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Bridge vs. Neck Joint: importance to tone?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Chuck King, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    I recently picked up a new cheap bass (of a brand very popular here) and I'm trying to get it set up nicely. At present, with the strings at reasonable playing height, the bridge is at the upper end of its adjustment range---it's a traditional Fender-style bridge, and the allen screws that set the saddle height are all screwed into the saddles to the point where they are below the tops of the saddles, although they're not all the way through by any means.

    Is that having a negative effect on tone? And if so, would I be better off putting a shim in the neck pocket to bring the bridge back down to the middle of its adjustment range, or would that have a greater negative effect on tone?

    I hope that made sense. Opinions and advice appreciated.
  2. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Three or four full threads on a screw are all that is necessary to have good contact.

    As far as tone and shims go, you will get as many different opinions as there are posters. Some will say yes, some will say no. Some will say maybe. Maybe is probably the best answer. A couple of good pieces of wood used for the neck and body coupled with good machining and a shim might produce a negative effect. Or it might produce better sustain if the geometry and the woods come into agreement. A couple of less than optimal pieces of wood and it usually won't matter much. But then again, who knows.

    Most of the time, IF a shim makes a difference it will be harder to figure out what kind of metering to use to measure it than it will take to insert the shim and perform the setup. Most of the time the effect will be psychoacoustic and people will hear it merely because it is suggested that the change occurred.
  3. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    Thanks. I guess just looking at the bridge and those little height screws it's tough to believe it's getting a good connection---but it seems to work on thousands of Fender-style instruments.
  4. DavePlaysBass

    DavePlaysBass Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2004
    Cheap basses are nice places to experiment. It would be nice to have things centered for future adjustments. If you decide to go with any aftermarket bridge, the problem will probably get worse. I put a Gotoh 201 on a old J bass and took it right off because I could not get the saddles low enough. The 201 had a thicker plate and thicker saddles.
  5. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    This is an excellent point. The neck is off now anyway because the frets need leveling, so I think I will try it with a shim. I'm not too worried about it having a really awful effect on sustain etc.---I used to have a Peavey T-40*, and to get the neck to the point where it was even playable at all required screwing in the tilt adjustment screw a fair amount, but that thing certainly didn't want for sustain.

    *Actually, the T-40 owner's manual says that the bridge saddle height should only be adjusted to match the curvature of the fingerboard, and that string height should be adjusted by using the tilt screw! I guess that would work. They have a spec for where to "aim" the neck when dong the initial setup of the bass.

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