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De-tensioning my DB before transporting.

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by gitparker, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. gitparker


    Nov 10, 2015
    I think my DB is less likely to suffer damage from a knock if I detune a bit before transporting. Is there any reason not to do this and is this standard practice? It has metal strings.
  2. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I would worry about the bridge getting knocked around or off the bass, assuming you are using a soft case.

    I've taken my bass on subways, trams, buses, boats, station wagons, SUVs, sedans, tiny hatchbacks, and I've never turned it down or had major transit damage. FWIW, I'm a plywood guy.....
    Chris Fitzgerald, Remyd and Lee Moses like this.
  3. My advice is to just be cautious as can be because the bass is the vessel of your soul. You wouldn't want your soul to be damaged, would you? :D
    lowendrachel and Jake deVilliers like this.
  4. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    If "transporting" is across large distances and a dramatic change in climate such as flying it somewhere, or a cross country move or something then sure, it likely isn't a bad idea. The bass might need a few adjustments when you get there anyway, and it gives you a chance to start your relationship with a local shop.

    If "transporting" is going from your house to a gig or rehearsal on the other side of town or something similar, it isn't the greatest idea. As mentioned the bridge could be knocked out of place, and your soundpost could move/drop. When you get to wherever you are going you are going to have to tune it back again, and plenty of basses take a while to adjust and stay in tune even with steel strings. Each bass is a little different, but there are a lot of them that wouldn't be fully settled by the time you were done your rehearsal and going home again. You would also have to worry about your bridge warping or tilting forward the more you tune up and down.

    Definitely not standard practice, and not really a great idea either. While you should take care of your instrument and try not to knock it around when moving it from point A to point B, it (usually) isn't going to fall apart if you accidentally tap a door frame if you're moving pretty slowly etc. If/when you do have a problem, there are plenty of repair people out there that will make it right again.
  5. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Agree with the above. The bass is built to have that tension. Leave it, at least for local movement.

    Caveat: I have no idea how to ship a bass long distance, so in that case it may be wise. The only one I've ever even seen (wasn't setup at all) shipped without a bridge or strings.
  6. gitparker


    Nov 10, 2015
    Thankyou for your replies - I'm a newbie and a bit overprotective of my DB. It always amazes me how DB players lay their instrument on its side in a busy session and let people step over it - makes me cluck like a mother hen !!
  7. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I still remember the first mark on my first double bass about 10 years ago like it was yesterday. I can see it happening, almost as if it was in slow motion. I still remember my first crack much the same, and I had another bass essentially rip itself apart which will forever be burned into my memory. Even if it isn't one of the super expensive pedigree basses out there, most of us spent a significant amount of money on our instruments and you develop a relationship with it over the years. It really does become a part of you, not just a material thing.

    It doesn't really get easier in the sense that something happens to your instrument and you just shrug your shoulders and go "meh" but you do get better at dealing with it. Eventually every instrument is going to need repairs of some nature. Maintaining proper humidity and having a good padded bag for when the bass needs to go somewhere are good lines of defense, but even if your instrument never leaves the house there is a chance something can happen. To me, it isn't a museum piece, it's a tool that I use to create music. I personally wouldn't own a double bass I had no intention of using any more than I would own a hammer and never intend to hit a nail with it. If you treat it well and take it to a good luthier when something goes wrong, there's nothing to stop that instrument from being around for a few hundred years. That's pretty awesome.
    Remyd and PaulJSmith like this.
  8. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    That's really awesome! And I feel honoured to be one small blip in an instrument's timeline. :thumbsup:
  9. I received a bass that was shipped from California. Let me tell you friend, the packaging for it was unreal. It was approximately 8 feet long, 2.5 feet thick, 3 feet wide, was STUFFED full of THICK corrugated cardboard braces, bubble wrap, and an extraordinarily thick box, kept inside of its own carrying case (which is the most comfortable sleeping bag I've also ever owned), with the strings wrapped around the tuners a few times, and bridge in a slot in the carrying case. If packaging is done well, there should be no concerns. I received the instrument after its shipping, being sent via freight train, ground shipping, and then a number of hands messing with the box, and everything was without injury!
  10. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    Agreed! A 6-foot long bass laying on its side in an area of heavy traffic is a catastrophe waiting to happen! I have heard of basses knocked over and necks snapped off in these situations. It always amazes me how few bass players store their basses standing straight up in a stand. This presents the smallest profile to the outside world to trip over, and makes the greatest part of the instrument visible to all who are not blind drunk! I've used a stand on gigs and at home with my bass for 35 years and never had a problem.
  11. Ehhh...bass stands aren't called "the luthier's friend" for no good reason.

    I hesitantly dragged my old Ingles out of storage only because I caught my toddler trying to turn my bass around from its' position bridge-first in the corner so he could bang on the strings as he likes to do. As soon as he's old enough to know not to do that, the bass is going back in the corner.
    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  12. Laying basses on their sides makes me want to cry. Watching a neck snap off would make me cry.

  13. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Now wait a minute! You cannot deliver such a Poe-esque line and then leave it, and us, hanging. Even mental-imaging does not help on this. Come on. Give us "the rest of the story." :)

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