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Any Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up an Upright Bass?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Swing Doom, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. I'm mainly having trouble with my bridge. I have bridge adjusters so the feet turn. No matter how much I measure I can't seem to get the feet aligned, the bridge perfectly parallel, and the bridge perfectly centered between the two notches. Perhaps I'm trying to be too precise and a small amount of variation is okay? Is this one of those things where I need to take it in to a luthier to get it set up properly? If so, how long does it typically take? How much might this cost? I've never actually owned a bass (this is a school bass) so I'm a bit clueless. :help:
  2. Take it to a luthier. A couple hundred bucks for an hour's work and no more problem.
  3. The couple hundred bucks part is what I was trying to avoid. There's no alternative?
  4. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    Take it to an experienced bass luthier. It may be something he can adjust in five minutes, or the bridge may need to be worked on. At least you will know what the issues are with the instrument, and it might not cost so much to fix.
  5. Jsn

    Jsn upright citizen

    Oct 15, 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area
    It's not a plutonium critical-mass kind of measurement. But I can understand why you'd want to get it right.

    Does the bridge keep moving when you try to tighten the strings? If so, perhaps you can enlist a family member or friend to hold it in place.

    If the matter is eyeballing the distance correctly, try this:

    1.) Draw a pencil line between the notches in the f-holes.

    2.) Mark an equivalent line on the bridge feet.

    3.) Align and tighten.

    4.) Erase pencil marks.

    That said, know that a luthier might decide that a little tweak off of that meridian might improve the sound. And they might be right.
  6. I think my main issue is getting the feet to stay straight since they turn because of the bridge adjusters. It's hard to get them to stay parallel to the bridge. Any tips?
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Threads up or down? The adjusters have to be free to turn without grabbing the feet. If it's just a slick finish on the top, a little rosin under the feet may help. Try holding the feet while you turn...
  8. The threads are up.
  9. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Similar to what Eric said - but I use chalk on the feet for traction and wax on the rubbing surfaces and threads for lubricity.
  10. Eric, I followed your directions and they worked great. I'm just going to leave the marks there since you can't really see them and it saves me hassle. Thank you very much for your help. :)

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