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Lo and behold, NALD!

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by MrSidecar, Jun 17, 2018.


  1. What the... New AfterLength Day! :)

    Now, I have always been a fan of "make do with what you got", rather than going all OCD about endpins, fingerboard tuning, and so on. Unfortunately, I have gone through a period of not being happy with my sound, and with the fact that obver time, my bass seemed to have developed from an easy-speaking free and open sounding little beauty to being home of the wolves. A whole family of wolves (sheep and little piglets beware!), big and small, on the weirdest places: Bb and C on the G string, Bb on the D-string... I was tempted to call my bass Wolfgang. People asked me "This made in Wolverhampton?" , well, you get the deal. Plus, everything sounded rather dull and lifeless. I remembered my bass being very resonant and alive, almost like with a built-in reverb. Gone, it was.

    It had gotten to the point where recently, other people's basses made me want them, instead of thinking "I actually like MY bass". Where had the instrument gone I had sold my Rubner for?

    I started to investigate and found out that my afterlengths were tuned in 5ths (apart from the d-string, which is a little off the pattern, mostly because it's a compensated tailpiece with obviously a slightly imprecise drilling of the d-string channel). And I found out that that might be bad (I have to thank the posts of Jake DeVilliers here).

    So, sunday morning and all, I gave it a shot and tried to do something about this. Tuned the afterlengths in 2 octaves plus a 4th.

    It worked beyond all expectations, I would call the effect more dramatic than subtle. The family of wolves has moved elsewhere, everything responds MUCH easier (with the bow it's more obvious, but very noticeable still pizzicato), and the bass has gotten its "ring" back, the resonant and alive feeling.

    So, in case you think that this afterlength business is voodoo, give it a try. If you don't have 4ths , try and tune them in. It really works. But- you know that already, it has been discussed before. But yes, it's true.

    Before I obsess too much about the D being off by almost a halftone, I choose to enjoy what I have now. Next time I change strings might be the right time to drill a new D string channel.

    Best
    Sidecar
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Interesting. I'm happy to have a largely wolf-free bass, but always happy to learn something new.

    It would seem like an impossible task to build a fixed compensated tailpiece because there are so many variables (i.e. - bridge micro-placement, tailiwire variances, changes due to seasonal weather, responses of different strings, etc.). But a tailpiece with adjustable saddles might actually do the trick, and I think I have seen these out there somewhere. In practice, I've never cared for basses with resonant after lengths for what I do, but many of my friends in the orchestral world feel very differently.

    P.S. - nice thread title. :D
     
  3. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    Total upright Newbie here...

    What is " after length"?

    Is this the string between the bridge and the tail piece?
     
  4. Chris,
    I might be using the term wrong, or at least loosely. I mean one of those tailpieces where a) the afterlength gets a little shorter with each string starting from e as the longest, and b) the strings' pull vector seems to focus on one point rather than four because of the angle of the strings. Ah, descriptions. Like this:

    IMG_1311.JPG
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  5. Yes, exactly.
     
  6. lurk

    lurk

    Dec 2, 2009
    I'm intrigued. I've restrung the tuners so the E goes to the farthest peg, etc and I think there's a subtle improvement. How do you tune the afterlengths?
     
  7. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    This ...
     
  8. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Kolstein makes a tailpiece with adjustable saddles.

    You only get about three semitones of range for tuning, but it helps you choose which resonances you want to allow or inhibit.

    To Chris's point, I think this matters more with arco playing. With jazz pizz I pretty much wish the afterlength resonance didn't exist at all.

    kolstein-tailpiece.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  9. What I did was, I shortened the tailpiece wire. Yesterday after having done that, I read that Chuck Traeger suggests max. 1.5 inches or so of tailpiece wire length between saddle and tailpiece, and according to that, mine was way too long as well.

    Best
    Sidecar
     
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  10. My bass has lost some of the "reverby" vibe, I actually liked. Do not know whether it is because my gut strings are getting older, or after a repair I had made a good year ago. The tailpece wire is the same length, BUT the bridge was moved back to its proper location in conjunction with the repair. I had moved it some mm's foreward to get a bit of extra string height and softer feel...
     
  11. Sorta lines up with at least reasonable suspicion that the afterlength might be at play, plus the strings probably, since a few millimeters don't do so much- at least for me it was in the realm of 2 cm. i lengthened the afterlengths.

    Easy to check on your bass with a bow and an electronic tuner or the ear- the after length of a string should ideally be the note of the next highest string plus 2 octaves.
     
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  12. That might be with checking out at least as kind of a test piece to hear differences- and maybe then I would copy the dimensions on a fixed tailpiece blank. I have no real idea on tailpiece weight, and I don't know if they weighed the cable and clamp as well, but as they state 3lbs weight, isn't that really heavy?

    Best
    Sidecar
     
  13. FWIW, the wooden endpin thing works too- on a whim, I changed my 15mm steel tube endpin to a vic firth 5A drum stick (a little too thin, but gets the job done and to get the idea). Better response in the low register, plus a louder bass as a whole.

    OMG.

    Best
    Sidecar
     
  14. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    3lbs (on their website) does sound a bit high doesn't it, but I have no reference for what other tailpieces weigh. Maybe 3lbs is the shipping weight? I'd call them and ask for an actual in-hand weight. It is a nice, thick chunk of ebony.

    Also, be warned... if you're OCD at all, afterlength tuning is a rabbit hole you can disappear into and waste a lot of time with. I went a little nuts trying different tunings, pros and cons... etc.

    It does make a difference--you *can* move wolf tones around a bit, and inhibit them--but after a while I just found a setting that was "good enough" and got back to actually practicing the bass.

    Obsessing about afterlength tuning can turn you into Ahab pretty quickly.
     
  15. Mos def. And I will stop here, since the very noticeable improvement is good enough for me.
    However, the wooden endpin...

    Best
    Sidecar
     
  16. Don't forget that by moving the bridge on the top you also move the distance between bridge and soundpost. That might be the reason for the change in sound.
     
    MrSidecar likes this.
  17. My bass had lost some of the tone character that I liked as it moved into summer, which is hot and dry here... My bass is aluminum, so heat makes the metal expand (or relax), cold makes it contract (or become more rigid). Saturday evening I played someone else's bass that previously had similar tone, and when I came home to mine, i could really tell things had changed.

    The solution that worked for my bass (and my strings): Raise the action. Big difference!

    (The action had actually noticably lowered with the temperature changes.)
     
  18. That was what I was hinting at. Sure enough my afterlengths are about 2 octaves and a minor 6th. Ofcourse my Velvet tail gut has also stretched a bit. Otherwise I am pretty happy with the bass at the moment, so I hesitate to start meddling with it. How hard is it to untie the knot after about two years, how many tries will it take, etc...
     
  19. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Welcome to the cult! Just because it's voodoo doesn't mean that it isn't real. The difference on my bass was far from subtle and when it slips out, I can tell. When I get it back, hello baby, welcome home!

    I have some easy, hacky ways of dialing it in temporarily between adjustments and I've gotten quite good at it, even on a set break.
     
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  20. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    tailpiece.

    Currently, I have little cut pieces of bass guitar afterlengths under them to tune it to 2 octaves + 4th. Pieces of takeout chopsticks are an easy quick fix as well.

    The right way to do it is adjusting the tailpiece wire, but different strings or sometimes a change in season can bring it out of true just enough. This works until it's on the bench again.
     

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