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New Bass Bars

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Josh Ginsburg, Apr 25, 2003.


  1. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
    Helllo everyone-

    I'm curious about players, luthiers experiences with replacing bass bars in an instrument. I have a bass with a huge bass bar- and everyone luthier I have taken it to recommends replacing it. The trouble is that I like the tone of the instrument quite a bit, and it seems a shame to risk destroying that.
    On the other hand, it would be nice if the bass was a bit more powerful.

    Anyway- I'd just like to hear from more people who have done this- specifically, if they felt the instrument had the same qualities afterwards, or if it totally changed the tone.

    Thanks,
    Josh
     
  2. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    you talking about a sound post?
     
  3. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
  4. Replacing the bass bar MIGHT improve the sound of the instrument, but if there is nothing else wrong with the bass, that could be a very expensive MIGHT. I have to wonder if there is something else wrong with the bar - like cracks - for mutiple luthiers to recommend such a drastic change. Are these luthiers double bass luthiers or something else? Did any of them suggest just reducing the size of the existing bass bar?

    If money is no object, go for it. Otherwise, save that for the time when the bass needs an overhaul or other major repair requiring the top to come off.
     
  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    You did not state what kind of bass it is, nor whether the bass bar is seperate or carved-in-place. If it's simply large, that would restrict the low end response. If it's a carved-in-place bar, that could explain the lack of power. If it's soft or spongy wood, or cracked, that would also explain a lack of power. And its position is critical--it needs to lay right under the E side bridge foot for best response, and it needs to be properly angled to the grain of the top to avoid causing parallel cracks. The bass bar is the "engine" of the bass. One cannot overemphasize how important it is to tone and response.

    Try this: pull the E string laterally an inch or so. Look at the bass side f-hole. You should see some movement there at the inside edge of the f-hole. If it just stays put, your bass' bar or top may be too stiff. I like to see the f-hole move a fair amount, though I can't really give you a precise measurement. I agree with Bob that it's interesting that several luthiers have recommended the procedure.
     
  6. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
    Hi Arnold,

    Actually, you've seen this bass. It's in pretty good condition- I can't really see needing to take the top off anytime soon. (although you never know with airline baggage handlers)

    I remember you tried this test when I brought the bass to you- the top barely moves at all when you pull the E-string.

    I wonder, though, if this unconventional bass bar is why I like the instument- very punchy and even- but still with dark tone.

    In your experience, does the new bass bar drastically change the tone, or is it more to just give the instrument more power, or bottom etc.?

    Of course these things aren't mutally exclusive so It's probably a silly question- I'm curious to know what players who have had this done think of their instruments before and after.

    Thanks,
    Josh
     
  7. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
    As far as everyone recommending a new bar- it was as "you know this bass would probably sound better with a smaller bass bar", not " you need to replace this right now before your bass explodes!!"

    the bar isn't carved out of the top, and as far as I know it's installed correctly- It's just big- I'd say just under 2 inches under the E foot.

    Josh
     
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Yes, Josh, I do remember it now. I think the main difference you'd be likely to hear if the bass bar was recarved is a slight increase in bottom end and perhaps in overall power. The nice dark tone you describe should stay as it is--that's in the wood. But there's no need to do anything unless you can't deal with the bass the way it is...