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Old 06-15-2011, 06:15 AM   #1
solderjunkie
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Swamp ash too light??? ideal bass weight???

It seems like every time I build an instrument (bass or guitar) from a piece of really pretty swamp ash, the body ends up too light... it has balance issues, neck-dive.

The slab-body sunburst I built is a perfect example. I had to put a heavy bridge and heavy nickel-plate barrel knobs on it to get it to balance properly, and it still feels a little "squirmy" like the neck-end wants to drop. I suppose I could put lighter tuners or a smaller neck on it, but that means rebuilding the damned thing.

My desire is to have a bass hang perfectly balanced in "playing position" even with both hands off of it. I also have a certain amount of "heft" that I expect from a bass, kind of a "fighting weight".

What is your "ideal" weight for a bass? and how important is "perfect balance" to you?

I'll go first:

In my mind, balance is more important than ideal weight. I'd rather have a slightly heavier bass that I don't have to fight to play. My vanilla Precision is the most perfectly balanced bass I ever built, even though it's swamp ash. It's body is heavy for SA at 5 lbs... add neck and hardware and it tips the scale at 9 lbs. So it's 4 lbs of neck, hardware, strings, electronics, etc. on a 5 lb body.

discuss
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:19 AM   #2
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I found that a 4.5 pound Warmoth body balances well with hipshot tuners on a Jazz neck, and winds up at around 8.5 pounds.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:23 AM   #3
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solderjunkie said... View Post
What is your "ideal" weight for a bass? and how important is "perfect balance" to you?
less than a t-40 and not much at all.

as long as it's not insanely heavy, i don't much care what a bass weighs. i don't wear one long enough at a time to really notice. for people playing 3 or 4 or more hours a night, i can see the weight thing. but for an original band that plays 40 to 50 minutes max in a night, it just doesn't matter.

as for balance - the neck of my bass is rarely still. it moves up or down basically anywhere between vertical and vertical depending on the mood, the crowd, the stage and the song. i've played some fairly neck-divey basses and never had a problem. neither i nor my bass stand still long enough to find a "perfectly balanced playing position"
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:25 AM   #4
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I found that a 4.5 pound Warmoth body balances well with hipshot tuners on a Jazz neck, and winds up at around 8.5 pounds.
doing the math... not trying to be a douche, just doing genuine research here

That's strange. You have a 1/2 lb lighter body, skinny Jazz neck, and light tuners... but your total weight is still only 1/2 lb lighter?

Is the Jazz neck one that's reinforced with rods?

What bridge?
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:29 AM   #5
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doing the math... not trying to be a douche, just doing genuine research here

That's strange. You have a 1/2 lb lighter body, skinny Jazz neck, and light tuners... but your total weight is still only 1/2 lb lighter?

Is the Jazz neck one that's reinforced with rods?

What bridge?
Totally understand. I don't have a scale here so the weight is a guesstimate - it may be lighter. The neck is a Jamerson custom so no not reinforced.

Is there an accurate digital scale out there for weighing small things? The fish scales of yesteryear aren't great.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:29 AM   #6
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as for balance.... neither i nor my bass stand still long enough to find a "perfectly balanced playing position"
I dig it

I like the bass to have a "neutral position" though... I equate it to the Ackerman angle effect in your car's suspension. After you make a turn, the steering wheel wants to return to center... you just "guide it along it's way".

Even on a very curvy road, it's nice to know where that neutral position is.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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Totally understand. I don't have a scale here so the weight is a guesstimate - it may be lighter. The neck is a Jamerson custom so no not reinforced.

Is there an accurate digital scale out there for weighing small things? The fish scales of yesteryear aren't great.
I use the digital bathroom scale. I weigh myself, then I weigh myself with the bass... subtract
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:31 AM   #8
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I dig it

I like the bass to have a "neutral position" though... I equate it to the Ackerman angle effect in your car's suspension. After you make a turn, the steering wheel wants to return to center... you just "guide it along it's way".

Even on a very curvy road, it's nice to know where that neutral position is.
eh. You say Ackerman Angle, I say "let's try to skateboard on the gym class scooter boards"
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:55 AM   #9
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as for balance - the neck of my bass is rarely still. it moves up or down basically anywhere between vertical and vertical depending on the mood, the crowd, the stage and the song. i've played some fairly neck-divey basses and never had a problem. neither i nor my bass stand still long enough to find a "perfectly balanced playing position"

Yeah, I'm kinda like that, also - I sling mine fairly low, and tend to angle the neck upward quite a bit - but it's all over the place during a typical set, because I'm all over the place, and I throw that thing around... I couldn't even get thru one song w/out strap locks - that bass would be on the loose for sure... I've never had a bass that was too neck divey for me, but I've also never owned a T-bird, either...

Regarding weight - I never actually weighed any of mine, but it's never been much of an issue - although for the typical 10-2 gigs I play, being a bit on the light side never hurt... The Ibby 5'ers I play now are definitely better in that regard than the Spector 5'ers they replaced...


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Old 06-15-2011, 07:13 AM   #10
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I use the digital bathroom scale. I weigh myself, then I weigh myself with the bass... subtract
Hmm... With the fitness gig it might be good to invest in a decent weigh scale.


Amazon.ca = $68.95

Amazon.com = Same item $36.95 on sale.

Suppose they ship to Canada?
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:23 AM   #11
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I like mine to balance neck-up. One thing that helps is offsetting the bottom strap button 2 or 3 inches above the centerline of the bridge.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:28 AM   #12
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the fretless jbass i just built has a swamp ash body, and its heavy as fuck
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:44 AM   #13
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the fretless jbass i just built has a swamp ash body, and its heavy as fuck
I'd bet it's actually made of Carpetbagger...er...Yankee...er....I mean Northern Ash.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:55 AM   #14
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Ideal weight is about 8-8.5 lbs. and balance matters to me.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:57 AM   #15
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So there really is a market for my Helium-neck after all.
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:49 AM   #16
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5 pounds of Ash is much heavier than 5 pounds of Alder.
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:19 PM   #17
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5 pounds of Ash is much heavier than 5 pounds of Alder.
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:22 PM   #18
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5 pounds of Ash is much heavier than 5 pounds of Alder.
I think I dated that piece of ash.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:45 PM   #19
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5 pounds of Ash is much heavier than 5 pounds of Alder.
Not if it's the Alder that makes up my Uber-Explorer body! That thing can actually balance out the five string steel reinforced five piece maple/walnut neck even without any upper horn!
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:08 PM   #20
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Not if it's the Alder that makes up my Uber-Explorer body! That thing can actually balance out the five string steel reinforced five piece maple/walnut neck even without any upper horn!
Is that a neck-thru design or bolt-on???

If it's bolt-on, will you weigh the neck and body separately?
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:13 PM   #21
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Is that a neck-thru design or bolt-on???

If it's bolt-on, will you weigh the neck and body separately?
It's bolt on, Warmoth neck and body. I really don't want to dismantle it, and don't have a scale anyway. But, it should weigh similar to other necks (it's a five string angled headstock Deluxe Five neck) and Alder Explorer body's on their website. Also of note is that I have a hole drilled into the neck plate, farthest towards the neck, for the strap button. It doesn't extend to the 12th fret, but it is far enough out for a neutral balance. I still can't believe that it worked.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:27 PM   #22
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P-0, I think what helps is that the body extends so long below the bridge.
But yeah, even for a sawed-off wide body like me, it balances well.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:55 PM   #23
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P-0, I think what helps is that the body extends so long below the bridge.
But yeah, even for a sawed-off wide body like me, it balances well.
Yeah that makes a big difference. Warmoth told me there was no way it would be even close to balanced, but it does, and that is critical to this monster bass. The weight is nothing compared to how it balances on a strap.
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:31 AM   #24
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My Epi Explorer was horrible on a strap. Even after relocating the top strap button to the heel and moving the bottom strap button toward the bass-side... it dove like crazy, even with a 4" wide leather strap.

The body on it was a very light Asian mahogany, but the neck was a traditional mahogany. Total wood-mismatch fail. I believe that skinny neck was heavier than that huge body.

I paid $300 for it, played it for a couple of shows, and traded it for a '59 FE Olds O-45 French Horn... I did good
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:59 AM   #25
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8 lbs is perfect , it can never be too light for me but it can be poorly balanced and that will make it feel heavier . 9.5 is max for me beyond that it gets sold off .
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:59 AM   #26
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My Epi Explorer was horrible on a strap. Even after relocating the top strap button to the heel and moving the bottom strap button toward the bass-side... it dove like crazy, even with a 4" wide leather strap.

The body on it was a very light Asian mahogany, but the neck was a traditional mahogany. Total wood-mismatch fail. I believe that skinny neck was heavier than that huge body.

I paid $300 for it, played it for a couple of shows, and traded it for a '59 FE Olds O-45 French Horn... I did good
My old Hamer explorer was pretty bad too. It was a set neck and had no chance of ever balancing right. Only bass I've ever sold. Warmoth's Explorer just has the right formula.
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:42 PM   #27
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Interesting discussion.

With (model) airplanes, the ideal location for the center of gravity (CG = balance point) is about 1/3 of the way back on the wings chord, usually the at the thickest point.

I wonder where the ideal CG location on a typical bass would be?
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:45 PM   #28
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Interesting discussion.

With (model) airplanes, the ideal location for the center of gravity (CG = balance point) is about 1/3 of the way back on the wings chord, usually the at the thickest point.

I wonder where the ideal CG location on a typical bass would be?
It depends on the length of your upper horn. Size matters.
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Old 06-17-2011, 12:48 AM   #29
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It depends on the length of your upper horn. Size matters.
The need for solid technique is is, no doubt, mitigated by a large upper horn, if only for the novelty factor.



That said, it might be interesting to look into CG characteristics of certain models with universal appeal.

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Old 06-17-2011, 01:56 AM   #30
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5 pounds of Ash is much heavier than 5 pounds of Alder.
watt ?
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