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How do you know if a bass will balance well?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lamborghini98, Sep 10, 2005.


  1. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    I was wondering.. if you know the exact dimensions of a bass and the woods its made out of, is it possible to calculate the balance?

    Also... where do you place the fulcrum? Is it an imaginary spot somewhere where the center of your thigh might be?
     
  2. so many variables....

    the first thing i would look at is where the top horn or strap attaches. if it's centered over the 12'th fret, then you're likely in the ball park. if you've got an asat or les paul or rennaisance style bass without a strap extension, then you'll have an initial balance issue to deal with.
     
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    The headstock size as well as the tuners are also a good precursor. Hipshot Ultralites are a good way to keep it light, and if the headstock is short/small enough, there usually isn't a problem (unless the neck itself is thick and heavy).
     
  4. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Hmmm. Thanks.

    I guess, then, that most people do it qualitatively? I think since the body will have a Wenge base and the neck will be maple, it probably wont be too neck heavy.
     
  5. When ir's 45° to me! :smug:
     
  6. adouglas

    adouglas

    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    +1. I don't know if you can really calculate how it will balance without a lot of work, because it's a complex shape. Just knowing length, width and thickness won't work...it's not a rectangle. Pluse there's the variable of hardware weight as someone else pointed out.

    When picking up a bass for the first time, I hang it from my finger by the front strap button. If it hangs with the headstock elevated some, it won't have neck dive.

    Figuring out how it will balance while seated is much more complicated, since you've got your body in contact with it, plus your arm.
     
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Not to mention where the cut of the lower bout is. My old Hill Custom balanced ok on a strap, but when seated, the leg cut was such that it couldn't balance the weight of the neck and it would neckdive.
     
  8. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    My guess is most builders have a pretty good feel that comes from repeating their particular shapes and designs and a familiarity with the materials they use. There are so many variables involved I doubt that many luthiers perform any real "calculations" for this, but I'm only guessing.
     
  9. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Of course Im not going to treat the bass as a rectangle. I was going to take an approach similar to that of integration: Divide the bass into known quantities of weight by taking small boxes and measuring their weight, then doing some torque calculations assuming the average angle at which I hold my bass relative to the surface of the earth. I also doubt that most luthiers use calculations, but going to the Luthier's Corner seems like a pretty good idea! Thanks.
     
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Thing about that is that you won't be able to assume what the weights will be very accurately. Woods vary in weight from piece to piece, and you can have different densities within the same piece of wood, so (for example) a piece of maple could be heavier at one end than at the other.

    You basically have to rely on the builder to know what he's doing and to pick the right woods for the project.
     
  11. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    For ASAT/Les Paul/Thunderbird/SG style basses, there's actually a pretty simple cure; put the strap pin on the heel of the neck.

    As seen here: http://www.lysator.liu.se/~wizkid/music/thunderbird_mod/

    Of course, a neck through, or a "through heel" like on a Conlin, that'd be a whole different kettle of fish.
     
  12. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR

    Really? I assumed that the density of the woods would be more or less uniform. And besides, what kind of accuracy would I need? Even +-10% seems like it would work.
     
  13. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Ever pick up a baseball bat and then pick up another one that was heavier? Working out a formula will end up pretty useless, as you won't really know for sure the weights of the woods, the weight of the headstock and glue, tuners, etc. Not to mention that the builder will likely do what he feels is best in the end.

    It's not something you should need to worry about if the builder knows what's up, particularly if you're getting a maple neck (lighter than most other neck woods) and it'll be a four or five string, as 6+ have a bigger chance of neckdive.

    If you can have the bass made with the strap pin at about the 12th fret (which is pretty standard), make sure the headstock isn't too big, and use Hipshot Ultralite tuners, you'll likely be fine.
     
  14. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Wow. youve been really helpful. The design is an original one (probably the last thread i started is for comments on the design.. link : http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=201148), so thats why I ask about balance. The horns look too short (Im tapering the lower bout to look maybe 5 months pregnant instead of 8), which is why a lot of people say that perhaps the balance will be thrown off. The base wood is wenge, so I thought that would help decrease the chance of bad balance, but maple is light??? I thought rock maple would be really heavy...

    I guess by "off balance" most people mean "is going to do a neck dive." Im concerned that the body is going to be so heavy the neck will flop around when playing gets agressive.

    BTW I cant really make the horns longer beause the piece of wood Im using for the top is too small.
     
  15. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Assuming the proportions on that photoshop the pin on the upper horn won't be anywhere near the 12th fret, so there may be an issue. The lower horn won't make a difference in whether the neck dives or not while standing. The "off balance" may have been referring to the visual balance, not the physical balance. It doesn't attach to the strap anywhere nor the neck, so it can't prevent or cause neckdive.

    Maple is light -for a neck wood. Neck woods need to be stable on a standard scale bass, and most of the more stable woods are heavy. Wenge, purpleheart, and paduak are common neck wood elements, and maple is usually lighter than all of them.
     
  16. popinfresh

    popinfresh

    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Hey guys.. I'm making a T-Bird like bass out of mahogany body wings and walnut neck/centre peice. The headstock is shaped kind of like a MM sterlings, but slightly smaller and i'll be using hipshot ultralights.
    Do you reckon this will get rid of most of the neckdive T-Birds have? Or is it too hard to tell?

    Cheers.