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angled endpin - drill endblock at an angle ?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by myrick, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. I prefer to play with an angled endpin.

    I am considering putting in a new endblock and drilling it at my prefered angle to fit a conventional endpin assembly. I wonder if anyone here thinks this is a workable idea. Or would it put funny angled forces on the block that will lead to cracks or other troubles. (Of course I will have a competent luthier do the work)

    Currently on one bass I have a swiss-made thingie (Stahl?) that retracts straight in, but once extended allows you to swing the pin to an angle via a clever mechanical design and fine machining. But it is not ideal. On another bass I have a home-brew S-shaped pin, which works fine, but of course doesn't retract, so I need to pull it out and replace a normal retractable straight pin before transporting the bass. Inconvenient and one more thing to leave behind at gig sites.

    On my favourite bass I am considering opening the top for other work, so I am considering putting in a new endblock, and then drilling it at my angle to accept a normal pin assembly which will retract normally (but at an angle of course). I am told that Rufus Reed has done something like this. My worry is that the weight of the bass bearing down through the angled pin assembly will drive the upper end of the pin assembly down through the block and the lower end up through the block and lead to cracking or other nightmares.

    another thought I had was to machine a tapered metal sleeve to fit snugly between the endpin taper and the angled hole in the block, to carry the endpin assembly. I would weld this sleeve at the appropriate angle to a flat flange plate which would be set flush into a routed out depression in the bottom of the endblock, in order to distribute the forces of the angled pin more widely across the endblock (hope this description is clear). The flange would be sandwiched in the glue joint between the block and the bottom of the lower bout. I know the thought of "iron-work" (as Traeger puts it) will offend some, but my instinct says it wouldn't hurt the sound if shaped and mounted this way and fit very carefully. I would probably do a second smaller hole and pin forward of the angled endpin, to anchor the tailpiece wires.

    anyway, am I crazy ? talk me out of this, someone.
  2. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    Have you looked into a Christian Laborie (Rabbath's luthier) endpin? It's a carbon-fiber rod with a collar that you just stick into an angled hole drilled in the bottom of the bass. It's pretty popular here in Portland, mostly due to Glen Moore's influence; he's a big Rabbath fan and uses this setup on his Klotz. I used to use one myself until I decided that the angled endpin isn't for me.
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    That's exactly what Rufus uses.
  4. Non- luthier- specific mechanical engineering stuff:

    Having the point at which the end pin enters the bottom block directly above the point at which the tip of the end pin rests on the floor is the ideal situation. This will impart the least amount of levering or wedging force on the bottom block. An angled hole for the tail plug will accomplish this if you drill the hole at, say, 30 degrees from vertical then lean the bass back 30 degrees when you play. An offset pin like the Egg pin will accomplish the same thing without modifying the bass.

    The worst possible case would be to have a conventional straight end pin extended a long way, then have the bass leaned back. This would put the plug a ways behind the floor contact point and the end pin would be acting as a lever in the plug.

    Bass luthier- specific stuff:

    I'd dismiss the plug and welded flange idea as unecessary overkill. If you're going to have the top off and are concerned about splitting the bottom block, what about a laminated bottom block, say two pieces, horizontal joint, grains at 45 degrees or so? Or, would a hardwood block be a bad idea? I don't think you'd split a hardwood block with an end pin.
  5. Per George Borun's Making A Bass Viol: "Use Poplar wood for the corner blocks, neck and tail blocks, and for the lining."

    Poplar is not as hard as maple, but it is much harder than spruce. I can understand spruce blocks on a smaller instrument, but I think we would see far fewer problems in the endpin area if poplar were used in the end blocks of basses.
  6. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I was just watching The Evolving Bassist CD and Rufus talks about his "Rabath" endpin. He says that the steel end pin masks the sound of the bass due to the weight and that the Rabath endpin is made of of carbon fiber. He showed how it fit into the bass at the new hole that was drilled. It was interesting to see.

  7. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    I've had perhaps 500 basses apart and I've seen two split endblocks. One was spruce, the other poplar.
  8. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    What is the standard material? One of those two, or some other wood?
  9. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL

    Are you also considering the egg pin? I use the egg pin and have been most impressed with its ability to fine tune the balance of the bass. I don't feel like the angle drilled end pin has that same degree of flexibility. Just a thought...
  10. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Where can the egg pin be purchased?
  11. That data would indicate that total failure of the end block is a relatively rare event, and I admit that taken alone it doesn't make a really good case for poplar as fail proof.

    However, the more germain question is: how many basses with spruce end blocks have you seen with end pins that have been pulled forward by the string tension? Certainly enough stress and any wood would fail completely, but what about partial failure from just plain old normal use? Spruce is softer, therefore in all cases it will fail to some degree under less tension than poplar. I guess one could use red oak or hickory and then the block would just split out through the table.
    Yes, that is correct.
  12. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    I'm more concerned with keeping the weight down, which makes for a more responsive and sonorous instrument. A little endpin re-angling does not concern me. I encourage the use of poplar or other hardwoods for anyone concerned more about strength than tone.
  13. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Hehe, that doesn't really answer my question. (maybe you misunderstood it)

    Anyone? What wood is the standard for an endblock?
  14. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    I believe Lemur also carries it

  15. littlekatie


    Jul 14, 2004
    London, UK
    caroline emery, and the bass club UK seem to have a lot to do with the new angled spikes. personally i couldnt bear thinking about drilling another hole in my baby, but then i guess its brand new!the bass club UK run summer schools with francois rabbath and teach specifically on the rabbath method so if this interests you it might be worth having a look!

  16. Spruce, man, spruce.

    I use spruce for my blocks for the very reason Arnold cited. I think Western red cedar is also good.

  17. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Ah, thanks!
  18. Tbeers
    No, I just thought the question was a little ambiguous because "standard" could imply more than one meaning. If you mean more commonly used, then that is one answer, spruce. If you mean as a benchmark preferred by a particular maker, the answer can only be specific to the maker. In that case for Arnold S. it is spruce. For Ken M., it is spruce. For George Borun, it is poplar.

    I don't think the answer was any more ambiguous than the question. In any case the answer was true and was meant to reflect concisely all the above information.

    FYI, the specific gravity of yellow poplar at 12% moisture content is .43 grams/cubic centimeter. The specific gravity of spruce is .45 grams/cubic centimeter for seasoned dry wood. Given the similarities in density, the weight/tone issue is sort of 6 in one and slightly more than a half dozen in the other, with spruce being heavier for the same size piece of wood. Strength and density of wood would seem to go together, but the actual measured data suggest this is not always the case. :smug:

    Perhaps it's time to raise the standard, improve the tone, lower the weight, and reduce repairs to the end block?
  19. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Perhaps it's time you make a bass. There are Prescotts and Tewksburys with maple endblocks. Do you really think using poplar for tailblocks is going to "raise the standard"?
  20. Nick Loyd
    What's all the rush Nick? My mother always told me not to run with the scissors (or was it the office assistant in Microsoft Word?) No matter. I want to make sure that I leave as little to chance as possible. And while I learn, the top wood seasons to my climate.

    As to your question: What I really think is that spruce is a European standard for blocks and that tulip poplar is an American tree. Many of our traditions for instrument making are based on things that made sense to Europeans 400 years ago. These sensible practices became "standards" that we have followed without question. Many time the basis for these standards is unknown and questions generate "reasonable" postulations that have little basis in fact.

    Given the ramifications of the specific gravities of the different woods, I don't think;- rather I know that the weight would be reduced while increasing the strength by choosing poplar over spruce. I'm not so sure about the tone issue. There could be reasons other than weight that make spruce a preferred choice for tone. As far as Tewksbury and Prescott;- if they suggested maple instead of spruce for end blocks and had not built a bass yet, they probably wouldn't get much respect here would they now? Perhaps their unmade instruments would be prejudged as to be engineered for durability at the sacrifice of tone. What we do know is that George Borun, whom I quoted earlier has built a bass also, as well as many other wooden instruments? Is he also someone who advocated structural integrity over tone, or is it just me, Tewksbury and Prescott?

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