Vintage bass and scale question

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:50 pm

The Rails have plenty of resonance, as the rails are tuned steel and designed to be musical. What I played at the time was pop punk, but I'll play just about anything if I end up in a band playing something else. Metal is probably outside my abilities since I play fingerstyle, but other than that I play whatever I feel like, really.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:11 pm

Hello again Warren,

Let me explain a little about when I mention resonance problems. Lots of resonance is generally not a good thing for solid electric guitars/bass'. If a string were to be stretched across a piece of Granite (which is an extremely hard dense substance) and plucked, the vibrations would take much longer to die out than if the string were stretched across a softer less dense material such as rubber. This is because a very hard dense substance does not absorb the vibrations of the string easily, thus making the natural sustain of the vibrating string continue much longer. Where as a softer materials start to vibrate/resonate in sympathy with sting and absorb the energy out of the string, thus lessening the length of its natural sustain. When top end solid electric guitars are made, the choice of dense hardwoods used are of great importance to give good natural sustain along with effectively lessening muddy overtones which is so common in guitars that are made from softer bodies and necks. This makes such a difference with a bass, as it gives a pure clear tone when the strings are struck. Looking at the Rail Bass, I can't imagine this type of rigidity being possible with two tubes that separate the bridge section from the neck. 10 out of 10 for its futuristic look though.

Martin.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:13 am

I can't say I've experienced anything like that. All the wood in the Rails (with the exception of the fretboard) is Canadian hard rock maple, and the rails are bolted as solidly as possible into each heel. The only "loose" piece is the sliding pickup piece, which is only as rigid as its locking screw can hold it. I find that it sounds and plays fantastically, and there is no muddy overtone to speak of. The pickup used in the Rails is also one of my favorites. You'd probably have to either pick it up and see for yourself, or point out to me where the muddy overtones are, because I don't notice any.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:50 am

I promise that if I ever find one I'll give it a whirl and let you know.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Westbone on Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:00 am

The chrome rails on the rail bass are filled with a maple dowel.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Barry on Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:31 am

umpdv5000, you should read Westone head designer Tom Presley's posts HERE

In his thread he talks about the Rail's development:
Once the juices for invention started flowing at Matsumoku, Ohwa-san really came alive. During one of my visits, Ohwa started bringing out instruments of all sorts, of which one was the Rail Bass. I immediately liked the thing. There were some very interesting acoustical dynamics. The rails actually could be "tuned" and the resonance point of the pickup could be placed EXACTLY where you wanted. Those of you that played Roto-Sound know by now that the metal density of a string controls the elasticity and subsequent Compression and Rarefaction of the sound wave. So, we could move the pickup to best impact the resonance of the bass AND its relationship to the amp/speaker team. Toshi played around with neck set angle, centerline and scale and ended up with a really unique bass. The guitar was another story altogther. I messed around with it for months - filled the tubes with quickset foam, epoxy and a bunch of other RTV solutions and could never get rid of the resonance ring and harmonic feedback. I think that the rails became an instrument of their own. The bass frequencies, on the other hand, were low enough on the table that it was never an overbearing problem.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:18 pm

Westbone wrote:The chrome rails on the rail bass are filled with a maple dowel.
Really? Have you had one apart, or something? Two of my three have some damage to the rails (one has a small dent, the other someone put a screw through it to hold the pickup in place) and they seem hollow, especially the one with the hole in it.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Westbone on Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:30 pm

Yes, really. Mine has a wooden dowel in each tube running the whole length and it sounds pretty good. Maybe they made some different. Epoxy glue, expanding foam, wood,hollow, seems they tried a few things. Thats for real.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Barry on Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:19 pm

That's odd, eh?
In Tom's quote I used above, he doesn't mention anything being needed (apparently) on the bass design, but definitely this kind of stuff was tried on the guitar version, which didn't work and was scrapped. scratch

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:42 pm

I hear what you are all saying and without trying one, I wouldn't like to make any comment on the rigidity of its structure. But from the review and your additional statements about the content or lack of content of the rails, I wouldn't be expecting an experience that would blow me away. No offence meant to you guys.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:56 pm

It definitely sounds different than a solid body, but I wouldn't say it sounds worse.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:18 pm

I can understand that remark. When it really comes to the bottom line, it's whatever floats your boat. I mean, I have in my head a certain tone that I strive for and I find the best formula for that tone comes from the likes of a Fender Precision or Jazz Bass (but only the ones with the hard heavy bodies), that is strung with a nice fresh set of round wound strings. However, this may be the ultimate tone that I prefer, but there are still other sounds that I appreciate from other basses, such as semi acoustics like the Hofner strung with flat wound stings etc. It's a touch of horses for courses.

To put it a different way... Primarily I am a guitarist and have had many professional years of experience in the music biz. During my time I have done many experiments and comparisons with instruments, pickups, strings etc. And while everything is a matter of taste, I made a judgement quite some time ago to the following.... If you want the ultimate guitar for a clean sound (that is with just a hint of crunch) then a hard bodied Fender Stratocaster (or similar 25.5" scale guitar) with Standard USA Pickups (or equivalent single coils, not the staggered pole or Texas Special type) takes 1st place in my reckoning. If you want the ultimate rock guitar then it has to be a 24.75" scale Gibson / PRS / or host of other similar type guitars, again with hard bodies and necks and humbucker pickups. You can play either style with any of these types of guitar, but individually they do lend themselves better to the styles I have described.

In my view and experience, I find basses follow the same formula, which is why I hold Hard Bodied 34" scale Fender and similar designs that have Passive Single Coil pickups to be the best. I cant say that I am a fan of hearing fuzzy or woolly bass sounds and to achieve a perfect crisp full tone of really deep bottom end that is not murky with overtones and a clear top end that compliments, is where I find the formula I have described wins overall.

I recall being in my late teens playing in a Pro Band with my head full of all sorts of fantasies about different instruments. I remember that the ultimate bass I wanted to own (even though I was a guitar player) was a Rickenbacker, simply because a guy I played with in the the band prior to this one had one and so did Paul McCartney (who was playing with his band Wings). The bass player in the Pro Band was not technically as good as the bass player in my former band who had the Rick, but he had the most heavenly bass sound that I had ever experienced. He had a Fender Precision that he played through a Hi-Watt 200 all valve amp head into a 2x15 Fender bass cab. It was so warm and deep, yet so clear and intense without being over the top. I thought that it may have been his amp and cab that was the secret, until he had to use an Ibanez bass one night that had active pickups. Although it was a perfectly respectable bass sound, it just didn't measure up to the sound of the Precision Bass. It was after this that I tested a range of different makes, models and pickup types before I realised what it was that produced that sound that I couldn't get out of my head. I finally made my choice, it had to be a hard bodied Precision Bass.

Much water has passed under the bridge since then and although I still perform with a band, I now earn my living as a Guitar Repair / Luthier. I get the chance to play around with lots of guitar and basses (but no-one has ever brought a Rail in up to now) and I own a small collection of instruments that give me a buzz. I don't know if its the area that I live and work in, but I never get to see any Westone guitars or basses among the local players and non ever materialise in the local music stores either. I am hoping that I will be able to come across one of the original Japanese made ones to add to my collection as from what I have seen and read of their construction, they sound like they fall in with my ideals.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:00 pm

It's definitely a matter of taste. When it comes to a clean guitar, I will agree with the Strat, but for almost anything else I prefer the sound of a big jazz box. As far as basses go, I love passive single coils, but Precision and Jazz basses have the least interesting tone to my ear. I may not have a favorite tone, but the P and J models just bore me; hence why I'd prefer the short scale Mustang, which sounds outstanding to my ear. That said, I completely respect your opinion.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:04 am

It would be a boring world if we were all alike.

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