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How long's yer (endpin) rod?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by droo, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. droo


    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    I've been struggling with a short endpin since I got my CHH (Cheap Hungarian Hybrid) last September.
    As a mostly jazz-playing slab convert, I've been playing mostly pizz, mostly standing - but when fully extended, the tip of the pin only protrudes about 8" from the bass.
    Trouble is I'm 6'7" and don't want to end up with serious back problems ;)

    How long do you reckon the endpin ought to be extended for someone of my height? I remember Chasarms saying he was about 6'4" and used a pin of about 14" (but that was a bent pin I think).
    I sometimes practice with the bass standing on a couple of phone books (yes, I'm serious) but that's just not practical for gigging :meh:

    The rod is one of those with the little stopper inside as well to stop kids losing it and it's 8mm diameter, so not as easy to find a decent extra-long replacement...
    Do I ideally need to get a luthier to fit a new endpin assembly?
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Convention is that the pin should be extended so that the nut is roughly aligned with your eye. Of course, Everyone toys with that one way or the other.

    I think a lot of it has to do with playing style. I liked the pin lower when I was a pizz only player than I do now that I am working to develop arco.
  3. droo


    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Crikey - that looks like 16" out the bottom of the bass then. I must admit, the higher it gets, the nicer it is to play...

    Maybe I could get a luthier to shorten my legs :D
  4. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    The trouble with using the height that same one else uses is that it only will apply if your bass is the exact same size as someone else and if you are the same height as said person your self. Looks like from what you say Chasarms and I are around the same height, but, we don't have the same bass; I have my end pin at 9-10" but my bass has a 43 1/8" string length and a 43 1/2" table length.

    As for longer endpins, Upton has them in 20" length
  5. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm 6' 2" and I use a standard endpin extended 5 notches, 6 if I'm wearing footwear with any kind of heel height. That's in the vicinity of one foot.

    Here's a picture of the lanky Ron Carter with his fixed wooden endpin. I'm thinking that's gotta be at least 14 inches.


    Even though he's tall, it still seems a little high. Look at the nut in relation to his brow -- way up there.
  6. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Sounds like you do need something much longer. For the record, mine sticks out 8 1/2" for practicing at home (barefoot), I stand 5'10" (again, barefoot) and my bass is about the length of a 3/4 Kay though considerably fatter.
  7. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Abe Lincoln once said that an endpin should be long enough to reach the ground.
  8. droo


    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    I was meaning that I was using the eye-level guide and propping up the bass until it was at the right height, then measuring the space under the instrument. That comes to about 16".

    Looks like I could get one of those 20" pins from Upton in an 8mm diameter. I might just give it a try.
    Is there any other good reason for having a 10mm dia one?
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Maybe off-topic - but there could be a lot of advantages to this approach - so you would have more room when travelling by plane/train or when you are in the back seat of a small car!!

    You also might find a lower centre of gravity is helpful with mobility - less likely to trip over - and with ball sports, where you need a stable lower body platform. :)
  10. Looks like I could get one of those 20" pins from Upton in an 8mm diameter. I might just give it a try.
    Is there any other good reason for having a 10mm dia one?[/QUOTE]

    A 20" at 8mm will wooble like crazy,to thin.Thats why the 10mm is the standard.
  11. Rather than that ole "the nut should be right at eye ball level"
    I suggest that the bottom point of the C bout comes somewhere between your knee and your crotch.

    This trick i've posted before...to get the old mushroomed rod out of your bass to use a longer replacement rod (rather than replace the whole end-pin) Lemur has replacement rods.
    Pull end-pin rod all the way out until the mushroom end is right up against the wood plug on the inside. Tighten thumbscrew. Saw off the rod as close to the plug as possible. Rock the bass around until you can get the mushroomed end outta an F hole. You may or may not have to saw off the mushroomed end of the new rod.
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Yeah, I kinda regretted that after putting it in there, 'cause it suggests that's the height the bass should be at. For me that's only a way of getting a reference point for looking at the picture of Carter. The right height is the one that doesn't hurt your body and doesn't hurt your technique. Not necessarily the same things -- a balancing act for me.
  13. These are, obviously, just general things to help you find your way to a more permanent stance.
    We've all seen players, who, one way or the other, can actually make us uncomfortable watching. That Dave Friesen sitting in a chair makes me uncomfortable, but watching Charlie Haden play takes the cake for me. As I always say, he looks like he's trying to choke a boa constrictor with his left hand, while rocking around and seemingly just in the act of bumping into something with that gorgeous Vuillaume of his....then comes that sound!
    So, bottom line, whatever works for you.
  14. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Whatever works, but I think it should be a thoughtful choice, not something you start with and never change because you're afraid it will screw up your technique or something.

    I'm about five years down the road with DB, I'm a stander, and I have a history of back trouble even before the Big Bass came into the picture. And yeah, I've got some bass-related back issues -- nothing serious but I want to play until I cash out! I should get into some Alexander stuff...

    We've had Steve Kirby in town for a year and a half now. He's a very large dude and plays his bass quite low. He's all over the range of the instrument. I've recently been experimenting with the really low thing and damned if certain aspects of it felt really comfy. I couldn't bow that way, though.

    So I think bass players should think about this, consult with more experienced players, try out some different approaches, and have concern for the long haul. What "works" now may not 20 years from now.
  15. Droo, you've gotten some very good advice on the endpin length, but I'm going to take a slightly different tack.

    Your height suggests that you may also have long arms and large hands. The 3 don't always go together, but often they do. If the shirts that fit have 37+ sleeves and you have trouble finding gloves with long enough fingers, then I think you qualify. I'm thinking since you've been playing less than a year, you might want to explore some larger instruments that are taller from the start. If you move the nut up to your eyeball and the bridge is at your elbow now, then you might shift the discomfort from your back to your right arm, which you would have to hold bent at the elbow constantly to be at the correct plucking point. Ideally, your right arm should fall naturally to the center of the space between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge with just a little bend at the elbow, when the nut is eye level.

    With a taller instrument, you might find that your right hand will fall to a more comfortable and natural playing position (particularly if you anticipate playing arco) and that your left hand would have no problem with a string about an 1 or 1 and 1/2 inch(es) longer. Certainly it is worth getting the longer endpin now, but in the long run you might find that all that clearance below your bass could be room for more bass.
  16. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, you get an LOL from me, anyway...
  17. droo


    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Well the string length is about 41", and at the moment my right hand naturally reaches for the area about 9" above the fingerboard, and I have to bend down to get a good "hook" on the strings at the end of the board for swing playing.
    The body is quite slim - I recently had to fit a 1/2 size bridge because the neck angle and the position of the bass bar wrt the centre both pointed toward doing that...

    I think the only way I'm going to get a longer-bodied bass is by going to a 7/8 or something... And they are hard to come by at under £500 :)
  18. 500 pounds? Yeah, that's a difficult constraint. That string length is shorter than most 3/4, but I'm dealing with some of the same issues. I'm not as tall as you, but my arms are long and I have long fingers too. My bass has a half-sizish bridge with 105cm string.

    I'd switch that endpin right away, or just sit the thing up on a short box or stool when you play for the time being. Good posture is so important to prevent long term problems. If your current bass was in tip top shape, you might be able to save some gig $$ and combine that with proceeds from selling your current bass and move up. It wouldn't hurt you now to keep an eye out for a larger one that you can try out, even if it costs a bundle, just to see if the larger size would help.

    Then you can map a strategy for the long term.
  19. Different techniques make a huge difference. A few years ago I started studying with a teacher who insisted I adopt the Gary Karr method of the bass being almost vertical. I had been using a technique similar to Rabbath that had the bass very reclined. I ended up lowering my bass (a 7/8 shen) probably about eight or ten inches. I now play with the endpin out only about three inches or so, which put the nut slightly above eye level for me in playing position. When I play seated I actually pull it out an bit farther, because I recline the bass a bit more. If I'm working on only solo music for a long period of time I'll also raise it up to facilitate playing in thumb position. I have short legs and normal body/arms, and I'm a hair under six feet, so if my setup sounds a bit odd, that's probably why. If my legs were proportional I'd be like 6'4 or something. :rolleyes:
  20. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    check out the rabbath/bent pin style for standing. he has some interesting things to say about a straight endpin damping the vibrations of the top table. btw he told us in a recent master class that he does sit for orchestra playing. my first bass teacher, no taller than me at 5'8", insisted that i play seated with both feet on the floor and lower the bass to compensate. people thought that was weird at the time but he was really a bulldog about it and interestingly it has become more popular. he says in half position you should be able to stick your left thumb in your ear. i think that is a good indicator but puts the bass a little higher than the nut-at-eye-level one. as time went on i heard more positive reinforcement from professors about the 24" stool and stuck with it. as more time went on i started to see people elevating the left foot on a classical guitar foot-stand or similar when using a 30" stool, some also when standing. this is so you don't twist your spine or otherwise get that cramp up under your left shoulder blade from putting your foot up on the rungs of the stool. lately i found what feels like the grail of seating...the collapsible keyboard bench. this was because i was too lazy to bring my stool in from the car and got in the habit of sitting on my hammond organ bench for practicing. i was seriously considering starting to bring the hammond bench to gigs but if i take it out of the practice room i will be too lazy to bring it back in and will end up becoming a standing player. :smug: so i got the collapsible version which adjusts up to about 26" and has 3" foam padding. not just for the comfort of my rump but so my legs can go down at an angle which is a disadvantage of a hard wood seat (which forces your thighs to stick more or less straight forward). the seat is big enough to stack my accessories up around me. i can keep both feet comfortably on the floor or stuck out forward, almost holding the bass between my shins like a gamba, and have the bass directly in front, a la rabbath, and play unlimited amounts of time without tiring. it elminates the constant side-to-side twisting of the bass on the endpin, and therefore makes string crossings a lot more precise. alternatively to holding the bass with my calves, i can sit back quite a bit on the bench and allow the bass to lean somewhat against the front edge, completely taking the job of supporting the bass away from me. the square bench also does a good job as a sturdy bass stand so i don't have to lay my baby on the floor. i know it is very subjective, but i found standing is cool if you can move around (like if you are playing slab), but it bugs me to stand in one spot for the duration of a gig and i just don't need fatigue to become a distraction. the bench takes up less cargo space than a stool and when having to schlep bass, amp, rack, bow case, manhasset stand, seat and "gack" case, any improvement in schleppability is a plus.

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