Tune ibanez SRAS7 fretless/fretted hybrid like normal 7 string?

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by Gmork, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    2,169
    Likes Received:
    843
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Yes fretless requires correct saddle intonation adjustment (this is what Beheroth and i mean by 'intonation') if there are side dots or fret lines and you want these to be somewhat consistent along the length of the fretboard with finger positions.
    I realise that the fine pitch adjustments are made by ear but the rough initial orientation is often done by looking at side dots or fretlines, for those who use those.

    You suggest that running out of intonation adjustment room is not a problem. If the player is going to ignore side dots and there are no fret lines then it isn't a problem. But on this instrument the adjacent frets are likely to be visually used as 'fretlines'.
    Intonating at the 12th only is poor practice and even worse for a fretless. I just intonated my fretless bass by checking tuning at every position, in order that the side dots are somewhat consistent with finger positions along the whole length.
    But the 'finger position' used turns out to be the point at the edge of the finger closest the bridge, not the centre of the finger, because the contact point with the board tends to be closer to the bridge than finger centre. It is possible for the whole board to be somewhat accurate in relation to side dots or fretlines if this is taken into account.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
    Beheroth likes this.
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    29,673
    Likes Received:
    8,385
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's a pretty big asterisk on being "required".

    Again, there is no functional issue.

    Think about how the average player plays bass, especially big ones like this. Are they hovering over the neck at every position change? Because if they're not the frets on the higher strings aren't going to line up visually.

    See F Bass' system for marking fretboards.

    Play with your ears, not your eyes.

    I can understand if you need to adjust the intonation on an unfamiliar instrument, especially with fretlines, but that's not the case here..

    For the record, most fretless basses I've owned haven't had adjustable bridges. They've used systems similar to what you'd find on an acoustic guitar.
     
  3. Beheroth

    Beheroth SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    219
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    Location:
    Nantes, France
    yes but in this case : a hybrid half fretted/half fretless you'd want the fingering positions to be somewhat consistent across the board no ?
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    29,673
    Likes Received:
    8,385
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've played the reverse version of this one, with the higher strings fretless, and the transition is jarring, not sure what slight fingering changes are really going to do to smooth that over. :shrug:

    Also, it's not like we're talking more than a few millimeters here, on the extreme side. How far do you really think you can move a saddle on your average bass, and more specifically ones that use Ibanez Monorail type bridges?

    I'd bet that even with the few millimeters of travel that this bass would lineup fine with a proper setup. Fine being generally around where you'd expect the note to be.
     
  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    15,223
    Likes Received:
    3,104
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    I played unlined fretless six string bass in a band that toured pretty heavily for over two years (the band still tours heavily, I'm just no longer touring with them), and I never adjusted my intonation after the first time, which was to make sure that the natural harmonic nodes of the strings were all in the same position relative to one another. It's easier than adjusting intonation on a fretted instrument, and you can get away with more "slop" than you can on a fretted instrument, but if the positions are off more than a little, it gets really annoying. Obviously, you can compensate, but I guarantee that any serious fretless player will get through the gig and then fix the issue right after.

    It's not like traditional violin-family instruments have intonation adjustments, but keep in mind that no one is trying to tune them down to extremely different registers.

    So, I don't see how tuning the bass down nearly an octave is going to work out long term. I'm sure it'll be like "see, this works," at first, but once the player is proficient enough with fretless fingering techniques to notice the problem, the fact that it's not possible to correct it with adjustment is going to b e a fly in the ointment from that point onward.

    Couple that with the bizarre ergonomic aspects of this instrument, the electronics that don't lend themselves to this sort of use, and all other factors, and this is just not a good recommendation for a bass for low F# tuning.
     
    LordIronSpatula likes this.
  6. Emperor Guillotine

    Emperor Guillotine The Almighty Ruler

    Messages:
    2,458
    Likes Received:
    323
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    Location:
    Somewhere Under the Pacific Ocean
    To the OP:

    I have a 1st generation Ashula model (the 6-string version) that I have tuned like a standard 6-string: BEADGC, as opposed to the tuning that it comes in: EADGDG (basic 4-string with the two highest strings repeated over the fretless side of the fretboard). All I had to do was adjust the saddles and get a new nut cut.

    If you're going to try tuning one of the new 7-string Ashulas as a standard 7-string bass (F#BEADGC), then you're going to be in for a very rough time. A new nut, new saddles, new pickups, and pretty much realigning the whole instrument would be required since the thickest string is in the dead center of the instrument. And I can guarantee that a low F# (as your lowest, thickest string) will not sound good on a mere 34" scale length on a fretless board. Now, if you want to instead add a higher string (BEADGCE? something like that) then you could get totally passable results, but it would still require a new nut, new saddles, new pickups, and pretty much realigning the whole instrument. It's just not worth the time and money. And you can kiss your resale value goodbye for the most part.

    The 1st generation Ashula that I've got makes total sense in layout ever since I set it up like a normal 6-string bass with the highest two strings being fretless for some nice fretless licks, slides, and solos. However, having the thickest strings being on the fretless side (following your train of thought) makes zero sense and will make your low end become so rounded to the point of being hopelessly muddy. Also consider that the fretless end of the SRAS7 only has a piezo with no actual pickups. That absolutely would not give your low end any real sonic power, punch, or clarity. It won't sound good at all. Plain and simple.
     
  7. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,555
    Likes Received:
    980
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2015
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    as a primary a bass player for all my life and guitar wannabe currently... Get yourself a 5 string bass and tunned to your low F# to go with you guitar.

    You dont need the extra 2 high strings. I know you play guitar, and I know you are used to have them there, and I know you know all your scales and whatnot, and I know you would think you would need them and use them...... but.... you dont need them and you wont be using them... maybe in that one section on that one song that one time, that it could have been played in lower strings higher up on the fretboard, or arranged differently.

    think about it properlty. You are goin to deal with a massive bass, with a wide as a highway fretboard, cramping hand constantly to reach the lowest strings all the time (as those are the most used), dealing with only 1 factory option (or $$$$$$ custom), dealing with only custom string sets, and a heavier bass.... only for that high range that you wont really use, or could be easily avoided

    get yourself a 5 string, and if you reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaly needed, maybe a 6 string
     
    odibrom likes this.
  8. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    188
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    B.C. Canada
    I had a fretless 5 and having to run all over the neck to do 5 string sweeps is a total pain. And a large neck doesnt bother me at all. Played nothing but 8 string guitar for the past 5 years.
     
    odibrom and A-Branger like this.
  9. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,555
    Likes Received:
    980
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2015
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    as long as you know what you getting yourself into, then all good go for it!

    Ive seen way too many guitar players that think they need a 6 string bass "because" and 99.9% of the time they only really needed a 4 string or maybe a 5, so I was trying for you to avoid that.

    but yeh like others say, best luck is to find the BTB 7 string
     
  10. Emperor Guillotine

    Emperor Guillotine The Almighty Ruler

    Messages:
    2,458
    Likes Received:
    323
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    Location:
    Somewhere Under the Pacific Ocean
    An 8-string string neck is nowhere near as wide as a 6-string bass neck. Just saying. So a 7-string bass is...way bigger.

    I actually played a BTB 7 yesterday in my downtime while wandering around the Sam Ash that was in the city. Straight-up, the bass was a piece of shit.
    - The construction quality was spotty.
    - The neck and fretboard were MASSIVE and caused hand fatigue to set in really quickly for my fretting hand because I was having to constantly make a huge reach for the lowest strings which were/are used the most often. Exactly what you said, @A-Branger. (I used to own a 9-string guitar, but the neck on the BTB 7 bass put it to shame.)
    - The string spacing was atrociously horrid. I know that Ibanez basses are more so "designed for guitarists who play bass" and thus have super narrow string spacing on most bass models, but you couldn't actually play the BTB 7 like a bass. (Slap was absolutely impossible. Not happening.)
    - You had to approach playing the thing like a guitar. Playing with a pick would be the only route unless you really curl the fingers of your "picking hand" in quite a bit, which caused hand fatigue to set in really quickly for my "picking hand" (since the fingers are curled in instead of more relaxed and just kind of hanging on (or above) the strings.
    - I tried playing some Veil of Maya riffs/licks and some quick, little, fast stuff that I thought was along the lines of Obscura bass lines (since Dan of Veil of Maya and Linus of Obscura both play a BTB 7). They must have spent some serious time with the instrument or know some bass-playing tricks because I was struggling so terribly.
     
  11. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    79
    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA, US
    A "piece of shit" huh? So blunt. I love it. :lol:

    Was it one of the newest versions with the zero fret and painted body wings on the back? I haven't personally played one of those. What exactly was wrong with the construction?

    You certainly do need to adjust your right hand technique for the narrower spacing, but all the normal techniques are still doable once you get used to it. I guess in some ways it is like adjusting them partway toward guitar application. As someone who moved to narrow-spaced basses pretty early on I now have the opposite problem - the strings being farther apart actually makes it harder for me to play technical stuff on 19mm spacing. I actually wish I could find a six or seven with even narrower spacing to help mitigate the difficulties that come with huge necks.
     
  12. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    29,673
    Likes Received:
    8,385
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Are you sure about that? Most production 8-strings have a nut width between 54mm and 58mm, where most production 6-string basses fall around 54mm to 56mm. The BTB7 is 63mm.

    The necks do get much wider towards the bridge, mostly to facilitate finger style playing. But the difference is still only a few millimeters comparing an 8 string guitar to 6 string bass.

    It's an Indo Ibanez, that's par the course. :lol:

    It's 13mm wider at both nut and 24th fret than a 6 string. That's roughly half an inch.

    To put it into perspective, that's a smaller difference than some 4 to 5 string basses.

    The spacing is 15.5mm, so between 1.5mm and 3.5mm narrower than some of the smallest and largest common spacings. It's sort of a necessary tradeoff to stop the bass from being even bigger.

    Folks play finger style, bass technique stuff on guitars with narrower spacing and smaller strings.

    Obviously the bass didn't gel with you and that's totally cool. I'd never buy the thing either. But I wouldn't say it's "impossible" to play on.
     
    LordIronSpatula likes this.
  13. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    29
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2017
    Location:
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Gosh, I didn't know Ibanez basses were actually bad basses for real bass players... The one thing I don't like about my Ibanez bass is actually how it sounds more so than "oh the string spacing sucks" and so on (but that's about to change thanks to the Tone Capsule). I never had a problem with its playability but maybe that's actually because I'm a guitarist primarily? But then wouldn't other basses be even more difficult to play with a pick? So... wouldn't it be more along the lines of... different strokes for different folks? :scratch:

    WintermintP
     
  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    15,223
    Likes Received:
    3,104
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Different strokes for different folks, really.

    I think that 7 string basses suffer from the problem that the average human hand is not big enough to reach the top string without moving your thumb out from behind the neck. Same with 10+ string guitars. It doesn't make them unplayable, but it does mean that more adjustments need to be made to technique. The other problem is acceptance. A 34" bass can sound great as a standard 4-string bass. Tuning that length of string down to D or C seems to work just fine too, to my ears. But I honestly don't like the sound of a low B on anything shorter than 35" - it just gets too boxy or muddy or floppy, depending on string gauge. So, taking a guitar to 28.625" (add two frets) and tuning it to low F#, you get a decent tone (personally, I prefer longer scale length for F#, but whatever, it's usable for sure) - analogy on a bass, that bass ought to be extended in scale as well, but... people are, for whatever reason, squeamish about extending the scale length of a bass guitar. 37" is cool, but it's only one fret worth of extension, meaning that 37" bass from 35" bass is equivalent to 27" guitar from 25.5" guitar. I'm thinking 39.25" is really a better place to look, as ridiculous as it sounds, I think it ought to be doable and playable, and I think that the F# would sound a heck of a lot better at that length than it would at 35".

    But since there are only 6-7 basses around doing anything longer than 35" outside of full custom, what do you do about achieving a low F#!? Well, my answer, predictably, is to look into those 3-4 long scale basses - Dingwall, Kalium, ESP, Ibanez FF, even Brice, maybe even Carvin. Dingwall and Kalium are a bit pricier, but they are fantastic basses. The Brice is definitely not on par with those, but, IMO, still a world better than trying to fiddle with an Ibanez with a piezo pickup, which is going to be like trying to squeeze salad dressing out of a dead horse (I mean, you can squeeze something out of it and call it "salad dressing," but it's not going to convince anybody).

    If I was going to play stuff in E and drop D on bass, I'd love a Spector or Palladium or Warwick to mess around with some cool riffs, but if I'm set on doing the low F# thing, I'm going to go with the Dingwall in a heartbeat. The longer scale length, the pickups voiced for handling low-ass frequencies, the electronics specifically designed to tighten up the ruthlessly unwieldy borderline-infra-sonic frequencies, the ergonomics to bring all of that together in a totally playable instrument, etc., Sheldon knows exactly what he's doing. After playing a Dingwall tuned that low, you'll be raising the bar for what those low notes ought to sound like. In comparison, my Dean Edge 6F, even with Bartolini pickup upgrades, sounds like a wet fart when I play an open F#. It's not even the same instrument.

    And yeah, there are tons of guys out there reporting that they've done the low F# thing on a Hofner Beetle Bass or a Fender Bronco Bass, or whatever, but none of those guys, from what I've come across, seem to be willing to post sound clips.
     
    Gmork and LordIronSpatula like this.
  15. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    79
    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA, US
    Really good points. I would add that the extra half-inch the Ibanez and Kiesel multis have is actually pretty insignificant - less than half the difference between 34" and 35" as far as its effect on tension. So although it is technically an improvement over 35", there are 35" basses that might be better suited to F# tuning over all due to better construction or electronics. As you pointed out, a Dingwall has a whole lot more than just the scale going for it when it comes to producing great low notes. I've played the Ibanez and while it isn't a bad bass, it's kind of "meh" sounding and wouldn't be my first choice in its price range for low tuning.

    Here's a video of an SR compared to the 37" Brice tuned even lower than F#... The electronics on the Brice are clearly not great but you can still hear a huge improvement in low note definition. Headphones recommended.

     
  16. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    188
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    B.C. Canada
    Which dingwall are you refering to?
     
  17. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    15,223
    Likes Received:
    3,104
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Whoah! Jeebuz, I don't know what to make of that... :ugh: I love the pro-experiment attitude, but God, that tone sounded terrible. Maybe C#0 is just not going to translate at all over headphones or desktop speakers, or maybe it's just too low for both of those instruments to handle it, or all of the above.

    Actually, the not-quite-as-low F#, to me, sounded okay on the Brice. I've done low F# on my own Brice 34-37", and I thought it sounded better than that, though. Not knocking this guy, but that particular gear and those particular settings sounded painfully bad to my ears.

    In all fairness, though, I've never tried anything lower than E0 in any sort of musical context, and he's going three half steps lower. But, I think, my attitude is likely completely different from his. I'm looking to tune lower until things start to sound like shit, then problem-solve until I get stumped and have to tune back up, whereas this guy seems like he's more of the attitude of "I'm going to tune to this low C#0, and then figure out how to make it sound as not-awful as possible by tweaking string gauge." I think that the approach is commendable, but, as of yet, I don't think he's struck a result that is convincing.

    Back to tuning to F#, the video does seem to make it clear, IMO, that the Brice is a better option than the Ibanez, solely in terms of the resultant audio fidelity. I do believe that the 34-37" scale is a bit more playable than the straight 37", but that it's not a huge difference in ergonomics. Having played a few different multiscale basses, and owning a Brice, I will say that the layout of the Brice is probably the worst I've played, in terms of ergonomics. Most extended scale basses try to move the centre of mass more toward the bridge, so you don't have to stretch your arm as much to reach first position, and maybe the Brice does this also, but just not nearly as much. On the other hand, my Dingwall NG-2 sets the CoM of the bass quite near the 12th fret, and even though the heel is further up the neck, the neck joint and cutaway make the bass really easy to play all the way up and down the fretboard - it's more comfy to me than my wife's 34" Ibanez, which is a really comfy bass on its own.

    I've only ever played the Afterburner, the Combustion, and the NG-2. I've never seen any of the other models just kicking around anywhere. Actually, those three basses are all after the same design. But I own the NG-2, and, for me, it's the perfect bass for tuning down, barring custom pieces. It's also a top notch bass just for standard tuning.
     
  18. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

    Messages:
    797
    Likes Received:
    79
    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA, US
    I totally agree! :lol: I doubt he shares my tonal goals, but then again if he did those ultra-low notes would probably sound even worse. As far as I know, this is the only apples-to apples comparison of its kind, and I think it does a good job of showing the difference 3" makes for clarity and definition. I'm still not at all interested in C#0 tuning, LOL, but I bet the Brice could potentially sound decent at F#.
     
  19. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    15,223
    Likes Received:
    3,104
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    I had a rough comparison of the Dingwall and Brice Defiant in drop G about a year and a half ago (no production quality, though). I had meant to spend some more time doing a full-on comparison in drop G between several other basses with 34" and 35" scale lengths, but just never had time to do it before heavily mod'ing the Defiant. That young man, though, is certainly a league (or more) ahead of me in video production quality, and doing the low low low C# is also something I had not seen in a video.

    EDIT: (for anyone interested)
     
  20. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    29
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2017
    Location:
    London, Ontario, Canada
    (sigh)

    The lesson I learned today is...

    NEVER buy Ibanez or D'Addario. Period. The preamp sucks, the tone sucks, strings die within less than a month, the pickups are abysmal, and you have to pay $800 for a cheap-ass bass that can't even hold it together. String spacing is not even relevant at this point. The whole brand as a bass brand just plain sucks. Ibanez guitars are not that bad, maybe, but basses... ugh. Likewise with D'Addario. Their guitar strings might not be all that bad, but their bass strings have so short of a lifespan that they really get on my nerves.

    WintermintP
     

Share This Page