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Double Bass Rollers- What are they and how do you use them?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by LemurBassist, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. LemurBassist


    Jul 6, 2007

    Hi, I've been playing bass for about a year, although I can play high school level orchestra music, and middle school level Jazz (a little behind on Jazz, ) I've finally saved up enough for a student bass, and since I'll need it for both orch., and Jazz, the bass technician guy said I could put rollers on it. All I really know about rollers, though, is that they're the metal thingys on the bridge and they raise or lower the bridge to make it better for Jazz or orchestra. However, I don't really understand. Can someone give me an in-depth description on what they are, what they do, how they work, how you use them, etc. I'd really like to know how to use them, so I can use them, lol.
  2. I think you need to go back to your bass technician and ask him to explain exactly what he means by the term "rollers". "Rollers" are not something that I am familiar with in relation to doublebasses and I've been playing and repairing basses for about 50 years. The common name for those metal things on bridges is bridge "adjusters".
  3. CPike


    May 28, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    The "rollers" are usually called bridge adjusters, and they adjust the height of the strings over the fingerboard. Some players use them to lower their strings for jazz, then raise them for classical. They are usually used to maintain a consistent string height throughout the year as the seasons change. As the weather changes, the bass expands and contracts, which, depending on the bass and your location, can cause the strings go lower or higher.

    Adjusters are made in a variety of materials. Aluminum and wood are the most common. Some are made of brass, but some players think that brass dampens the sound too much. Wooden adjusters are made of ebony, maple, or other exotic hard woods. Recently, some are being made from carbon composite materials.

    Do a thread search here for "bridge adjusters" and you will find tons of info. Since you are just starting out on bass, I doubt adjusters would benefit you significantly at this stage in your development - but as you progress you may soon need them.
  4. JazzCat_88


    Jun 13, 2006
    Sorry. Just want to ask if having bridge adjusters affect the tone of the bass? Having adjusters means a cut-in-half bridge and small points of contact between the 2 halves. Is that good for acoustic playing as compared to the string vibrations travelling the whole bridge intact to the top of the bass? I know it is useful, but you may want to consider having adjusters installed. After all, your bass is new and giving it the most vibrations would possibly help its tone mature.
    Just my 2 cents.
  5. I would say get them now. You may not need them yet, as CPike has said, and he is right that during the early stages you may not need them, but when you get your bass, have them installed. It will save a trip later. I've only had to adjust mine several times, but if I had had a solid bridge, I would not have been able to adjust the string height to my liking, and would have had to play on an uncomfortable bass.

    EDIT: Jazzcat is right as well, but many players use them, even in the higher symphony orchestras. Try a bass with them and try one without them; see which sound you like better.
  6. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    The term "rollers" is one that I've heard to describe the tuner post, shaft, barrel, etc. on a doublebass. I've never heard it used to describe the adjuster wheels before. Part of the fun of retail is getting to the real meaning of the often inventive ways that people come up with describing their instruments and the ways that they play them.

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