Q: I experienced a problem with your strings. What should I do?
A: Here at Ernie Ball we employ strict quality control standards and are committed to producing the highest quality musical instrument strings. Unfortunately there are many factors that can lead to a shorter string life. String attack, pick thickness, and finger oils are just a few factors that contribute to some players breaking more strings than others. Most strings break around the bridge. If this is happening repeatedly, you might need to replace the saddles. When the string is tightened, the saddle is the point at which the string makes the most contact and has the most tension, therefore needs special attention. If there are sharp or rough areas on the saddles (which are often difficult to detect), strings are much more susceptible to breakage. That said, we will gladly send you out a replacement if the string is determined to be defective. Please send the string(s) in question to: Ernie Ball Inc, Customer Service, 53-973 Polk Avenue, Coachella, CA 92236. Be sure to include your full name, mailing address, receipt copy and description of the issue with the string(s).
Feel free to contact us for additional help.
Q: What gauges of strings does Kenny Wayne Shepard use?
A: Kenny uses 11-14-18p-28-38-58 . Sometimes he uses a 12 instead of an 11. All the plain guitar strings are reinforced (RPS Slinky singles, Reinforced Plain String).
Q: How do your Slinky Stainless Steel bass sets and the Slinky Nickelwound bass sets sound different?
A: Stainless Steel Slinky bass strings give you an overall brighter tone, whereas nickelwound (nickel over steel) Slinky Bass strings will give you a all-around good range of tone with plenty of midrange tones.
Q: What is the factory set up for neck relief?
A: Put a finger on the first fret and another on the 12th fret and use the low E string as a straight edge, there should be a slight amount of string clearance. Try this on the 5th and 21st fret for the same eyeball measurement. Then take an accurate ruler and measure the bottom of the E string to the top of the 12th fret, it should be 3/32". 2/32" on the low B of a 5 string.
Q: What are the differences between plain, RPS, nickelwound (Slinky), pure nickel (Classic Slinky), stainless steel, phosphor bronze (Slinky Acoustic), 80/20 bronze (Earthwood) and nylon (Ernesto Palla) strings?
A: These are the differences between our strings: Plain strings (the smaller unwound strings), 3 are included in most electric sets and 2 in most acoustic sets, are a tin-plated steel string offering smooth high notes. RPS (Reinforced Plain Strings) strings are simply reinforced versions of our standard plain strings. They have a special wrapping of bronze wire with a lock twist at the ball end where breakage most often occurs. Since they also help the string stay in tune, these are especially useful for players using a vintage-style tremolo or just the player who tends to break a lot of plain strings. However, there is no real tone difference when using these strings. The differences in the various Slinky sets are in the wrapped strings only, and they are as follows: Nickelwound, which is nickel plating over steel wrap, such as our standard Slinkys?, offer all-around good midrange tone and sound. Pure Nickel strings offer a smoother, rounder vintage tone, reminiscent of the 60's. Classic Slinkys? are available in this type of wrap. Stainless Steel is a brighter string for more cutting tones. These are available in the Stainless Steel Slinkys? For acoustic guitars, the two most popular types are 80/20 bronze, and Phosphor Bronze. Earthwood 80/20 bronze gives a player a brighter, dynamic sound with lots of clarity. Earthwood Silk & Steel has a nylon core for the wound strings to add a mellower characteristic to the 80/20 sound. It also lessens the tension, making the guitar easier to play. Our Slinky Acoustic strings are a phosphor bronze blend string, giving players a warm, rich sound with solid tone while reducing string noise. Nylon strings are a smooth, rich string, quieter than most other strings (for classical style guitars only.) They are available in our Ernesto Palla Silver & Clear, Silver & Black, and Gold & Black (ball end). Also available in our Earthwood line is Gold & Clear (ball end).
Q: Can I get my Ernie Ball volume pedal rebuilt/repaired? What is involved, and for what cost?
A: Yes, your Ernie Ball volume pedal can be rebuilt/repaired no matter how old or new. (All pedals carry a 6 month manufacturer warranty) We replace the potentiometer, Kevlar cords, spring, feet, jacks, matting, bushings, and virtually everything except the outer casing. We even clean it for you! Lastly, we thoroughly test your volume pedal to ensure it once again works good as new! If you wish to have your volume pedal rebuilt/repaired (USA only -for outside the U.S., see below) click here to download the volume pedal return form. Please be sure to completely fill out the form and send it in with your volume pedal and payment*. The same form can be used for warranty repairs. The costs for rebuild/repair are as follows:
Stereo - Jacks on sides (P06159): US$75
Mono - Jacks on sides (P06160): US$55
Keyboard - Jacks on sides (P06163): US$75
Stereo/Pan - VP98 (P06165): US$75
Mono - VP98 (P06166): US$55
Stereo 25K - VP98 (P06167): US$75
Mono/Switch - VP98 (P06168): US$55
Mono - VPJR (P06180): US$55
25K - VPJR (P06181): US$55
*For string and spring replacement only, cost is $25. *All volume pedal rebuilds under our 6 month warranty are free of charge, but a copy of the original receipt must be sent in with the volume pedal. You pay shipping to us, and we pay shipping back (U.S. only). We recommend shipping UPS. Click here for instructions on how to replace your VP spring and string (PDF) For International customers: Please click here to get contact information for the distributor in your country: http://www.ernieball.com/international-dealers/
Q: My sound is affected when I plug my tuner into the TUNER jack of my pedal. Is my pedal defective?
A: No. Certain tuners can potentially affect the circuit. The Tuner itself is not "in" the signal path, but it is still connected to the circuit. A tuner with a low input impedance can potentially load down the signal, affecting the volume or tone of your instrument. We recommend experimenting with a different tuner.
Q: My volume pedal sounds scratchy. What should I do?
A: It sounds like the potentiometer might need replacing. If your pedal is old or hasn't been used for a while, there might be some oxidation in the potentiometer. Often times you can work-out the scratchiness simply by rocking the pedal back and forth many times. Information on our rebuild program is addressed in a previous question.
Q: I recently had you guys rebuild my older EB Volume Pedal and the new pot does not distribute the volume like the old pot did. Is this correct?
A: We have used at least 4 different companies to custom-build our potententiomers since the pedal's inception in the 70's. Since 1998, we have been using Tocos pots, which we feel are among the very best available today. However, they do have a different "sweep" than the older pots do. On top of the fact that potentiometers in general have very wide tolerances, the fact that upon rebuild we are removing one vendors pot and replacing it with another, there will be some obvious differences in the pedal's sound. Here's the scoop: we no longer stock the pots of old, not only because we can't get them, but also because we do not think they are as consistently good as the Tocos pots. The Tocos pots are the most consistent, high quality pots we have tested. With regards to the sweep changing, that is due to modern day pot manufacturing techniques that are used across the industry.
Q: Can the Ernie Ball Volume Pedal be used as an expression pedal?
A: Normally the answer is no. Our volume pedals very simply require a signal input into one jack and an output is sent out of another jack. Most expression pedals are sent a single TRS cable from the device it is to control which both sends and receives an electronic signal. These are two markedly different functions and one cannot be substituted for the other without intense modification. An expression pedal controls the amount of voltage that allows certain functions, such as, delay, distortion levels, volume, etc. in a keyboard or an effects processor to perform to whatever parameters the user sets it up to do. Our pedal may work as an expression pedal, but the manufacturer usually suggests what type of pot needs to be used, 500k, 250k, 25k, etc. in a pedal, keyboard, or an effects processor. The pedal might require a more sophisticated design. It is best to contact the manufacturer to determine what type of pedal is necessary.
Q: What are the values of the potentiometers that you use in your pedals, and are they audio or linear taper?
A: VP line potentiometers: 25K Stereo Audio (log) taper, 250K Mono Audio (log) taper, 500K Stereo Linear taper; VPJR line potentiometers: 25K Mono Audio (log) taper, 250K Mono Audio (log) taper
Q: What changes have been made to your volume pedal line? I understand that in 1998 they went through an almost complete design change.
A: Some of our old style MONO pedals were fit with a taper pot on the side, which gradually modified the taper of the volume pot. In 1998, these taper pots were replaced with a taper switch, which you can now find in all of our 250K mono pedals. This switch was designed to enable the user to choose between the 2 best sounding tapers available in the previous models. Some of our old style STEREO pedals were fit with a minimum volume pot on the side, which set the volume level of the pedal at the sweep's minimum position. Sometime before 1998, the minimum volume pot was removed from the pedals. In 1995, the tuner jack was implemented into all of the mono pedals that can be found in our current line of VPs.
Q: Is there any way of adding the minimum volume feature that was on the old Stereo Volume Pedals?
A: Unfortunately we are unable to add a custom minimum volume feature to our current pedal design.
Q: What are the dimensions and weights of your volume pedals?
A: The VP's dimensions are approximately 11" x 4" x 2.75" and they weigh about 3.75 lb. The VPJR's dimensions are approximately 10" x 3.5" x 2.5" and they weigh about 2.25 lb.
Q: Is the tuner output active in the volume off heel position?
A: The tuner out is wired directly to the input jack and usable at all times.
Q: Can I interchange or replace the potentiometers in my EB Volume pedal with any other type of pot? For example, can I change a stereo pedal to a mono? How about using a different type of pot altogether?
A: Replacing potentiometers with different values and/or from different manufacturers: For all of our pedals, VP and VPJR, unfortunately the answer is no. In our VP line, the MONO 250K pot cannot be replaced with our STEREO 25K pot, due to design differences in both the circuit and the potentiometer. As for the VPJR line, the 2 pedals were designed so that the user could choose the pedal they desire, and again, the pots cannot be changed due to design differences in the circuit. As for switching the pots between the 2 lines of pedals, this also cannot be accomplished due to size differences in the assembly components. Remember, if you attempt to modify the pedal in any way it voids all warranties!
Q: I have a guitar with a Piezo Acoustic pickup and a stereo output. Can a volume pedal be made with a single TRS input and dual outputs? Can it be set to simply blend between the 2 sounds? with toe or foot position closing out one or the other sound?
A: When using our 6165 Stereo Pan Pedal, the A input/outputs are mono and the B inputs/outputs are stereo. If you are using a stereo cable, you should run the cable to the B side and then out both A and B jacks. You will be able to control both volumes simultaneously, or, when using the toe-tap switch, be able to pan the volume to each output.
Q: When would I use an "active" 25k pedal as opposed to a 250k/500k "passive" pedal, and why?
A: Passive vs. Active: Whenever there is a passive signal leading into an EB pedal, the 250K or 500K pedal is recommended (mono VP & VPJR 250K and stereo 500K VP pedals available). Whenever there is an active signal (powered preamp in the instrument, effects loop, etc.) leading into an EB pedal, the 25K pot is recommended (stereo VP and mono VPJR pedals available). If an active signal is placed before a 250K or 500K EB pedal, or if a passive signal is placed before a 25K EB pedal, then the consequence may be that the swell of the pedal does not act as designed. Either way, as stated above, try whatever combination you desire, and determine if it works for you. All of our volume pedals are designed to be as transparent as possible in a signal chain. However, whenever you add any component to a signal chain, the signal will change whether it is audible or not. Keyboards are generally served best by the 25k pedals as well.
Q: What does the toe-tap switch on the #6168 pedal do?
A: The toe-tap switch to which you refer on the #6168 is designed to replace an amp function switch, very often a channel selector switch. It allows a player, while he is already adjusting the volume, to perform a function for which a separate switch is normally needed. In addition, like our standard 6166 volume pedal, a micro-switch inside the pedal controls the sweep of the potentiometer. The pot has an audio taper, from the heel postion to toe position it has a gradual sweep of volume until the last 1/3 of travel, then the volume has a more dramtic increase. The micro switch gives the pedal a smoother, more gradual volume increase from heel to toe.
Q: What does the little switch in my 250k volume pedal do?
A: It is a micro-switch that controls the sweep of the potentiometer. The pot has an audio taper: from the heel position to toe position it has a gradual sweep of volume until the last 1/3 of travel, then the volume has a more dramatic increase. The micro switch boosts the front of the sweep when switched to the left (or to the up-position on the 6180 VPJR), giving the pedal a slightly more gradual volume increase from heel to toe.
Q: I'd like to know detail features of the 6165 and 6168 pedals. And what are the differences? On the 6165, does it mean the volume pans left and right sides? And on the 6168 pedal, what does the switch actually do?
A: Although they may look similar, the #6165 and the #6168 pedals are very different. The 6165 volume/pan pedal is a most versatile pedal. In addition to controlling volume, it can also pan a mono guitar to two separate amp rigs or separate channels and allow a player to "pan" between the two separate outputs. Example: being able to blend "clean" and "dirty" channels. It also has a stereo input to keep a stereo instrument truly stereo while allowing panning. Another use could be to control two instruments' volume simultaneously. A flick of the toe-tap switch changes the function from a volume pedal to a pan pedal. The toe-tap switch on the #6168 is designed to replace an amp function switch, very often a channel selector switch. It allows a player, while he is already adjusting the volume, to perform a function for which a separate switch is normally needed. Another difference between the two similar looking pedals is that the #6165 is a stereo pedal and the #6168 is a mono pedal.
Q: Explain the way the 6165 Volume/Pan Pedal works.
A: In addition to controlling volume, it can also pan a mono guitar to two separate amp rigs or separate channels and allow a player to "pan" between the two separate outputs, for example being able to blend "clean" and "dirty" channels. It also has a stereo input to keep a stereo instrument true stereo while allowing panning. Another use could be controlling two instruments' volume at one time. A flick of the toe-tap switch changes it from a volume pedal to a pan pedal.
Q: Does Ernie Ball make a Wah pedal for Kirk Hammett in Metallica?
A: No, he's using our Mono Volume pedal as a voltage controller for his Dunlop Wah rack effects.
Q: How much power does the MVP require, and what is the expected battery life?
A: The consumption may vary due to use, but the MVP uses less than 3mA, which equates to between 200-300 hours of use with a standard 9v battery.
Q: How do I go about ordering custom picks?
A: To order custom imprinted picks check with your local Ernie Ball dealer. The U.S. retail list price for 100 picks is $50 with an additional $5 to cover shipping. That includes printing on one side, two lines, no more than 9 characters per line. They can be ordered through any music store that sells Ernie Ball products. Normal delivery time is 3-5 weeks. All picks are printed with your choice of three font styles; Century, Lucida or Corsiva. There are 7 solid colors available: white, tortoise shell, black, pink, red, light blue, and yellow; and 4 pearloid colors available: white, red, black, and blue. There are 8 colors of print available: gold, black, white, silver, yellow, red, blue, and green. These are available in 3 thicknesses: thin, medium and heavy. The picks are all standard plastic (cellulose nitrate). If you want more space 3-line picks can be ordered. The minimum for that is 600 and the U.S. retail price is $300. Another advantage is that the picks can be split into 3 thicknesses or colors of at least 200 of each type. A two-sided pick would cost 2 times as much as a standard one-sided pick. If you are unable to locate an Ernie Ball retailer, please let us know. We will help you!
Q: How do I get myself or my band endorsed with Ernie Ball/Music Man products?
A: A:Thanks for your interest in a possible Ernie Ball/Music Man endorsement! We are very proactive in building the industry's top artist roster and would love to hear from you. We ask that you email an electronic press kit in to the following address for endorsement consideration: firstname.lastname@example.org Musicianship, an extensive touring regimen, and possible label/management support are indicators for endorsement consideration.
Artist Relations Staff Ernie Ball Inc.
Q: How do I get my band on the Ernie Ball Stage at theVans Warped Tour?
A: A: The Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands wants to give your band the opportunity to play at the Vans Warped Tour. We are accepting online entries during the months of January to April at the following website: http://www.battleofthebands.com Email email@example.com for further inquiries
Q: what effect has on battery life if a mono jack stays in the mono output all the time? also a stereo jack in the stereo output? also mono jacks in both outputs?
A: The battery is always in use whenever either jack or both is used - it makes no difference which one or ones are used, it is always under the same load. The magnetic signal feeds through the piezo electronics, so a good battery is required even if the piezo is never used.
Q: What is the battery life expectancy on a John Petrucci with piezo option?
A: The battery life of course will vary depending on how much your guitar is plugged in. Whenever your guitar is plugged into either jack, the battery is under load. The average battery life is about 4 months for the player who practices every day for about an hour and gigs 1-2 times a week. One way to remember is: whenever the season changes - so should your battery.
Q: The piezo doesn't work when I dive-bomb. Why?
A: Piezo transducers rely on the pressure of the strings pressing against the transducers inside the saddles to get the vibration necessary for the piezos to pick up signal. When the vibrato is used, the pressure is released, so the piezos, at least temporarily, have nothing to give them any signal.
Q: Your guitars now have a different kind of nut. What is it called and what is its purpose?
A: The new nut is called a Compensated Nut. We have a patent on this design. The purpose of this new nut design is to improve note accuracy all over the fretboard. This is most apparent at the lower frets. There is no special tuner, setup, or intonation required. This nut is standard on all Music Man guitars and basses (of course except guitars equipped with Floyd Rose tremolo systems). The Compensated Nut has been engineered to improve your Music Man instrument's potential to play perfectly in tune up an down the fretboard. Each string has an individual intonation pocket that slightly changes the effective string length, causing notes that traditionally play sharp to be more in tune. The design has been optimized for standard string gauges and tunings, but will be of benefit when used with alternate tunings, string gauges, and playing styles.
Q: What is the best way to hook up one of your guitars equipped with the piezo bridge?
A: The Music Man models with piezo are designed to run out to two separate systems. That's what we consider the best option - the electric goes through the regular on-stage rig and the piezo runs direct through the house mains. To do this, you can either use both outputs at once with mono cables or you can run a single stereo cable out of the "magnetic/stereo" output and use a stereo-to-mono splitter box (such as our Ernie Ball catalog # 6190). Then, you take each respective lead where it is to go. Or, instead of running the piezo signal through the house mains, you could use an acoustic amplifier first and then run it to the house mains - or not. Of course, you can always just run the signal out of the "piezo/mono" output jack and have it run to to a standard guitar amp and mix the signal on your guitar alone - but to get the real potential of the piezo bridge, we know that running it through separate systems as described above works best.
Q: What are the differences between the Axis and the Axis SuperSport?
A: One difference is that the Axis is only available with a Floyd Rose bridge. This is what is on the Axis SuperSport that is not available on the Axis: 1. It comes with a tone control. 2. It is available with either a stop-tailpiece or a vintage tremolo, but not with a Floyd Rose bridge. 3. It is available with either a rosewood or maple fretboard; the Axis is only available with maple. 4. It is available with MM-90 pickups or the standard Axis humbucking pickups. 5. It is available with a piezo (acoustic) bridge (right-hand only - extra charge). 6. It is available left-handed (extra charge). 7. The SuperSport has a 5-way selector switch to employ coil-tapping, while the Axis uses a 3-way toggle switch. 8. The base price of the SuperSport is somewhat less than that of the Axis.
Q: What are the differences between the old Edward Van Halen signature guitar and the model that took its place, the Axis?
A: When Eddie left Ernie Ball/Music Man in 1995, the decision was made to keep the guitar in production pretty much the same as when it was the Eddie Van Halen guitar. All of the design, including the neck, pickups, and woods used are the same, but we made a few improvements: 1. The neck was widened slightly (1/32") at the body end. This was to correct problems for players who were having trouble with the high E string slipping off the neck on the 12th fret and up. 2. The switch was moved near the volume knob. This was done to help prevent accidental hitting of the switch, especially while strumming. 3. The "tone" knob was replaced by a volume knob (NOTE: it was always a volume pot - the "tone" knob was a sort of joke). 4. We added a comfort contour (a belly cut) to the top and back of the body.
Q: I want to got to a heavier gauge string set. Do I need to add a spring to the tremolo?
A: You should not have to add an additional spring. You will need to adjust the springs, truss rod, and intonation when changing string gauges. There is detail information on setting up your instrument elsewhere in the FAQ section.
Q: How do I remove the trem arm on the Floyd Rose bridge?
A: You must first remove the back plate. Remove the hex screw with an allen wrench to remove the arm.
Q: There is a grommet over the knob that is difficult to remove.
A: Push the grommet down towards the body (be careful not to scratch the finish). The set screw for the knob will be exposed. Loosen the set screw, remove the knob, then remove the grommet.
Q: How do I maintain the neck on my new Music Man guitar?
A: Since the neck is unfinished, it can be more susceptible to humidity changes. An annual (or so) dose of gunstock oil will help to keep the neck maintained; we use and recommend Birchwood-Casey Tru-oil, but any good quality gunstock oil will work.Clean the neck first. Use a small amount of Tru-oil, leave it on for 5 minutes, then wipe it off with a paper towel. After that, apply Birchwood-Casey Gunstock Wax. Be sure to douse the paper towel with water before disposing of it! Read the wax and oil manufacturer's instructions regarding disposal of these used paper towels. Birchwood-Casey products are available at most sporting goods or gun stores, or now you can order them direct. Their web address is http://www.birchwoodcasey.com. Rosewood fingerboards should not be treated with the gunstock oil; instead they should be treated with a high grade of lemon oil, or even better, with Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes Fretboard Conditioner. These wipes really work. For cleaning, try using the same high grade of lemon oil to clean the entire neck, both maple and rosewood fretboards, and again our Wopnder Wipes Fretboard Conditioner. If the neck is very dirty, you can use a small amount of Murphy's Oil Soap, diluted 3:1, to clean it. Keep in mind that if the dirt has gotten into the wood, it cannot be removed except by sanding it down, which we do not recommend a lot of. It is better to keep it clean in the first place. Washing your hands first helps! On an maple neck, some discoloration after many hours of playing is normal.
Q: How do I set up my John Petrucci guitar?
A: When restringing, turn the tuner's holes toward the corresponding nut slots. This will keep the strings as short as possible for more stable tuning. The next step is to check the relief in the neck by holding the lowest string down on the second fret with your fretting hand; then hold it down on the 12th fret with your right thumb and tap on the string on the middle of these two points to show how straight the neck is. It should be no more than the thickness of a thick business card, no more than that, though it can be less. If there is no relief a little pressure in the middle of the neck should take care of it. If it does not, feel free to contact us. With the guitar tuned to pitch in the playing position and looking down the body, the top of the body, the top of the bridge should be parallel (both front to back, bass to treble side) to or slightly higher than the body with the bottom still recessed. The saddles should not come in contact with the cover and the intonation screws. If this occurs, lower the saddles and raise the bridge. After every adjustment, it is necessary to re-tune the guitar. Factory string setting for standard tuning starts at the bass side 2/32" (0.0254m) to 5/64" (0.127m) and the treble side is 3/64" (0.0762m) to 2/32" (.254m) measured from the 12th fret to the bottom of the strings. The top of the strings should have the radius of the fretboard when you are looking at the strings in the playing position and by rotating the instrument while at the same time bringing strings into view one at a time. Remember, string height is ultimately determined by your preference and playing style, as well as the string gauge and tuning (if you you use an alternate tuning). Again, after every adjustment it is necessary to re-tune the guitar, to give you a starting reference. Now, you are ready to play your guitar. If a string buzzes on an open string to the 5th fret and no higher, more relief is needed. If there is more buzz from the 5th to the 12th fret, the neck needs to be straighter. You should check the string height after every adjustment. If the buzzing happens throughout the neck, the string height needs to be increased. When setting up, always consider all of the other changes that will occur with every adjustment, starting with step one, tuning up after each step you take. For intonation, check the harmonics to the fretted note on the twelfth fret If the fretted note is sharp, you need to make the string longer by turning the intonation screw for that string (located on the tail end of the bridge) clockwise, counter-clockwise if the fretted note is flat.If you turn the screw counter-clockwise, always turn the screw clockwise afterwards. (If you don't play much above that fret, you can skip the next step). Also check the harmonics at the 19th fret after the twelfth fret is set, repeating the procedure above. Make sure that the string is coming off of the saddle straight and not at an arch.
Q: How do I set up my guitar with the Floyd Rose bridge?
A: First, check relief in the neck by holding the lowest (bass) string down on the second fret with your fretting hand, then hold it down on the 12th fret with your right thumb and tap on the string in the middle to show how straight the string is. It should be no more than the thickness of a thick business card, and no more than that. It can be less than that, however, down to practically nothing. If there is no relief in the neck, apply a little pressure in the middle of the neck (downward) after adjusting the trussrod wheel should take care of it. If not, please contact us as it may be necessary to send the instrument in. The bridge should sit parallel to the body, both from the bass and treble side to the front and back of the bridge. Anything other than that will damage the finish - very important! It is recommended to change strings at least one string still tuned to pitch, and if it is only one, it should be the lowest string. Do not remove all the strings at one time! Install strings with ball end toward the nut in order to fish the ball end under the string retainer in order to avoid scratching the finish. Strings should come off the retainer toward the nut so that the string is touching all of the nut to keep the string from changing pitch when installing the nut clamp. Factory string setting for standard tuning starts at the bass side 2/32" (0.0254m) to 5/64" (0.127m) and the treble side is 3/64" (0.0762m) to 2/32" (.0254m) measured from the 12th fret to the bottom of the strings. The top of the strings should have the radius of the fretboard when you are looking at the strings in the playing position and by rotating the instrument while at the same time bringing strings into view one at a time. Remember, string height is ultimately determined by your preference and playing style. String height should be determined by each player's individual playing style. To adjust string height, the guitar needs to be disassembled to replace, remove or add shims in the neck (not recommended for the inexperienced or faint of heart). Remember to always protect the finish around the bridge by holding it firmly while removing the tremolo springs. After assembly, start back at step one. Now, you are ready to play your guitar. If a string buzzes on an open string to the 5th fret and no higher, more relief is needed. If there is more buzz from the 5th to the 12th fret, the neck needs to be straighter. You should check the string height after every adjustment. If the buzzing happens throughout the neck, the string height needs to be increased. To test the tension of the springs: This is measured by bending the G string two steps (notes) or as many steps as you normally would plan to bend. Do the bend at the 12th fret or so. There should be just enough spring tension to keep the bridge flush to the body while bending the G string 2 whole steps. Be careful not to apply too much tension, or damage to the finish may occur. To tighten the spring tension, turn the screws holding the tremolo claw clockwise - lessen the tension by turning the screws counterclockwise. The tremolo claw is located under the tremolo back plate.
Q: How does the online Instrument Builder work?
A: Select the model, neck, pickguard,and body color. Then select the 'check it out' button at the bottom of the page. An image of your instrument options should appear. Select the 'find it' button, then enter your zip code and country of origin. A list of Music Man dealers will appear that should have your choice of options for your instrument in stock. Select the highlighted dealer name for that store's inventory. If a dealer doesn't have your model in stock we suggest placing your order with your closest dealer.
Q: How do I set up my '99 Luke with the floating tremolo?
A: First, check relief in the neck by holding the lowest (bass) string down on the second fret with your fretting hand, then hold it down on the 12th fret with your right thumb and tap on the string in the middle to show how straight the string is. It should be no more than the thickness of a thick business card. If there is no relief in the neck, apply a little pressure in the middle of the neck (downward) after adjusting the trussrod wheel,it should take care of it. If not, please contact us. Factory string setting for standard tuning starts at the bass side 2/32" (0.0254m) to 5/64" (0.127m) and the treble side is 3/64" (0.0762m) to 2/32" (.0254m) measured from the 12th fret to the bottom of the strings. The top of the strings should have the radius of the fretboard when you are looking at the strings in the playing position and by rotating the instrument while at the same time bringing strings into view one at a time. String height is determined by your preference and playing style. If a string buzzes on the open note to the 5th fret and no higher, more relief is needed in the neck. If there is more buzz from the 5th fret to the 12th fret, the neck needs to be straighter (less relief). Check the string height at every adjustment. If buzzing is present throughout the neck, the string height needs to increase. After every adjustment it is necessary to re-tune the guitar. The standard float height is measured at 1 1/2 steps on the G-string. If you set this first at 440 tuning, it may make it easier to keep the bridge close to the same angle while making all of the other adjustments. You may want a different amount of float - many players prefer 1/2 or only 1 step of float. After each adjustment, return to step one, and start again.
Q: If I switch strings and go to a heavier gauge, do I need to make any adjustments to the guitar?
A: Make the nut slots slightly wider. Not doing this will cause extra pressure on the nut, which can cause the nut to crack, particularly on the lower strings. This is best accomplished by using a file. Be careful not to widen it too much! You should also check the intonation, which will probably need to be adjusted. That is covered in another FAQ.
Q: How do I set the intonation on my guitar?
A: After your strings are tuned to pitch, check the tuning on the fretted note on the twelfth fret. If the fretted note is sharp, it is necessary to make the playable string longer by turning the screw at the base of the bridge clockwise. Then re-tune the open note to pitch, and start again. If you play much above the 12th fret, you should also check the harmonics at the 19th fret after the twelfth fret is set. Make sure that the string is coming off of the saddle is straight and not in an arch. After you finish that, go over every step again until the intonation is correct at all points.
Q: How do I setup my Music Man Axis SuperSport?
A: First, check relief in the neck by holding the lowest (bass) string down on the second fret with your fretting hand, then hold it down on the 12th fret with your right thumb and tap on the string in the middle to show how straight the string is. It should be no more than the thickness of a thick business card. If there is no relief in the neck, applying a little pressure in the middle of the neck (downward) after adjusting the trussrod wheel should take care of it. If not, please contact us as it may be necessary to send the instrument in to the factory. Factory string setting for standard tuning starts at the bass side 2/32" (0.0254m) to 5/64" (0.127m) and the treble side is 3/64" (0.0762m) to 2/32" (.0254m) measured from the 12th fret to the bottom of the strings. The top of the strings should have the radius of the fretboard when you are looking at the strings in the playing position and by rotating the instrument while at the same time bringing strings into view one at a time. Remember, string height is ultimately determined by your preference and playing style. Now, you are ready to play your guitar. If a string buzzes on an open string to the 5th fret and no higher, more relief is needed. If there is more buzz from the 5th to the 12th fret, the neck needs to be straighter. You should check the string height after every adjustment. If the buzzing happens throughout the neck, the string height needs to be increased. Experiment a little to get the exact action you want.
Q: I plan to use a lower tuning. Do I need to do anything special if I tune to, say an E flat or D?
A: For alternate tunings: typically for every 1/2 step that you tune down, you need to increase your string gauge from the standard set, or gauge that you currently use. For example, if you currently use 9's and your guitar is properly set up, you would switch to 10's to tune to E flat. Increasing your string gauge will also increase pressure at the nut, so the nut slots need to be cut wider. This is best done using a file. It will change the tension of the neck, so the trussrod will need adjustment, it will also change the intonation (how to adjust intonation is discussed in another FAQ).
Q: What is the best way to adjust the action on my Music Man guitar?
A: The best and easiest way to adjust your action is to use the truss rod. To lower your action, turn the wheel clockwise. To raise your action, particularly if you have fret buzz, turn the wheel counter clockwise. It is always a good idea to make just one or two turns at a time, then play it and see if it needs more adjustment. It normally doesn't take many turns of the wheel to notice a difference. A "turn" as defined here is inserting an adjustment tool and moving a spoke of the wheel from one side of the opening at the body at the neck to the other side.
Q: Which strings do you use at the factory to string up your guitars?
A: The Ernie Ball strings we use on all of our guitars is as follows: Silhouette and Silhouette Special: RPS-9 Slinkys (9-42) catalog #2239 Axis: RPS-9 Slinkys (9-42) catalog #2239 Axis SuperSport with DiMarzio humbuckers: RPS-9 Slinkys (9-42) catalog #2239 Axis SuperSport with MM-90 pickups: RPS-10 Slinky (10-46) catalog #2240 Steve Morse: 10-13-16(all RPS)-26-32-42, available in single strings only Albert Lee: 10-13-16(all RPS)-26-36-46 available in single strings only Luke: RPS-9 Slinkys (9-42) catalog #2239 John Petrucci: RPS-10 Slinkys (10-46) catalog #2239 Benji Madden: 12-16-(RPS) - 24w-32-42-52 available in single strings only SUB-1 guitar: RPS-9 Slinkys (9-42) catalog #2239 The John Petrucci 7-string guitar uses RPS-9's with an added .56 nickelwound for the low B string. To build this set, use catalog #2239 with an added catalog #1156.
Q: What should I know about changing guitar strings on my Axis with the Floyd Rose?
A: When replacing a string on a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, it is very important that the bridge should sit parallel to the body so as not to damage the finish. It is recommended to change strings one or two at a time;leave at least one of the strings tuned to pitch while changing the rest, and place a soft towel or cloth under the back of the bridge to protect the finish. Care must be taken not to over-tighten the saddle clamps. Push new guitar strings through the saddle first with the ball end toward the nut so that you may fish the ball end under the string retainer to avoid damaging the finish. Strings should come off of the retainer toward the nut to assure that the guitar string is touching the entire surface of the nut in order to keep the string from changing pitch when installing the nut clamp. You are now ready to tighten the strings at each end.
Q: Is the pickup spacing on the Axis guitar F spaced or regular?
A: The bridge pickup is F spaced the neck pickup is not.
Q: What guitars are available left-handed?
A: The Luke, Axis SuperSport, Silhouette Special, John Petrucci 6, John Petrucci 7, BFR John Petrucci 6 and the BFR John Petrucci 7.
Q: Can I get the Axis with a stop-tailpiece or a rosewood fretboard?
A: The Axis is only available with a Floyd Rose bridge, however it now available with a rosewood fretboard.
The Axis Super Sport has a wide variety of options, check our spec page for information.
Q: What size hex (Allen-type) wrench will fit into my truss rod wheel?
A: It doesn't have to be any particular tool - in fact we purposefully made it to where you can use almost anything to adjust it, such as a small screwdriver, hex wrench, or even a nail. At the factory, we typically use 3mm size hex wrenches.
Q: Can I add a piezo bridge to my Music Man guitar?
A: No, we are not able to add a piezo sytem to an existing Music Man instrument.
Q: Why does the Axis scale seem so much shorter? Is it really 25.5 inches?
A: Yes. The neck scale on all of our guitars is 25.5", the same as a Fender Stratocaster. It may appear shorter because the overall length of the guitar is shorter. The 4+2 headstock cuts off an inch or so, and it is also trimmer at the bridge end. We cut some of the "fat" so that our guitars have a better balance and are more comfortable to play. It makes the entire instrument shorter without changing the scale length.
Q: Some of your guitars come with a battery. What is it for? Are the electronics active?
A: The battery is either used to power the Silent Circuit, which will allow single-coil pickups to be heard without the 60 cycle hum, or it is also used to power the piezo electronics, or both. The only guitar we make with active electronics is the Luke, which is made to Steve Lukather's exact specifications.
Q: How do the piezo pickups work on your electric guitars?
A: Piezo pickups use crystals that generate a signal when you pick the string. Our piezo pickups are built into each saddle. The piezo transducers create an acoustic tone by picking up on the vibration of the wood. Electric guitarists who want that acoustic sound can now order an Axis SuperSport, Silhouette Special, as well as a John Petrucci, Luke or Albert Lee signature model guitar with piezo pickups to add a whole dimension in their sound. Also available with piezo pickups are the Stingray, Stingray5, Sterling, Bongo 4 and Bongo 5 basses.
Q: Why does Music Man use Polyester finishes on instrument bodies instead of Nitrocellulose finishes?
A: Nitrocellulose finishes are really the rare breed today. Because of the environmental hazards of spraying this material it is becoming regulated or outlawed in more and more areas, beginning with California. We all like the way it looks on vintage instruments, but it does shrink, crack and scratch much worse than either polyester or polyurethane finishes. These are qualities that many people used to live with, but now feel are unacceptable. Most guitar companies now use either polyester or polyurethane finishes, as do cars. They are tougher, and do not shrink, chip, crack or scratch nearly as easy as nitrocellulose. They are also much more expensive than nitrocellulose. There is really not that much difference between guitar and auto finishes, except that the products made for autos must withstand cold temperatures, not fade with constant exposure to sunlight, rain, etc.- things you would never want to expose a guitar to. Polyester is the hardest of all the topcoat materials. It is quite resistant to yellowing and cracking. It will protect your guitar better than anything else.
Q: What is the string height off the neck supposed to be?
A: The approximate factory settings are 1/16" or 1.5875mm from the bottom of the string to the top of the 12th fret. Players can adjust the action lower or higher to fit their playing style. Clockwise to raise the fretboard, counter clockwise to lower it.
Q: What can I do about my squeaky tremolo arm?
A: 1 Drop of 3-N'-1 oil should take away the squeak.
Q: Is it possible to tighten the trem arm on your Vintage Tremolo to stop it from swinging around?
A: Depress the tremolo arm like you are dive bombing. Looking up from the lower strap button, inside on the trem block on the right, you will find a 1.5mm hex key adjustment screw. You can adjust the arm's swing there.
Q: If I change my string set gauge to 10's or 11's will I need to reset the intonation?
A: Most likely, yes, you will.
Q: I would like to know what your "silent circuit" is.
A: The Silent Circuit is a Music Man exclusive system allowing great sound through single-coil pickups while almost eliminating the 60 cycle noise normally associated with single coils.
Q: I own an Axis guitar and I have the action low about 1/16 and the neck is straight but I get some buzzing above the 12th fret. What can I do?
A: It sounds like your guitar needs to be setup. A neck doesn't need to be perfectly straight to be setup properly. Sometimes depending on fret height, fret wear, etc., the neck will need a bit of relief. A good local repair person should be able to get rid of the buzzing.
Q: How should I change the strings on my guitar?
A: The best way to restring your guitar is one at a time to keep tension on the neck. It is not recommended to take all of the strings off at once. If you need to remove them for cleaning or to do some repair work, you will probably need to readjust the neck and re-intonate the guitar. FOR SCHALLER LOCKING TUNERS: After removing the old string, loosen the thumbwheel screw in the back of the tuner of the string you are going to change. After inserting the string into the back of the tremolo plate in back and over the saddle (it is not necessary to remove the trem plate), run the string all the way up to the correct tuner. Re-tighten the thumbwheel screw until the string does not move out of the hole in the tuner (do not over-tighten) With a good pair of wire cutters, cut the excess string. Tune the string to pitch. FOR FLOYD ROSE BRIDGES: When replacing a string on a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, it is very important that the bridge should sit parallel to the body so as not to damage the finish. It is recommended to change strings one or two at a time; certainly leave at least one of the strings tuned to pitch while changing the rest, and place a soft towel or cloth under the back of the bridge to protect the finish. Care must be taker not to over-tighten the saddle clamps. Push new strings through the saddle first with the ball end toward the nut so that you may fish the ball end under the string retainer to avoid damaging the finish. Strings should come off of the retainer toward the nut to assure that the string is touching the entire surface of the nut in order to keep the string from changing pitch when installing the nut clamp. You are now ready to tighten the strings at each end.
Q: How is the trussrod inserted into a maple neck? Is it one piece of wood?
A: When we make a solid maple neck, the neck is cut horizontally lengthwise, routed for the trussrod, the trussrod is inserted. Then the neck is carefully glued back together so it is barely detectable that it was ever apart.
Q: what is the minimum voltage needed in a battery for the electronics to work properly?
A: The minimum voltage needed is about 7.8 volts under load. Lower than that and your guitar may distort, even clean and even magnetic - and it is not an entirely "good" type of distortion. Time to change the battery!
Q: How do I clean and maintain my Music Man neck?
A: To clean the neck, use a high-grade of lemon oil. If the neck is very dirty, try Murphy's Oil Soap diluted 3:1. Some players have found that using a toothbrush for cleaning is very effective. Since the neck is finished only with the gunstock oil/wax blend, it is more susceptible to humidity changes. A very infrequent dose of gunstock oil will help to keep the neck maintained; we recommend Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil, but any good quality gunstock oil will work. Use a small amount, leave it on for just 5 minutes, then it off with a paper towel. After that, apply Birchwood-Casey Gunstock Wax. Be sure to douse the paper towel with water before disposing of it! Read the wax and oil manufacturer's instructions regarding disposal of these used paper towels. Birchwood-Casey products are available at most sporting goods or gun stores or directly. Their web address is www.birchwoodcasey.com Rosewood fingerboards should not be treated with the gunstock oil; instead they should be treated with a high grade of lemon oil. Again, for cleaning, try using the same high grade of lemon oil to clean the entire neck, both maple and rosewood fretboards. Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes Fretboard Conditioner are excellent for frequent cleaning and maintenance as they are very effective and string removal is not necessary. If the neck is very dirty, you can use a small amount of Murphy's Oil Soap, diluted 3:1 to clean it. Keep in mind that if the dirt has gotten into the wood, it cannot be removed except by sanding it down, which we do not recommend. It is better to keep it clean in the first place. Washing your hands first helps! On an unfinished neck, some discoloration after many hours of playing is normal. Be sure to follow all of the manufacturers recommended safety precautions when using any of these oils or waxes.
Q: What size hex wrench do I need to adjust the height screws on the saddles on my bass?
A: All of the bridge height screws require a 1/16" hex wrench.
Q: I see that your basses have been shipping out with a different kind of nut. What is it and what is its purpose?
A: The new nut is called a Compensated Nut. We have a patent on this design. The purpose of this new nut design is to improve note accuracy all over the fretboard. This is most apparent at the lower frets. There is no special tuner, setup, or intonation required. This nut is standard on all Music Man guitars and basses - even SUBs. The Compensated Nut has been engineered to improve your Music Man instrument's potential to play perfectly in tune up an down the fretboard. Each string has an individual intonation pocket that slightly changes the effective string length, causing notes that traditionally play sharp to be more in tune. The design has been optimized for standard string gauges and tunings, but will be of benefit when used with alternate tunings, string gauges, and playing styles.
Q: What happens if my instrument gets too hot, like if I forget to take it out of the car on a hot day?
A: Get the instrument into a normal temperature environment, and allow it to cool off. Don't put it in front of an air conditioner, or anywhere that will cause a drastic temperature or humidity change. DO NOT make any radical adjustments to the instrument until it cools down! Once it has normalized, check it over. If there is no apparent damage, you're probably fine, and there is no need to worry. Just don't let it happen again. If there are problems - perhaps it would be a good idea to contact us.
Q: Should excessive heat be avoided?
A: It's not a good idea to allow your instrument to get hot for a lot of reasons. It can cause structural and cosmetic problems, so take every precaution to avoid it. We go to great lengths to build a very SOLID instrument, but wood is wood, it warps under heat and tension, and heat is very bad for glue joints. The hotter it gets, and the longer it stays that way, the more likely you will have problems.
Q: How does the 3-Band EQ function on your basses?
A: It's pretty complicated, but here goes .. The 3-Band Bass EQ uses a standard bandaxal circuit centered approximately 500 Hz. The frequency slope is 6 db per octave. With the bass control in max position, the maximum output will occur at 40 Hz and drop at 6 db per octave above 40 hz. Maximum treble response drops at 6 db per octave at frequencies below approximately 12 kHz. Midrange is centered approximately 500 Hz. Control settings are interactive, therefore 6 db per octave only occurs when one control is in the maximum position and the two remaining controls are set to minimum.
Q: What is the factory setting for the neck relief gap for Musicman basses?
A: 3/32" between the bottom of the string and the top of the 12th fret.
Q: How do I set up my Music Man bass?
A: First check relief in the neck by holding the lowest string down on the 2nd fret with your fretting (left) hand. Then, hold the same string down on the 12th fret with your plucking thumb and tap on the string in the middle to see how straight the neck is. There should be no more than the thickness of a business card between the string and the frets. If there is no relief in the neck, a little pressure in the middle of the neck (after adjusting the trussrod wheel) should help. The standard string gauge is .45-.100 with a .130 on the low "B" for the 5 string at 440 tuning. If you decide to tune down, typically you would increase the gauge for every 1/2 step downward that you tune. This will keep most of the measurements close by having more tension on the neck. Factory String heights are: Bass side 3/32 to 7/64 Treble side: 5/64" to 7/64" from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string. The rest of the strings should have the radius of the fretboard when looking at the top of the string, (with the A string hidden from view by the E string, etc.), rotating the bass at the same time. The "right" string height is, of course, ultimately determined by your playing style. The pickup should be 4/32" to 5/32" on the bass side and slightly closer (4/32" to 5/32" on the treble side. This is determined by tuning and volume of strings measured by the top of the pole piece to the bottom of the strings. If the G string needs more volume, adjust it slightly more toward the pickup. Again, if you tune down, more distance is needed here, as well; but in any case, no lower than 4/32". If fret buzz occurs from the open to the fifth fret, the neck needs more relief. If it buzzes between the 5th fret and the 12th fret, the neck needs to be straighter (turn the wheel slightly clockwise). If it occurs all over the neck, the string height need to increase (by turning the trussrod wheel slightly counter-clockwise). For intonation: Check the harmonics to the fretted note on the 12th note on the twelfth fret if you don't play much above that fret. If you do, also check the harmonics at the 19th fret after the 12th fret is set. If the fretted note is sharp, you need to make the string longer by turning the saddle screw counterclockwise, and vice versa. Make sure that the string are coming off of the saddle straight and not in an arch. All measurements must be rechecked after each adjustment.
Q: I have rust on the pole pieces of my StingRay. What to do?
A: Although it is not common, we do see cases where some players' sweat will cause the nickel content on the pole pieces to rust. To get rid of the rust already on the pole piece, try using a scrub pad. Do not scrub more than necessary to remove the rust. To keep it from coming back, use (believe it or not) nail polish clearcoat. It will not affect the tone of the bass.
Q: Do I need to loosen all of the strings before making a neck relief adjustment?
A: You should make all adjustments with the strings where you would normally play them. Do not loosen the strings to adjust the truss rod.
Q: What does the 3 way switch do on the Stingray 5 and the Sterling?
A: With the switch in the 'closest to neck' position, the pickup's flow of voltage follows a snake like pattern around the poles, this is called the Series position, creating an out of phase slightly brighter humbucker tone. The second position is the Single Coil position, only the coil closest to the bridge is used creating a thin, bright sound for soloing, a phantom coil is added to reduce single coil noise. The last position is the Parallel position, use this for the traditional thick bottom end bass sound made famous by the Stingray 4.
Q: Your specifications tell us that you use selected hardwoods for your bass bodies. What woods do you use?
A: We used even amounts of poplar and ash and sometimes alder, we are currently using ash these days. We always use ash on translucent finishes.
Q: On fretless basses without lines, are there markers on the side of the neck?
A: On a Music Man unlined fretless neck, there are dots on every other fret, where the frets would normally be.
Q: What size hex (Allen-type) wrench will fit into my truss rod wheel?
A: It doesn't have to be any particular tool - in fact we purposefully made it to where you can use almost anything to adjust it, such as a small screwdriver, hex wrench, or even a nail. At the factory, we typically use 3mm size hex wrenches.
Q: Can I add a piezo bridge to my Music Man bass?
A: No, we are not able to add a piezo sytem to an existing Music Man instrument.
Q: What is the string spacing on the Music Man basses?
A: All distances are measured from string center to the next string center. Stingray 4, Bongo 4, SUB 4 - 3/4" Sterling, StingRay 5, Bongo 5, SUB Sterling - 11/16"
Q: What woods does Music Man use for the body of a Stingray?
A: In the past we used equal amounts of poplar or ash, and a small amount alder, we are using almost all ash now. We always use ash on translucent finishes.
Q: What is the frequency range of the 3 band EQ?
A: Our 3 band basses use a standard baxandall circuit centered appx. 500hz. Frequency slope is 6 db per octave. With bass control in max position, max output will occur at 40hz and drop at 6db per octave above 40hz. Maximum treble response drops at 6 db per octave at frequencies below appx.12 khz. Mid range is centered appx.500 hz. Control settings are interactive, therefore 6 db per octave slope only occurs when one control is in maximum position and the two remaining controls are set to minimum.
Q: Do I need a truss rod tool for my bass?
A: The truss rod wheel design was designed so any musician can easily make minor adjustments to the neck. Any tool such as an allen wrench, nail, small screw driver, etc. that will fit into the wheel hole will work. Turn the wheel a quarter turn at a time then check by playing your bass. Clockwise will raise the fingerboard.
Q: How long does the battery last, and how do you know when it needs to be replaced?
A: Average battery life is 6 months. We recommend Duracell batteries as replacements mostly due to size inconsistencies between battery manufacturers. Do not leave your bass plugged in when you have finished playing, as this will drain your battery faster. Battery life of course depends on how often and how long you play. When the sound of your bass becomes distorted, it's ready for a new battery.
Q: Can I use rechargeable 9-volt batteries for my Music Man bass?
A: We do not recommend rechargeable batteries for replacement in Music Man instruments for 2 reasons: 1. They do not put out enough voltage (at least 8.4 volts) to properly run the instruments. NiCad and NiMh "9-volt" batteries, even when fully charged, put out a maximum of 7.2 volts. 2. Even if they did work, rechargeable batteries only hold a charge for 1-3 months. Alkaline batteries, when fresh, can go 6 months or longer. We recommend Duracell for a good fit.
Q: Will fretboard conditioner help any on a fretless bass to preserve the wood and protect the fingerboard?
A: It is good for preserving the wood, but it will not significantly change the wear to the fingerboard.
Q: What size Allen wrench does the Silhouette bass require for bridge adjustment?
A: It requires a 1/16" size Allen wrench, the same as for all our basses.
Q: What is used in our cases during shipping to control humidity?
A: Desiccant. Placed in a small bag it is used as a static dehumidifier.
Q: What type of wood is used on the fingerboard of your fretless basses?
A: Pau ferro, a very dense exotic wood.
Q: What are the pros and cons of using flatwound strings on a fretless bass? Do roundwounds wear the fretboard more? Are roundwounds used more even on fretless basses?
A: Flatwound strings will not wear the fingerboard like roundwound, but the roundwound strings are much brighter and preferred by most players.
Q: What are the differences between the StingRay and the Sterling?
A: The StingRay is more of a traditional bass with active electronics that gives players a great all-around feel and sound. It is great for any style of music. The Sterling is a sleeker, lighter bass than the StingRay. It has a thinner neck and smaller body. The 3-way switch offers more tonal varieties, and the phantom coil offers a single-coil sound without noise. Now both are available in dual-pickup versions. On those models, the 5-way switch functions are the same, but the main properties of each bass, including the electronics, remain different from each other.
Q: The Silhouette Bass: Is this bass a true 6 string bass or is it a Baritone guitar?
A: The Silhouette bass is probably best described as a hybrid bass and guitar. It has a 29 5/8" scale which is almost halfway between a guitar and bass scale length. It is tuned E-E a full octave lower than a guitar and uses all wound strings from .20 to .90 gauge. In some applications, it could not be used the same way as a long scale 6-string bass, but with the 10 different switching configurations it does have a very wide range of tonal characteristics from a nice bass tone to a great higher-pitched tone such as lower notes on a guitar. It is even suitable for playing some chords. It is tuned like a guitar, only an octave lower. It is also available strung as a baritone guitar, tuned from A-A.
Q: Is there any coating that can be applied to protect the wood such as polyurethane, and how would this affect the sound? Supposedly Jaco Pastorious used boat epoxy on his fretless bass.
A: Various epoxy and Cyanoacrylate (super glue) finishes have been used on fretless fingerboards. This tends to yield a brighter tone and may wear longer than bare wood, depending on the material used. Some such finishes do not adhere well to oily woods such as rosewood or pau ferro. Have an experienced guitar tech do the work!
Q: I'm planning to buy a black Music Man Stingray, but I'm unsure which fingerboard to choose. I'm concerned about the difference in sound. Could you explain the difference?
A: The general consensus regarding this question is that maple gives you a snappier, slightly brighter tone with more attack while a rosewood board gives you a darker, smoother tone with more warmth. Often the difference is subjective and subject to personal opinion. There are also other factors to consider such as playing style, what type of strings you use, tone settings, and amplifiers to consider. Try both maple and rosewood to form your own opinion.
Q: If my fretless fingerboard became grooved and worn out can it be replaned or should it be replaced?
A: It can be resurfaced by sanding, and could be replaced by a professional luthier. Resurfacing the board should only be done when the wear is sufficient to cause the sound or playability of the instrument to suffer. Resurfacing too frequently will greatly reduce the useable life of the fingerboard. Usually, replacement is only necessary after several resurfacings and years of heavy use.
Q: I just bought a new Music Man bass, what is the recommended string height on the neck and over the pickup?
A: If your truss rod is adjusted properly, the string height above the 12th fret should be 3/32 from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret. 6/32" or 4.8mm from the bottom of the string to the top of the pole piece on your pickup.
Q: I have a Music Man fretless bass. What kind of strings should I use?
A: You may use any kind you like. It is true that stainless steel roundwounds are the hardest on the fingerboard, followed by nickelwound. Flatwound strings are the most forgiving.
Q: How does the piezo bridge function on the basses?
A: The Music Man basses with the new piezo bridge option is in addition to the original pickups and electronics. The piezo may be used in conjunction with, or completely separate from, the standard configuration. The piezo/magnetic blend is controlled by a knob that has a center d?tente position. Turn the knob all the way clockwise and there is magnetic signal only. Turn the knob all the way counter-clockwise to obtain piezo signal only. With the knob in the center detente position, there is an exact 50/50 blend of piezo and magnetic signal, and any other setting will be blended according to where the knob is set. The piezo bridges are not available as a retrofit for earlier Music Man basses.
Q: How do I maintain the neck on my new Music Man bass?
A: For everyday cleaning, use a small dose of high-grade lemon oil. For the fretboard, use Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes Fretboard Conditioner. If the neck is very dirty, give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since the neck is finished only with gunstock oil and wax blend, it is more susceptible to humidity changes. An occasional truss rod adjustment will help keep your bass playing factory-new. If you are getting fret buzz (plugged in only, of course) raise the action by turning the trussrod wheel counter-clockwise, to lower the action turn it clockwise. An infrequent dose of gunstock oil will help to keep the neck maintained; we recommend and use Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil, but any good quality gunstock oil will work. Clean neck first. Use a small amount of Tru-oil, leave it on for 5 minutes, then wipe it off with a paper towel. Then apply Birchwood-Casey Gunstock Wax. Be sure to douse the paper towel with water before disposing of it! Read the wax and oil manufacturer's instructions regarding disposal of these used paper towels. Birchwood-Casey products are available at most sporting goods or gun stores, or direct. Their web address is http://www.birchwoodcasey.com. Rosewood fingerboards should not be treated with gunstock oil; instead they should be treated with a high grade of lemon oil. For cleaning, try using the same high grade of lemon oil to clean the entire neck, both maple and rosewood fretboards. Keep in mind that if the dirt or grease has been worked into the wood, it cannot be removed except by sanding it down, which we do not recommend unless exercised with extremely fine sandpaper (1200-1600 grit), and even then very sparingly. It is better to keep it clean in the first place. Washing your hands first helps! Some discoloration after many hours of playing is normal on unfinished necks. Be sure to follow all of the manufacturers recommended safety precautions when using any of these oils or waxes.
Q: Could you tell me Music Man's StingRay factory settings for relief, string height, and pickup height?
A: First of all - almost all of the adjustments to string height can be made with the truss rod. Turn clockwise to raise the fretboard action, counter clockwise to lower it. The factory string height for our basses is 3/32" or 2.4mm between the bottom of the string to the top of the fret on both the E and G strings at the 12th fret. The G string can be slightly lower due to the fact that it is the smallest string. Of course, tightening or loosening the trussrod affects the bow of the neck, which is how desired action is generally best achieved. The factory specifications for the pickup height is 6/32" or 4.76mm from the top of the plastic between the pickup covers to the bottom of the G string. The angle of the pickup is set fairly level, so the larger strings are naturally a bit closer. If you haven't already adjusted the pickup or changed to a very heavy gauge string set, you shouldn't have to do any adjustments on the pickup. On the new 2-pickup basses, the measurements are virtually the same on the bridge pickup and the neck pickup is further away, about 8/32" or 6.35mm from the string to the pickup.
Q: Can you please tell me what type of strings are put on Music Man basses when they ship new from the factory?
A: The 4-string basses are all equipped with Ernie Ball Super Slinky Bass strings, item number 2834, when they leave the factory. The gauges are 45-65-80-100. The StingRay 5 and Bongo 5 use the same with an added 130. This set is our Regular Slinky Bass 5's, item #2836.
Q: I'm looking for some MJE1692 transistors for a MusicMan RD-50 guitar amp and they seem to be very hard to find. Do you still have any of these? If not, do you have any suggestions for me?
A: This transistor cross-references to a 2N 6488 transistor, commonly found at electronics stores.
Q: Music Man HD-130. Chassis number 2475-130. It did not come with the Reverb/Vibrato RCA foot switch.
A: The foot switch is a simple circuit similar to a 60's Fender amp circuit - but uses two independent shielded cables for the vibrato and the reverb circuits and SPST Push button switches to "open" or "short" each cable.
Q: I am the proud owner of a 70s Music Man HD-130, chassis # 2475-130. I'd like to replace the tubes and bias the amp myself, but I don't know much about the amp except it has 4 x EL-34s.
A: It is an early version. It has a completely solid state pre amp and a Tube power amp design which has one 12AX7A used as a phase inverter / driver tube for the output section of four EL34 output tubes. The bias is adjustable on early versions later versions are not (see above).
Q: Chassis number 2475-130, Music Man HD-130. The Vibrato Channel is getting weak and I believe it is the power tube going bad.
A: Try adjusting the internal trim pot to adjust the intensity of the tremolo circuit. It is possible there is a defective Op Amp. (LM307H)
Q: Can you tell me if my HD 130 amp needs a bias adjustment when the power tubes (EL34's) are replaced? I looked inside and I do see two blue dials on the pre amp board, but those are the only things that looked adjustable to me.
A: The early version has the 12ax7 tube phase inverter, which does have the adjustable bias, and used EL34 or 6CA7 tubes. The later versions have a solid state phase inverter, which does not have adjustable bias. The first amps made with the solid state phase inverter used the EL34/ 6CA7 power tubes. These were changed to 6L6 power tubes in in the latest versions. Refer to the tube chart inside the amp cabinet if there is any question which power tubes should be used. It is important to use the proper output tubes, as the phase inverter is different, depending on which tube it was designed to drive. Amps made for 6CA7 should not be fitted with 6L6's, and those made for 6L6's should not be fitted with 6CA7's.
Q: Can you tell me if there are any authorized service centers that will still work on the old Music Man amplifiers?
A: When Ernie Ball acquired the Music Man Company in 1984, the decision was made at the time not to manufacture the amplifiers. We did get a limited number of parts, (which we have since sold to Mojo Musical Supply, (800) 927-6656) and most of the circuit schematics for them, many of which are available on our web site:http://www.ernieball.com/mmonline/techinfo/old_amps/. There are no authorized service centers. For repair purposes, it would be best to find a qualified amp repair technician, preferably one familiar with these amplifiers.