After-length Tuning

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by B. Graham, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002

    The new bass has some interesting after-legnth pitches.

    G = maj 2nd
    D = min 3rd
    A = maj 3rd
    E = 4th

    Strings are Dominants, and the bridge is in the right position and straight. Bass is a carved Eastman VB305.

    Should I just leave it as is, is after-length all that important, is there something that I can/should do about it?

    I am not very knowledgable about after-length. Pardon the elementary questions.

  2. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I was once told by a teacher they are all supposed to be 4ths or very close. Truthfully I don't pay a ton of attention to this. I just make sure the bridge is straight and level and it is at the notches in the f holes. I'd be curious to hear from some people who really know. I've always been curious too.
  3. Just reasoning out some thoughts, but if these appear to be very accurately tuned to the pitches you've described, I wouldn't change it without a particular goal to address a particular problem. I'm guessing that these tunings are with the original tailpiece? Without one of those fancy Pecanic TP's it is impossible to address one afterlength without changing them all. Originally, my 5-string came set-up with the A afterlength at exactly a M3rd, with all other strings except the BB close to that. The BB was more like a m3rd, but definitely off pitch. When I installed a new bridge with my spacing preference and lowered height this changed a bit, but I really noticed no new problems or decreased performance so I can't say, in the case of my bass by my perception, that this was a make or break adjustment. Of course it sounded different with the new bridge and soundpost and if anything to do with the afterlength made a difference, that would certainly be secondary to the new bridge.

    If I had one of the individually and easily tuned Pecanics, I would be more prone to experimentation and afterlength tweaking. As it is, I'd have to tune hit and miss with the tail gut length just to get one afterlength tuned and the others would fall where they might. Also, if you change a string to a different gauge or material, the tuning relationship might change also. I wouldn't go to that length unless I had a wolf-tone or something akin to that I was hunting down.

    I'm somewhat inclined to the bizarre idea that some makers may have specific ideas about tunings of the afterlengths before the DB leaves the factory, or even custom compensate the TP to give rough approximations of what they believe the strings should be tuned to. Compensated TP's are not new (see below) and seem to be consistent with the idea that after lengths make a difference. There was a double trapeze compenstated (and patented) "tailpiece" on one of the early eletric-spanish guitars.

    One thing that is unlikely is that 4 afterlengths would be tuned accurately to any pitch accidentally. Maybe play it for a while and see if it is weak on some pitch somewhere, and after you know it better, then maybe consider some changes perhaps with a Pecanic so you can make the individual adjustments easier.

    Edit: I just looked back at your pics of that bass and the TP doesn't look compensated but the progression of tunings across is very interesting indeed. Do you know who set it up that way?

    Attached Files:

  4. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    It's got the original tail on it. I've used Pecanic's before, and may someday try one on this bass.

    Right now, no problems. I just got the bass and adore the sound of it. It was set up by a shop I trust very much.

    The inquiry was just because I found it interesting, and none of the other basses I've had ended up with pitches that vary so much.

    Thanks for your message.
  5. jvillarreal


    Oct 7, 2002
    Tulsa, OK
    When my bass got back from the shop, the tailpiece notes were done using 4ths. Before it was "tuned", there was no wolftones to speak of. After, there was (and still is) a major wolf on the octave harmonic on the A string:( I'm thinking about changing the length of the tailpiece wire a little longer... I think I read in Traegers book that he tunes it so that the tailpiece notes are slightly off a particular interval.

    ...something to think about
  6. With the original tailpiece, this is all the more interesting, because if the afterlength tuning is deliberate, the tailpiece must have been made with certain dimensions to accomplish perfectly tuned intervals or altered during set-up to tune it. I'm assuming that the intervals indicated are perfectly tuned?

    That bass is gorgeous BTW....