Raised saddle calculator

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Felix Habel, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. Felix Habel

    Felix Habel

    Mar 28, 2006
    I want to share my recent achievement with you. Some 15 years ago I had the intuition that tuning down a double bass one could simulate the same release in downward pressure of the bridge a raised saddle would produce. My idea was that one could find the tuning where the instrument works best and with that number calculate the exact height of the raised/high saddle. I did some tests and found that on some instruments which probably suffered excessive bridge pressure some improvement could be observed when tuned somewhat lower but at the time I didn't manage to work out the maths correctly. Now, some weeks ago, the same problem showed up and so I got back on that and finally got the maths done! I've put all the calculation in an interactive PDF file to make it available to everyone. I hope this is of some interest for some of you.

    Attached Files:

  2. nogbert


    Jul 18, 2010
    Denver, CO
    been looking for a calculator like this for ages. thanks a ton
    Felix Habel likes this.
  3. Back in September I sat down to figure this out on my bass... Should have just been patient ;) Thanks for this tool!
  4. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Has anyone had success with this? How did it go for you?
    I find this formula interesting and a bit confusing. First saw Felix’s formula in the Strad magazine. Have you worked through it on your bass?

    My bass likes high tension strings, low tension strings equal less of a deep punch sound.
    A high saddle takes away from the string tension and bridge height tension?
    I will go through the steps of this calculation and find the results on my bass.

    Old instruments often get the neck overstand angle raised resulting in a higher bridge and more top tension for sound improvement. Almost every Strad violin has had this operation.

    Bassist Thierry Barbe advocates a higher saddle for reduced tension if a player has small hands, in conjunction with a tighter sound post.

    ‘First of all fill in your reference pitch in the table. This is the pitch at which you're used to play, conventionally 440Hz, but you might be used to play at 442 or, as a baroque player, something lower than 440.
    Then gradually tune your instrument down and find the pitch at which the instrument works best by playing at each step. This can easily be done using a chromatic tuner that allows pitch calibration. Simply lower the reference pitch on your tuner and tune your instrument normally. Once you've found the pitch where the bass responds best fill in the new pitch in the table. Measure the string break angle at the bridge. Maesure the highest string on the bridge. Take the other measurements required to complete the table at the right. With a bridge that stands well straight it's ok to measure from the back side of the bridge to the crown of the saddle. Great precision is not really crucial here. Be careful to take the elevation
    measurements of the belly and the saddle WITHOUT the edge thickness. Measure from above the edge!
    Confirm data input with the "return" key.
    The result (green) will tell you how much the original saddle should be raised.’
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
    zootsaxes likes this.
  5. The string tension does not change if you raise the saddle, only the pressure on the top does.
    So your assumptions that higher tension strings are good for your instrument is not correct, since it is the pressure on the top that might be optimal with higher tension strings and your current saddle height.
    On the other hand, by raising the saddle you get a reduced top pressure as you would get with lower tension strings with your current saddle height.
    Since in most cases you can only raise the saddle but not lower it, you might better stick with what you already have.
    AGCurry likes this.
  6. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    So I evaluated my basses with TE Tuner using lower tuning pitch calibrations than 440hz.
    One bass is set up with a mix of BelCanto and Flex Deluxe strings, the other medium Spiros.
    I played pizz and arco.

    Both basses did not exhibit any noticeable improvement in sound with lower tuning calibrations and less pressure on the top.

    Easier or better to play? Not for me. I have no trouble with tough to play high tension strings such as Spiro starks and Dominants. Whatever strings sound best with the music played is what I use.

    So happily I do not need to change a thing.

    After this summer the classical bass will be strung 5ths tuning, in time for the orchestral season, with rather tough to bow heavy gauge strings.
    I’ll try this test again. (hunch is it will sound fine as is)
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
  7. You may need to wait a week or two with the lower tension to give the top time to accommodate to the new pressure.
    But if you have used lower tension strings for at least two weeks earlier, you can skip that now.