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Afterlength tuning mystery

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by bigolbassguy, Apr 28, 2010.


  1. bigolbassguy

    bigolbassguy

    Feb 13, 2010
    Billings, MT
    I installed a new ebony tailpiece yesterday, and can't tune the afterlengths uniformly. G and D strings and perfect, but A and E are a semitone and whole tone higher respectively. Measured to the back of the bridge, and the lengths are exactly the same. ???????!!!!
     
  2. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    Make sure there is a clearly defined stop on the tail piece. Meaning, you could be measuring from the bridge to the tailpiece hole, for example, and the string could be in contact with the tail piece beyond that hole, making the distance shorter.

    Does the tail piece have a "nut"?

    George
     
  3. bigolbassguy

    bigolbassguy

    Feb 13, 2010
    Billings, MT
    Yes, it does. And that is where I've taken my measurements from. 6 11/32" exactly straight across. :confused: I've also taken a close look at the contact points at the slots in the bridge. Everything looks perfect. I'm concerned that I'm going to have to reshape the feet of the bridge to change the angle if I can't resolve the issue otherwise.
     
  4. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    6 11/32" ? Are you sure we're not playing the same bass? :) Mine was roughly 6 1/3", and I wanted to get at least 6 3/4", hence a few modifications detailed is a separate post.

    Beats me why the difference...given the same measurements across all 4 strings.

    George
     
  5. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Don't cant the bridge! :(

    The notes are higher because the afterlengths on those strings are stiffer. That's why my tailpieces have staggered string holes - they help to reduce this effect.

    You might be able to trim down the fret on the tailpiece and insert your own piece of wood to provide a longer afterlength on the 'A' and 'E' or maybe pull the tailpiece back to lengthen those two and put a little 'string stand' further forward for the 'G' and 'D' strings.

    You can check my website for pix of other ways to help with this.

    Good luck, Jake
     
  6. bigolbassguy

    bigolbassguy

    Feb 13, 2010
    Billings, MT
    Don't worry. I worked plenty hard enough to get the fit the first time around. Also, hate to say it, but I'm not sure I believe in the importance of afterlength tuning, at least as far as my personal need for it. Doesn't it become irrelevant as soon as you stop a string? + when I'm playing amplified - which is almost always - I mute the afterlengths to prevent sympathetic vibrations.

    That being said - my OCD is telling me to try your advice anyway :)

    I now fully understand after checking the specs on my strings. 5 - 9lbs. difference in the string tensions. Thanks Jake.
     
  7. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    I always wondered why these aren't more common place, given the importance people place on afterlength tuning. I mean, the first thing that occurred to me when I made my tail piece was: it would be good to have tunable/sliding individual nuts on this thing. But to me it's not that important - as long as I have a good distance there, and preferably the 1/6 thing going - 7" in my case (talking about strings here!).

    George
     
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    The mass of each string is different, so is the breakover angle, and that affects the pitch. Think of xylophone bars. Give your OCD the boot and forget about it.
     
  9. bigolbassguy

    bigolbassguy

    Feb 13, 2010
    Billings, MT
    I agree. It's time to call it good and just play it. The tailpiece is the final bit of work I'd planned on doing with it anyway. The original metal tailpiece would ring noticeably when I played certain notes and that problem has been eliminated.

    btw, Arnold, when I carved my new bridge, I have to confess to borrowing that cleft that you like to put in the top of the arch. It looks cool, and I've given you credit whenever anyone has mentioned it. (not that that makes my lack of creativity any less lame)
     
  10. Cody Sisk

    Cody Sisk

    Jan 26, 2009
    Lilburn, GA
    Ronald Sachs Violins
    When you carve enough bridges, you'll find your creativity and eventually have some aesthetic modifications that become your "signature". In addition, I actually put my initials on the bridges I'm proud of. Others I'll just leave blank. :ninja:
     
  11. mpm

    mpm

    May 10, 2001
    Los Angeles
    In regards to afterlength tuning(s), I respectfully submit that I too, am a subscriber to the Bollbachian "Woo-Woo" theory...
     
  12. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Please expound Mike. :)
     
  13. mpm

    mpm

    May 10, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Jake, I can't do justice to the story as it has been a long time since Jeff shared it with me (and I haven't seen him around here in a long time...). In essence, a friend of his has a theory that the standard afterlength issue (i.e. 1/6) is relatively falacious, ok, maybe convoluted. Anyway, the friend went on to explain that the best afterlength tuning would be somewhere around half-step relationships...the example for "woo-woo" would be playing G-G# simultaneously, hence the woo-woo...and, as I remember it, this works to mitigate wolftones, hence improving resonance/response. All of this makes me realize I better give him a call, pronto!
     
  14. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    Sounds like a good reason for me not to worry about tuning my afterlengths too much:)

    George
     

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