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overstand / neck angle

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by bassedsouth, Mar 2, 2017.


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  1. Here is a pic of an old Viennese/Prague bass that that I adopted. I got it with the fingerboard off and here is my question .... How does one figure out the correct overstand for a particular instrument.
    I have a feeling that this bass may have had a shim before because the fingerboard that came separate to the instrument had slivers of wood attached to the gluing side of it. As you can see the neck is fastened to the block with a dovetail join so its a big job having to reset the neck etc if need be.
    Any insight would be great
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    If you consider the "correct" overstand to be the original overstand for that instrument, whack a fingerboard on it and there you have it. If the instrument is to be played in a baroque ensemble with gut strings, the player will be happy. If you add a fingerboard and project outwards to the bridge position, what height do you get? It might be perfectly playable. Some people are happier keeping an instrument like that in its original configuration.

    However, modern playing styles often demand higher overstand, so if that's what you want, you're really on your own there. You'll have to reset the neck and overstand until the projection is right for the bridge height you want. You're correct in that its a big job. I am restoring an instrument in a similar state, and the owner and I have decided to go for a modern overstand and bridge height. I removed the neck, filled the dovetail, added wood to the heel and will be resetting the neck into the same or maybe a new neck block when the time comes.
     
    bassedsouth likes this.
  3. However, modern playing styles often demand higher overstand, so if that's what you want, you're really on your own there. You'll have to reset the neck and overstand until the projection is right for the bridge height you want. You're correct in that its a big job. I am restoring an instrument in a similar state, and the owner and I have decided to go for a modern overstand and bridge height. I removed the neck, filled the dovetail, added wood to the heel and will be resetting the neck into the same or maybe a new neck block when the time comes.[/QUOTE]

    Is it worth considering a shim to increase the angle ?
    Thing is that I have no idea on the sound or playability of the bass unlike the one that you are working on.
    How did you get the dovetail out ??
     
  4. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    I have no idea of the sound of the one i am working on either.

    A shim will increase the angle but not do anything about the overstand ... and it will thicken the neck. I hate shims, and if the neck is flamed they look awful too. Why do you want to increase the angle? What is the bridge projection/height now?

    Every dovetail situation is different. You have to try to find its weak point and work on that. Sometimes you can whack it or wiggle it loose, sometimes you have to soak out the glue (this can get really messy), others you have to chip or drill out the glue ... Look out for screws and nails and dowels which can really complicate the job. and sometimes you just have to chop the whole thing out, and replace the whole block! It's a big job and I wouldn't recommend it to you unless you are very persistent and courageous! If the block is sound and the neck well glued in, and the bridge is a reasonable height, just put the top back on and string it up.
     
  5. jsf729

    jsf729 Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2014
    Central Maryland
    Is it worth considering a shim to increase the angle ?
    Thing is that I have no idea on the sound or playability of the bass unlike the one that you are working on.
    How did you get the dovetail out ??[/QUOTE]
    You could consider an angled maple shim that runs from paper thin (at the nut) to whatever thickness desired to increase the overstand as well. But like Matthew said, why don't you temp up the fingerboard and see where it's at? You could then experiment with keeping it lightly clamped at the nut (banded or taped) and fitting small shims at the base of the neck under the fingerboard checking bridge height with a straight edge. When you find what you want, that's the dimensions of the angled shim.
     
    bassedsouth likes this.
  6. It's 110 mm
     
  7. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Do you want luthier philosophy or hard numbers to work with?

    Is that 110 mm just a straight edge off the top of the neck you have now? That is not really the bridge projection because you will still have the fingerboard height and the action height to add for a total finished bridge height goal.

    Every bass has a different sweet spot. If I'm starting from nothing or an unknown pile of parts, my target goal is approx. 35-40mm overstand from the bottom of the fingerboard to the top of the top plate and a bridge height of 6- 6 1/2 inches. Aiming for those numbers is how I decide to shim or reset the neck. Since you already have the top off, it will be easier to steam out the neck right now. I'd do that first, get everything done and close up the box, then put the neck back together with the target goals. Cool looking bass; big project. Good luck.

    j.
    www.condino.com
    www.kaybassrepair.com
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  8. yes it is.

    You're talking 35 - 40mm / this particular bass is no more than 10mm which is way less than my personal good playing basses and that is my concern. Not to say the bass wont be good like this but I've never met a bass with the fingerboard quite as close to the top as this one , hence my piqued interest .
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Bow clearance would be the main concern, wouldn't it?
     
    james condino likes this.
  10. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    It affects tone as well, if it means the string-angle over the bridge is different. Different pressure on the top, etc.
     
  11. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Not to mention access to thumb position, although not everyone goes up there:)
     
  12. Yes Eric , bow clearance is a worry as is having to 'stoop' more in thumb position.

    These are things that haven't really occurred to me before ,but my main player , a solid German shop bass has what appears to be from what Ive just learned a 'modern' overstand and neck angle.
    Now when I dig out my other basses with lesser overstand and neck angle all of a sudden I can see that theres quite a difference in comfortability.
    Terms like 'ignorance is bliss' and ' a little knowledge is a dangerous thing' come to mind.
     
  13. LowG

    LowG

    Dec 8, 2006
    Milwaukee, WI
    Some of that talk about thumb position on low overstand instruments should be taken with a grain of salt. I have basses with normal overstand and one with very low. I can play either setup fine all over the neck. If I can I'll share a pic later.
     
    bassedsouth likes this.
  14. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    if i had to get that neck off, if I couldn't wiggle the dovetail loose, I'd probably cut the neck out with a fine kerf saw; least damage, least mess, and your neck block ends up with a kinda mortise that you have to clean up and fill. And you have to rebuild the neck heel.

    However as Boromir once said ... "One does not simply cut the neck out ... its dovetails are guarded by more than just glue. There is evil there that does not sleep ..."

    Its a big job.
     
  15. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Ah, Matthew, you literary rascal! :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
    ColdEye and Matthew Tucker like this.
  16. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I needn't be told this. I once removed a neck from a half size Gewa bass. PU glue. Took days. I stick to my metalwork now.
     
  17. Michael Karn

    Michael Karn

    Apr 16, 2014
    When Jeff Bollbach reset my neck he had to take the back off the bass and pound the neck out with a hammer
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  18. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    I had one come to me with a badly broken neck. I persuaded the owner to allow me to replace, rather than repair, so I was free to split the remaining (almost entire heel) material out, one segment at a time.
    I reassembled the segments to give myself an accurate model of the original neck, but the replacement neck was so different that I had to rebuild the replacement heel as well as the neck block in order to achieve a good fit. Lotsa fun.
     
  19. The kerf saw idea does seem to make sense , thats how I'd possibly deal with separating the button and then cut from the front to the button between where the ribs ends meet the neck leaving the dovetail behind in the block.That would leave the dovetail flush in the block and the neck foot flat (dovetail-less).Then Create a larger mortise and add wood to the neck foot .....? I also have no idea how deep this dovetail even runs in its mortise. Drilling a small hole into the dovetail may give me an idea though. I'm adding a couple of extra pics
     

    Attached Files:

  20. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    no that's not what I was saying. I would cut DOWN both sides of the heel with a THIN blade, as far back as you can, to the depth of the dovetail. Then cut DOWN across and through the heel stopping at the block and then remove wood as far as the bottom of the dovetail. Hint - I make two parallel cuts 6mm apart. Then you simply have to loosen the foot of the dovetail. But remember Boromir.

    With this approach you retain all of the original neck wood intact, and can rebuild the dovetail after into a classic italian tenon, however you wish. It is much stronger this way.
     

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