Clevinger Action Adjustment

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by nelsonhays, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. nelsonhays


    Oct 11, 2008
    Ketchikan, AK
    Hello All

    I bought a 8-10 year old Clevinger a few months back from a friend of mine. I have played it for years, and when he decided to sell I jumped on it.

    The trouble I have is the action - it's too high for my taste. WAY to high for some of the techniques I'd like to try out.

    I have been considering simply shimming the neck joint to lower the action, since there is no way to adjust the bridge, but I have held back thus far. Will this method work?

    If anyone has experience with this, or a recommendation for somewhere I can ship it for the repair, I would greatly appreciate it. I would LOVE to find someone who can repair it in the Seattle area. I pass through there a lot.

    thanks a lot
  2. My Clevinger bridge was screwed to a plate that was scewed to the body to avoid a fallen bridge. I hated that, it was a design flaw (on an older instrument than yours) because the string angle was not halved by the bridge and so the bridge tends to fall easily.

    I installed two short triangular wooden parts, screwed to the body with the same holes, that half the string angle when the bridge sits on it. So the bridge is leaning towards the afterlengths, but the string angle is halved by the bridge, so it can stand freely without the need of any screws.

    Why do I tell you this?
    By angling the bridge the action will come down a little bit. If it is too low you can add some hard wood veneer under the bridge to raise it. Since my bridge already was a bit low, I made some wood pieces of different thickness to be put under the bridge to adjust the action if needed (or to find out what I like best in the long run).
    So, if the angled bridge is still a bit too high, you might want to file down the bridge top a bit, knowing that you can add some wood under the bridge if needed.

    Maybe your bridge construction is different from the one when I got my Clevinger, check the string angle on both sides of the bridge and look at the bridge feet if there is a black plate screwed to the body.
  3. nelsonhays


    Oct 11, 2008
    Ketchikan, AK
    I appreciate the info, but I have a totally different bridge. There are no 'feet,' and the saddles are pickups. Nothing to be sanded...
  4. These are photos from the bridge before I changed anything.
    It might be that somebody changed something on the lower "foot" side for the piezo disk.
    Also this bass was rebuilt for five strings instead of four at some time before I got this instrument.

    Attached Files:

  5. And this is how I changed the mounting of the bridge.
    I added a homemade pickup (directly under the bridge in the top piece of wood) and some more piece of wood to raise the bridge a bit more and the lowest triangular piece of wood is screwed to the body to avoid slipping.
    The bridge itself holds only by tension like on a double bass and since the string angle on both sides of the bridge is more or less equal now, the bridge cannot fall.

    I added a piece of partly shrink-tube covered aluminium to avoid slipping to the high strings side (which sometimes did slip a bit without that).

    Attached Files:

  6. nelsonhays


    Oct 11, 2008
    Ketchikan, AK
    That looks more like a conventional upright bridge.

    Here's mine.

  7. I see, they raised the underlengths now to get rid of the falling bridge problem and also reduced the string pressure on the bridge that way. And they put the pickups directly under the strings.
    So you don't need to angle your bridge like me.
    Now I understand why you cannot modyfy your bridge. I'm afraid the pickup cabling goes through it.
    But you may be able to remove the neck from the bridge and put some piece of paper or cardboard at the lowest end of the joining point to get the fingerboard a bit closer to the strings and lower the action that way. You might have to experiment a bit with different material and number of layers. Might take some time to disassemble and reassemble the neck and tune down and up the strings. But this is a really cheap way to get what you want, only a bit time intensive.

    BTW, my bridge is basically the same as yours, only with some holes and cuts in it which shares something (but not too much) in common with a double bass bridge, indeed.

    Thanks for the picture, it it really interesting for me to see what they have done later with their instruments.

    Does it still use passive electronics (or an active one with a battery)?
    Do you have a volume and tone pot like mine?

    I replaced the passive electronics by an impedance buffer (basically Francis Deck's Quick 'n' Dirty), the original design didn't take into account that a piezo couldn't be handled like a magnetic pickup due to the high output impedance. The piezo sounded much better when bypassing the pots or later with the impedance buffer.
  8. nelsonhays


    Oct 11, 2008
    Ketchikan, AK
    The bridges are quite different. This bridge is quite thick, and is drilled down through where each pickup is mounted. In other words, those pickups aren't just sitting there on the surface.

    It is stereo, but still passive. push-pull pots for separate tone adjustment on each pickup.
  9. I won't argue about that.
    I meant that the basic piece of wood is very similar before it was modified for the string pickups. My bridge is also very thick.
    Your pickups could easily be converted in a Roland hex connector for a MIDI-pickup. I still think of how I will do this for my instrument.
    (Buying a new Clevinger pickup bridge would be too expensive for me.)

    BTW, you still can file down the bottom of the bridge, it doesn't matter to have the small bow or not, to get a lower action.
    And if it is too low, just put some veneer strips between the bridge and the body to raise it again.
  10. nelsonhays


    Oct 11, 2008
    Ketchikan, AK
    I emailed Clevinger.... no response after several days.....

    Any other insight on this? I'd love to find someone to take this to in the Seattle or Anchorage area, or with a little advice I'd happily tackle it myself.
  11. If your neck is screwed to the body like mine, I would try putting some cardboard under the lowest contact point of neck and body to modify the angle a little bit, bringing the fingerboard closer to the strings. You could easily get back if you don't like it.
    But of course tune down the strings and best mark the bridge position before you do this. One day of weekend work, I think.

    I never tried to contact Clevinger. But if you want a quick response it would be best to phone them, I think.