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is my string height right?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by trocadero, Jul 8, 2005.


  1. trocadero

    trocadero

    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    Hello, I just got my first double bass together.
    I really am a jazzpianoplayer but I got a double bass almost for free and I would like to become a decent jazzbass player in the future. My sister has a double bass that I've been playing on for a couple of months and I like it.
    When I bought my bass the bottom had losened and instead of a real endpin it had like a sofaleg. The repairguy(is luthier the word?) is very nice, cheap and is suppose to be good. He said it was a checz bass 50 years or older. Anyway when I got it back he had replaced the bridge, an endpin was installed and he had put new strings on it. Beacuse it's new stealstrings it sounds very strange right now when I'm playing because there new but thats not the issue.

    I played it for the first time when I got i back.
    The issue is when I try to play Bb on the A-string I really have to work hard to sustain it. This is much easyer on my sisters bass.
    On my sister bass I'm almost unable to slide in a atm-card at the top end of the fingerboard under the strings. With my bass I can do so easaly. Could this be the cause of the issue?
    How much string height is normal?

    EDIT: I've just measured the string height just where the strings goes into the nut . On my sisters bass its 0,5 mm and over 1 mm on mine. It was basicly the same on the e and the g-side.

    /Anders
    Sweden
     
  2. trocadero

    trocadero

    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    please, can anyone help me? is my bass setup right or should I get the grooves in the nut filed down?
     
  3. Istar

    Istar

    Apr 5, 2005
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Sounds high to me... but then again I`m no expert.
    Why don`t just call your Luthier ?
    He should be able to tell you the proper height.
     
  4. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Yours is high.

    The problem is probably the planing of your fingerboard. Ask your luthier about it, I am sure he would be aware of the issue if he knows what he is doing.
     
  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Check the height at the nut.
     
  6. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I don't know what the standard is, but on my bass I definitely would have trouble sliding a credit card under the string right below the nut.
     
  7. trocadero

    trocadero

    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    thank you, the thing is I called my luthier and said that I had trouble when playing Bb on the A-string(E-string is another brand then the others). He answered "Well, that is the hardest note to play on a bass, you'll get stronger(he knows I'm a beginner). When you're fit you'll be able to pinch anyone you want!"
    I then asked if the string height at the nut could be changed and he said something like "No, theres gotta be room for the string to vibrate". But I'll be confronting him again tomorrow! ;)
     
  8. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    The distance that the string vibrates at the nut or the bridge is very small especially when compared to the rest of the string length.
     
  9. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    On a well set up bass an adult should not have trouble stopping any note on the fingerboard. Endurance is separate issue that is resolved with experience.
     
  10. Fold a business card in half. That thickness is about the distance your strings should be above the fingerboard. Slide the doubled card under the strings toward the nut. If it doesn't get snug before it reaches the nut, you can lower the nut slots.
     
  11. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Better yet, don't fold the card in half.
     
  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    First, I suggest you read the newbie links and do a search for threads on this topic. You'll learn a great deal.

    You mention the "height" measured at the nut but what is the height of the strings at the edge of the fingerboard? Measured at that point, typical setups might have the G, say, at 5-7 mm and the E at 8-10 mm. Yes, yes, that can vary widely. The height of the strings depends to a great extent upon personal preference, playing style, type of strings used, etc. There is no "correct" height measured at that point. Regardless, the distance from the fingerboard measured at the nut should be very close to what Arnold and Ken have suggested.

    Perhaps your bass is not properly set up. While it is true that you'll get stronger over time, a poor setup can be the kiss of death for an aspiring player. It's worth the time, effort, and expense to find a good luthier who will provide you with a properly adjusted instrument.
     
  13. trocadero

    trocadero

    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    I've read trough a lot of threads and learned a great deal, thank you.

    My stringheight at the end of the fingerboard is 7,9 mm on the E-string and 5,4 mm on the G.
     
  14. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    It sounds like the height at the bottom of the board is not an issue. But if you're having problems stopping a low Bb on the A-string, you may have a poorly planed FB or the nut could need adjustment (a much cheaper fix).
     
  15. I didn't change much on my brand new bass, but the nut height was the first thing that got changed. On a new bass these are usually way up (I guess it is so there's room to tie the frets on?). I used a swiss round rat-tail needle file for the narrow string slots and a larger round tapered wood file for the BB. If you do this yourself, make sure to polish the slots and lubricate them with a pencil graphite (the common #2 works for me) On mine, the credit card is uniformly "too" snug under them and a folded business card fits pretty easily. Some folks take them down even further to 1 business card thickness.

    If you don't feel confident in doing this yourself, tell the luthier to do it. You do not want tendinitis. Playing on a badly set up instrument can lead to this. The string height at the bridge end sounds pretty good. The other characteristic to look at is the scoop ( longitudinal curved space under the string when you hold it onto the FB at both ends . Too much is worse than none at all. A little bit is helpful. When you hold the string down this way, there shouldn't be any middle points touching the FB and the curve should be even and very gradual with a max of 1/8" of space somewhat closer to the FB end. Less than 1/8" is OK;- more is not recommended. I know some players that like the FB completely flat end to end, but they usually end up with a pretty high bridge adjustment.
     
  16. trocadero

    trocadero

    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    I brought my bass back to myh luthier, I needed to fix some other things as well and when I said I wanted the strings at the nut to come down he was fine with it. So hopefully it will work out fine.