Attaching bridge to brass plate ala Alembic

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by raytsmith, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. raytsmith

    raytsmith Guest

    Nov 21, 2007
    Central Ky
    Has anybody here ever messed around with sinking a brass plate into the body to attach the bridge to ?

    I saw one thread where someone mentioned that Alembic's stated purpose for doing this was to increase sustain and decrease resonance, but did not see where anyone here has played with the method.

    I'm a bit curious about it, but have doubts that it is worth the trouble and extra weight - so I thought I'd see if anyone else has already been there ?

    If so, what type brass did you use, what effect do you think it had on the sound of your bass, would you do it again ?
     
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Greg Curbow (may he RIP) used to have a brass block glued into the body under the top lamination, and the bridge bolted into this. IIRC, he tapped threads into it and used machine screws to attach the bridge. Had a 30 minute phone conversation with him about this several years ago...
     
  3. 62bass

    62bass Guest

    Apr 3, 2005
    Yes, I tried this in the mid 70s with a P bass. I had a luthier, Attila from Vancouver, build me a brass bridge and sink a brass bar into the body. Attila was a good machinist as well as luthier so he did a good job.

    It did change the sound somewhat. A bit more sustain, not that I needed any more, and the frequency response seemed a bit more even-in other words, the harmonics were more in balance on most of the notes.

    The downside was, it lost a lot of the P bass character when playing live. Also, there was less of a connection between me and the instrument. I couldn't really feel the body resonating. I kind of missed that. Recording, there wasn't much of a difference when the bass was mixed into its proper level. It also added about 1 1/2 lbs to an already heavy instrument.

    Myself, I wouldn't bother with it. And you have to consider what bridge you're going to start from to estimate what difference it might make. In the case of my Fender with the stock cheesy bridge and going to a brass bridge and a 1" thick chunk of brass underneath, there was a lot of difference between them. Going from something like a heavier Badass or similar bridge, you might not notice much of a difference.

    I eventually traded off that bass. It was a decent playing bass but back in those days we were all trying these different tricks to customize our instruments. So, I was disappointed in the results, and by then Fenders had stopped sounding as good as the early 60s Fenders. Of course now it would be considered a valuable vintage instrument that some fool had carved up and destroyed.
     
  4. 2lim

    2lim

    Feb 25, 2007
    It is funny that you mention Atilla(I assume since he was from vancouver, it was Atilla Balogh). I have an odyssey bass that he hand built. It also has a brass plate sunk into the body, with a brass bridge and brass saddles and a brass nut. The bass has some sustain to it lol.


    Simon
     
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    IIRC, Geoff St. Germaine's Dingwall had a brass plate below the bridge.

    As far as "what kind of brass," anything would do unless it were very thin, in which case you would want a stronger alloy, just so that the threads wouldn't strip out. The alloys should be close enough in stiffness and density that the effect on tone, whatever effect that may be, should be about the same.
     
  6. 62bass

    62bass Guest

    Apr 3, 2005
    Yes, he's the one. It's too bad he passed on. He was a good guy. I used to live around the corner from his first shop at 18th and Cambie. He was just doing repairs then and building a few custom guitars. I picked his brain a lot. He started out as an antique refinisher.

    Then he decided to get into production and opened up a factory in North Vancouver. I visited the place once. He was really proud of his whole operation and the quality of workmanship. He was turning out about 100 instruments a month then. I think the downturn in the economy did him in later. It's too bad. The Odyssey basses were very nice.
     
  7. 2lim

    2lim

    Feb 25, 2007
    I enjoy mine, but it has a crack in the body(superficial) but it brings the value down. Also, it weighs just shy of one metric ton, so playing it live is out of the question.

    Simon
     
  8. raytsmith

    raytsmith Guest

    Nov 21, 2007
    Central Ky
    Thanks for the input, everybody.

    The above statement most likely made up my mind. I do like feeling the vibration of the wood when I'm playing. I hadn't thought about loosing that but it does make sense...
     
  9. 62bass

    62bass Guest

    Apr 3, 2005
    That's what happened with my bass. I don't claim it will hold true with all of them.

    At any rate, it's a lot of work for very little gain, if any.
     
  10. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    I have done this. And the bass has unbelievable sustain, but I can't tell you if it's due to the "sustain block". It could be the Katalox/Mahogany body, Ebony in the neck, or whatever...

    Oh, and it's not a plate, it's a block 3/4 inch thick.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Where do you get your brass stock?
     
  12. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    I bet you would guess in 3 guesses ;)


    onlinemetals.com
     
  13. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    Doesn't Wawick also do something similar to this, IIRC I had a Corvette that had a similar setup.:meh: