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bridge collapse during string change

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by biddypatrick, Jun 10, 2014.


  1. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Yeah I knew I was too tired to change the strings but I did it anyway. Changing strings is always a big mission and I should have known better but...
    So yes...my bridge collapsed. Nearly gave me a heart attack. I rang my husband up telling him my bridge exploded..
    Dramatics aside, I put the bridge back on and finished the job. Luckily the sound post didn't fall out and there was no damage to the bridge or bass.
    Now I can't seem to get my sound back. I have set the feet to the f hole notches aligning the best I can but the G string seems to have less sound then the other three. The other three sound full and then the G seems to thin out and sound weaker. My closest luthier is 250km from me also and I can't find a day free for some time. I don't know what approach to take to get all strings sounding even.??
     
  2. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Try putting the old G string back on. There is a chance that the new string is defective, and that is the easiest thing to rule out before you start messing around with anything else. It will likely sound dead especially compared to the other strings, but if it plays as well as it did before you switched strings, then that's your problem. If so, take the bad string back to the shop where you got it, there is a good chance they will replace it for you at no charge and ship the old one back to the company. If not, ask to keep it, write the company an email and ask if there is an address you can send it to. There is a good chance that they will want to see it to try to prevent whatever happened from happening again, and they will likely send you a new string or something to retain your business.

    If that doesn't work, move your bridge around a bit. Typically you want it to be centred between the f holes, with the f hole notches centred on the bridge feet. While this works for probably 98% of basses, it might not be where your bridge wants to be. Even a mm or two can make a big difference. Experiment a bit, and see if the perfect spot is maybe 2mm down and 1mm over.

    If that doesn't work, your soundpost might have shifted a bit, or having the tension completely off the bass and putting it back might have changed something. You are entering into take it to the shop and see what they can do territory at that point. It might be something simple like a few taps on the soundpost or positioning the bridge a little bit differently. While you could potentially try moving the soundpost yourself, you run the risk of making the bass sound even worse or knocking it over, which would mean you have to head to the shop anyway.
     
  3. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Hi Thanks Mike... I'm almost 99% sure that it's not the string because I've had a dead string in a pack before and it's not that kind of dead.. It's probably my version of a bridge placement so I will try to moving about. So maybe I should move the bridge a little towards the G side to get more out of it? I really hope the sound post hasn't moved at all. I probably wont get to a shop until October unless it's an absolute emergency. I'm curious what you mean by having the tension off may have changed something? I know the post may have changed but what else am I looking at here..? I'm way over my head
     
  4. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    There are some luthiers here that have far more knowledge than I. As for which direction to move the bridge in to get it to work better, see if you can see where it might need to move to. Some basses have developed pretty noticeable spots for the bridge feet, some haven't at all. Check to see if it is centred with the fingerboard and the tailpiece, make sure that the back of the bridge is perpendicular to the top of the bass as the front of the bridge is usually curved, and measure your vibrating string length. If you remember what it was and it is slightly different now, then that could be the adjustment you need to make. In North America they are typically measured in inches, and with rare exceptions are in half inch intervals. In metric countries, (which Canada technically is, but that's another conversation for another day) they tend to be even cm measurements. For example, if your string length measures 105.4 cm now, there is a good chance it should be 105 or 106. I am assuming you do not have adjusters in the bridge because of your location but if so, get a straight edge out and make sure that the feet are parallel, and one hasn't twisted slightly. All of those things could be very small adjustments, but that could be exactly what you are looking for.

    Other possibilities: Check to see that you don't have any open seams or cracks. Even if you have had a crack repaired in the past, there is a possibility that it could open up again, especially with a change in tension and the shock of having the bridge suddenly fall. Make sure that the endpin socket is properly back in place, that the cable is travelling in straight lines from the tailpiece around the saddle and around the socket. See if your saddle has lifted/shifted when it had the tension off. Those are the easy to see/diagnose possibilities, but sometimes the wood just responds a little differently when tension changes. Think of it like tying your shoes. Every time you take them off and put them on again you try to tie them exactly the "right" tension, but it is going to be slightly different than the last time. I do not mean to alarm you because with a few adjustments your bass will definitely be able to sound the same (or better) than it did before, it just might mean a trip to the shop to get it back to "just right".

    There is a good chance that it is a bridge placement or soundpost issue, but any of the above, and probably a few other possibilities I can't think of right now could alter things a bit.
     
  5. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
  6. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Hi Mike.. Thanks again.. That's a really great load of info you've given me. BTW. I do have adjusters because I use full circle pickup.

    Hi Neil.. Yep.. That's what it looks like. I'll try and get a photo up later when I get home.
     
  7. You can use a piece of paper to make sure that the bridge foot is making full contact with the top. If you can slide paper halfway under the bridge foot, it probably needs adjustment.
     
  8. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Yes. Thank you! I put a piece of normal A4 printer paper and it does go under the E side of the bridge foot a bit. I really would like to proceed with caution.
     
  9. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    maybe this will help?
    i'd be looking at position and also making sure the feet are in full contact with the top plate.

     
  10. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Great video Thanks. I really appreciate this. I wish around the 5min mark he actually did do the "whack" and show us this cos that's probably what I need to do. If paper is sliding under the E bridge foot, I'm not sure if it's adjusting the bridge towards the tailpiece and leaving the feet where they are or moving the feet over towards the G side a little more. But i would have liked to see the guy in the video do it.
    Here's a pic of the paper under the E foot.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    are you positive you have the bridge on the same way it was before and your strings are centered on your fingerboard?
    most times the bridge isn't much wider than the upper ff holes.
     
  12. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    I'm positive that the strings are centred but not positive that the bridge is like before the collapse. I did move the bridge a little (maybe 2mm) towards the tailpiece based on the video info and the paper isn't sliding under like it was. Now the test is tonights gig when the bass is amplified. It feels ok otherwise but the gig is always the decider. Thanks again for posting that video. I defo must have.
     
  13. Sure you didn't swap the bridge feet?
     
  14. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Now that would suck big time if I had done this.. I'm pretty sure I didn't. They were marked so I may be off the hook with that one.
     
  15. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Next time change strings one at a time.
     
    Stephen Edwards likes this.
  16. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    Sure will Eric.
     
  17. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Its entirely possible that the sound post shifted when you released all the tension from it. Just because it didn't fall down doesn't mean that its okay...

    As Eric mentioned, always change one string at a time.
     
  18. biddypatrick

    biddypatrick

    May 4, 2007
    Portugal
    I wondered if the post may have shifted a bit. I have made adjustments to the bridge and it feels tons better. I have some humidity cracks that I need fixed after the summer so I guess all the fine adjustments can happen then. Thanks for your advice. My biggest mistake was to do this job so ridiculously tired. I'd only done a string change 3 weeks prior and all was fine. Since obligatos are now available for 1/2 size basses I thought I'd give them a try. I've never had the bridge do that to me before but I usually check it as I'm tuning it up to make sure the string aren't grabbing and pulling it up. My head just wasn't in it. Like I read somewhere on the net. Once the bridge collapsed once.. it will never happen again. :thumbsup:
     

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