HELP!!!! my bridge keeps slipping out.

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by plank_spank, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. plank_spank


    Jan 13, 2012
    Hi, I'm pretty new to DB and a complete beginner to rockabilly. i just bought a set of weedwakers and every time i get them close to tension my bridge slips out... firstly my bridge is the one that came with my 'average' bass and as i tune up the top slowly creeps foward untill it slips out making one hell of a noise.
    Do i need a new bridge or can i fix my current one? i didnt spend very much money on the bass so I'm trying to avoid taking it to be profesionally set up.

    Please please please help me!!!

  2. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    I'm not a luthier and I don't know anything about the bass you bought. That said here are a couple points to consider.

    If it is at all a decent instrument it will be well worth the cost of a proper setup including board planing, post setting, nut slotting and bridge shaping to get it playing and sounding it's possible best.

    Make sure the bridge is installed properly, it should not be too difficult to keep it from coming out but it is not uncommon for the nose of the bridge to creep toward the fingerboard while bringing strings up to pitch.

    Try this:

    Take a ruler (I have a flexible ruler for just this purpose) and place it across the top straight between the upper notches in the f-holes, with the bottom edge of the ruler against the widest point of the notches.

    Set the top of your bridge feet against the bottom edge of the ruler. Now the lower notches (the ones facing toward the bridge) should be about center of the bridge feet. Make certain that the flat side of the bridge is toward the tailpiece and the side that rolls off a bit is toward the fingerboard.

    Use a ruler, a small square, or other 90 degree reference to make sure that the bottom (flat) side of the bridge is perpendicular to the top of the bass.

    Slowly bring your strings up to tension, "bumping" the nose of the bridge back toward the tailpiece with the edge of your hand if it has moved. This may take a number of tighten then bump the bridge operations. I have never used nylon strings so I do not know for sure.

    Another way to bring your bridge back perpendicular to the top is to (with the bass laying on its back - which I assumed it already was) lean over the bass from the bottom and grab the outer edges of the bridge with your fingers and give a tug toward the bottom.

    The last point just made me think of a question - your soundpost is still up in position, is it not? If it is not that could be a real problem and needs to be corrected.

    Anyway, make sure the bridge feet are shaped perfectly to the curvature of the top and the bridge stays perpendicular to the top. It is not uncommon for the bridge to "nose up" with tuning.

    If the feet tend to slip easily put a little rosin dust between them and the top and that should be fixes.

    Hope all this makes sense and helps. If not, I'm sure someone more knowledgeable and better at communications than I will be along soon to get you taken care of.
  3. THE SAW


    Sep 14, 2006
    I just wanted to make sure I got this right:

    Your bridge actually "falls down" (substitute for ""slips out"") when you tune up your strings.

    OK, some questions:

    Did you take ALL the old strings off before you put on the new ones, one at a time? That might make things difficult.

    Are you attempting to put the new set of strings on, under the circumstances above, while standing up?

    I don't mess with my bridge/soundpost at all-get ye to a luthier!

  4. When tuning, grab the bridge with one hand to hold it in place while you crank the key with the other. The strings are pulling the bridge put of alignment as you tune. Whackers are notorious for that. An improperly fit bridge will make them downright impossible to use.
  5. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Do you have a floating bridge? You don't really give details about your bridge. I had a Dean hollow bass some years ago and it had a floating bridge; shortly after buying I would string up and the curled metal brace that held it would bend out when tension was applied, popping the bridge off. I got sick of trying to make it work and sold it. Cheap metal parts. The bass fed back too much anyways.
  6. You're in the doublebass forum, Michael.
  7. plank_spank


    Jan 13, 2012
    Thankyou all for the great advice, the bridge is the simple non-adjusting type. is there anything i can put on/in the string grooves to lube them up?
    Also how much should i be expecting to spend on an adjustable bridge?, and how much adjustment do they allow? i.e low for jazz and quite high for rockabilly?

    Again THANKYOU ALL for youre awesome advice....... best website ever.
  8. The string grooves should be widened to fit wackers if the bridge was cut for steel strings. Get a set of files from a hobby store or a chainsaw file from a hardware store. Be sure not to make the slots deeper, only wide enough to fit the wackers. The same applies to the nut.

    A new adjustable bridge fit to your bass by a professional will run you a few hundred. Sounds like a lot but it's money well spent.

    Lubricate the slots with number 2 pencil. You will still have to hold the bridge in place while tuning. Wackers don't put enough downward pressure on the bridge to hold it in place like steels do. That's why people always complain about slapping their bass until their bridge falls.

    For wackers and slap playing you want the strings about 1cm off the end of the board. Maybe a little lower on the D and G strings if you think you might go back to steels. I tried a high bridge with wackers and got no more boom, just lost the easy click. Maybe that was because of the basses I've had, I dunno.
  9. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    LOL whoops, I've done that before. I just click on threads from the "dashboard" and don't pay attention to the category:bag:
  10. a professional set up from a good luthier is well worth the money. slap some rosin on your bridge feet until you can get your bass into the shop, and make a note to keep an eye on your bridge constantly. i waited too long, and now my bass belly is all scarred up, and the bridge i had got rounded edges on the feet from tipping over so often. also, the force of the tension slamming it down against the bass actually snapped the maple bridge in half, and launched it into the crowd in the middle of a gig. very embarassing, had to have someone go grab me a bass guitar, as i dont keep an extra upright in my wallet. i cannot begin to explain how spending the little bit of extra dough to do things the right way will save you time and probably money in the long run.
  11. also, +1 on the #2 pencil for string slots. i also drew a line in the center of each bridge foot so i could line it up with the f-hole notches on the fly. before i got a professionally fitted bridge.
  12. No comment.
  13. Who is your mentor? Don't tell me YouTube?

    Seriously though, I understand if you are on a budget that you don't want to spend more cass then needed, but a decent setup for a cheapo plywood bass is far more then necessary.
    Ime all the bridges are way too high and your fingerboard probably looks/feels like a desert salt.
  14. Hi Ken, aka Plank_Spank

    I am assuming that you didn't widen out the string slots on your bridge and nut when switching out your strings?

    If I am correct, then you should take your bass to a luthier. If I am not correct, then you should take your bass to a luthier. ;)

    Weedwackers are a lot thicker in gauge than the previous (steel?) strings that possibly where stock for your bass. That being said, if the slots that fit the strings are not wide enough to fit 1/4-1/2 diameter of the string, then it could cause the bridge to do fall forward, or slip out. It could also destroy every string you have on your bass..... still don't know if wackers break that easily though.

    Anyways, a great set up will go a loooooong way with you when you are just starting out. (there are too many reasons to list why this is truth) Good luck and happy slappin'!
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