1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Bridge setup question

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by ShaneB, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. ShaneB


    Sep 20, 2004
    Long time browser, brand new member...

    I recently adopted an old junker bass that used to belong to my dad & I'm trying to get it up and running as a backup bass. Its biggest problem is that somehow, between moves & storage, the bridge is missing.

    I plan to fit the new bridge myself. I'm pretty good with wood, and I've done this a couple of times before, so I feel qualified to do a decent job of it.

    My problem is this: When I've done bridge setups before, I have always been able to just trace the curvature of the old bridge onto the new one to get the basic shape. I always end up doing some more fine tuning from there, but that was the best way to get in the ballpark.

    In this case, I have nothing to trace! For the top, I could start with the shape of the bridge on my other bass, but the necks of the two basses aren't exactly the same shape, so I'm not sure if that would be a great idea.

    Any suggestions?

    Yes, I know the #1 answer to my problem is to take it to a luthier, but since it's a real junker, & in the interest of my continuing education, I'd really like to try this myself.

    Thanks for your help,

  2. jcbassomatic

    jcbassomatic Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    I fitted a bridge once to get a bass into playable shape. Unfortunately, I became addicted to playing it and I haven't been able to stop putting money into my habit - so beware. ;) Here are the basic steps (assuming you don't care too much about the finish on the belly of your bass). Can't speak for the proper method - just letting you know what worked for me.

    1. buy a bridge blank with adjusters from Bob Gollihur www.urbbob.com (~$65 - it comes with basic fitting instructions)
    2. tape a 3"x8" piece of 120 grit sandpaper to the belly of your bass
    3. muster up a good bit of patience and move the bridge side to side on the sandpaper 'til it fits the top of the bass (for the most part) - remove the sandpaper
    4. mark the profile of for the top (string edge) of the bridge - eyeball it down the fingerboard
    5. cut the top of the bridge
    6. buy a small stanly plane ($8) and shape the fingerboard side of the bridge to the proper thickness (see gollihur instructions)
    7. cut string slots
    8. install the bridge
    9. see how it plays
    10. repeat 4-9 'til you like it.
    11. practice a lot
    12. save up $300
    13. get a luthier to make you a real bridge to fit your bass properly when you realize how much better that would be

    Good luck!
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't know all that much about this kind of thing, really, but I've thought about this myself when I've seen those single-string bridges (you know, like you buy four of them for a 4-string, or nine for a 9-string). I thought to myself 'heck - the way those things are set up, you could just string the bass up with'em all just laying there (not screwed down yet; the pressure from the strings would just hold them there), then position them right where they need to be (string spacing and intonation), make little marks in the screw holes to mark for the pilot holes, and BINGO!' ..Drill, screw'em down, set up the height (oy, that's right: make sure their height adjustments are within range), do a final precision-trim on the intonation, and you're gigging with it an hour later.

    I'd wait for a couple more posts from folks who know what they're doing before I'd just go out and do what this goof dreams-up if I were.. uh... me, though.

  4. Hey, man - way to go - you should be all set, then!

    Good luck, and don't forget to post some pictures when you've finished!

    - Wil

    PS: Oh, you might want to take careful note of step #13 in jcbassomatic's posting…
  5. I think you need to know that this thread is concerning a DOUBLE BASS. :rolleyes:
  6. ShaneB


    Sep 20, 2004
    Thanks for the comments.

    Getting the curvature of the feet is something I should be able manage, since there is something to measure against (the bass), and it will be obvious when I've got it right.

    I guess what I'm really worried about is the curvature of the top. I don't want to just wing it on such a sensitive cut. I assume that I will basically project the curve of the fingerboard + my desired string height onto the bridge. Is that all there is to it, or is there more? I'm wondering if there are any other tricks or things I should take into account to get the proper curve.


  7. jcbassomatic

    jcbassomatic Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    There's probably more to it, but that's all I did and it worked for me. To be on the safe side, make the cut long so you can tweak it.