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bent endpin

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Jeff Bollbach, May 15, 2003.

  1. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Bet that hurts.
    But seriously folks....
    Anyone have any experience wth the bent style pin? Any other brand other than the Stahlhammer? Thanks in advance.
  2. Blaine


    Aug 4, 2001
    new york area
    I've been using one since 1987. My endpin is about the diameter of a dime and I made my own rod from steel tubing and later, aluminum. I think it makes a more dramatic difference if you usually have the pin out a bit. It takes a lot of pressure of my left thumb.
  3. There is the Eggpin, which has an adjustable offset. I played one for a while and thought I'd make one for myself. I ended up swearing at it; it always felt like the bass was going to fall forward.
    I play with my bass with a more upright posture than most. I rarely sit.
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I use one on my work bass (a German carved), and used to use one on my Englehart. The idea is that you shift the center of gravity down and away from the bass. It really works! On my Englehart, I never felt is was stable, but on my work bass I use an endpin that comes out of the bass at an angle (rather than having a bend in it) and I really like it.

    My Christopher is light enough that I don't need it.
  5. Pacman is almost right, but not exactly. The centre of gravity is the key to how a bent endpin helps some players, but the COG doesn't really change with a different endpin, what actually changes is the support points of the bass relative to the C.O.G.

    In exploring various postures and positions, I got curious about this a few years back, and studied it quite a bit. This is all easier to explain with a pencil and paper on hand, but I'll try with words only.

    Its not difficult to locate the COG (centre of mass might be a better term) in your bass, and doing so can be a useful exercise, because knowing clearly where it is can help to understand how the physics of one stance or position differs from another.

    Sit on the floor (carpeted is better) with your bass resting on its back across one extended leg, and find the balance point between head and tail. North/South, it typically lies around the level of the end of the fingerboard, plus or minus an inch or two. Unusual designs can differ a bit more, with big or small scrolls and wide or narrow bouts affecting it the most.

    Then turn the bass 90 degrees, with the neck going back over your shoulder and the bass resting on its side on an extended leg, upper bout on the knee, lower bout on your toes (shoes off). This is a bit trickier, but you should be able to imagine a verticle plane parallel to and between the back and front of the bass along which the bass will balance front to back. Biggest factor affecting the location of this front-to-back plane is the angle the neck is set at, and again the size and weight of the scroll.

    The with your mind's eye, estimate where these intersect. The COG will be a point somewhere in the middle of the air chamber inside the bass, approximately under the end of the fingerboard, around half to two-thirds of the way from table to back. (Obviously, mathematically speaking one needs the intersection of three planes to define a point - the third plane is almost sure to be right up and down through the centre of the bass, left to right.)

    Now, normally most of the weight of the bass is supported on the floor at the tip of the pin. If you position the bass so the COG is exactly verticle over the tip of the endpin, then no weight will need to be borne at any other support. The left hand on the neck need only apply tiny forces to keep the COG aligned at just verticle over the endpin tip. To the extent that the COG moves away from verticle over the endpin tip, some other support point will need to bear some weight or the bass will fall. How you accomplish this and how it affects your playing is what you need to pay attention to.

    The Karr school of playing advocates keeping the COG somewhere between verticle or slightly forward of the endpin tip, so that a small portion of the weight of the bass is actually borne through the fingerboard onto the left hand (this force assisting fingering) or through the strings into the bow (assisting tone production). In other words, the bass leans slightly into your left hand and bow. There is a lot to recommend in this approach, but I ultimately decided that my shortish arms didn't work well with this style.

    The more common approach goes the other way, with the bass leaning back so the COG is behind the endpind tip. With the strings and fingerboard closer to the horizontal many find it easier to shift (the left hand moves more horizontally, rather than up and down) and easier to use the weight of the bowing arm, but because the COG is well behind the endpin support point verticle a lot of the bass's weight must be borne by some other support point, maybe the left thumb on the neck, maybe the abdomen against the back or shoulder of the bass.

    Imagine a bass leaning back so that the COG is behind the pin/floor support point, requiring some of the weight to be supported elsewhere. For the sake of argument, say this is the left hand on the neck. By angling the pin back we move the floor support point back closer to the verticle below the COG, relieving some of the burden on the upper support point. In other words, the bass itself may be off verticle, but the support point on the floor is brought closer to the point directly under the COG.

    In many ways this works better for me, but another problem arises. A bass bass can be rotated on an axis of the imaginary line between the endpin tip and left hand or upper support point. In the (near) verticle Karr-type approach the COG is more or less in this axis, so gravity produces no torque forces about this axis. But by angling the pin straight back, the axis between tip and left hand no longer passes through the COG, but instead passes below it relative to the direction of gravity. The bass then wants to rotate to the left or right.

    Cellist with angled endpins don't suffer from this because they have their knees to counteract any torquing movements. What I do is also angle the endpin off to my left (the right of the bass viewed from the front). This will bais to the torquing to the clockwise (looking down), in other words, the bass want to turn into me, since I'm standing a bit off center behind the bass.

    Thus my endpin tip is situated more or less at a point six or so inches below the back edge of the bass and off to one side an inch or two. Even with the bass leaning back off verticle, most of the weight is still on the endpin, with a small amount into my body through the heel of the neck and the back edge of the left upper bout resting against my chest/belly. (Standing; I sometimes sit and my legs get more invloved.) Other players pick up my bass and find it really weird, almost unplayable at first, but I'm used to it and can stand very relaxed with the bass very still and stable, and both left and right hands more or less complely free to do what they need to do.

    Okay, sorry, this has grown into a pretty complicated description. Suffice to say my way works well for me. I have concluded that, like the French/German bow debate, there are clearly a lot of great players working with differing solutions, so there is no one ideal. Horses for courses.

    As for what endpins I use to achive all this gimmickery, which I guess was really Jeff's original question, I have one Stahlhammer that I move from one bass to another from time to time, and I quite like it. Good design, well machined, good sounding, and a lethal tip. Because I also like a bit of sideways angle in addition to backwards angle, I need to fit the stahlhammer in at just the right rotation angle, which can be tricky. I also have a homemade pin (well, almost, a local machine shop did it in twenty minutes to my sketches) which is simply an "S" or "Z" curved thingie which replaces the original retracting pin. A few small pits drilled at just the right spot in the side of the upper shaft accept the tightening screw in the collar, to keep the pin from twisting around. Only problem with this is it can't be retracted, so I have to carry it seperately and put it in when setting up at gigs, replacing the original again for transport. Never tried an Eggpin.
  6. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    so you guys use the cello stahlhammer pin, or do they make one for bass? the angle seems too obtuse to me, I like what I have used with a 45 degree angle.

    what is the angle like on that thing?

    Also, does anyone have an endpin just put in at an angle? having the socket at the right angle would make sense to me, as long as care is taken to not pierce the top of your bass.

    My experience has been with the egg pin, which I recommend, drawbacks being it is very heavy, but is adjustable and makes for good experimentation with the angle left or right. You can also bore out the whole to accomodate a goetz spike, which is pretty killer, but very heavy.

    I currently use a christian laborie endpin, a carbon fiber endpin that fits in a whole on the bottom of your bass, drawback there is that someone has to drill the whole and very few people have, also it takes some knowhow to get the angle right, because it is kind of semi-permanent. Other drawback is that I am rather hard on the rubber tips, and can't find a good replacement. I like the sturdy feel and the lighter weight endpin, it doesn't throw the balanace off as much.

    bent spikes kind of work, but are sometimes wobbly.
  7. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    I use the Wolf Super End pin ball, since I have the same problem, and it works well. It attaches to the end of your end pin with 3 set screws. A must for my wood floored practice room.

  8. from Alex
    when I got my stahlhammer pin it came with a second, larger diameter sleeve which fit over the original, cello-size one, and designed to accomodate a bass endpin bore. works fine. I was told that what I bought was thus usable on either cello or bass. also, as you point out the angle is fixed, aside from the rotation angle of mounting, which may be a drawback.

    I think Upton Bass retails them for basses on the website.
  9. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Perhaps this is a bit too much for some of you, but I have a very cheap and wonderful solution to wearing rubber tips.

    Get a drill bit of the same diameter as your pin. Get one cheap, solid core golf ball. Drill a hole about half way through the ball and press it onto your pin.

    Problem solved.

  10. Re rubber tips:

    I use a crutch tip- the light brown, 2" diameter, 2 1/4" long job. Small piece of hardwood drilled to be a friction fit on the spike, outside diameter to fit the inside of the crutch tip. Might look a bit funky, but never slides on any floor, never splits, same one's been on there many years.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Rufus Reid has his bass set up with th straight pin that comes out of an angled hole in the bass. I don't know who set it up for him like that, but he swears by it. When I tried to play it, it kept sliding off to the left, but then I don't have the midsection that Rufus does.
  12. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    that is the laborie pin, the one I have. I think he set it up for Rufus. at one of those George Vance events, or Robertson's can set it up. you have to experiment with the angle, so maybe the egg pin is a good starting point

    thanks for all the ideas.

    I meant like having a goetz end pin just stuck in at an angle- luthiers?
  13. McBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Does anybody have any experience with bent endpins bouncing when they play? I made mine out of steel rod myself and it just comes out of the normal socket. I'm tall and my bass is heavy and I think the extra length on the endpin makes for a lot of stress on the angle. Also, anybody know if the Eggpin bounces at all, or is it fairly sturdy? Thanks.
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    My homemade endpin bounced like crazy. My eggpin does not.
  15. McBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks for the reply. I've heard that egg pins are really heavy. Any estimate in pounds? Any diminished tone or volume?
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    probably 2-3 pounds. Pretty heavy. But incredibly stable. No noticeable effect on tone...
  17. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Bent endpins are a really great idea. i used the egg pin for about 5 years and found it to much work to take on and off all the time, also the use of a set screw prohibted the use of a wheel. I went through a phase of sitting and have returned to standing again (except for classical performance), and am now using the george vance bent endpin. It's really simple, about $20, and much easier to use then the eggpin. I wasted alot of time trying to find the perfect spot for the eggpin with all it's adjustable parameters, when i put the Vance endpin in, it went to just the right spot.

    I've had minor problems with bouncing on both endpins, but only when first using them, as i've gotten used to playing the problem disappeared.