My soundpost slipped - help!

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by AlexFeldman, Dec 12, 2000.

  1. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I've been eyeing my soundpost for a few weeks now. It's slowly been moving to a place it should not be, along with my bridge's contortionist antics. I've play a lot, so I'm very reluctant to give my bass up to the repairman for a few days.

    Recently things have just been terrible. The action is way too low. So I laid the bass on the floor on its back (neck supported by pillow, of course) like I have been instructed to do, with the intention of putting on my other bridge (which is larger and hopefully would've solved my low action problem). So I'm loosening the strings, having someone hold the bridge... suddenly, *thunk*. My soundpost is rolling around inside the bass. :( :( :(

    So the repairman has been called. He's hard to get a hold of, I may not be able to find him until tomorrow or Thursday. And I have a gig on Friday! Is there anything I can do?

    If you have any tips, please post/email me. Thank you!
    Alex Feldman

  2. Ah, Yess. The old sound post collapse story. I remember a few desperate times with a wire hanger, trying manically to fish it into some kind of Upright position. So it sounds like you don't have a sound post setter. Ok, here are a few options, from best to worst. You may be able to find a device called a mechanical finger if there is a good auto body store in your area. This is what most luthiers use for sound post setting. You grab the post with the mechanical finger and the lightly(!) tap it into position with another rod.It would help if you had a small mirror to check the position.
    Now, if you can't find any of this stuff, you will have to fashion a clamp and a hook from a wire hanger. Bend one part of the hanger in half to "pinch" the soundpost while you hook it with the other part and try to get it into an upright position. Once you get it relatively close,try to get a snug fit, not too tight. This will at least hold until you get your luthier to set it correctly. BTW, Both Kolstein and Lemur sell sound-post setter kits, an investment I have found to be well worth it. But since it sounds like you don't have time to wait for a shipment, you will have to use what us Military types call a field-expedient method,which means you gotta work with what you have, so get to it, have some patience, and good luck!

  3. There's no worse sound than the sound post "thunk". My post slipped once. I tried the wire hanger method to no avail. It takes a lot of patience. More patience than I had. I wound up letting it sit for two days and taking it to someone else.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I had my soundpost adjusted at Andy's shop last Friday & got to watch Chris put it back. He actually speared it with one tool which looked like a small knife blade on a bent handle (this, so he could put it into position), and then tapped it into place with another tool which looked like a metal starfish also on a crooked handle (that, or some really, really bizarre S&M fetish device...). He was able to put it in place in less than 2 minutes, but then he does that all the time. I remember thinking that if it was me trying to do that, I'd be talking about a couple of hours minimum, a whole lot of cussing and pounding of fists, and a great deal of hair pulling. My advice would be to find someone who's done it before and borrow a bass for your Friday gig if need be. Good luck.
  5. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    YMMV but I've found that if you don't have a s.p. setter, a piece of string tied to the top of the sound post can do the trick.

    Start with a piece of string about 36 " long. Remove the sound post. Locate the center of the string and tie it to the s.p. about 3/4" from the top end. Tie off securely, the string can be left on the sound post when your done. Use a piece of stiff wire to fish one end of the string into one F hole and out the other F hole. At this point the sound post is still outside the bass. Without dropping either end of the string into the bass, drop the sound post into the F hole. If you now pull the string straight from either end, the s.p. will be hanging from the string in a reasonably vertical position inside the bass.. Using the string, carefully position the top of the s.p. into place. Now you can ,with the piece of wire you fished the string thru, move the foot of the s.p. into position. Tighten the strings up to put some pressure on the sound post so the post don't fall over. now make your final adjustment.

    A couple of tips that will make it easier. Mark the string with a knot at the edge of each F hole before you drop the post in and the knots will tell you when the top of the post is in the proper lateral position. Use a good light and look for a wear mark where the foot of the s.p. normally sets. If you can't find a mark, set the post as near vertical as possible. Put masking tape on the edges of the F holes so you don't scratch up the finish with the fish wire.

    This has worked well for me, hope it works as well for you.
    While you have the soundpost out, check the ends of the post and see if it was cut to fit the contour of the back and belly. If the soundpost is cut square on the ends it can go in in any position. If the ends are cut at a VERY slight angle, mark with a heavy pencil mark the longest side of the s.p. That mark should be oriented toward the centerline of the bass.

  6. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the help guys... fortunatly I found my repairman and he'll have it done by tomorrow morning! Phew. Disaster averted...

    In the meantime, I think I'll ask Santa for a sp setter for Festivus...
  7. bullmoose


    Jun 15, 2001
    Edinburgh, UK

    I've just noticed a crack in the laquer on the G side of my bass where the neck joins the body. Also where the finger board joins the neck.
    On looking inside, the sound post appears to be more towards the G-side of the body although it is vertical & I've so far not had any problems in playability.
    Should the sound post be dead centre & if so, how far up the length of the body should it be in relation to the f-holes?
    Are these cracks quite common or is my sound post being off centre likely to be putting uneven stress on the bass?
    I'm about to put some Spirocores on and assume they'll be higher tension than my current no-name strings - should I get this checked out before I change strings?
    Thanks in advance!
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Depending on who you ask, the soundpost is supposed to sit within an inch or two of the back (lower) side of the treble foot of the bridge. It was never meant to be in the center of the bass. Maybe Don or reedo can help you with the question about the crack.
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i have a question that shows how ignorant your moderator is :D. why isn't the soundpost attached in some manner to the inside of the instrument? obviously there's a reason for this, since fixing the soundpost-slipping-syndrome seems to be a common issue.

    are you implying something here? :eek:
  10. Okay, one question at a time here. If it is only the laquer that is cracked and not the wood, well don't fret about it too much (was that a pun? :))
    It is only a cosmetic defect and should not affect the bass, it's just that, you know, S#*t happens, and it be like that sometimes.
    To further clarify Chris's answer, the usual placement of the soundpost is on the G string side, about 5/8 or so ( about the circumference of the soundpost) below the foot.
    As for glueing the soundpost, you have to understand the mechanics of how it works to know that that is a terrible thing to do. First of all, the wood contracts and expands, and a rigidly secured soundpost would most assuredly cause some damage, because it could not adjust to the difference. Second, glueing it in place whould inhibit the vibrations from front to back, and you would probably lose both volume and tone.
    As a comparison. would you glue your tuners in place once you got the instrument in tune? ;)
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    thanks for the explanation, reedo35. do sound posts require adjustments often?
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    That sounds like a cheesy pickup line you might try at a bar frequented by female luthiers. Let me know how it works if you ever get to use it....
  13. I was going to make a smartass addition to Chris'
    comment, but I'll keep it straight.
    A lot of people like to experiment with soundpost placement, because as you get closer to the bridge,
    It gives a brighter, more defined sound. Farther away, a darker, bassier sound. And I'm talking the difference of a quarter inch (or less) either way.
    But, if it is rattling (post is too loose) or the sound is pinched (too tight) it is time for an adjustment.
    This usually occurs with the change of season, so
    maybe once or twice a year, if that, unless you make the mistake of loosening all of the strings at once, which usually calls for a coat hanger and some choice swear words (right, Bob G.? ;) )
    Some Bassists I know have never had an adjustment, which I guess is OK too. If there are no problems, and you like the sound you get, why fix it if it ain't broke?
  14. bullmoose


    Jun 15, 2001
    Edinburgh, UK
    Thanks guys.
    Think I'll leave the post where it is & not stress about the laquer - just that it looks suspiciously like a fault line & I had visions of the neck getting torn off mid-gig!
  15. JT:
    Sound post adjustment is usually related to changes in season. The top is arched, and will rise and fall depending on whether it's winter or summer. Every bass is unique, so the degree of change is variable, depending on many factors. Some basses require a 'winter' sound post and a 'summer' sound post. Some only require an adjustment. Climactic change is the major reason for having adjustable bridges. In Europe, there's a general prejudice against adjustable bridges, and they will instead have winter and summer bridges.
  16. Don,maybe the prejudice arises because of the cost or availability of adjustable bridges,i know i havent seen one on a bass in my area,or maybe us Brits don`t need one because it is p*ss wet ALL the time!
  17. The objection expressed to me by is that the adjustors interfere with the tone. I've been told this by orchestral players from Vienna, Milan, Prague, Budapest, Munich, Paris.
    One adjustable costs less than two fixed.
  18. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Incidently, it looks like adjustable bridges are getting in fashion here (Paris), and reputed luthiers do stock aluminum wheels and are now willing to stamp their mark on bridges equiped with them. This trend is not really justified by weather changes, since we do not have such drastic changes of relative humidity that you experience along with the change of seasons in North America, but I guess it is now considered interesting and convenient to be able to adjust the string hight without having to run to your luthier... plus Korean basses probably sell better with adjusters than without !
  19. Mr. Foundation

    Mr. Foundation

    Sep 13, 2009
    Everything you suggested here worked perfectly. Thank you!
  20. yambo89


    Feb 11, 2014
    There are no double bass players or luthiers where I live, need advice on where the sound post should be. The sound post on my bass seems to be under the bridge feet at the G side- just directly underneath it so was wondering if it should be a little bit towards the centre than that.
    Thanks in advance