Christopher upgrade suggestions?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bob Rogers, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    I have a lefty plywood Christopher 200 that I got from Bob Beerman. I'm really quite satisfied with it. It is well set up and plays fine. Amplified piz sound is not that much inferior to basses that sound much better acoustic and arco. But....of course a better bass would be nice. Unfortunately, my daughter has been looking at colleges, so it's not the time for a major purchase.

    In the meantime, what do you guys recommend for upgrades to the Chrissy? Bob upgraded the bridge and strings when I got the bass, so I'm considering tailpiece (has to be symmetric or lefty), wire, and endpin. I have not had any mechanical problems with the stock endpin. How big a difference in sound would an upgrade make?
  2. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    The bridge and strings are a great start. Of the remaining variables you mention, I'd start with the tailgut; ditch that coat hanger and get a flexible cable on there. It's cheap, quick, easy and generally contributes noticeably and positively to the tone and response of the instrument.
  3. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Great post Bob. I have the same question, but my luthier already swapped out the coathanger for a braided cable on day-one, and I have experimented with three different sting brands. I have lusted after a Pecanic tail piece and would like to know how much differnece to expect with upgrading the tailpiece alone.

    Anyone ever swap out the tailpiece without changing a bumch of other stuff at the same time so that they could tell what difference that alone made?

    Also, my Chistopher is a hybrid for what that's worth.
  4. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    One of the reasons I have been putting this off (other than the fact that my fingers are a bigger limitation than the bass) is that I have not seen an easy and good looking way to replace just the tailgut on a Chrissy. (It would kind of be interesting to do it one piece at a time.) The holes are in the front of the tailpiece, so the Bob G wire with the nice brass ends won't work. The references I have seen use braided wire and clamps from home depot. I'll probably end up with a tailpiece and wire set, but is there any advice if I just want to replave the wire?
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    What's wrong with the current tailwire? What kind of wire do you have now?

    I changed the Wire on my Dodd because it snapped on night after rehearsal while still in the case. I used the heavy braided wire and a barrel clamp.

    Shortly after I noticed my Shen going Flat and saw that the tailpiece was closer to the bridge and further from the bottom saddle than before. It was slipping from the 'crimp' housed in the tailpiece. I used some Steel cable I had and used a 1/8th" cable clamp I got at Lowes and doubled the wire over thru the clamp b4 tightening. I also used 5min epoxy on the ends for smoothness and shrink tubing as well on the ends over it. To cut this steel cable I lay the wire over something hard or an olv steel vice and WACK it with an OLD Chisle and a dead blow hammer. This cuts it clean and fast if you don't hace a good cable cutter. Use a Chisle that is already wasted or it will be after you do this once.

    I don't like the cable on my Gilkes but it's still holding so I just leave it alone. When that Bass gets restored, we will fix everything in sight without a second thought. Some people believe you can do wonders with tailwires, some thinks it can help to have it properly adjusted and some don't care either way. If I see an immeadiate problem with a Bass, I like fixing it sooner than later. You may improve your Bass slightly with tailwires but the wood in your hands IS the wood in your hands. You can hear more of it or less that it but not another piece of wood.
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Actually, if you go with something like velvet's Nylon cord, it's pretty easy to do. all you need is to run the cord through the holes and tie it on the back of the end-pin with with a carrick bow. A luthier first replaced the larger for me but I have since retied it many times my own. It's not that hard, just a little intimidating at first.

    As for the endpin I wouldn't bother and would just leave it for now. I have an MPM tailpiece and it's pretty cool. Not sure if you're better off spending your $ on strings first tho.
  7. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    The tailwire seems to be fairly thick and rigid with a rubberized coating (Almost twice the diameter of a standard coat hanger.) Nothing that I can see wrong with it (or the bass as a whole) that a few hundred hours of practice won't cure (or at least improve substantially). But I like tinkering with musical instruments and I'd enjoy making a few small improvements.

    I'm planning to get a better piece of wood in a few years when my financial picture clears up, but for now I'd like to do a little "local optimization" and try to make things as good as possible within the current constraints.
  8. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    Replacing your tailgut can definitely have a positive impact on your sound. In addition, some rigid wire (like the kind on Englehardts) can break, according to things I have read. The tailpiece wire kit from Lemur comes with the brass barrel clamp that Ken referred to and will work and look fine with the type of tailpiece that you have. I installed one on my former Engle with no problems and positive sound results. Maybe Bob G has a barrel connector so you can shop with him.