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Keeping the bass in tune

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Rusty the Scoob, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. I realized last night while practicing for my upcoming acoustic duo that my bass goes flat extremely quickly - about a quarter step flat after just a song or two, across all four strings - not perfectly evenly but fairly close.

    What are the common things that would cause this? I'm not even sure where to start looking.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    But I would say the most common thing is the strings pulling the top of the bridge forward. This can pull the bridge over, which is No Fun. Which I know from Bitter Personal Experience. At a gig. Which was No Fun.

    Check your bridge from the side to make sure it's perpendicular, check the bridge feet to make sure they're sitting flat on all 4 sides and corners of each foot. If you've got adjusters, how far are they extended? If they are too far out, the feet can be flat and correctly positioned but you can still be pulling the top of the bridge off the adjusters.
  3. It's most definitely pulling the bridge forward. There are no height adjusters, it's bending at the middle. Crap, so that will be enough to pull it out of tune? I'm liking my Fenders more and more...
  4. Your bridge is warped. For a temporary fix it can be boiled until the wood is 100% saturated, clamped flat and left to dry under pressure over the course of a few days. Some warp again, some don't. Or you could lump it and have a new bridge cut. Plenty of fine bass luthiers in Boston.

    Welcome to doublebass!
  5. Maybe check where the tailpiece is attached to the endpin as well...if it's wire and slipping that could conceivably cause this, yeah?
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  7. I don't think it's slipping but it is gradually bending the endpin forward.

    Welcome to doublebass indeed! I've had more trouble with this instrument than my 15 or so electrics combined! Then again it was free.:D
  8. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Man! That video came at just the right time! My bridge took a hit on the road and got knocked about an inch diagonally out of place. This was a great video to help me make sure I put it back correctly! Thanks!
  9. If the endpin is being pulled out of the block by string tension, it's time to loosen your strings and call your luthier!
  10. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings
    Before taking all the tension off of your bass; it is not unusual for the endpin to tilt SLIGHTLY towards the front of the bass due to the tension from the tailgut. That is, it doesn't sit perfectly perpendicular to the tail block and ribs. If it's actually migrating out of the bass, that's a different story.
  11. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    And should you have to take the string tension off, be aware the sound post may fall.
  12. Hi.

    I do not dispute the wise words from the pro's, but...

    IMLE as a hobbyist, the most common causes for a DB to go flat while playing are:

    #1 Slipping strings on the tuner barrels, ie. incorrectly strung.
    #2 If using guts or weedwhackers, the strings stabilizing.
    #3 the tail-wire slipping.

    Especially on the basses from the lower end of the price spectrum.

    Since the bass was free, I'd make sure that at least the sound-post is at its correct location, if not a full and thorough once-over.