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another bridge question

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by oliebrice, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    a pretty basic question, but I'm new to the DB.
    I need to fit a bridge to my bass. I know that with violin bridges you put the new bridge in place, roll a pencil along the body of the violin to draw a line on the bridge then sand it down to the line, so that it fits properly.
    Is the same technigue used on a bass bridge?
    Will sanding work on the (much bigger) bass bridge? If not, what would be a good idea?

    ps: quick reponses would be very appreciated as I need the bass this afternoon!
  2. Just for the record, that's is not a very good method of fitting a violin bridge. Use a knife! On a bass, the sanding method would take many hours of sanding and then you would probably have a bridge that would not fit the contour of the top. There are several methods used to fit a bass bridge, but the most common (used by the pros) is to draw a line as you mentioned, then using a scroll saw or bandsaw with a small blade cut the bottom of the bridge feet to the line. Using chalk or carbon paper, find the high spots and remove them with a knife. The problem with taping a piece of sandpaper to the top and sanding is that it is virtually impossible to keep the bridge at the same angle while you move it back and forth. The small movements of the bridge cause the bottom of the bridge to be rounded and not truely fit the top.
  3. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ... and I'm an amateur hack who's done a few of these now. The sandpaper method is popular with the newbie because it seems fool-proof. It's not gonna give you the result you really want, though. Without a jig to hold the bridge in the correct position, you are going to roll the edges on the bridge feet. Repeat: you WILL roll the edges on the feet.

    Have you ever noticed how the dentist fits a new filling into your existing bite? S/he uses a carbon-paper type kinda stuff; you bite down and grind a bit, the marked spots on the filling are the high spots. The dentist knows where to remove material now.

    That's what Bob is talking about, and it is the way to get a near-perfect fit (nobody gets 100% in my class, but very high 90's are possible).

    What is this type of fitting called, BTW? For some reason, I've always called it a "proofed" fit. Don't know why, and don't know where I've ever heard that expression, but I have.
  4. I'm another amateur hack who's fitted a few bridges. There's much more to fitting one that just carving the feet to fit the belly. First you need a blank of the right width. The outside edges of the feet should not be wider than the smallest distance between the tops of the f holes, and when centered on the top the bridge leg should fall over the bass bar. Top side must be selected- (brand towards the tailpiece, if there is one), points on the outside of the legs and in the heart eased, the top of the bridge planed to proper thickness and taper, string locations projected from the fingerboard, sometimes the legs, feet and eyes are reshaped, etc., etc. All this before you add adjusters.
    It's a time-consuming job that requires some homework, some tools and lots of care in execution. I'm sure Bob B. has done hundreds and knows far more about it than I, but he'd be typing for days to describe the process here. As I recall, there's a pretty good article on the subject available online through a link from Bob Gollihur's website.
  5. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    "... a time consuming job"

    You got THAT right. The amateur will be there a-whittlin' and a-fiddlin' for HOURs and HOURs. If you're not taking that long, you're probably not doing the greatest job.

    And, as always, you have to live with the do-it-yourselfer's remorse: "geez, if only I could this job AGAIN, it would be right!"

    Let's put it this way: I've got a lot of wonky, wierd prototype objects in my house. If seconds were made, someone else got 'em.
  6. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    i'm a newbie who figured i'd fit my first bridge - mostly becuase i didn't want to drive 3 hrs roundtrip down to boston to have a shop do it. and the only guy i could find around here had the balls to quote me $350-400 to fit a new bridge. (!)

    So i spent $70 on a bridge from URBBOB.com, and about $20 on several grades of sandpaper and misc supplies from home depot.

    timewise - i spent no less than 5 hours. it does not fit perfectly, it's chunky, i took too much off the top, didn't get the arc right, my D action is a tad too high....i think's that's it.

    well it was a worthwhile experience - no regrets here. and it definitely sounds & plays MUCh better than the 50 year old original, warped bridge that was on there when i bought it.

    I think if i bought another one i could do a damn fine job. and my third would be even better. as sam says..."the first 200 are the hardest."

    BUT - I am currently planning a trip to boston in a week or 2 to have a new one professionally fit.

    not sure this helps but i'm posting anyways...

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