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Bridge adjusters

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by JYD, Oct 5, 2003.

  1. JYD

    JYD Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2001
    I've always wondered what adjusters are really the best for the adjustable bridges.

    Some where along the line I read a study that detailed sound output of different adjustable bridges fitted with different types of adjusters.I seem to remember comparison of Brass aluminum and wooden adjusters. It seemed aluminum adjusters produced the best overall sound (considering decay, tone, etc.).
    Anyone want to comment on this?

    I recently bought a bass with what I think are wood adjusters. I keep feeling like I might get better overall performance with aluminum adjusters.

    What is considered to be the best combinaton of adjusters to bridge/instrument?

    Consider that I have one of the all wood Mathias Thoma Uprights.

    Appreciate the response.

  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
  3. YUCK,
    here´s my 2 c:
    I always hated the thought of having the adjusters, since I´m a stupid conservative. Anyhow my gig bass started having problems with the string height because of the very hot and humid summer. So, I got my luthier into ordering sets of aluminium and brass adjusters, and after they came in, we decided to put the standard aluminiums. The brass adjusters just looked too heavy and thick ( ´cause my bridge is not very large in any dimension ). So, I spent a sleepless night and the next day I went to pick up the bass...wondering if all the sound had gone to Sound Heaven. But, to my surprise, the aluminium adjusters seemed to add a little sustain and growl! The bass is more playable, sounds OK and I can handle the climatic problems without adding or removing the slices of maple tonewood under the bridge feet, which was formerly my way of handling them.
    You can try the aluminiums, if your bridge already has the holes for wood adjusters. The shafts might be too wide, though, because the wood adjusters may be thicker than aluminiums. In that case you´d need a new bridge.

  4. Like most things in this world, adjuster are a matter of personal taste. I've tried many types of adjusters over the years, but my favorite remains the (old) Robertson adjusters with ebony posts.
  5. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    jefe - that study is sweet! thanks for the link.

    sean p
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    I personally believe that few people can hear the difference between various types of bridge adjusters. I think we enter into the realm of psycho-acoustics. If a player knows a bass has metal adjusters, he'll usually assume the bass must sound brighter than, say, maple adjusters. The Andrew Brown study is fatally fawed, IMHO, for this reason; in order for the results to be accurate, the adjusters would have to be fitted into the same exact bridge (a mechanical impossibility), with the same grain and mass and the identical positioning on the bass' top. Every string would have to be exactly the same height as with previous adjusters. The temperature and humidity would have to be the same. The bass would have to be played by some type of machine, to eliminate human interaction. And the results would need to be measured by frequency analysis, not human ears. To do less is not scientific, and therefore the results are meaningless.
  7. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Oh, man. Sounds dangerous. I love the word, though. Is it in the dictionary? I've never heard it before.
  8. The study also assumes that a particular type adjuster would behave exactly the same way (acoustically) on all other basses. To be truely meaningful, you would have to repeat the same tests on a large number of different basses. I know from my own experience that some basses sound better with a different type of adjusters than others. However, that is my opinion rather than a scientific test.
  9. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Agreed. I recently replaced a set of heavy brass adjusters with lightweight aluminum, and this particular bass sounded WORSE. I would not have believed that possible had I not heard it myself.
  10. Ahhnold,
    I believe you. The whole adjuster mess is just something supernatural. I´ve read the study and
    agree with you guys. It´s scientifically worthless.
    The study only helped me to make the decision to go for adjusters, because it cleared me that the adjusters would make my bass sound either

    1. better
    2. worse
    3. anything in between

    and I finally accepted that. The reason I didn´t choose the brass adjusters in this particular bass is that they just were too big for this particular bridge.

    This was only to clear that I don´t prefer the aluminiums to brass or anything.

  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    ...proving once again that luthery is art as well as science, and occassionally, I swear, magic.
  12. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The sound aspect of adjusters can be argued. However, the function aspect cannot. Some adjusters are made better than others, and last much longer and turn easier.
  13. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I really dig the Stenholm design that incorporates a sythentic, high density material. (A machinist buddy of mine in Cincy makes his own Stenholm-style with an aluminum center. Slightly different...) The threads don't chip, don't cut into the bridge wood and strip out, and the wheels will never come loose from the post. Everyone has their favorites...
  14. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't install adjusters at all. I haven't really had an opportunity to use them for one thing and the feet slip and twist occasionally - bothersome.
  15. delbass


    Sep 9, 2003
    Albany, NY
    I just had adjusters put on my bass and was told to loosen the strings a whole step or so and hold a straight edge/ruler against the back of the bridge feet to keep them from moving while adjusting...works really well.
  16. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Thanks for the tip.
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