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Fretless bass bridge/nut question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dlmarquez, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. I have a question that pertains to Fretless basses ONLY!!!
    What is the point of an extremely expensive bridge (Hipshot, Badass, etc) on a fretless bass....the intonation is determined by the player for every note except the open strings.
    I've always wondered why not go with an Acoustic style bridge on a fretless. If you want more sustain or a harder sound, why not use Brass for the bridge saddle (basically a brass bar) and a brass nut if that suits you as well..if that's not enough, epoxy the neck and string up the stainless roundwounds.
    I'm just extremely curious about this. I'd love to hear some opinions
    I know that almost all acoustic electric basses use the acoustic style bridge, as well as the Rob Allens, Veillettes, and a host of others.
    Why not on a solid body set up for a harder sound?
  2. Tenma4


    Jan 26, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
  3. Beta


    May 9, 2007
    Isn't the point of having an adjustable bridge on a fretless so that you can set things up to where you have the intonation at the point you choose, say, right on the line or just behind the line (or dot, as the case may be)? Why sacrifice that? While it's true that the player has to put their fingers down in the proper spots to achieve correct intonation, a standard bridge allows the player to choose where those spots are.

    How is a brass bar or acoustic-style bridge going to work out for individual string height? There's only so much filing you'll be able to do. Then you get to have a luthier make you another one, and it's not going to be cheaper than a Hipshot (seriously, a luthier is going to custom make/file/cut/grind/whatever a bridge for less than a $100-$130 Hipshot bridge?). How will you change string type or gauge without running into complications?

    Chasing sustain or trying to make a fretless sound more like a fretted bass is like looking for the Holy Grail, or the Ark of the Covenant, I think. The Rob Allen basses look nice. But his standard stuff is a niche market within a niche market. Not everyone wants a fretless bass, let alone one with an acoustic style bridge and piezo pickups.
  4. Word!
  5. Adjustability. (That's.....what-I-want!) Plus, easy install, and inexpensive for a halfway decent one.
  6. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I've made fretless basses with adjustable pre-fabbed metal bridges, and I've made them with "floating" wooden bridges (both fretted and fretless basses, some with tailpieces, and some with strings through body).

    The metal bridges are great, super easy to install, etc., but from where I'm at, if I'm building it, I'll just make a wooden bridge for it. Gives it a mellower, woody tone, and still somewhat adjustable (more than enough for fretless, IMO, and well enough for fretted in many situations).

  7. the reason I posted this is curiosity. I play fretless only, and I frankly feel like the money spent on a badass or hipshot is money wasted.
    I have played enough acoustic guitars, banjos, violins, and acoustic basses that have the acoustic style of bridge that I no longer subscribe to the idea that a fancy mechanical bridge with 4 bridge saddles, plus all of the adjustment hardware and screws is total overkill for me.
    Just my personal preference, but it makes the bass more consistent...once you have your string choice dialed in its dead set...never have to worry about anything working loose, or changing on you.
    I'd really be interested in some experiments with fretted basses to see if bass players can detect any difference in intonation or playability between a totally adjustable bridge or an acoustic style bridge.
    This thread is totally about MY preferences. I'm just looking for what others are thinking about this subject...besides, it's fun to get a big old stick and stir the s---pot with it from time to time!
  8. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I properly setup and installed fixed bridge will intonate correctly for the string gauge it is setup with. Change the gauge, and it may not intonate as well.

    I have come to the conclusion that in many ways nut compensation is as important as saddle compensation. I installed an Earbana nut on my Tele, and it was all over for me, after that. I had to retrofit my other guitars too, because the guitar with the compensated nut just *sounded* better. More in tune for all intervals involving open strings.

    I do feel that bridge compensation is important, fretless or otherwise, because of how different string gauges vibrate differently. Also, fully adjustable bridges are very nice. But I feel that the tone of the instrument changes based on bridge saddle hardness, as well as nut hardness. If I build a fretless, *ideally* I'd like to use the fingerboard material for both the nut and the bridge, as well... I feel that it provides a consistancy of tone that you might not have otherwise.

    Also, it looks bad ass ;)
  9. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    A standard bridge will affect tonality of the instrument. Do you need a hipshot or abm or badass? No.

    If the sound you want is dependent on the mass a bridge has then have made an acoustic style floater with the appropriate mass at the anchor point. If you have the ability to compensate for gauge by being able to move it for intonation (and yes, a fretless ought to be intonated) and string height you would be fine.

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