Author Topic: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone  (Read 397 times)

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Offline LievenDV

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23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« on: November 02, 2017, 12:56:03 pm »
Greetings friends.
I need your help on am ore technical issue.

Here are some facts and impressions to start with.
- One of my beloved main guitars is a Mustang copy with 23" scale length. (the previous generation of this one: https://www.eastwoodguitars.com/products/warren-ellis-6)

- We play heavy metal in Eb tuning (half our set is is even with the low D# tuned to C#. jup; a drop D applied to a Eb tuning)
- I bought a new pickup for this guitar (Lace sensor drop n gain, escpially hor heavier music). while it is better, it also sound darker.
- I use a programmable distortion pedal which sounds good with my strat and explorer, but a bit muddy on the short scale guitar
- I know what effect short scale has on tone, tuning stability and string flubberyness but I absolutely love that guitar's weight, balance, scale length and looks.
- I mostly chug chords with some occasional single notes.
- Already experimented with pickup height of course. closer to strings gave a brighter sound but feedback comes too easy. (remember, high gain heavy metal band)

What I want
Not using a different guitar. I want that guitar but sounding brighter and/or more defined with a bit better tuning stability and less unpleasant squealing.
I'm pretty sure I want to keep using this guitar live and I'm willing to spend some $ to mod it.

Solutions I had in mind
- Thicker strings. I currently use a set Ernie Ball skinny top/fat bottom: Gauges: 10-13-17-30-42-52. I play rather heavy strings on my Gretsch as well. so I'm used to it. I don't do any lead stuff on that guitar, merely chord chugging. Even so, I mostly bash the thickest 3 or 4 strings. This will increase string tension and a luthier needs to do the works to compensate truss rod, nut etc.
I was thinking to go for "not even slinky" and replace the low 56 with 60.
(gauges 12-16-24-32-44-56)
- other string material strings. what is the brightest material for strings
- custom gauge. Perhaps I sould have it set up for a certain set of strings. don't mind mix/matching string gauges
- locking tuners, just because I like them on my other guitar
- potting pickups for microhponic noises and unpleasant squeels
- add a very bright neck pickup and play with both pickups on
- switcht to a different tuning, example, an open tuning with more string tension. result would be that I need to re-learn a song or 5.

I will have a chat with my luthier but I'd like to do my homework as much as I can before I do

ok what are your idea's?








« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 01:48:22 pm by LievenDV »
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2017, 01:56:49 am »
I would get a good standard output pickup that is not microphonic. One that is clear and balanced.

Then add a quality clean boost. or boost/comp.

IOW, get rid of all the possible issues of squealing, mud, etc. Just go for accurate string reproduction. Then amplify that again with clean boost.

The way you describe playing it, no lead, chug along stuff. That doesn't call for a special pickup. All you need to do is get your strings balanced until the guitar plays balanced acoustically.

After the pickup+boost+comp then add your distortion via pedal/s or amp.

I've never heard a Lace pickup that did anything for me.

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Offline Johan217

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2017, 12:54:39 pm »
Considering that your Mustang is still 1 inch shorter than my Jaguar (24" scale) I would go for at least .11 gauge strings, or custom gauges for the low strings. If the bridge is like that of a regular Mustang you may want to mount it fixed, if it is like the one in the picture that should be OK already.

Stainless steel strings are the brightest I think, and I believe they also have more tension than other materials (at least that is what it feels like for me).

Jaguars have 1m pots plus a "strangle switch" that cuts the bass frequencies, giving you all the treble you ever need. Maybe an idea for a mod?
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Amp: Fender Mustang I v2 (2015)

Offline LievenDV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2017, 02:53:37 pm »
thanks for the valuable input here already!

TB-AV, you inspired me to experiment with a booster.
Combining your info with that of what I saw in some youtube video's, I've got some things to test with cutting bass before the preamp and adding some in the fx loop as well. I'm going to experiment.
My amp tech pointed me to possible bass issues and the amp not properly handling it because of the power it needs.  I'm going to try and sound better in the mix with a lower volume.

The bridge is strat styme but not a through-body.
I stainless steel is the brightest, I should go for that. more tension? always welcome!
This strangle switch is interesting, I will examine it further.

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Offline TB-AV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2017, 11:44:55 pm »
I'm going to try and sound better in the mix with a lower volume.

Then maybe an Octave pedal as well.

You keep talking about wanting all this brightness but you are rhythm.

You have a bass player and you have a lead player. You need to be midrange. I think all that effort for brightness is going to hurt more than help.
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Offline LievenDV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2017, 12:03:51 am »
...
You have a bass player and you have a lead player. You need to be midrange.

well, ot entirely true.
Our lead player is, how do I call it, a "lead player in a very rhythmic fashion" who has an occassional solo but mot is riff based...with mostly mids. I'm trying to be "next to him/below him" if you know what I mean. we share a fair deal of range but my sound is different. In songs we regularly play variations of the same thing; he a complex version, I more of a simpler thing to provide some texture. I'm not as loud as him.  So there isn't much space between us but that's not really an issue.

Tonight I did a test by using a Wampler Sovereign (distortion) after my programmable distortion. I made the second distortion take out some bass and boost some. I turned the bass on my preamp a bit. Then, in the effects loop, I put a Fulltone fulldrive and used it to add some bass and even a bit of extra drive.

result: A tone with enough defined decent baselayer of lows that will land somewhere between the bass and leadguitarist but now with more mids and punch as well. I mad it go quite loud for a few seconds and it remained quite tight.

It's still dark but I'm trying to stay away from mods as long as possible.
I'm still going for the fatter strings though. I just love chugging thick wires :)


I'm wondering what it will say on rehearsal volume next Tuesday.





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Offline Dan Graves

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2017, 01:00:59 am »
Suggestions;

1) Steel or Cobalt strings, for a brighter tone. No guarantees in this one, but it can help a bit.
2) Depending on how thick your plectrums are, perhaps using slightly thicker ones. Bit of a reversal of what you'd expect, but the harder the plectrum, the sharper it will sound. Not an end all, be all solution though, but paired with #3 it might be a solution.
3) Change in playing style; not much of a change, just strumming somewhat closer to the bridge to get a clearer, sharper sound.
4) Since i agree with TB-AV on the lace sensor in this case; rip that thing out and put the standard pickup back, or trade it with someone for something else entirely.
For metal pickups, stick with Seymour Duncan or, if budget allows, Bareknuckle.
On a budget, Iron Gear still can't be beat.

Things i wanted to comment on;
"- add a very bright neck pickup and play with both pickups on" : won't change the tonal characteristics of the bridge, but it will add to the tone in general, but whether that will get you there desired effect ? I have my doubts.
"- potting pickups for microhponic noises and unpleasant squeels" : Always a good idea, but won't (or perhaps i should say it shouldn't) change the tone.
"- locking tuners, just because I like them on my other guitar" : Another good Quality of Life modification, but won't magically take the mud out of your tone.

Changing tuning also won't really help unless you start going up in tuning, and even then it will probably be marginal at best.
And thicker strings do not sound brighter, especially on the bass side.
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2017, 03:30:00 am »
I'm trying to be "next to him/below him" if you know what I mean.

Yes, that's why I say, you make your standard tone the low mid register. Then the Octave pedal will put you above him too.

The rest will be you having to play chord voicings that help with the "wrap" effect.

Bass - You - Him - your Octave tone.

Between you and him though, you will have to have a tight arrangement of different voicings.

that way you will have BASS + a think wall of guitar but the guitar will also have a varied midrange(him)... while yours holds the guitar wall of sound so to speak. Both high and low.

An Octave is not going to act like simply a bright pickup. It will create a hole for his guitar, and when he's doing something different you will still be holding a lo-mid + hi-mid sound.

He will be mid and when he switches to full out lead he will be hi.

Otherwise your pickups are going to be taking everything from low-mid to high or maybe even very high.

It's sort of like you want your guitar to sound like two voices. Which you could do with two amps and two outs on your guitar but the Octave will be easier and may work just as well. Plus you may only want that high end to be somewhat noticable  and not full out.

I think when you get the dull mud out of your pickup it's going to change things a lot. That will be your primary voice, the octave being a subtle effect.
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Offline LievenDV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2017, 11:38:52 pm »
Suggestions;

4) Since i agree with TB-AV on the lace sensor in this case; rip that thing out and put the standard pickup back, or trade it with someone for something else entirely.


it's a mini humbucker, so choices are limited.
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Offline Dan Graves

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2017, 04:22:57 pm »
Which one do you have, Drop & Gain or the Hemi ?
Because depending on which one you got, i might have to dig a little deeper than usual, those little buggers are certainly 'hot', especially the D&G...
Also, what does the routing look like ?
Could you fit a normal humbucker in there if you adjusted the existing pickguard/got a different one one ?
And i ask because both of those pickups in the bridge are hotter!! than any of my 'normal' hot sets. (they obviously don't best the Warpig, but hey, it's a xx--xx Warpig ;D if they were THAT hot, you need an insane neck pickup just to match)

[edit because i'm an idiot ]
How about a P90(sized humbucker) ?
The routing should be the same if it's an old fashioned mini (and since lace usually sticks to tradition...).
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Offline LievenDV

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Re: 23" scale length, drop tuning and tone
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2017, 04:44:35 pm »
Went for the drop n gain.

i've done some experimenting yesterday at band rehearsal.
Our leadguitarist and bassist weren't there so We could test some stuff.

Rather interesting results came from this setup:
guitar. Fresh pack of strings. Indeed a high output pickup, tried putting the pickup in a low position because higher makes it squeel with unwanted noise. (not a beautiful feedback as you might suspect but screeching "cleeeecks" :).
->
my BIAS distortion programmable distortion on factory "metal" setting.
gain halfway, level up. high's toned down.
-> to my amplifier
mids and highs on 12, presence on 10 o'clock and bass toned down to 9 o' lock.
volume on 3.5
-> to fx loop
Fulltone fulldrive 2 mosfet.
tone turned down but a bit of overdrive. The level here now functions as master volume.

Good growling sound without bass flubber but too much mid spank either.
definitions with a decent low end but hardly any flubber, even on 2 lowest strings with  "drop tuning applied to Eb, resulting in a Db and Ab as lowest strings.

eliminated the fulldrive but was sliiightly better with. concluded I sould try finetuning with an EQ in the fx loop.

i'm going to leave the "pickup replacement" scenario for now and have them waxed.
I achieved some desireable tones and I'm quite sure another pickup will be a good improvement/€ ratio.

the "metal" setting on the BIAS was usable for both guitars and I will be using the same setting as starting point and tweak 2 seperate presets.

The big test will be playing together with the bass and leadguitarist again.
sounding good with coval and drummer alone is one thing; let's see how it blends.
I still got a doubler as well so i will be experimenting with subtle doubler and octave settings as soon as I tried to match the "base sound".

I managed to minimize the setting from 3 pedals to one programmable unit by landing on a strange "high cut to low cut" setting. Let's see how it performs in a band setting
It inspired us to write 6 riffing idea's so at least it was inspirational

I ordered a pack of thick, cobalt strings.
These will be put on the guitar when I drop it at my luthier.
He needs to check out the best scenario for my bridge/saddles and locking tuners.

thanks for the thinking along so far.

Edit: saw your edit later after posting;
considered that but I don't want to risk ruining the pickguard :)
Routing allows it pickup swap is no prio right now.




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