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main indications of a sound post being too tight

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by luisraulmunoz, Jun 6, 2019.


  1. Hello, I believe my soundpost might be too tight. I feel the pizz too percussive and the strings rather tight overall.

    WhAt are the telltale signs of a tight soundpost?
     
  2. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Visually, the upper wing on the f hole may be higher than the surrounding top.
    An A string than is hard to bow and wolf tones may indicate a tight post.
     
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  3. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I have a theory that seems to work for best tone and volume on my bass, that if you're using low-tension strings you need a slightly higher-tension soundpost (or soundpost setting if yours is adjustable). And the corollary would be just the opposite, that for high-tension strings you need a slightly lower tension sound post.

    Although my bass is somewhat of an aluminum oddball, because it has a trap-door for access and an adjustable sound post, I have been able to test this quite a bit... But I just don't know if this theory also applies to wood basses. (Of course then weather comes into play and can change everything.)

    Has anyone had any similar observations regarding a relationship between string tension and soundpost tension?
     
    luisraulmunoz and Co. like this.
  4. It makes sense that higher tension strings, since they give more pressure on the top, need a shorter soundpost to have a similar pressure on the soundpost that lower tension strings have with a longer one.
     
    Selim, luisraulmunoz and dhergert like this.
  5. Matthias Hacker

    Matthias Hacker

    Apr 8, 2018
    My impression is that with a (too) tight soundpost the strings feel like having more tension and beeing stiffer. The tight soundpost - light strings theory seems to make sense, but I am absolutly not sure about that. I´m afraid you have to give it a try. An experienced person can tell you if it´s maybe too tight when trying to move the soundpost.
     
  6. The most obvious sign of an overly tight post is bulges in the top and back, but that’s mostly a plywood thing. Plywood is floppy.

    If you drop the bridge, put the bass on its’ back and jostle it, and the post doesn’t fall over, it’s too tight.

    If the bass sounds choked and lacks low end, the post is probably too tight.
     
    Dabndug and luisraulmunoz like this.
  7. Matthias Hacker

    Matthias Hacker

    Apr 8, 2018
    My Bass sounds best when the top is raised about 2-3mm/0,1" by the soundpost. It definitly won´t fall over when the bridge is droped. I´d rather say if the soundpost will fall over it is too loose. I know that opinions on this are different, but this is my experience with my instrument, and I did a kind of test series over several years to find the best soundpost setup. My main indicator is how much effort it takes to move the soundpost using a proper soundpost setter. This is based on experience, hard to tell from the distance.
     
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  8. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    @Matthias Hacker, just so we can get a broader sense of your instrument's setup, would you be able to tell us what tension (or what kind of) strings you use?

    Thank you! :)
     
  9. Matthias Hacker

    Matthias Hacker

    Apr 8, 2018
    Of course, though that might not help much to answer the question if the soundpost might be too tight. I´m playing Presto Balance Orchestra Light right now. Those might be the best hybrid strings I played so far, but time will tell. 3 weeks on now. And cheap!
     
    dhergert likes this.
  10. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
  11. Matthias Hacker

    Matthias Hacker

    Apr 8, 2018
    This starts to get interesting at around 12min. He definitly likes to set the soundpost really loose. I´m far away from saying this is good or bad, I am more surprised how much opinions on this subject do vary. I´ve seen experinced and well known luthiers setting a soundpost into my bass with much more tension than I would dare to do. Maybe the best way is to get an adjustable soundpost, so it´s possible to find out what suits the best, depending on the thickness of the top, the strings and what ever. Plus those adjustable soundpost have movable "endpins", which will garantee a perfect fitting, no matter how humid or dry the weather is. I guess thats the greatest advantage. And a general problem with traditional soundposts, imagine you have a perfect fitted soundpost, now you put the bridge and the strings back on and tune up. Will the top move under the tenison? Yes of course, not that much, but it will. The perfect plane fitted soundpost will than only have contact towards the bridge, there will be a gap between the "southern" soundpost surface and the top. Not good. I´ve seen that quite some times.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  12. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Fit is an interesting soundpost sub-topic. Before I acquired it, my Alcoa had some major welds and patches applied to repair an abuse-related crack on the treble side of the top plate. The occasion of these repairs was also when the trap door was installed on my Alcoa. These welds left the underside of the top plate very uneven and rough, and frankly not as solid looking as I would have liked.

    Concerned about protecting the top plate, I put together a "Virzi-style" soundpost with the thought of spreading the soundpost tension over a wider area of the top plate: I carved out a robust rectangular sheet of aluminum to use as a platform, put folds in it to support tension without bending, put initially 6, later reduced to 4 individually adjustable-length wooden (ash) feet on it and set it up with a long adjustable-length oak dowel which reaches to the back plate. Then I set the length on each of the feet based on the uneven top, and set the length of the oak dowel to reach the back plate.

    Clearly the presence of the trap-door on my Alcoa has provided the opportunity for me to experiment and install this unique type of sound-post and I've been thankful for that.

    The platform and feet spread is wide enough that this soundpost's support is actually supplied under both bridge feet, so there are some interesting new things to consider related to tone. I've adjusted the soundpost total length a few times, starting with a loose enough fit to allow slipping around easily, to now, a tight enough fit that it doesn't move easily at all. I've been using the same low-tension strings during this whole period, so my length testing related to tone and volume has remained consistently reliable.

    The current tight setting is producing the best acoustic volume and tone that I've heard with this bass. Where I had been concerned about being heard without an amp with the primarily acoustic bands that I play with (banjo, mandolin, multi-guitars, piano, etc.), since adjusting the soundpost tight, I'm getting heard very well among 3 to 5 other acoustic instruments, even including piano.

    So I've been very pleased with this tight soundpost setup... And this is the reason I've been wondering about others with potential soundpost tension / string tension related experiences.
     
    Matthias Hacker likes this.
  13. In my case I feel the E string is a bit too tight though it sounds good the sound doesn't have enough flexibility imo. Also the first and second strings sound a bit tight and pizz is a bit more percussive than I would like. Though the sound has nice power and is very direct which I suppose is the upside of a tighter soundpost. In my experience it's a trade off because this type of setup (depending on the bass) loses some flexibility in the sound.

    I'm going to a luthier tomorrow and he'll have a look, I suppose I'll probably ask him to loosen (or shorten) just a bit.
    Perhaps better to loosen it first rather than shortening no?
    Also I like the Chuck Traeger concept of curving the contact points of the soundpost. It had a positive effect on a previous bass.
    This bass is new, less than one year old and just brought it to Puerto Rico last weekend so it's still adjusting to the local weather (though it has been less humid than normal this week)
     
  14. I heard this once from Petracchi, I tried some Corelli strings and he told me in order to use those it was necessary to have a tighter soundpost, so he was of that same opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  15. Might be the position as well. A bit south might loosen the feel and reduce a bit of percussive attack. Maybe both, position and soundpost tension.
     
    luisraulmunoz likes this.
  16. I will try your suggestion and try moving it a bit south first before doing any shortening.
     
  17. Moving the post in toward the centerline is pretty much the same as shortening it, unless your bass is VERY sensitive to placement, and it’s reversible.
     
  18. Update: Ironically, given the nature and topic of this post, the day before I was going to the luthier the soundpost started to loosen by itself, by then the instrument had been in Puerto Rico for 8 days and it took that long for the bass to acclimatize and absorb the humidity, the two following days it expanded a bit more even, now the sound post is if anything too loose...smh.
    Now normally this process takes about 3 to 5 days when I bring my instruments over from abroad. This time it took a bit longer.

    The main differences this time were:
    1. The bass is new (less than one year old)
    2. The back and sides are made with poplar. All my previous instruments had maple backs and sides and were considerably older.

    Another observation:
    String height went up a bit but not as much as previous occasions during the adjustment period.

    So tomorrow I will go to the luthier to try to tighten it though im wondering if I will need to have a new one fitted as this one might simply be too short, I already ordered one from International Violin co....
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019

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