it's strap button and your bass will fall down. this way the strap sort of 'holds itself in place' on the strap button. this method of wearing your short-horned alembic will make it hang in a more comfy playing position (see picture):

isn't that good? kinda reminds me of the way i wear my steinberger. thanks john! ^_^

Pick-up stuff...

Here's some helpful tips for the fender-style P and J pickups with the exposed pole pieces:

"...Another trick I've learned: Get some of that double sided black tape with the green and white protective paper. It's used for mounting electronic components, comes in rolls or strips and you can get it at radio shack. Remove the pickup cover and cut strips the same length of the inside of it. leave the paper on and lay the tape sticky side down into the inside of the pickup cover,outside of the pickup pole piece openings towards the outside walls of the housing. Now, when you reinstall the cover, the tops of the pole pieces are flush with the top of the cover and can't be hit by the string, causing noise. It's also a smoother feel under your fingers. There's no change in string response as the pole pieces maintain their original radius, the outside pieces being lower than the center ones...all I'm trying to say essentially is that if you lift the pickup housing(cover) off of the pickup itself and place something (I use that double sided tape, it's about3/32" thick) between the pickup and the cover, not covering the pole pieces,they should be more or less flush with it. The outside pole pieces will be slightly down due to their radiused design. (tip submitted by Mark)

note: 3M also makes this kind of tape - they call it 'double sided mounting tape' and it's white and slightly 'foamy' feeling when you squeeze it. i've seen it come with separating layers of green/white, so that it doesn't stick to itself. thanks mark, that's a good tip. here's another one:

"I before like to put some clear fingernail polish on the pickup top. But not for ged rid of buzz actually I like to keep the top magnets not rusty. Did you know that magnet like to get very rusty fast? I never hear that before! Fingernail polish is bad for your health so please use with open windows all in your room when you do it. There is vapors come from fingernail polish that can ruin your brain. Also screws on bass guitar like to come rusty after a long time. If you put fingernail polish on the top then there is no rust for a long time. But if already have rust, then fingernail polish is too late and just doosn't do anything except maybe the rust can come shiney!" (tip submitted by Aya)

please listen to Aya and do this only in a very well ventilated area (that means moving air). the fumes from many kinds of nail polish are extremely bad for you. you'll need those brain cells for grooving (and maybe some other things), so please be careful.

and finally, if you're looking for something nice and firm (but also somewhat squishy) to place under your pickups, try cutting up an old mousepad and using that. sometimes the original foam that came with your bass gets old and loses it's springy feel, or sometimes you need a different thickness of foam if you've just changed to new pickups that have different dimensions from your old ones. if you need more height, you can stack it into two or three layers of mousepad (use rubber cement to stick them together). mousepad-material will give you just about the right density to allow for some adjustability in the pickup height, while having enough firmness to give you that 'stable platform' that people who anchor their finger(s) on the pickup seem to prefer. (this tip submitted by The Shatt)

So how do YOU boil strings? hm?

(perspectives on the art of string boiling from the usual suspects at the message board...)

"when boiling strings, I pour a little bit of white vinegar in the pot with the strings. it will help remove the deposits more effectively than just using water. leave them in for a good 20 minutes, whipe them dry, and hang them somewhere to air dry for a while. another tip- take the time to clean your fingerboard thoroughly while the strings are off. use an old toothbrush if there is a lot of grime around the frets. you'll be glad you did a couple years down the road...rub a bit of dust from a pencil into the string slots on the nut before you restring to help prevent breakage and improve tuning. boiling strings can usually be done 3 or 4 times, after that, there isn't a significant improvement and it is time for new strings!...i've been doing this for as long as I've been playing. I've only ever broken a bass string once, so I don't think boiling effects strength much. if you are breaking lots of strings, especially if it is the same string in the same spot, check your bridge, nut, and tuning pegs for rough spots and burrs. you could be wasting lots of strings just cause of a tiny imperfection that is cutting into your strings!" ~ nathan enders

"Boiling only works the first couple of times..." ~ pterantula

"Just as with any operation involving boiling things in a pot, adding a teaspoon of salt to the pot will raise the water's boiling point. This seems to get more crud out from between the string windings. Try it! Don't worry about rust, most strings are made from a steel/nickel alloy which inhibits rust. I've never had a set go rusty."  ~ jeff

"I have always washed my hands with soap and water just before playing as this seems to prolong the life of round-wounds.I
simply wipe the strings with a hanky when I am done." ~MR.UNIVERSE

"I've been wondering what other people use to wipe their strings with after playing-- to prolong their useful life. I've used GHS Fast Fret. It does seem to clean (by the appearance of black tarnish on the rag after wiping an application.) But I often feel a kind of tacky/squeekiness on the strings after I use it. I have most often just wiped with a plain, clean cloth." ~john from wisconsin

"Has anyone else tried soaking strings in rubbing alcohol for about 15 minutes instead of boiling? I've had excellent results, the strings sound and feel like new! However don't get any alcohol on the wood as it will dry out the wood and eventually cause cracks I suppose!!!!" ~ brent

"Face it - no way around it - good tone requires fresh strings, and they just aren't cheap. On the other hand, Jamerson never changed his strings!!" ~ bart from holland

"When you are boiling your strings put some baking sodea into the boiling water. " ~ zsombor

"I was never much into boiling strings. I found a way to get them very clean. Brake cleaner......This may sound harsh, but hear me out. I spray the entire contents of the can of cleaner into a glass bowl and soak the strings for about an hour. I then take the strings, and this is the important part, and smack them onto a peice of wood, a 1x8. You wouldn't believe the junk that comes out! I then repeat the process 1 more time. I used to be a fan of using ionic surfactants (dawn, ect.), but they always left a sticky coating on the inside of the strings and made them gunk up even faster the next time. Tri-chlor is the only way to go, and brake cleaner is the cheapest way to get it!" ~ jason

Got Nose Oil?

free nose oil    <--- free nose oil...

heh? actually this one is pretty funny: if you play fingerstyle, you might try this - before playing, take the plucking fingers of your left hand and gently (GENTLY!) rub your fingertips against the small area next to/on top of your nose. not inside the nostrils, mind you - that's called something else (and no one will want to play with you). for some mysterious reason most people's noses are slightly oily, and interestly enough, some people find that a little bit of this oil on your fingertips makes playing fingerstyle easier. this isn't guaranteed to make you groove like rocco prestia, but it'll get you real close (i lie).

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