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Bridge angle

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Al Cheatham, Mar 11, 2006.


  1. I have a 3/4 ub acoustic bass. I have only been playing it for a couple of months. My main instrument is an Aria Upright Electric. Anyway, I have encountered all the problems that can show up, especially if you don't know what you are doing, like me when it comes to the mechanical part of keeping the bass in shape so that I can get the best from it. I tried changing strings, and I tried to do it by changing the strings one at a time. You guessed it, the bridge fell and it sounded like a drive by shooting, except it was only one shot. I thought the bass had exploded. I took the bass to a luthier and he fixed it, but told me to keep an eye on the bridge especially when I am tuning. He said the bridge will tend to lean upwards when tuning. He told me to take a rubber tipped hammer and tap the bridge if it needed it. My question is: Is the bridge supposed to be exactly perpendicular to the front face of the bass? The condition of it now is that the tip of the bridge is kinda pointing upward, and I am worried. I don't think my heart can stand another explosion like the first time. Also, what is the best method of getting the bridge to point straight out if it is supposed to?
     
  2. Well, I am certainly no expert, and I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I have always been told that the bridge should be perpendicular to the top of the bass. If it is leaning up toward the fingerboard, you are asking for it to collapse. My old teacher used to tap the bridges on the school basses down with his knuckles (like knocking on a door). When I was in college (eons ago), the U. owned 6 different basses and there were 2 that it seemed like everytime you turned around the bridge was leaning and others that it never happened on. I'm not sure why this seems to happen more on some basses than others, but I am sure that someone here with more knowledge than I have can address that. My guess is that it has to do with the thickness of the bridge, but I am just guessing.

    So, to make a long story short: Yes, your bridge should be perpendicular to the top, and Yes, you should carefully tap it down.

    Shelly :)
     
  3. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Classically the back of the bridge should be perpendicular to the flat plane of the bass[can be seen as the top of the ribs] and the front should be slightly crowned to resist that forward pulling of tuning. Some bridges may be cut as a pyramid with equal angles fore and aft. If you see an obvious leaning one way or the other it should be dealt with. Other clues are the joints of the adjusters [if installed] and the fit of the feet. I wouldn't use a mallet to adjust. If leaning forward grab the e and a with a monkey grip and push down between the a and d with your thumb. You may need to use some real force but be careful. If the slots are not lubed or the string windings are compromised it may be very difficult or impossible to do this way. In that case you will need to detune some[watch the post] BTW if the bridge is leaning back the way just kneel down and do a mirror image of the previous method.
    hth,
    jeffb
     
  4. Also, try to keep the bridge legs between the notches in the F holes. That's something that I was told anyway....if it's wrong, I hope I get corrected. Something else I heard along the way was that whenever I change my strings, I should take a pencil and mark in the space on the bridge where the strings are suspended. This is supposed to make a slicker surface so that the strings slide over the bridge while tuning, rather than build up tension and pull the bridge upward.
     
  5. Thanks to everybody for the information, and a special thanks to bassist14. Your information and the photos were exactly what I was looking for. My bridge is straight now, but I had to release the tension on the bridge before I could move it to the correct position. Thanks again to everyone for the advice. I love this forum.:hyper: :hyper: :hyper:
     
  6. I'm really getting frustrated and a little fed up with this upright acoustic bass scene. The bridge has fallen again. I had the bridge almost straightened and was just trying to tweak it, and BAM!, it fell over again. The soundpost stayed in position, so I tried to put the bridge back. I was very careful with it. I had it exactly perpendicular to the top face of the bass. I had it laying on the floor and was tightening the strings to bring it back in tune, all the time watching the bridge to make sure that it was not leaning towards the fingerboard. I tried to tighten the strings in a even manner, meaning I tightened each string just a little bit. I would tighten the G string a little, then the D string a little, then the A string, then the E string. I then brought the G string up to pitch, then the D string, then the A string, all the while I was watching the bridge very closely to make sure it was still straight, then I put about a half turn on the E string and BAM AGAIN! I must be doing something wrong. Can anybody offer me some advice. The first time that this happened, I was trying to change strings. I took it to a luthier and he put the strings on for me and told me to watch the bridge from now on when I am tuning to make sure it that I keep it perpendicular to the top face of the bass. I noticed that when I tuned it, it would lean more. I tried to straighten, but it was almost impossible to move and I never did get it like I thought it should be. Surely this is not the norm, because if it is, I will stick to playing my Aria Electric Upright. I don't want to give up, because I love the sound of a real bass with the type music that I play, but I am really frustrated with this thing. I know I will be told to take it to a luthier, but if I am going to play this thing, I need to know how to at least tune the thing without blowing it up.:crying: :crying: :crying: