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Length from Tailpiece to Bridge

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by jimclark68, Dec 31, 2001.

  1. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    I upgraded the endpin and tailpiece wire on my Engelhardt last week. But, to my frustration, when I picked it up, my (now former) luthier said he didn't really know how far the tailpiece should be from the bridge, so it looked like he just eyeballed it based on the stock factory setup (#&*@!). I read several past threads about the 1/6 setup, so I used this as a starting point. For me this comes out to be 7" (the factory setup was 8"). However, the string length from tailpiece to bridge looks really short. Thinking that it was due to the fact that I just shortened it an inch, I looked at some pictures of fine basses, and their setups on average don't seem as short, either. Am I correct that the length is measured from the bridge to the ridge (saddle?) that the strings contact on the tailpiece, and not the end of the tailpiece? Any other feedback/advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. The 1:6 idea is a mechanical/mathematical formula to establish a relationship between the pitch above the bridge and between bridge and tailpiece. Disregarding octaves, opinion seems to be that the two pitches should be a 4th apart. Or a 5th. Depends on whom you ask. Since disagreeing with Monte on the subject, I heard from a notable luthier who feels that weight is a more important consideration than that pitch relationship, which seemed to validate Monte's choice of tailpieces.
  3. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I wanted to get your opinion on a theory of which I tend to follow in this "ratio matter". First of all, there are things in lutherie that I will claim to know the answer to and there are many that I won't[those I usually have a strong opinion on though.] Some subjects seem to be based more on faith than fact and that is ok-you could believe in something that facts don't support and go with it-and if it works for you-what the hey. I feel that the tailpiece ratio gig is one in which faith plays a role.
    I have an old friend who has great success in dealing with wolf-tones. He claimed that the concept of tuning the relationship was not the way to go. Here's why. When you start to tune two notes together and they are just getting close you here that woo-woo sound of the waves clashing. That conflict settles down and ends as the note become completely in tune. My friend felt that wolfs came from that woo-woo thing-not from relationships of tunings, but more from tunings slightly awry. Strong relationships like unisons, octaves, fourths, fifths, not EXACTLY in tune. It's also been suggested that tuning the notes exactly below the bridge is more than very difficult and a lack of precision here might result in wolfiness. So whats the solution if you subscribe to this theory? You drive the notes out of town. Create relationships between the above bridge and below bridge notes that are not strong ones. Any opinions?[probably a stupid question]
  4. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    So, beyond creating a specific pitch below the bridge, does the length between the bridge and tailpiece have any bearing on the performance of a bass?
  5. Jeff, you flatterer:
    Put me down as one of the faith guys. I have no absolute knowedge on this. You'll notice that most of the time I just pass along what knowledgeable people have said to me.
    In setting up Karr's Amati, Lou DeLeone disagreed with Karr, who wanted a heavy tailpiece to combat the wolf. Lou thought the weight was oppressive, and diminished the sound. And decades ago, Lou experimented with a system of cable loops that eliminated the tailpiece altogether. As for the wolf, that may be another "faith" area. Lou showed me a device he made to measure top deflection for use in making a soundpost. Quite by accident, he found the new soundpost eliminated the wolf on a client's bass. But not every time. Go figure...