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How hard is it to change the string length?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Mark Wade, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Mark Wade

    Mark Wade

    May 19, 2012
    New York City
    I am interested in buying a bass that has a 41 inch string length but would really prefer it to be 41.5 inches. Is it hard/feasible to do this? How would that work? Love to get some opinions before making a decision......
  2. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    Disclaimer - I am not a luthier. My luthier and I have discussed bridge placement, and I have read quite a bit on it.

    Mensure can be changed a bit by re-positioning the bridge (and the post), but the sound and/or playability will be effected. The effects may be positive, but if it is already optimally set up they are more like to be negative.

    YMMV and I'm sure luthiers here will chime in for you soon.

    Good luck.
  3. chris1125


    May 14, 2007
    Wait... you want the string length to be LONGER? 41 is an average string length, I think you'll get used to it. I know professional bassists who use a much shorter string length then that.
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    My bridge is up .5" with no change in either sound or playability. It's easy enough to try it. The heel note will be a little different. I agree you will probably easily get used to the 41" SL.
  5. Mark Wade

    Mark Wade

    May 19, 2012
    New York City
    I'm wondering if any luthiers here can say if it's possible to remove the neck and add a 1/2 inch spacer to the neck and reattach it as such?
  6. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    Interesting. I'm sure that (as they say) each bass is individual. With a 1/2" change on mine it chokes out and action is drastically different. I don't currently have adjusters. Perhaps the "heart" is larger on your bass.

  7. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    You might be able to cheat the bridge back 1/2", you would need to relocate the sound post. You would also have to check that the bridge foot is still over the bass bar, and readjust the tail gut to give you the proper after length. Removing the neck and putting in a spacer is a big job and a bad option, just adding wood to the bottom of the neck is not sufficient, you must also add wood to the sides of the heel to hold everything together. The heel would also have to be recarved and refinished to blend into the button. I would refuse to do this job on an otherwise sound neck joint just to gain 1/2" string length.

    Why is getting and extra 1/2" important to you? If you are worried about it being too drastic of a change and messing up your intonation, I think you would be surprised by how quickly you can get used to it.
  8. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I shortened my scale about an inch with a false nut because of my left hand has a short and slightly curved in pinky, and I went with the longest scale I could and still do octave F's in the 1/2 position.

    Don't worry about lengthening the scale. If it sounds good at 41, then it may or may not sound good at 41 1/2, and the effective distance between stops in 1/2 position are literally only 3/100 of an inch.
  9. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Sometimes, for me, reading threads like this is like thumbing through a medical book: inevitably I start noticing "symptoms."
    I have always eye-balled the position of my bridges by lining up the inner nicks of the f holes with the top of the bridge. So, I just checked the mensure of my bass and it is 42 1/4". I've never measured it before, so I ask: Is this "normal"?
    Also, regarding mensures, I've never had any problem playing any of the many basses I've played. They are all different, but like bycycles you get used to them in minutes.
  10. Mark Wade

    Mark Wade

    May 19, 2012
    New York City
    Good to hear everyone's opinion. Thanks!
  11. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    Again, I'm not a luthier so take my knowledge for what its worth. I have done a lot of reading and experimenting. From what I understand 42 +/- is near the top end of what is considered a 3/4 size bass, so I guess that would be considered "normal".

    My understanding of the relationship of the knicks is that they should be at the center of the bridge feet. That change would give you a mensure of about 41 3/4".

    It may be that where it currently sits is in the "sweet spot" of the "heart". If it was set there by an experienced luthier I would assume this to be the case. There is only one way to know for sure though :D, but if you like the way it plays and sounds there is no sense in messing with it, IMHO.

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