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Bridge Troubles Again

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Al Cheatham, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. Frustrated with bridge


    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.
  2. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    What kind of bass is it?
  3. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    It can take quite a bit of force to tilt straighten the bridge. When you give it another go, try putting some pencil graphite in the bridge slots and make sure that you straighten the bridge whenever it tilts a lot. By grabbing the end of the fingerboard with both hands, you can usually apply enough force with your thumbs to tilt the bridge straight. In the future, I recomend changing one string at a time so you have the 3 other strings holding the bridge in place.
    ed morgan likes this.
  4. The bass is a Karl Knilling bass. It is about 35 years old. It was used as a back-up bass at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville for years. I bought it from a luthier that repairs instruments for a lot of the country music bands out of Nashville. It has had some repairs done on it, but overall it plays well. I like the action, and I am using LaBella 7710 Black Nylon, Tape Wound Rope Core strings.
  5. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    If the bridge feet were fitted with sandpaper (or incorrectly with a cutting tool), the bottom of the feet will be slightly convex, or round. This may be the culprit as to why the bridge is moving foward so much. The underside of the feet should be slightly concave, or hollow. make sense?
  6. I had those LaBella strings on my first bass and I remember that my bridge was quick to fall with those strings. I think the nylon wrap makes them a little slick allowing the bridge to fall easily.
  7. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I had the LaBella 7710's on my bass for about 8 months and didn't have any problem with the bridge.


    Aug 26, 2005
    DITTO...Its not the strings, its trying to change them out all at once (DOH!). Frankly, taking them all off at once and trying to replace four at a time is something that never ever occurred to me...even when I was a novice on the bass-- for the simple reason that it just makes sense to change them one at a time in order to keep tension on the bridge so it won't fall down.
  9. That is exactly what I did. I was changing the strings one at a time, just like I was told, Blewy, boing, slam, bridge down!
    s2bs2 likes this.


    Aug 26, 2005
    Wow...well then I suspect the contour of the feet does not match the contour of the belly, causing the whole thing to be unstable when the strings are at less than correct tension (pitch). I bought a nice old vintage KING Moretone bass some time back and knew going into the deal that the bridge was an absolute abortion....the thing had been scooped off of ebay or some other auction and the music store with minimal skill on bass set up "fitted" a new bridge. It was so poorly done that I had trouble getting the thing to even stand up when I unpacked the bass upon arrival. So even with the cost of having a new high-end bridge professionally shaped and installed, I still came out ok, as I did not pay anything close to market price for the bass. Those feet need to match the contour of the belly, and if you can see even a slight angle on one or other of the feet, you're going to have trouble...I'd recommend having a luthier look at it and see if there is enough wood remaining on those feet to reshape them to the correct contour....if not, it would be well worthwhile to replace the bridge....I've concluded after some 35 years of playing that about 90 percent of basses used by bluegrass or country players are set up incorrectly. Maybe others have a different take on that.
  11. Strongbow
    I am taking your advice. I'm taking the bass to a luthier near Nashville. The bridge that I have now is an adjustable bridge, and it seems like that could be contributing to the problem also. The feet look ok to me, but they could be off some. I talked to the luthier today over the phone. He suggested that I change the bridge to a non adjustable bridge. Anyway, he is going to check it out and fix it. Thanks for the advice, and thanks to everbody else for their comments.:cool: :cool:
  12. LoGruvz


    Apr 11, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    I have an adjustable bridge and the same thing happens. I am going to get a fixed bridge.

    One other note: make sure the feet are pointed outward towards the outside edge of the bass. I am sure you know that but if you are new to basses and you have adjustable feet they will swing inwards and not stay put.
  13. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    I'm relatively new to the DB having played electric for 26 years but I know that we haven't had any of these sort of problems with my daughters EM-1. I had Miguel Melonchon here in Jacksonville fit an adjustable bridge and do a set-up and it seems rock solid even with a Gage Realist Pup under one foot! I realize that you have to hold the foot steady with a thumb and forefinger while turning the adjusters. It also helps to take off a little tension on strings first.

    +1 on a trip to the luthier!
  14. vejesse


    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    If your bridge adjusters were installed correctly that should'nt make any difference. It sounds to me like a combination of these: the string slots in the bridge are too narrow and the string is binding; you didn't lubricate the slots with graphite or the bridge feet don't fit the top. If the bridge adjusters were installed with a lot of slop that can't be helping. If you have sloppy adjusters with 1/4" shafts, you could move to 3/8 shaft adjusters and keep the same bridge.
  15. MattyWhitepants


    Feb 3, 2014
    Thanks everyone for the insight. I just put FMI weedwhackers on my stand-up. The bridge fell down twice on me as I was tightening up the strings. Now that I look, the feet are very warped/rounded. I'm going to grab some sandpaper and work on them until they fit better on the top (the instrument always had a tilt in the bridge and I hope to remedy that).

    If this fails, I'm going to have to go to a pro. Any Luthiers in CT taking an apprentice?
  16. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    This may be of some help. :) If the bottom of the feet are convex, you'll have to correct that first.
  17. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    My guess is that it may have a shiny, slick nitrocellulose finish on the bass. Take a little bit of 220 grit sandpaper and gently rough up the bottom of the bridge feet so they "bite" just a bit. Then add a little bit of rosin and the bridge should stick.

    Since you are in Nashevegas, if that still does not help, head over to Dustin Williams' shop. Bypass Dustin and the other folks and find Randy Hunt's workbench. He is a great fellow, and a solid bass luthier who gigs all over town and knows what's up. (Ask about Dustin's secret Stradivarious finish recipie while you are there!)

    If a little bridge slippping on your double bass is getting you too worked up, you had better start taking yoga or meditation or anger management classes in preparation for the day you try so hard to be careful....and promptly break the scroll off your neck trying to load in to a gig in a hurry.

    There are two types of double bass players: those that have broken the neck on their bass and those that are going to soon......:meh:

  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, someone did get worked up, but that was back in 2006. :) This is a resurrected zombie thread. As for the two types of bass players, let's see... 40+ years and still haven't broken a bass neck. Uh-oh, am I due? :bag:
    ColdEye likes this.
  19. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    'Didn't even notice the zombie thread date from 2006!

    Yup- your are overdue!
  20. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I know this to be a true unfortunately...

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