Ellio Martina's BassMute!

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Ellio Martina's BassMute!

Postby johnh » Sun Oct 01, 2006 7:39 pm

I've had the Bass Mutes on for a while and I have to say now that I can hardly imagine life without them. Walking a jazz bass line in full mute mode gives me that big fat old, funkily recorded, upright bass envelope sound. Thick and percussive at the attack but quickly ramping down leaving lots of room for the next note. And for funk it's just ridiculous- I've never been a big fan of the slap and pop sound because of how much brighter and percussive the pop is than the thump, but the mute damps down the difference and I find myself drawn to that style again. For the funky 'thumb like a pick' (with an upstroke) style I like so much, I'm finding all kinds of freedom to do new stuff because my left hand isn't bogged down with having to control the muting of the strings anymore. Fender should buy this thing and make it stock on all new basses (and make Ellio a rich man for his design work). I installed the second one myself- including shimming the neck (which ended up making my action feel BETTER!). Do yourself a favor and get one of THESE!
About $100 + shipping. Seriously, just get one.
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Tips From Elio

Postby johnh » Sun Oct 01, 2006 7:40 pm

Ellio wrote with a few tips I thought to pass along.
I noticed that you (like many others) have the saddle adjustment screws on the bridge as Fender has installed them.
These screws are far too long to my opinion. If the intonation has been set, than the superfluous length could be trimmed.
The saddles will never be adusted that much towards the neck. The double nut-12th fret distance is the theoretical minimum.

This would allow the Bassmute to be installed closer to the saddles, so there would be less risk that the mutes generate
some flageolette effect and create a slight out of tune effect.
The bassmute in its prehistorical design did suffer from this effect, since the foam I used was not soft enough so it acted
almost as a bridge.
Therefore I advise to install the Bassmute as close as possible to the saddles.

On quite some Jazz basses I repaired through the years these screws also topped over the string when the action and saddles
had been raised.
I think they just used this oversized screw length for all saddles because of the ease of ordering one size only,
where it had been better (also for looks) the use shorter ones towards the lower strings.

Another tip for improvement is the following.

In many cases Jazz bass necks have been shimmed to obtain the desired action or height at the bridge.
Through the years I expirienced that when the neck had been tilted back a little, playing feel and sound improved.
There's some more pressure on the body in that case.
Further improvement would be to sand the neck pocket dead flat in the same angle that you achieve with the shim.
Tightening the neck to the body to the full pocket surface will improve the tone, since the neck does not only
make contact on the edge of the pocket and the shim. Flatt sanding the lacquer on the back of the heel of the neck
migth help as well, particularly if the lacquer has been sprayed over the production stickers or if these stickers are still
in place. You will loose the info on the sticker of course.

You may conclude that I am not a big fan of the 3-point adjustable tilt construction from the 70 's.

Of course the way the neck is fastened to the body influences the sound, so everything is depending on personal choice.
Personally I don't mind if the low end is getting a little more balls as a result of this operation.
Changes won't be dramatically of course.


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Postby docbop » Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:48 pm

Thanks for the information. I've always thought shimming the neck causing part of the neck not to contact the body must be sapping tone.

Also about bridge screws. I've never had the problem on bass, but have had enough cuts and chunks of the palm of my hand removed by tall screws on my guitars. One question on topic of bridges. Doe the contact area of a bridge piece affect how accurate the intonation can be set. I see some bridges the tops of the saddles are quite wide and some that are round. To me it seems like a saddle that comes to a point would be more accurate. Does that make sense?

Again thanks for your insight and I hope to order a couple of your mutes in the near future.
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About shimming the neck

Postby Ellio » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:13 pm

Hi docbop,

To my experience, there's not much tone sapping between shimming and how in general the neck fits into the pocket. Often the lacquer on the heel of the neck is not dead flat, neither the pockets on older basses.
Mostly there's a production info sticker on the heel.
It can be improved though. If you need to shim the neck a little, you can flat sand the pocket to the desired angle, sanding zero where normally the shim would go, to the shim thickness on the other end.
Also sand the back of the heel dead flat. Now you have an improved neck body joint. But also because the neck is tilted back a little, there's a little bit more down pressure at the bridge, resulting in an improved tone.
Not that much, but still noticeable, as I have experienced in the past years of building and repairing basses.
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Postby docbop » Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:01 pm

That is great advise thank you for your insights.
Steve Barnette
The Dojo of Cool
Jazz is the teacher, Funk is the Preacher.
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