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 Post subject: NBD - Gold Tone Microbass Fretless
PostPosted: August 8th, 2017, 4:46 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:52 am
Posts: 113
Got my Gold Tone Microbass Fretless today. Definitely interesting.
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I need to get used to the rubber strings: as I've read, they stick to your fingers and make a bothersome 'booming' sound when released (akin to finger scratch on guitars). I will pick up some baby powder at the store later and see if that takes care of the problem. The other issue I encountered was the G string is really thin over the piezo pickup like it is abnormally stretched and I was afraid of tuning it to pitch cuz it might snap. I contacted Gold Tone and sent them a photo and they said the bass shouldn't have left the shop like that but should still tune up to pitch and that intonation beyond the 12th fret may be affected, which it is.
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One of my first tests was to drop the E to D which I was able to do without too much flopping, but there is definite volume loss. I don't think the stock rubber strings are going to cut it for the kind of music I play, and they are very finicky (i.e. they go out of tune easily, get stuck in the nut slots, you need to change strings 2 days before a gig to allow them to stretch properly, the aforementioned stickiness, etc). So I ordered the LaBella steel flats and hope that they may alleviate some of the rubber string issues.

The bass if feather light as expected with no neck dive and the overall quality is ok for a $500 range bass. So far I am having fun with the small scale and my hands don't hurt as bad. We'll see how it all turns out after the steel flats arrive.


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 Post subject: Re: NBD - Gold Tone Microbass Fretless
PostPosted: August 9th, 2017, 3:43 am 
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Joined: April 28th, 2010, 10:59 am
Posts: 570
Location: Dover, NH
Thanks for the info!

pete


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 Post subject: Re: NBD - Gold Tone Microbass Fretless
PostPosted: August 12th, 2017, 11:25 am 
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I got the LaBella steel flats and installed:
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As expected, the flats tuned up to pitch right away and stayed in tune. They are narrower in gauge and definitely higher in tension than the rubber strings. Since the rubber strings are very thick and have more vibrational motion due to the much lower tension the nut slots are thus cut very wide and high:
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I bottomed out the bridge in an attempt to lower the action:
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Despite those adjustments the action remained very high for the flats:
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(You can see where I painted over the original side dots that were between the lines and painted on dots that are on the line, which I prefer).

It was overall still playable although at the first fret it was definitely harder to press down. If I were to keep the steel flats on I would have a new nut made and the bridge somehow altered to get the action lower. I'm not into such heavy modifications just yet, so I put the rubber strings back on. I will contact Gold Tone on Monday to see if I can get a new G string under warranty as the one that came with it is getting more tweaked.

After trying out the steels, I strangely found myself preferring the rubber strings. True, they are a pain to tune up: you have to keep lifting the string at the bridge and nut after several turns of the tuning key to keep it from catching on either end and possibly stretching it to the damage point which is apparently what happened to the G string at the factory. And baby powder definitely helps with the playability. Soundwise both strings are viable, but the rubber strings are more....what's the word? Funner?? I suppose if the flats had nice low action without any costly and drastic mods I would probably have a different assessment.


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 Post subject: Episode 3
PostPosted: August 17th, 2017, 1:46 pm 
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So I contacted Chris at Gold Tone on Monday and emailed him the pic of the bridge posted above and he was shocked how sharp the break angle was and agreed that the bass probably left the shop without a setup. I also told him about the tweaked G-string and that the D string was also starting to 'thin out' as they call it and he said that the sharp bridge angle probably had something to do with it. So he sent me new G and D strings and rounded off bridge piece which arrived today and its easy to see the difference.

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Chris instructed me how to replace the bridge piece, which was quite easy, and then I popped on the new strings. As I tuned up I still kept lifting the strings on both ends after several turns to keep them from catching. After tuning up it was apparent how might tighter, denser and louder the new G and D strings are compared to the old A and E strings. I bought some Gold Bond Cream that was recommended in the recent post about Aquila Thunderguts and I like it a better than the baby powder. Much easier to spread on my fingers evenly and it is less messy. Only then did I wonder if I should have coated the strings, bridge piece and nut slots with some of the cream to lubricate them, but I am not sure if that is recommended. Finally, I installed Dunlop Straploks and bottomed out the bridge again for lowest possible action. So for the most part I think I am finished with the modifications.

Playingwise I am enjoying the Microbass very much and my crusty hands like it too. My next step is to investigate different strings like the Aquila Thunder Reds and D'Addario Nylteks, but it seems most companies that make the rubber strings are geared towards the popular shorter scale Kala U Bass. I am hopeful that a 5 string low B model will be possible in the near future. If I like these tiny basses enough I may put my Status Graphites on the block and commission a high end build of a Microbass sized instrument with no lines on the fingerboard.


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 Post subject: Episode 4
PostPosted: August 24th, 2017, 7:38 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:52 am
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So I bought some D'Addario Nyltechs from juststrings.com with the full knowledge that these strings we specifically made for Uke basses in the 18-21" range. Before purchasing I spoke to George at D'Addario about scale length and he said there should be enough extra string to accomodate the 23" scale of my Gold Tone Microbass, so I pulled the trigger. Physically the strings appear very much the same as the stock strings. Before installing I applied a bit of the Gold Bond hand lotion on the nut slots and at the break point on the bridge to lubricate and let the strings slide easier during tuning. I installed the A and E strings first so I could compare them to the new G and D strings I got from Gold Tone under warranty. I lifted the strings at the nut and bridge every once in a while like I usually do to prevent the strings from catching, even though I had the lotion on, and there was enough extra string on both A and E to accommodate the 23" scale length. After tuning up and playing thru my Markbass combo the two Gold Tone strings seemed a tad bit louder than the Nyltechs and the tacky feel of the two brands were very similar, so I would use the hand lotion on both brands. I then removed the G and D strings to install the Nytechs. Again, there was enough slack for the 23" scale and the D string installed no problem. The G string however proved problematic. As I kept tuning up it never could make it to the last half to full step to G an then it started thinning out around the first fret, beyond the nut and at the bridge break point even though I was lifting every so often as usual:
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So the G string was ruined and useless. I wondered if it was because the extra 2 scale length inches of the Microbass required more tension than the string was designed for?? In any case, I took it off and put back the Gold Tone G string for the time being. I have a very short gig tomorrow with a quick soundcheck rehearsal right before at a church with a great sound system and I think I may bring the Microbass just to see how it sounds but not use it for the actual gig.

So after everything I've tried and tested since getting the Microbass, I will order a fresh set of Gold Tone strings and go with that. I still do want to try other strings like the Aquila Reds but I am still waiting for more information on them before I buy them. Stay tuned!


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 Post subject: Re: NBD - Gold Tone Microbass Fretless
PostPosted: August 25th, 2017, 6:18 am 
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Joined: March 9th, 2008, 7:46 am
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Location: West Orange, NJ
I'm sorry you're going through all this hassle and experimentation, though I'm thankful for it (Somebody has to take one for the team!). If nothing else, it's a learning experience and you'll eventually land on a happy medium.

I'd definitely send those pix over to George D'Addario. I wouldn't think the extra scale length would result in that either. The tension on these strings seems to be far less than a typical steel or roundwound string, though if they're anything like the old DeArmond Ashbory strings it doesn't take much to snap them.

I think the Aquila Reds might be your answer. I have them on my Hadean U Bass and they solved several problems I was having. (less sticky, no more fretting out, etc). Tonewise, how did the D'Addario Nyltechs compare to the stock strings?


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 Post subject: Re: NBD - Gold Tone Microbass Fretless
PostPosted: August 28th, 2017, 9:15 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:52 am
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[quote="pjmuckTonewise, how did the D'Addario Nyltechs compare to the stock strings?[/quote]

I think the two new stock G and D strings felt the most stable and had the most volume than the old stock strings (naturally) and the new Nyltechs. All off them had the same tacky feel and overall tone, but the Nyltech E string has kind of a weird thing going on. Hard to describe, but it almost sounds like its playing two tones at the same time, like a harmonic overtone or something. I can hear it through an amp or PA system too. I was going to try and play the bass at a church gig but I decided not to after hearing the weirdness. I eventually want to give the Reds a shot if I know for certain they will fit on the bass, but for now I ordered a whole new set of stock strings from Gold Tone and hopefully that will get the bass in top playing shape for the time being. I need to give my wallet a rest.


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