Bridge trouble.

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by x15, Jan 7, 2013.


  1. x15

    x15

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    Hi guys,

    I own this Chinese hofner double bass here in New Delhi and I've been
    Playing it for a couple of years now. I've managed to get a pretty decent
    sound out if it, but have had bouts of trouble with intonation etc.
    A month or so ago, the bridge snapped clean off during a gig while I
    was playing.. I was plucking pretty hard and I guess it just gave in.
    I was pretty sure it wasn't tilting up at the time..

    Since then, I feel like the notes are moving around and my ears are really
    fighting with my muscle memory.. Needless to say, things haven't been
    Very much launch lately. I've been trying to keep the bridge straight, but
    it seems to be leaning up from beyond the adjuster extensions and I'm
    Not sure what to do about it. I'd take it to a luthier, but there just aren't
    Any here. I've got some pictures.

    Any advice at all, would be incredible.

    ImageUploadedByTalkBass.com1357585841.720009.jpg ImageUploadedByTalkBass.com1357585864.873574.jpg
     
  2. x15

    x15

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  3. x15

    x15

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    Very much fun** .. Excuse me
     
  4. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    I would say from the pictures, that either the top of the bridge wiggles a lot forth and back if it is free and therefore is damaged or the adjusters are mounted badly.

    In any of these cases it would be a good idea to bring this instrument (or bridge) to a luthier. Also the bridge feet might not fit the top well, but this is hard to see. At least the feet sides are too thick (but should only be made thinner if the feet are well shaped to the top).

    If your bridge leans towards the fingerboard after tuning up you can either try to move the strings over the bridge a bit to avoid this or put on the bridge leaning a bit towards the tailpiece when the tension is low, then it (hopefully) will get perpendicular to the top when the strings are tuned to pitch. The first method might damage the winding of some strings, specially if the bridge grooves are too narrow and/or not properly rounded and lubricated, and in the second case it might not be good for the top.
    I always use the second method, but I have a rather thick top.
     
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  6. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

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    Your bridge is leaning towards the fingerboard. You can just gently but firmly push it back into place. First make sure you've got the bridge on the right way. There should be one face of the bridge which is flat, that side should be towards the tailpiece. That side should be perpendicular to the top of the bass. You should check it every day, as it will often have a tendency to creep towards the fingerboard side. Anyway, I usually just push down with my thumb in between the
    D and A strings. Go slowly, checking to make sure you don't go too far.

    To help avoid this in the future, go to an art supply store and get a #6B pencil (this is the softest kind) and rub a little of the pencil lead (actually it's graphite) into the notches at the bridge. Loosen the strings off one at a time to do this. You should rub some in the notches at the nut, too. It can make tuning smoother.

    Good luck.
     
  7. x15

    x15

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    As always, thank you so much. I really wish there were a luthier around, for me to take this to; unfortunately, I probably will have to take care of this myself. :)
     
  8. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    I'm rather sure your adjusters are mounted badly. Unfortunately this might be hard to repair. I would say the hole for the thread in the upper bridge part inclined and not in line with the feet and this will give you a curved bridge. By pulling the upper part below the strings back to the tailpiece (which is usually the right thing) your bridge feet might only be in contact with the top with one edge which is not good.
    Try to tune the strings about a third or fourth down and push the bridge top towards the tailpiece. It the bridge feet stay still with the whole area on the top, fine, you are done, but be prepared to need a new bridge as soon as possible (and a luthier needs to fit it to your bass, don't try this yourself). If not, you can try to repair the bridge, but it is not easy and may fail. In this case you need to remove the threats in the upper bridge part, fill the hole with a medium hard wood (you probably need to drill the hole larger and glue a round stick of wood in) and then drill the hole with the right angle at the same starting position. Put the threats in again it should work. Good luck if you want to try it. If it fails, you need a new bridge.

    So better look out for a luthier before you try that yourself. I would think there is a symphony orchestra in New Dehli. You might ask some of the double bass players there who cares for their instruments.
     
  9. x15

    x15

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    The Symphony Orchestra is unfortunately based out of Bombay - and they're rarely ever there. They tend to outsource their luthier work and repairs. I'm not quite sure which way I'll go with this. For now, I'll probably just try to straighten it out - having said that, I'm pretty sure you're right about the adjusters.

    Thank you
     
  10. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    So you probably need to repair the bridge or fit a new (adjustable) bridge yourself. You can find some hints in the web, probably also on talkbass how to prepare a new bridge for your bass.

    If you want adjusters, get a bridge WITHOUT adjusters and adjuster wheels. Then prepare the bridge for your bass as if you don't need the adjusters. If the feet fit the top correctly (and only then!) drill the hole for the adjusters into the feet, cut the feet and mount the adjuster parts in. It is nearly impossible to fit a raw bridge with adjusters installed to the curvature of the top.

    But you might open a new thread asking for (double bass) luthiers (or bass players that are able to do some luthier work) in India.
     
  11. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger

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    The wood is warped and no amount of straightening the bridge will help at this point. Your best option is a new one.
     
  12. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    @JoeyNaeger:
    Sorry, but the wood is, if at all, only slightly warped.
    The holes for the adjusters seem to be badly drilled into the upper bridge part and so there is an angle between the feet/adjusters and the top part of the bridge.
    Have a look again!
     
  13. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger

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    The adjusters were probably installed fine. I've seen many bridges that look like the OP's bridge that I know started out straight and healthy. The adjusters are where a bridge is most flexible which is why you see adjusters that look so distorted. If you look at the third picture, it's clear the top of the bridge is fairly warped. In my experience, a warped bridge will only get worse. I don't think it's wise investing time and money fixing something that can't be fixed.
     
  14. x15

    x15

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    Hi guys.. Once again, thank you for the updates. Joey, I had a look myself and though I might be
    Wrong, i'm reasonably convinced that wood isn't warped and it is the holes for the adjusters that
    seem to be badly drilled.. Double midi, I tried to straighten the bridge out, making sure the feet
    were making full contact with the bass, but every time I did, it just slid and slipped back - and the
    point of the flex was the adjuster screw wheels.. The movement is from within the holes and within
    the grooves.. Unfortunately, I'm entirely out of my element here and believe me when I say, there
    really is no one that I can take this to here. Unfortunately, it seems for the moment, im a little
    rogered. I think my best course of action for the moment might be to drop the action and bring the
    Adjusters to a point where they can withstand the string tension and still manage to stay straight.
    Itll Atleast put the fear of the bridge flying off the bass at my next gig out of my head.
     
  15. Tommy el Gato

    Tommy el Gato

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    This is one of those things that happens over time as you tune the bass. (when you pull the pitch up, it pulls upwards on the bridge. When you tune the strings down, it doesn't necessarily push the bridge downwards.)

    I showed my bass to Andy Stetson at the Cincinnati Bass Cellar when that happened to my bridge the first time. Without even detuning the bass he just took his thumb and pushed downward on the bridge until it was straight. Try straitening the bridge without detuning. Make sure the bass is secure because you'll need a fair amount of pressure to do so.

    I've had to re-straighten my bridge twice since then, usually after stretching out a new set of strings. It's a Nick-Lloyd bridge, so I'm confident nothing's wrong with the drilling of the adjusters.
     
  16. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    The only thing I can think of is contact some luthier to send the bridge to and wait for him to repair the adjuster holes (or for return of the bridge if it could not be repaired).

    Unfortunately you cannot play your instrument during this time and my take a lot more care of your instrument during this time to avoid a fallen soundpost.

    But you need to look out for a luthier anyway. What would you do if your soundpost drops?

    If you are a bit familiar with woodworking and are willing to search talkbass and the internet about fitting a bridge you may order a normal bridge (you need to measure the bridge feet distance and the height to get a correct one or send an exact outline drawing of your bridge to the luthier) and try making the fitting to the top (first!) and adjusting the height of the bridge yourself. At least you won't harm anything existing now and the worst is a damged new bridge. But be prepared that fitting the bridge feet to the top takes a lot of time.
     
  17. Michael Case

    Michael Case

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    I don't know if this has been suggested, but it would be a good idea to lube the bridge slots. Take 1 string off enough so you can lift it from the bridge and nut then, using a number 2 pencil "color in the slot on the bridge and nut. Repeat for each string. This should help the strings slide through the bridge slots without them pulling the bridge top forward.
     
  18. David Potts

    David Potts

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    Are the adjusters plastic, brass or aluminium? They could be bent. It might be possible to fix the problem by changing the adjusters if you can locate the original source. Did the bridge adjusters come with the bass when new, ie you might ask Hofner for replacements?

    When you stood the bridge up again did you make sure that the feet went back the same way? They can so easily spin through 180 degrees

    Another thing to do is mark where the bridge is sitting with a soft lead pencil as a precaution for it being taken off or moved next time. If it does have to come off and you are sure that the feet are correctly fitting the front then mark the underside of the feet with arrows and L and R with something ASAP. Lay the bass down on its back and load the top with some heavy books or a stack of magazines above and below the bridge before letting the strings down so that the sound post doesn't fall.

    Cheers and good luck,

    DP
     
  19. jnel

    jnel Guest

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    i would not be surprised if there is a crack in the bridge feet/foot or just above the adjusters-may have to look closely to see it. for that bridge to go over the stems of adjuste(s)r had to open up which a crack would allow it to do, or if the holes are way too big, that would allow the adjuster stem to list enough for it to turn over.

    to temporially fix this you could glue the crack back together. once it cures, then fill the holes with wood dowels and redrill the holes , or use a wood filler around the stems of the adjusters - this is assuming there is something cracked..

    this is really the work of an experienced luthier, but i am sure that you could do it with someone walking you through it

    have you thought about shipping the bridge to someone, they fix it and send it back. I shipped a bridge once for a repair- the whole process took about two weeks

    We all feel your pain , man,and since you are out of your element, trying to fix it, and since there are no luthiers around, maybe you couild ship the bridge off to get it fixed.

    one other thing you could do is make the bridge stable by getting the bridge erect in place and then with epoxy wood filler fill in, with epozy wood filler,
    and around the holes and in the space between the adjuster wheel and the feet or upper part of the bridge depending on whether the threads are up or down. In effect you are making it a solid bridge which can also be done by removing the adjusters and gluing wood in their place. Then just trash the bridge when you get a new one. good luck
     
  20. jnel

    jnel Guest

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    i would not be surprised if there is a crack the bridge feet/foot or just above the adjusters-may have to look closely to see it. for that bridge to go over the stems of adjuster had to open up which a crack would allow it to do, or if the holes are way too big, that would allow the adjuster stem to list.

    to temporially fix this you could glue the crack back together. once it cures, then fill the holes with wood dowels and redrill the holes , or us a wood filler around the stems of the adjusters - this is assuming there is something cracked..

    this is really the work of an experienced luthier, but i am sure that you could do it with someone walking you through it

    have you thought about shipping the bridge to someone, they fix it and send it back. I shipped a bridge once for a repair- the whole process took about two weeks

    We all feel your pain , man,and since you are out of your element, trying to fix it, and since there are no luthiers around, maybe you couild ship the bridge off to get it fixed.

    one other thing you could do is make the bridge stable by getting the bridge erect in place and then with epoxy wood filler fill in
    and around the holes and in the space between the adjuster wheel and the feet or upper part of the bridge depending on whether the threads are up or down. In effect you are making it a solid bridge which can also be done by removing the adjusters and gluing wood in their place. Then just trash the bridge when you get a new one. good luck
     

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