Quiet E string? Bass not sounding balanced?

Home / Bass Bits for the Brave / Quiet E string? Bass not sounding balanced?

Is your Bass sounding Timid and Quiet on one particular string?

In a bass we want as balanced a sound as possible. If one of the strings is by its nature on the skimpy side, that can be a problem, especially for the fat E. Or the low B on a five. Keep in mind that every neck will have a few dead spots, places where notes do not speak as well as others. That is the nature of a wooden neck.

But sometimes this issue can be so pronounced that it is a problem. Keeping in mind that lower notes without amplification will cut through less by their very nature, let’s take a listen at our bass. In order to diagnose this, play without an amp and hold your ear to the bass. Pluck each of the strings with as equal strength as possible and listen. Do they sound in the ballpark the same, with the lower notes just a little softer than the higher ones? Or is there a marked difference, also in the way the strings ring out?

By doing this you can probably diagnose any potential problem.

In the article are a few things you can try if your bass has that issue. Especially if you bought it used, there may be something going on that you never noticed.

As always, I recommend a good set up. You can learn to do it yourself or bring it to a trusted shop.
Good strings are important. I boil mine to prolong their life. I use alcohol, but someone recently recommended vinegar. Worth a try. Pickled strings, why not?! Plus, I have a gas stove and that string boiling procedure always makes me a bit antsy, flammable and all!

Enjoy the read. (If you cannot see the preview click here for my response)


Read Ariane Cap‘s answer to The E string on my bass guitar is quiet even when it’s unplugged. Is there a way I can solve this? on Quora


  • Thejohnnewton
    May 25, 2017, 06:18  Reply

    The boiled vinegar strings are not very tasty but I find drinking the alcohol first helps.

  • May 25, 2017, 17:39  Reply

    So what’s the answer? I don’t see the article explain how to fix the problem of a dead E/B string, or the strings sounding different in levels. I assume you where gonna say to try raising or lowering your pickups? Try your action as well, and make sure your neck is properly scooped. Also if you have active pickups make sure your battery is fresh as that can affect it too.

  • KennyO
    May 31, 2017, 00:04  Reply

    I wouldn’t ever put strings into an acid bath, which is what vinegar is (acetic acid). Although it’s a weak acid it’s far stronger than the acid in our perspiration and heating it makes it even more reactive with metals, including some stainless steel alloys that aren’t resistant to acids. It won’t be good for tuners, saddles, et al. either. Don’t rely on my say so, ask a chemist or metallurgist.

    • Ari
      May 31, 2017, 00:47

      Interesting, Kenny, thanks for your comment. Interesting, Kenny, thanks for your comment.

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest