crack in bridge! HELP! need advice

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by olps, Mar 10, 2002.

  1. olps


    Nov 12, 2001
    My bass is about 25+ years old, and hasn't been used until about a year ago. I didn't replace anything when I got it (a year ago). I was adjusting the bridge (my 1st time adjusting a bridge), (it was turning up), by tapping it with a hammer, the way I've been shown, and it cracked. The crack is from the E string towards the G, it's about 2-3 cm, very thin, like a hair. Should I leave it the way it is, or should I take it to a luthier? I'm not going to see my teacher for 2 weeks (going away). I'm not going to play it until I know I'm not going to break anything, or I get it checked over. Thanks alot.
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    New bridge. Right away. Tune it down, wrap the tailpiece in a rag (so you don't scratch the top) and drive prudently to a luthier.

    I thought hammers were for adjusting heavy-handed pianists.
  3. olps


    Nov 12, 2001
    Great, thanks, I'm on it, I'm gonna drive my bass up soon. Just out of curiosity, was it I that cracked the bridge (I was sure to only "tap") or was the age of the bridge, and that it hadn't been used for a long while a factor? Thanks for your advice.

    P.S. The bridge is fixed; it's not bending anymore.:rolleyes:
  4. Did you tune the strings down and use a RUBBER Hammer? If it cracked then Samuel is right, it was probably so brittle that a new bridge is the onlt logical option.
  5. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I've never heard of using a hammer to tune a bass. What would one want to hit a bridge for?

  6. olps


    Nov 12, 2001
    I was tapping the bridge because it was bending upwards.
  7. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Do not do that again-this is a thumb only adjustment!
  8. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    I have used the karate chop method, on a bridge that kept leaning twords the tailpeice. It was taught to me by a luthier. I think it was also suggested somewhere else in these post.

    The method where you secure the feet with one hand and give a slight chop with the side of your hand on the opposing side at the top of the bridge.

    Of course this same bridge ended up splitting completely in half on me while I was playing one night.

    The feeling of playing along and all of a sudden your strings drop out from under you is sort of like walking across a room and having the floor drop out from under you...... Which has never happened to me but that's what it made me think of.

    It's quite unnerving.
    And it makes a god awful BANG!

  9. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    I must admit that I use a hammer to tap the bridge into correct upright position, after changing strings or detuning for some reason. But I use a thick folded cloth as padding, and tap very carefully.

    Never got the hang of that karate method :)
  10. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    I almost alway have used the karate method, but since Fibromyalgia and the accompanying hand pain has come, I'll use the spine of a paperback book. Firm enough to do the job, soft enough not to damage anything. And I've always aimed at the entire top of the bridge, from above the legs, up, and forceful but gentle whacks. Don't think I could damage a bridge with that techinque.
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I witnessed my friend's bridge snapping while he was onstage at a small club, and it was nasty! They were doing a nice quiet ballad at the time, and then, BANG, and everyone in the place was suddenly wide awake. Good time to bring along a change of underwear....
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    While we're on the subject, how much do you detune your bass before doing this? I noticed my bridge was leaning again this morning, and have never gotten the hang of the other (barehand) method. Do you whack it right in between the D and A string, or somewhere else?

    Also, if your bridge is leaning toward your fingerboard, how is that likely to affect the sound?
  13. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    If you grab the Eand A string like a bar and then push down with your thumb inbetween the A and D the bridge should move with 0 risk and without detuning. It will take some muscle. Moving the bridge up can be accomplished using a mirror image of this procedure. You will need to lay the bass down [and grab the G and D below the bridge]. If this method does not work it suggests that there is a problem with the strings passing through the slots on the bridge. This also is a likely cause of the bridge moving fore or aft. You all know that there should be graphite in the slot, etc.-but if there is even a slight break in the wrapping it will dig into the wood preventing the proper slippage. The obvious solution here is a new string but there is a little trick that works as well. Determine which string have compromised windings and tune them down way down untill you can pull about 3 in. out of the back of the tailpiece. Tie a simple overhand knot with the ball. This will pull the broken winding to a spot where it doesn't line up with the bridge anymore. It looks a little funky but it works.
  14. olps


    Nov 12, 2001
    Just got back from the luthiers, instead of getting a new bridge, I got the one I had cut down (no more crack), and had lifters installed (it was cheaper then getting a new bridge). Also, while I was there I got a set of new strings, and he sanded the side of the fingerboard (the side, sore on thumb when pizzing). Great luthier, but now my wallet feels alot lighter...:rolleyes: Very pleased withy my bass now.:D
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