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Bridge height and other ponderings

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Tim Ludlam, Oct 4, 2001.


  1. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Alright. I am sitting here looking at one of my basses. It's a German, fully-carved, archback, maker unknown. It has a Shank bridge with ebony adjusters. I am not a big fan of ebony adjusters to begin with, but what really gripes me, is the bridge is the shortest bridge that I have seen. From the top of the bass to the highest point on the bridge is only 146 mm. My other bass has a fixed-bridge (i.e., no adjusters) and its height is 159 mm.

    Now, I understand that bridge height should have some sort of proportional relationship to the angle of the neck, but my assumption is that the current set-up of this bass prohibits its "openness". Am I somewhere in the hemisphere of correctness in this assumption?

    Let's say for instance that I have the angle of the neck increased, and have a new bridge installed.(One without ebony adjusters) Could this increase the openness and sonority of the bass?

    Am I on the right track?
     
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'd call it this way: Neck angle dramatically affects tension. Tension dramatically affects both volume and sonority.

    My views on adjustable bridges may be idiosyncractic. First, I think that metal adjusters in bridges are tone-suckers and that adjustable bridges were not Lloyd Loar's brightest idea. Second, full contact between top and bottom parts of an adjustable bridge, either through the adjusters or by removing them if your setup allows, actualy does dramatically increase volume and fullness of sound IN GUITARS AND MANDOLINS. I can't tell you whether this plays out in double-basses; it's possible that the double-bass vibrates so much more than the guitar or mandolin that it's not much important.
     
  3. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Samuel:

    Thanks for your reply. You know, Andrew Brown wrote a piece for Bass World on "An Acoustical Study on Bass Bridge Adjusters", and found that aluminum adjusters provide the longest sustain for pizzacato playing. He went on to state that they are "ideal" for that "twangy" jazz sound. That's not something that a lot of the jazz cats that I know are looking for. Anyway, I think that the ebony adjusters that are fitted on my bridge are the absolute princes of sound absorption.

    Nonetheless, my question remains. Am I rational in believing that adjusting my neck angle, and certainly switching bridges can enhance the sonority of the bass?
     
  4. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Now you're really getting me started -- thanks! The sonic model of jazz bass playing has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. When I started, the tone models ranged from the classic "modern" sound of 70s Ron Carter and Stafford James -- a very edgy, twangy sound -- to Stan Clarke and Eddie Gomez -- perhaps less electric, but still both diggin' real hard with low action -- to Charles Mingus and Dave Holland -- i.e. a very acoustic, miked sound.

    Somebody's doubtless going to jump all over me for that gross generalization. Eight other somebodys will jump on me for either a) leaving somebody important out; b) lumping people together who "don't belong together" or c) being dead wrong. Unless it's all of the above. Have at it, ladies & gents!

    I never would have predicted that the Mingus/Holland model would have been the mode du jour in the post-millenium. I kinda go for that Stan/Stafford thing myself.


    Nonetheless, my question remains. Am I rational in believing that adjusting my neck angle, and certainly switching bridges can enhance the sonority of the bass? [/QUOTE]

    You are assuredly rational. Adjusting neck angle and/or switching bridges will alter your sound. "Enhance" is a subjective term, and there's really no good answer beyond that. Mucking with bridges is fairly affordable; re-setting necks is not for amateurs and really ought not to be done often, either.