I suppose I should explain why I found myself talking to Mr Chapman of Stick Enterprises the other day. I’ve come to the point in one of my compositions where I determine what instrument I should use for the bass guitar. It could be that I’m going to use the Stick. I’d also been doing some reading on the Stick Enterprises web site about “dual bass reciprocal” tuning, which drops the 5 treble strings down in pitch to be more in the region of a regular bass guitar. This apparently allows for some alternative fingerings in playing complicated bass lines. (The “bass” side has strings pitched a 5th apart (like a double bass), while the “treble” side is strung in 4ths (like a guitar or bass guitar)).
Since I only ever use my Stick for bass lines, it seemed like something I could try out to see if I liked it.
So I phoned up Stick Enterprises and ordered a set of medium gauge DBR strings, and at Emmett’s recommendation, they also included a complete set of replacement brass slotted post screws.
The strings and posts arrived last week, and I have now completed the conversion. However, it was a little more of a project to do than I hoped.
I replaced the post screws one string at a time, and this was no problem at all. I was a little disgusted at how corroded and grubby the old posts were. The new ones are shiny and look great.
I had to widen the string slots at the base of the Stick to accommodate the heavier gauge strings on the treble side. I confess I resorted to taking a regular wood saw and – with great care – widened the slots for strings 2,3,4 and 5 (in this view, that’s numbered from right to left).
The next hurdle was that the lowest string on the base side (position 6), being medium gauge and heavier than the existing set, was too fat to thread through the hole in the shaft! I tried shaving the last 3 inches of the string down with a file (this has worked before) but I couldn’t get it to fit. I was convinced that I would have to leave the older, lighter string on but I really didn’t like the feel at all. I ended up drilling out the hole in the tuner with a drill bit. Yow. I wish I hadn’t have to do that. But it worked – the string threaded through the hole and I was able to put the full set of new strings on.
The final problem has been with the pickup. It’s a stereo pickup, with independent channels for the treble and bass sides. This has not been a problem for me, because I only use the bass side and therefore I can process the output through my (mono) effect chain. With both sides now in the base register, it totally defeats the purpose if I have to choose which side to play on exclusively. (Newer Stick pickups have a mono mode switch.) Another issue is that the two sides sound different. The combination of differences in string gauge plus pickup position means that splitting a bass riff between the two sides results in distracting tonal variations.
The solution is that I need to find a 2 channel pre-amp that will merge the two outputs, and give me independent EQ’ing. I’ve been doing some research and I think I’ve found something that might work, but that’s a subject of another post.