I just spent a few hours getting my brother-in-law’s Gecko fretless 5-string bass back into shape.  It was a rewarding effort, since we solved some issues that had been bothering him for some time.  Continue for more details.

We solved some issues with excessively high string action with a combination of tactics:  milling down the height of the tallest bridge saddles, and inserting a small “shim” consisting of 4 layers of adhesive tape in the south side of the neck pocket to raise the heel of the neck.  Both these two fixes solved most of the issues.  However, this pointed out some of the inconsistencies in Gecko neck heels and pockets that I’ve noticed on my other basses.  I’m getting to the point where I’m better equipped to solve these, but it’s still frustrating to deal with it.

Before this, we had noticed a weird “phasey” sound when playing on the low B string.  It almost seemed like a “chorus” effect was happening, where the note plus a quarter-tone below were audible at the same time.  This got really excessive when playing above the 10th fret position.  The same thing was happenning on the E string as well, but to a lesser degree.

Things improved drastically once we removed his two Nordstrand “Fat Stacks” pickups from the neck and “sweet spot” positions.  The chorusing went away and the low B string sounded more normal.  The only remaining pickup was his Villex soapbar in the bridge position.

My guess is that the intense magnetic field from the Nordstrand polepieces was pulling too heavily on the strings, causing the vibration to be damped in an odd manner.  He’s going to continue testing at home, and if necessary we can try some other pickups to see if things improve.

Just as a point of reference, my 3-pickup Gecko (with the same placement) doesn’t have this issue.  It may just be the Nordstrand pickups!

My brother-in-law also got a chance to play on my new fretless Ipe neck.  It’s a beauty!  The wood has a nice greenish hue and it feels very dense.  The tone is glistening and bright, without losing any warmth or meatiness.  He thought it sounded a lot like Bloodwood, which makes sense considering these two woods have similar density, hardness and other characteristics.

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