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 new railboard thoughts 
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Post new railboard thoughts
I thought I’d share thoughts about my recently arrived Railboard, #6965, plum with black tuners and silver glitter linear markers. Most of this is probably old hat to experienced stickists. But before I decided to buy a Stick, I liked reading new owners’ reactions, so here’s mine.

Photographs don’t do the plum color justice. It’s darker and more saturated than I had expected, and just gorgeous. It reminds me of looking at a dark purple iris in full sunlight, the way the deep color tricks your eyes into thinking they can see ultraviolet. The cool-spectrum LED lighting in my studio exaggerates the effect.

I had considered black glitter inlays, but thankfully folks on this forum (and at SE) talked me out of it and I went with silver instead. As I mentioned, the plum is darker than I expected, so black would have been nearly invisible. The silver echoes the color of the logo badge and R-Block screws, so it has a unifying effect.

As many have noted, the rails can be difficult to see, especially if you’re used to fret wire on an ebony fretboard. Fortunately, the lighting angles in my studio are such that the rails are always either darker or lighter than the rest of the board, so I don’t have a problem. But if you play out under a variety of lighting conditions, your mileage may vary.

I have large hands that have grown used to electric bass for decades, so I’m glad that the Railboard has one of the wider string spacings among Sticks. Even so, finger precision continues to be a big part of my learning curve. I frequently hit strings off-center and mute adjacent strings. (Practise practise!) There are rumors about a twelve-string Railboard on this forum, but if the strings are closer together, you can count me out for now.

The strings feel slack compared to a bass or a steel-stringed guitar, closer to a nylon-stringed classical guitar. I suppose that makes tapping easier, but also makes string bending more effortful because you have to deflect the string farther to get a given pitch bend. Seems like a fair trade.

My instrument has raised matched reciprocal tuning and I love it. It’s so straightforward compared to guitar, where you have to remember things like “octaves are shaped like so except here or here.” But with a Stick in this tuning, everything is consistent across each side, and I feel like I’m going to be discovering useful new symmetries for months.

In general, I’m finding the 5ths tuning in the bass strings to be surprisingly navigable considering how long I’ve spent playing strings in 4ths. Playing close melodies on the bass strings is more difficult with the larger interval because you’re forced to move your hand across the neck more often. As others have noted on this forum, the reciprocal tuning seems to be optimized for chords rather than walking bass lines.

A consequence of tuning in 5ths is that adjacent bass strings have larger differences in gauge than would strings tuned in 4ths. The effect feels most pronounced between the 6th and 7th strings. One of my first challenges is learning to navigate around the whopping 6th string, which is like a small mountain ridge running down the length of the board!

Overall, the Railboard is a delightful creature and I’m looking forward to years of exploration, growth... and this forum!


Wed May 10, 2017 6:52 pm
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
Awesome! Post more pics, dude we never tire of railboard pictures!

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Wed May 10, 2017 7:38 pm
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
I've had my new Railboard #6997 for about a week and I'm having similar issues. The rails are the same color as the board (dark blue), and I can't see them at all in low light. Even though I can see the Silver Linears (same as yours), I'm having trouble seeing the frets. Also, my right hand has a tendency to play diagonally across the high strings instead of along them, so when playing scales, I'm often on the wrong string. That's just a familiarity thing I guess, since I play guitar and bass and the neck is closer to horizontal.

I also have a few frets where the notes are really clangy or jangly before the note actually sounds. So all I really hear is the striking of the string on the fret rather than the note itself. This is especially noticeable on the 2 lowest strings on the 9th fret and above, and the lowest string on the high side up around the 10th fret & above. I see videos with players up on the highest frets on both sides, and the notes are clear & distinct. I can't seem to get the higher notes to sound clearly. The higher I go, the more metallic and clangy they sound, especially on the heavier strings.

I'm also having some difficulty finding a good amp/effect setup to bring out the sound effectively, both low and high side. I've got a bunch of amps and effects, but I'm not really happy withe the combinations I have tried yet. One thing I find is I need lots of compression to even out my crappy inconsistent technique (if you can call it that). I've tried a few different Comp's, but I'm not too happy with any of then so far. I'm either striking the low strings too hard or too soft. I've also tried going direct to the PA with the Active/Phantom option. And that was worse. I hear guys online and the sound is really good, but I haven't gotten anything close yet. Some people post their signal chain, but I could use some help in this area! These observations are fairly accurate for my older Ironwood Stick (#1203) as well, especially the clarity of the notes higher up on the neck.
But that definitely needs some neck and bridge screw adjustments.

Oh well, sorry for all the moaning. Another 5 years of practice and maybe I'll get somewhere. Good luck!


Thu May 11, 2017 7:19 am
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
bchulse1 wrote:
I'm also having some difficulty finding a good amp/effect setup to bring out the sound effectively, both low and high side. I've got a bunch of amps and effects, but I'm not really happy withe the combinations I have tried yet. One thing I find is I need lots of compression to even out my crappy inconsistent technique (if you can call it that). I've tried a few different Comp's, but I'm not too happy with any of then so far.


Hi
you are learning a new instrument, give yourself enough time to learn. Also an electrical guitar sounds worse in the hands of a beginner and sounds great in the hands of an experienced player.

All of us started as a beginner when changing to the stick and most of us have dacades of experience on other instruments at that time.

I looked around in this forum and i think it takes for most of the beginners one year until the stick sounds like a stick ;)

You don´t need any pedals to play a good tune on the stick
Have fun and be patient

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Thu May 11, 2017 8:59 am
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
Experiment a bit by cranking up the amp and tapping lighter.
You should be able to find a balance of good sound expression.
Let the amp do most of the work.
bchulse1 wrote:
I also have a few frets where the notes are really clangy or jangly before the note actually sounds. So all I really hear is the striking of the string on the fret rather than the note itself. This is especially noticeable on the 2 lowest strings on the 9th fret and above, and the lowest string on the high side up around the 10th fret & above. I see videos with players up on the highest frets on both sides, and the notes are clear & distinct. I can't seem to get the higher notes to sound clearly. The higher I go, the more metallic and clangy they sound, especially on the heavier strings.


Thu May 11, 2017 10:28 am
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
It will take some time to get to know the instrument. It's considerably more delicate than a guitar or bass in the way that you play it.

Perhaps you can post a video of the issue that you are observing. It will be easier to determine what you have observed specifically with that window into your issue.

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Thu May 11, 2017 12:08 pm
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
A excellent set of first impressions, informed both by the expectations you had beforehand in your researching, and then what you discovered for yourself when you got hands and tapping fingers on the Railboard.

I had comments on about every one of your paragraphs that were some versions of "Right on!" and "me, too!' so I decided to just high five the highlights:
pretensions wrote:
My instrument has raised matched reciprocal tuning and I love it. It’s so straightforward compared to guitar, where you have to remember things like “octaves are shaped like so except here or here.” But with a Stick in this tuning, everything is consistent across each side, and I feel like I’m going to be discovering useful new symmetries for months.

In general, I’m finding the 5ths tuning in the bass strings to be surprisingly navigable considering how long I’ve spent playing strings in 4ths. Playing close melodies on the bass strings is more difficult with the larger interval because you’re forced to move your hand across the neck more often. As others have noted on this forum, the reciprocal tuning seems to be optimized for chords rather than walking bass lines.

A consequence of tuning in 5ths is that adjacent bass strings have larger differences in gauge than would strings tuned in 4ths. The effect feels most pronounced between the 6th and 7th strings. One of my first challenges is learning to navigate around the whopping 6th string, which is like a small mountain ridge running down the length of the board!

Overall, the Railboard is a delightful creature and I’m looking forward to years of exploration, growth... and this forum!

That regular tuning is the bomb! I hate that guitar has irregular tuning, especially as I'm a keyboard player by background. I went even a step further and got my NS/Stick tuned across in straight 4ths and one of my Sticks in mirrored 4ths, while leaving my own Railboard in MR like yours is.

Give the fifths a good try and I think personally that it depends on your taste and style, much as you said: 5th tuning works for chords and 4ths for walking bass lines. Either one can do the other but each has its strengths that depend on what you want to do with it.

Best of luck with your journeys, hope to share them with you around here, and like Scott (Jayesskerr) said, "Share us them thar pics!" (Except he's not from prairie Kansas like this hick boy is. But rather prairie Alberta, Canada. :)).

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Thu May 11, 2017 12:54 pm
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Post new railboard thoughts
bchulse1 wrote:
I've had my new Railboard #6997 for about a week and I'm having similar issues. The rails are the same color as the board (dark blue), and I can't see them at all in low light. Even though I can see the Silver Linears (same as yours), I'm having trouble seeing the frets. Also, my right hand has a tendency to play diagonally across the high strings instead of along them, so when playing scales, I'm often on the wrong string. That's just a familiarity thing I guess, since I play guitar and bass and the neck is closer to horizontal.

I also have a few frets where the notes are really clangy or jangly before the note actually sounds. So all I really hear is the striking of the string on the fret rather than the note itself. This is especially noticeable on the 2 lowest strings on the 9th fret and above, and the lowest string on the high side up around the 10th fret & above. I see videos with players up on the highest frets on both sides, and the notes are clear & distinct. I can't seem to get the higher notes to sound clearly. The higher I go, the more metallic and clangy they sound, especially on the heavier strings.

I'm also having some difficulty finding a good amp/effect setup to bring out the sound effectively, both low and high side. I've got a bunch of amps and effects, but I'm not really happy withe the combinations I have tried yet. One thing I find is I need lots of compression to even out my crappy inconsistent technique (if you can call it that). I've tried a few different Comp's, but I'm not too happy with any of then so far. I'm either striking the low strings too hard or too soft. I've also tried going direct to the PA with the Active/Phantom option. And that was worse. I hear guys online and the sound is really good, but I haven't gotten anything close yet. Some people post their signal chain, but I could use some help in this area! These observations are fairly accurate for my older Ironwood Stick (#1203) as well, especially the clarity of the notes higher up on the neck.
But that definitely needs some neck and bridge screw adjustments.

Oh well, sorry for all the moaning. Another 5 years of practice and maybe I'll get somewhere. Good luck!


From my personal experience I can only say that the railboard clanks on the lower strings at the beginjng: it's a metal instrument with steel strings. After some time you develop the kind of sensitivity that allows you to control that, but it will take some time and it will be there to some degree. Plus, most of the music on videos you see online is the line recorded, not an ambiance mic, that's why you only hear a clear sound.
As a personal advise I would say this: spend at least a month without fx and compressors: that's what I did and it forced your hands to work on tone. Try it with headphones from time to time also: amazing tool. Plus, the railboard sounds amazing as it is. The first time I tried a little reverb was for the first video I posted: 30 days in and wanted it to sound nice ;)
Never used a compressor live, only when mixing the stick in the studio... hate it when there is something other than me messing with the sound I'm making ;)

Have fun, as with every other thing in life, practice and time will make all the difference!
Cheers
Rodrigo


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Thu May 11, 2017 4:35 pm
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
+1 Rodrigo. We all have 5 compressors on each hand! :)


Fri May 12, 2017 11:47 pm
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Post Re: new railboard thoughts
As requested, here's a photo of my Railboard. It's sitting on towels under a fluorescent workshop light. As I said in the original post, the picture doesn't do it justice. That color is not what I see with my eyes! In person, my brain perceives higher saturation and more blue content.

Notice how the markers approximate the color of the strings, badge, R-Block logo, and screws. If your eyes are close to the instrument, you can see that it's not an exact match, but it's close enough to achieve the aesthetic I was aiming for.

My runner-up marker fill was glow. Part of me would prefer it, but I strongly associate that color with toys I had in the 70's (Micronauts, anyone?), so I was worried that subconsciously it would make the Railboard feel plasticy to me.

Apologies if the image doesn't work properly, as this is my first post here with an image.

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railboard-6965.jpg


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Wed May 17, 2017 5:46 pm
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