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action too low

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by kolaric, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. kolaric


    Aug 15, 2013
    i have a double bass that has very low action which is fine as long as you dont play too hard but i find that it is too low for me because the g string hits the fingerboard when i play fortisimo with the bow or play strongly pizzicato. Some gave me the advice of raising the bridge with a piece of wood underneath, but i dont know which wood. as for sanding the fingerboard , i dont think its possible because its already really thin. or the metal knobs you can install on the bridge, but that isnt an option for me as i dont like the sound...
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    Wood under the bridge? No. Sand down the fingerboard. No. Now, assuming that nothing is amiss with the bass (e.g., sunken top, warped neck, etc.), it sounds like the best bet would be to have a qualified luthier make you a new bridge. Installing adjusters on the current bridge (those metal knobs) may also be an option. As for not liking the sound, I'm curious how you've come to that opinion. Have you heard a particular bass with and without adjusters installed? Take a look here at a study that was done concerning the acoustics of bridge adjusters.

    What are your current string heights (measured from the surface of the fingerboard to the bottom of the string at the bridge-end of the fingerboard)? Sometimes, even with moderate string heights, the problems you describe can occur because the fingerboard has not been planed/dressed properly.
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  4. kolaric


    Aug 15, 2013
    I tried basses with adjusters at my school and it just doesent feel right, and the current bridge was supposedly an expensive job...
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    That's hardly an adequate assessment of adjusters, IMO. Consider that many (most) of the players who post here regularly have adjusters on their bridges. Adjusters don't really have a "feel" that you'd likely have noticed. Given your small sample, the basses you tried with adjusters likely had poorer setups and/or setups that you found less desirable. I doubt it was the adjusters, per se.

    That your current bridge was expensive is irrelevant. Unless there are other problems with the bass, the fact remains that the string height is lower than what works for you and you'd like it higher. It may be the case that your expensive bridge can be saved and you can get the height that you want by installing adjusters.

    Speaking of "feel," I've found adjusters to be invaluable in that regard. As the seasons change, very small adjustments allow me to maintain the feel that I prefer. I'm convinced that the resulting slight changes in the tension on the top have a larger effect on the feel than does the change in string height.

    I suggest that you do more homework regarding adjusters. You can likely save yourself time by visiting a good luthier.
  6. kolaric


    Aug 15, 2013
    okay thanks, ill look into it.
  7. I think it would be OK to experiment with thin wood shims (maybe a few sheets of them) under the bridge feet (better on both sides than only one side). That way you can find out if a new bridge will help with your current problem. Depending on the quality of the bass the shim could be a permanent solution or not.

    For a good instrument a new bridge might be the best soulution, but experimenting with that situation before ordering one would help. Installing adjusters in your existing bridge would be the cheapest solution where you can keep your bridge, but never can come back to the original state of the bridge (but why might you want to do that?).
    You might want to get wooden or aluminium adjusters, since they don't influence the sound as much as brass adjusters.
  8. I would also recommend stopping the G on the D string while bowing the open G. It is possible you have a wolf tone there. I get a similar sound on my open G, but when I hold down another G it stops. The tone of the open G also improves when I hold down another G at the same time. This is a problem you would only have on the open G note since another G (except the TP harmonic) will have the open G ringing while you play the stopped G. To further test this, you could stop the G on the D string and mute the open G and you should notice a difference in the quality of the stopped note, it'll sound like a wolf tone.