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A few more questions on string height

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by edge83, Oct 17, 2004.

  1. edge83


    Apr 12, 2004
    Astoria New York
    Hi everyone- i posted a while back about having a weak/low g string (thanks for the responses) and have been reading a lot of the threads regarding string height-- I'm becoming more interested in the ratios between the strings themselves as well as to the fingerboard as a result of the problem i had-- curious if anyone has any thoughts/experiences with this:

    i recently got a new bass which also has red spirocores on it like my previous plywood, in getting it setup i asked to bring the g string height up a bit and this does make a huge difference from how it initially was.. i feel i may have overdone it just a bit in that it actually feels a little stiffer with less sustain than the d (very slight), but i do notice a drastic change in terms of volume and low end response.. the string has a much fatter sound and it feels like part of the family whereas before, even when alone and experimenting with drastic differences in style and strength of attack i always felt the g lost a lot.

    The Luthier only brought up the string 1mm and it's quite drastic.. this surprised me- there is now supposed to be a 2mm difference between the E and G- it seems like three is more common (ie E 8mm G 5mm) but has anyone played with this and seen similarly drastic results?i feel like if i split the difference .5 on the g, it will be perfect

    The other question is about the fingerboard height- when i first got the bass it was if anything too easy to play, very low and easy to move around on.. could sound anote with the left hand without much effort, etc. When I brought it in the G was around 5mm at the time, now it's only supposed to be 6mm, but the difference is huge (on all strings), it feels like at least twice the effort is needed and i can pull almost exaggeratedly hard on them. Is the mm measurement really the most revealing thing about the playability / volume, or can 10mm on one bass feel like 6 on another, etc. (changes were made to the bass in terms of bridge placement and so on)

    Also what is the best method for measuring the height? i'm doubting myself because it's supposed to be E 8mm G 6mm, but when i put a short mm ruler that 'begins' it's measuring at it's very edge so that 'zero' is flat against the end of the fingerboard, i don't hit the beginning of the strings until around 9mm on the G and 11mm on the E- it certainly feels like it's that much higher than it was.
    I know how that sounds.. "if it looks that high, feels that high, then.." but i just got it back from him.. is there something you have to take into account and/or angle a certain way when measuring this, OR is it possible that the 6 and 8mm figures relate to a certain point on the adjusters (they've got a good bit of room to go down). i don't think it would have gone up more than 3mm overnight at my house one hour away from the shop. the bass really does sound amazing though..man

    any ideas?
    sorry for the long post..
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    You are right. Measure from the fingerboard to the underside of the string at the fingerboard's end. Don't be so worried about the strings' exact height relationships; that's dependent on the arch of the fingerboard. What's important is that the bass plays and sounds even, and that you don't accidentally play double stops with the bow. 9mm under a Spiro G is murder! Did you possibly bump the bridge toward the fingerboard? That would raise everything up.
  3. edge83


    Apr 12, 2004
    Astoria New York
    thanks- seems like it's 8mm E when the adjusters are basically all the way down, so I guess that explains it.. those measurements referred to a 'non adjusted' bridge. I also gave it about a half turn in the wrong direction (nice going) after i got it back and these are pretty sensitive so that didn't help.

    feels great and maybe a bit light for me here, so that's good. Past winters here the strings would lower if anything so it looks like i'm in good shape. in terms of balance i still think that adding the 1mm more to the g (in proportion to the other strings) gives it just slightly too much in comparison to how it sounds next to the d.

    it's interesting how the sound opens up when i brought it down to the general 8mm E area. I guess it varies from string to string but is there a 'threshold' of sorts that just chokes the bass up? I thought maybe i was just not strong enough to take advantage of the higher action, but it really didn't seem to help the sound much even if i tried playing harder.. maybe more thump but the bass didn't seem to resonate so well. thanks for the info
  4. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    how does anyone feel about the other factors here- fingerboard curvature, how long your fingerboard is, how close your strings are, bevel vs non-bevel, fingerboard projection?