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Kay doublebass geometry and setup: tailpiace-to-bridge strings notes

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner [DB]' started by SteSte, Mar 11, 2018.


  1. SteSte

    SteSte

    Mar 28, 2017
    Rome, Italy
    Hi,
    i try to write a question with my poor english language...
    Does somebody know what note should be emitted by each of the four strings on the other side of the bridge in a Kay doublebass "as new exiting from the factory"?
    I'm referring to the strings that usually nobody plays (see the photo).
    I know that the note produced is influenced by the bridge position, by the tailpiece position but....in factory kay doublebass tailpiece position is standard for all kaybass because the tailpiece is connected to a metal piece (not a wire), and talking about the bridge, the bridge should be placed in the middle of the "f" where are markers for this.
    Thank you ciao from Italy,
    Stefano
    IMG_0150.JPG
     
  2. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    The scale length on all Kay 3/4 basses is 41.5 inches, or 105.4cm.
     
    SteSte likes this.
  3. I think OP is asking to what pitches each string afterlength should be tuned.
     
    SteSte likes this.
  4. SteSte

    SteSte

    Mar 28, 2017
    Rome, Italy
    ...was tuned in a brand new Kay doublebass...
    Yes
     
  5. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I get that, my point is that they weren't tuned at all. With the original tail wire, there's no adjustment to the tailpiece. Set the bridge at 41.5 inches and you have the factory setup.
     
    james condino and Matthew Tucker like this.
  6. I have never heard that the non-playing portion of the string is tuned, and it seems irrelevant. As far as I know, tuning and intonation only matter on the portion of the string which is played. Of course, accurate placement of the bridge is important!
     
  7. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    The afterlength (bridge to tailpiece) can affect overtones and wolf tones, and is typically tuned to 1/6 the scale length in pro setups. Yes, it does makes some difference.
     
    SteveCS, Pilgrim and SteSte like this.
  8. It's useful to learn that the Kay factory mensure is 41.5". I always thought it was 42".
     
    james condino likes this.
  9. SteSte

    SteSte

    Mar 28, 2017
    Rome, Italy
    Afterlenght strings are resonating, more and with thin bridge and steel strings.
    Obviously its not a strong effect but in acoustic non-amplified places or at home you can like this.
    There are musicians that they play these strings in contemporary classical music or jazz or improvised music.
    If you want hear an example you can hear Scott LaFaro using these strings (you have an example in the Ornette Coleman "free jazz" album).
    And, to add more salt, there are bad influences or good influences in the overall sound of the bass.
    Some people to avoid these strings resonating put some metallic pieces on these short strings.
    I read that Kay basses was made with "poor" woods (laminated, not carved) but with a strictly perfect reference to the measures of the italian renaissance double bass (the end of the keyboard, the afterlenght strings, the neck in relation with the diapason and so on)...
    I'm just curious because my bass fall down and now its repaired but the strings now are higher because the neck have a different angle, the bridge is higher and i have no knowledge of how it was an original kay, except for the string lenght (see previous Steven Ayres gentle post).
    Thats all :) ciao
     
    Pilgrim likes this.
  10. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    The likeliest reason for this is that your neck joint has failed, allowing the neck to tilt forward slightly. You can usually see this as the end of the heel rising against the button, by as little as 1mm. This is common in Kay basses as they age because the design of the dovetail joint is relatively weak. It's often fixed by resetting the neck with shims to tighten the joint, but it's better to rebuild the joint with a more traditional straight-sided tenon. When the joint fails, it distorts the wood in the joint permanently, so it's hard to get a good fit, and even when you do you're left with more or less the same poor joint.
     
    SteSte likes this.
  11. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Aiming to own the student market, KMI conformed all its basses and cellos to MENC standards (Music Educators National Conference, now the National Association for Music Education).
     
  12. Very informative folks, thanks for the explanation!
     
  13. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Wonder if earlier Kays had longer string lengths. I only say that because my '38 Kay has a 42" string length (caveat: It has a replacement Engelhardt neck, which, I guess I'd have to see if there's any major difference between Engelhardt necks and Kay necks.. the original neck had hat peg tuners, too, so who knows).
     
  14. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Kay used the same specs throughout its production years. Englehardt-Link made some small adjustments, I know, but my ES-9 also comes in at 41.5".
     
  15. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    If you ditch the ridiculous steel "wire" (or carefully put it away in your sock drawer), a real braided cable can be used as a much more conventional tailpiece wire to set the after lengths to whatever might be in vogue this week. At the very least, the tailpiece will be able to flop around like a fish, as they do on a real bass setup. Threaded steel hardware breeds inflexible musical personalities. Okay, back on my meds ...
     
    james condino likes this.
  16. SteSte

    SteSte

    Mar 28, 2017
    Rome, Italy
    Wow i like your sense of humor, i need. I know that i should customize the tailpiece position but my question was related to the original default setup. Thats because im courious on anything related to my Kay doublebass , im in love with. You are right on anything but i told you that i tried to change the steel tailpiece support and sobstitute with a high quality wire made for and i noticed no difference at all in sound. Maybe because i have gut strings on? Who knows...Somebody discover another planet doing the same thing. Ciaooo thanks
     

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