Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Leaning Tower of Aubert

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Mar 4, 2001.


  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Over the past few months, my bridge has developed a slight lean toward the fingerboard. It doesn't seem to be warping (it's too thick for that), just leaning a bit. This used to happen on my old bass as well. What causes this? Could it be from carrying it in my bass bag with the shoulder strap? How can I tell when to leave it alone, and when it needs to be corrected?
     
  2. nickchalk

    nickchalk

    Jan 30, 2001
    I'm not sure if this happens to basses but I know that on violins the bridge slowly tilts because it gets pulled on when you tune. So you just have to loosen the strings a bit and stand it up straight again. But then again that might not apply.
     
  3. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Tuning forces combined with the possibility that the bridge wasn't perfectly at 90 degrees can cause the bridge to lean (and warp, no matter how thick it is) towards the fingerboard.

    Properly shaped bridges will have their contour on the side facing the fingerboard, with the tail side left close to 90 degrees, so the wood can resist warp better.

    You can lubricate string/bridge contact points with pencil lead/graphite, so they'll slide without grabbing and pulling the bridge. However, once strings are set and in tune, it's not much of a factor.

    Best is to just keep a close eye on the bridge and give it the necessary karate chops at the base or top to put it in its proper place and at the proper attitude in relation to the bass' table. If you want the bridge to last and the optimum sound (feet perfectly planted on the bass' table), it's important to monitor.

    If your case or carrying methods are somehow pulling on the bridge to cause this, I'd find a new case or carrying method; your bass doesn't need that kind of stress.

    Bob's .02
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    My case is a standard Lemur padded bag, with shoulder strap and 5 handles. I don't know if it has anything to do with the leaning of the bridge or not, but it seems like every time you pick up a bass in a bass bag, the pressure on the bridge would be in the direction of the fingerboard. Then again, it could just be that I'm being paranoid on this point.

    How much should the strings be loosened before giving the bridge "the necessary karate chops"?
     
  5. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I don't loosen the strings at all; if you did, the bridge would probably move again. I just give it a gentle shot with the side of my hand or a padded wrench end (wrapped with a little cloth or something just so it doesn't mark up the bridge) between the middle two strings, just enough to tap it into perfect perpendicular orientation. And don't just hit the top 1/2", get a little lower so you don't chip or break the bridge - usually only a hazard if the top is very thin or weak.

    If the feet are not quite in alignment with the f-hole cuts, you'll likely want to loosen the strings a bit first so you don't scar the top.

    Then return to step A; you can gently tap it into place as you tighten the strings.
     
  6. I'd feel a little more secure loosening the strings a bit before pulling down on the top of the bridge. My luthier puts the bass on its back and holds the bass in place with his body up against the bottom of the bass and pulls on the bridge with lotsa fingers between the strings.

    When you finally get it right, measure the G and E string lengths and write them down(!) because you'll forget. With a very soft lead pencil and a ruler, mark the four corners of each bridge foot on the top of the bass. You can do this without cracking the varnish, and it'll be invisible a few feet away.

    With Obligatos, I tilted the bridge down so that a gap opened at the top of each foot. As I came up to pitch, the strings pulled the feet back to full flat contact.
     
  7. That reminds me of the first time I took my Bass to a luthier to have It adjusted. The Bridge was slightly out of place, and he said "hey look over there..." and while I was looking, he took a rubber mallet and Bam! Knocked it back into position.
    I just went through this with my Obligatos, and I did it the way Don said- plus a little graphite in the slots to make it slide easier and pull less,and I used a chalk pencil to mark it, which wiped off easily.
    And according to Tobias Festl, the guy who worked on my Juzek, you should loosen the strings a whole step before you make any bridge adjustments.But both Bob's way and Don's way will work, I've done it both ways with Basses I have worked on, I just feel safer loosening the strings a whole step.
    And Fitz, why don'tcha use the handles on the side to pick it up with?
     
  8. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    BTW, Don, put a set of Obligatos on my Kay yesterday, along with the Kay tailpiece (with the Kay metal script) and a cable tailgut. I do like the way they sound so far, very nice for arco, too, seemingly even easier to start than the Corelli 370TX on my Juzek.
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'll probably try loosening the strings a bit before whacking, but I'm gonna try that soon. As far as using the side handles, that's great, but I'd like to know that the shoulder strap is really doing some damage before I give up the convenience of one tripping it into the gig (bass over left shoulder, pull cart w/ right arm). After working so hard to pare down the gear to where this is possible, it would seem a shame to revert back to two trips if no harm is really being done.
     
  10. Just a thought...What about a wheel? I know they're gettin' kinda pricey, But like Don (I think) said awhile back, once you get one, you"ll wonder how you got along without it.
     
  11. reedo beat me to it.
    How can you NOT have a wheel?
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    When I got my new endpin a few months back, I chose the one that fits a wheel without having to remove the pin. The wheel itself will cost me about $70.00. I'm on the tall side and fairly fit, so I don't really mind the over the shoulder thing - but like I said, if it's bad for the bass to carry it that way (and so far no-one has come out and said that it is), I'd change it in a heartbeat. This is a little off topic, but even in a few months, this bass has really settled in and is sounding better all the time. Even the little fingerboard buzzes are mellowing and fading...so I'm completely into protecting the instrument, and if a wheel will help me do that for sure, then I'm all for it.
     
  13. I've never heard of any bass being damaged from carrying it in a soft case, whether by the handles or the shoulder strap. I only know one bassists whom I am aware of using a wheel, a physical handicap leaves him no choice (not to mention his bass is the heaviest I've ever encountered, seemingly weighing 2x a normal bass). If your situation consistently has you walking more than a couple city blocks, or some physical malady prohibits carrying your bass or is exacerbated by bass-carrying, get a wheel. Otherwise, IMO, it's just one more piece of equipment to have to deal with before and after every gig or rehearsal.
     
  14. Read my post again Ed, I indeed mentioned handicaps and maladies.
     
  15. DaveK
    Ed might have been referring to a particular person known to post now and then.