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non-adjustable bridges for fretless

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by kimstevens, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002

    In my search for a fretless bass, I have read descriptions and seen pictures of fretless basses, both lined and unlined, with wooden bridges that cannot be adjusted for intonation (and string height adjustment would be difficult). I've seen them on solidbody, semi-hollow, and ABGs. Can some of you luthiers tell me why this can be a good choice for a bridge? I would think that these non-adjustable elements would be a real pain in the normal working musical world.


  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    On a fretless bass, you are constantly intonating as you play, making small adjustments based upon your ears, (at least that's how it's s'posed to work! I think it'll be a life long struggle for me :cool: ), so a non-adjustable bridge can easily be overcome. Even with fretted instruments, you'll notice that the saddle is slightly angled to overcome some intonation problems, (due for the most part to string thickness...) When I built my first bass, (below... Wow, I was much younger then!), I jockeyed the bridge around when working in the intonation, made some marks, and sunk the anchor/height adjusters... This bass served me surprisingly well for years... The sound was full and pure, due in part, I am sure, to the choice of bridge material. It's just a matter of preference...


  3. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    Thanks. I do understand that one adjusts for intonation while one plays on a fretless. However, if playing fretless with fretlines, I would think that it would be preferable to be able to intonate the instrument according to the lines, and even if you could get pretty close with angleing the saddle to compensate for string thickness (or rather the result of string thickness, which would be string stiffness and therefore higher degrees of inharmonicity in the lower strings), the intonation would change if you decided to use a different type of strings than those which were used for the initial setup.
  4. jbay


    May 23, 2002
    The double bass and the entire violon family have bridges craved out of wood. Action (string height) is all based on the work of the luthier. But then again, I play the cello, and sometimes I hope I could easily adjust the action on it.