Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Rimas, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. I took my bass in to Hammond Ashleys today to get the action looked at, and a few buzzes. They looked at the fingerboard and came to the conclusion that its not as concave in the right places as it should be. Theyre going to replain it, and said that itll play like butter and that ill be able to get the action down as low as 4 and 6 mm when theyre done with it. Im anxious, excited, and broke all at the same time! :p
  2. Every few years the fingerboard will need "shooting" (re-planing) depending on how much you play it and how hard the fingerboard wood is. Hammond Ashley are a reputable company and I am sure will do a good job. Although they may be able to get the action down to 4mm, you might want to consider the pros and cons of so low an action. A low action can be exciting, as it usually means it is easier to hold down a note and you can get around quicker,but it can level out your volume and attack levels. I changed from having a similair low action, to one of about 9-10mm . I have found I can get more dynamics and really DIG IN when its needed, its really noticeable when playing with a drummer,'cos they have incredibly wide thresholds of volume and attack. It of course, as always , depends on the bass, but you might want to try it at this height first before taking it down to the lower action.Just my opinion, but it would be interesting to hear what the wider fraternity think?
  3. Im not going to play it at 4 and 6, i was just excited that i could have normal action. After a few incidents with the neck and the bridge, the lowest ive been able to get the action has been 9 and 12, so ive been avoiding anything in the thumb position, because its a workout. Im still learning, and began working on my 3 octave scales. Most of them were impossible to play, or the notes just sounded dead, so I brought it in to see what they could do. I plan on trying it at 5 and 7(thats what they reccomended). I was just amazed and excited that i would be able to lower it twice as low as I can at the current time. Thats a valid point about dynamics and being able to dig in, and I will take that into consideration. Right now my only gig is orchestral, but im studying jazz, so I'll either have to compromise, or Ill be using the adjusters more often.

  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Years of experience and trial-and-error has taught me that string height above 7mm on the G side does nothing but hurt the player. There is generally no more volume or attack to be had above that point. This is, of course, with orchestra-gauge steel strings. Some basses may work OK a slight bit higher, but IMHO it's just a waste of energy and risks the ever-lurking tendonitis.
  5. ok, I can take that on board Arnold, you are a luthier , and I am not. However, it can also depend on the amount of scallop ( probably not the technically correct term) on the fingerboard. Early on in my career, I had a repair person reshoot the neck for me with a 5mm action at the double octave on the "G" string. It had a high nut and deep scallop, and the repair person swore this was the correct setup .I couldn't even hold the string down in the half position. It took an older more experienced player to turn me on to a low nut and shallow scallop, but with a relatively high action at the double octave to get my right hand pluck together. I later learned that this revised setup is the normal amount of scallop and nut height, although there are variations as my first setup obviously was, and the action at the double octave can vary.
    I run a jam session , and the guys that come down seem to divide into two camps. The classical students at one or other of the colleges here in London, taking jazz as an option, needing some group playing experience. They seem to have massive actions; I can get round them but wouldn't like to play them all night. The other type of player is often self taught , and they seem to have been seduced by the lowest action possible. They play and sound like electric basses(but don't do the job as well as electric basses). I am just trying to promote to people the idea that they should experiment, and be aware that there are pros and cons to their choices, and trying to save them a few wasted years building a technique that they are going to have to rebuild. It sounds a bit jaded, but all the older players reading this have been there seen it done it, and just wish that someone had told them?
    I may be wrong about this ,so what do other players think?
  6. I'm one of those old guys you were asking about.

    If the fingerboard has been properly dressed, I agree totally with Arnold that anything above 7mm makes for wasted effort by the player. The key word is properly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of guys out there working on fingerboards that don't have a clue about how to properly setup a bass fingerboard (but claim to know it all). The fact is that dressing a FB is one of the most difficult tasks that you can ask a luthier to do. It's dirty, hard, exacting work. It takes years of experience to be able to consistantly do it right.

    And...Some of the worst work I've seen has come out of violin shops that do excellent work on violins. They just should not be allowed to get near a double bass.
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    These measurements you guys are quoting is taken at what point? The octave? The double octave?

    After some experimenting on my own bass, there's definitely a point at which it's too low and a point at which it is too high. I lowered mine recently and there was very little different in the volume of sound and it certainly is easier to play.

  8. The measurements are taken at the end of the fingerboard.. i guess it would be the double octave.. but Ive always thought of it as the triple octave, because its where you end up when you play 3 octave scales... in certain instances..
  9. I never knew my bass could play and sound this good. They ended up replaining the fingerboard, recacving the nut, recarved the bridge in order to space the strings a little bit closer together, and put the heights at 5 and 7 mm. Im very happy with it, and look forward to keeping this bass around for a while. Its a laminate, but everyone needs a good laminate around...