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Adjustable bridge, or not?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by standup17, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. Hello, I am "patiently" waiting for a local luthier to finish work on an American Standard ply bass I recently bought. It is due a pretty serious fix including a neck-reset and fixing a crack behind the nut.

    My question regards the bridge. Do you recommend one with adjusters, or not? I play a newer ply bass and had it set with an adjustable bridge a number of years ago. But I really haven't used the adjusters much at all.

    I live in AZ and do a lot of playing outside, and travelling with the bass.

  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    IME, limited as it is, a ply bass isn't going to swell and shrink very much seasonally as carved basses often do. So, unless you play with the strings particularly low, there is probably no need for an adjustable bridge for that reason.

    However, if you tend to switch styles and have differing preferences for the feel of the bass, you may want one for that reason.

    I prefer to be able to lower the strings for more detailed pizz playing or playing amplified and crank them back up for arco and folk stuff.

    If you like it one way and that's the way you like it, there's no point really.
  3. Hey, thanks for the note.

    Yes, I tend to mostly play the same style of music day in, day out.

    No bowing, and I gotta hit it pretty hard to keep up with the guitar player and his boomy old martin.

    Thanks again,
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Actually, I've found that many laminated basses swell and shrink even MORE than fully carved basses. I think this is due to the plies crossing at 90 degrees to each other, like a flatback with crossbars. My opinion is you should get an adjustable bridge, which can help bring out the best in your bass and your playing, and help you deal with inevitable changes in strings, chops, and climate.
  5. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    As far as I'm aware there are no disadvantages to having an adjustable bridge other than the costs of replacing the bridge. So if you already have an adjustable bridge might as well keep it. I would think AZ would be one of those climates where you have to adjust your bridge twice per year.

  6. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Side note on Shen plywoods (sb80 & sb100):
    Though installing adjusters during the first set-up never hurt anybody, we've found that a one-year play-in works out pretty nicely. After it settles down for a year, adding adjusters will usually bring the bridge height back to where it was with little thread showing. It's become s.o.p. for a few of our shops that do a big plywood business to schools and such.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, for my money I wouldn't want to play a bass with the string height not where I want it for a year based on that.

    If you're not sure, then have an adjuster-less bridge installed and play it for a while. You can have the adjusters put in later.