Bass bars

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Eric Jackson, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. It seems most older basses that have undergone restoration have had the bass bar replaced.
    What is it that necessitates bass bar replacement? Does a bass bar 'sag' over time? Does it lose its ability to adequately support the top? Or is it a matter of needing a larger, stiffer bar to withstand the tension of steel strings?

    My Czech bass ('20's- '30's vintage) is showing signs of top sinkage at both ends of the bass bar. It definitely needs a post patch, should it also have the bass bar replaced? If so, should the top be cast and pressed back to its original shape first? I'm sure the reshaping procedure would be expensive, and as much as I love the bass I don't know if it would warrant such an investment.

    It still sounds good, with no buzzes. Should I just not fix what ain't really broke?
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Generally, bass bars are replaced as part of a top repair when there are cracks around the bar that need to be taken care of, or when there is significant re-arching to be done. Minor sinkage at the ends of your bass bar is probably not a problem. On the other hand, if your bass was built with a weak bass bar, and this is affecting the sound or compromising the top arch, it may need to go. I think most cases of sinkage at the bass bar ends is the result of "springing" the bar in place, a controversial practice that many luthiers still engage in.
  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I went to a bass bar once but all the drinks were flat.
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    And the cheese was sharp?!? :meh:
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    actually the cheese was performing glissandi - it was baked brie !

    Shoot me now.
  6. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    Did you hear the one about the bass player who passed a bar while walking down the street?

    Well, it COULD happen!
  7. I´m not sure yet, but I think I might have a case of loose bass bar. Yesterday when I was playing my gig bass at home, I noticed a buzz playing A note, both in A string and other strings. I located the buzz to bottom end of the top, and started inspecting the bass in hope to find an open seam.
    I couldn´t find anything visible, nor did any of the bouts give a different sound when knockin around the edges.
    I then put a wine bottle cork between the top and the tailpiece for trial, and the buzz stopped.

    The last few weeks have been very humid, and there´s been more rain than in years, so my bass is kind of soaked. Also I took it to a fest and played a lot outdoors, which might not be of any good either. I now suspect that the glue has come loose in the bottom end of the bass bar.
    Is there any means to find out if it´s really the cause of the buzz?? Thanks for help.

  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I think there is an archived thread about buzzes. You might want to check it out...

    Most buzzes aren't caused by loose bass bars, but tiny open seams, open cracks, bad nuts, bad strings, loose linings, loose purfling, etc. I'm not saying that a loose bar wouldn't buzz, but 95% of the time it's something else.
  9. Thanks guys,
    everything else is now eliminated. It´s the loose bass bar in this case.
    What a nice surprise for my birthday.
    The bass goes to Lex Luthier tomorrow.

  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I got loose in a bar once. It was not a pretty sight.
  11. O dear, here I go with another pompous British, nay English, post. I've had a couple of bass bars replaced and they were both for different reasons. The first was because it was an old bass which I had converted form 3 string to 4 string. According to my information 3 stringers were made originally for gut strings, and obviously only for 3 of them, and therefore to protect the top from experiencing undue pressure, it was best to replace the bass bar. The other was just because my luthier thought the bass bar was way too thick and wouldn't let the bass "speak". People have different ideas about the thickness of bass bars, bass tops. I t seems to differ from luthier to luthier, and thats how it should be?