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Raised saddle

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Jeff Bollbach, Mar 31, 2003.


  1. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Tomfoolery pic-
     
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    That'll do wonders for that bass' top integrity...
     
  3. I haven't seen one of those in the last 25 years or so. They were kind of popular back in the 1960's in the early days of steel strings. I believe one of the Elgar books has a diagram or photo of something similar. Thanks to improvements in string construction, there isn't too much demand for something like this today (at least around here).
     
  4. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    I've seen quite of few of these; mostly on old basses. Arnold, I believe the idea is to relieve, not add tension on the top of the bass.
     
  5. Hey Martin - you do know what integrity means?
     
  6. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    "I did not have sex with that woman" -- Bill Clinton
     
  7. Hey, cool! I made two like that last year, one for a Pfretchzner (sp? - I can never remember that speling) from the 1920's which already sounded dynamite (Rick Kilburn's bass of many years, now sold to a prized pupil) and the other for some anonymous Bohemian belong to a friend of Rick's. In the former case there was a big opening up of the sound, with even better low-end sustain than previously, and less nasality in the higher register. In the latter case there was less improvement, but still some. I have fitted about 6 or 7 over the past 10 years, using various designs. A couple seemed to affect no change, the rest made for happy improvements.
    The pattern I used recently was a little rounder on top and in the cutout, and the large gap between the ribs and the riser (isn't the lower cork padding in this photo kind of irrelevant?) didn't exist. I prefer to have the wire bend over the thing just a little, moving out from the ribs a couple of millimetres before arcing back in towards the belly. Makes the whole deal a tiny bit more stable, perhaps. Or not.
     
  8. Gerard - I'm curious if you recommended the installation of the saddle raisers, or if your customers came in and asked you to install it without your recommendation?
     
  9. They always ask first. I have not once offered it voluntarily as an option, as I believe that there are other ways around it. For one, one person's too-tight sound and finger feedback is another's just right, meaning 'sell the damned thing and get one that fots you!' For another, I think I'd roll my eyes big time if I saw one on an instrument I'd designed.
    On the other hand, at its best a saddle riser need not do anything permanent to a bass, just sort of being there for a few years until the player realises that they miss an indefinable something about the un-lifted sound or feel. Then it's a fairly simple matter to pop it out and shorten the cable on the tailpiece, and all's as it was.
    So I explain to them that there may be no benefit at all, that regardless of whether there is or is not they are going to pay for my time, and that I can make no promises that the bass will be utterly happy with the change in stresses. If there's some weakness in the rib/blockk juncture left unrepaired, that could be made worse or fail utterly. And if the endpin groove is too far out from the rib the endpin may pull more forward than usual, if the socket is bad. All things I can fix, but I find that many poor bassists are reluctant to see an ambiguous experiment based upon the say-so of someone who knows someone who heard it from a friend of Ray Brown's cat's vet or something like that blossom into a major repair and prep job. If they are still wanting all the fuss though, I'll do it, and happily take advantage of the opportunity to get everything down at the bottom in ship shape.
     
  10. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    ...popcorn anyone?
     
  11. popcorn?
     
  12. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    DepardieuOuija
    Where have you been? Do you post only on the full moon? ;)

    The "popcorn" reference... when things get a little dramatic on talkbass, well, it's akin to a home movie. Just sit back, get some popcorn, and watch.
    Of course, Mr. Sheridan never replies to flak, so I guess it's just microwave ACT II for now.

    Speaking of movies- does anybody get coffee at their local movie theater? I like coffee with candy, but not with popcorn.
     
  13. Well, where've I been.... Family stuff gets in the wheels of late, both finding relationship equilibrium and sorting out next year's schooling plans for our girl. Then there are way too many people abusing their basses... most recently a 1939 Kay with a soundpost popped through the belly. Then there's just way too much Pocket PC software I've been testing through various betas, reporting in detail, trying to sort some bugs. And infinite (or so it feels) other excuses to not jump into professional debates, all very worthy as excuses go, I assure you. really. No lazing about, at all!
    I never get coffee at theatres any more. The Ridge is too far from where I live now, and they were the only ones with decent brew. Coffee and Nibs, I liked that. And coffee with naniamo bars the way they used to make them.... But these days I usually settle for a smuggled-in Sobe green tea, rarely resorting to the inflated movie goodies. I'm too cheap.
    But I don't see a very active discussion on this one. Are there any strong feelings flying about off-forum on the relative merits of raised saddles? I've seen a couple screwed onto the ribs, on very decent basses yet. Apparently some people really commit to the things. One was aluminum, bent over a little at the top. Three brass screws went deep into the bottom block. Sounds painful, right? Looked worse.
     
  14. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    OK, I'll bite. Welcome back Gerard. I thought maybe you were angry at us for gettin' medieval in Iraq.

    Earlier in this thread Arnold alluded to structural damage. Not the kind of damage in which plates sink but the kind that results from constriction at the saddle. First of all, some history-in the early '60s raised saddles became popular at the advent of steel strings. The first ones were crude and simple. A flat piece of steel stock with a lip, screwed into the ribs[as you described]. I've been told that this was once done to my friend's [an ex NYPhil principal] Testore without his permission while it was in for something else. He was quite upset and this led to the developement of the type of saddle pictured below. The idea being that the saddle would be morticed into the regular slot with a protrusion onto the plate. This coupled with a sturdy screw into the open block would keep it from toppling. A good idea superficially but ultimately much more damaging. You see the damage from the first method was 2 or 3 screw holes in the ribs on the block. While not desirable this is not a structural issue and is easily fixed. The new method clamped down onto the top and ALWAYS at least dented the top, usually very severely. The next post will include a pic of this damage and it is relatively minor. During my tenure at the firm that developed this method I saw hundreds of basses damaged in this fashion. In addition, this saddle constricts the top from moving and leads to cracks on the side of it-just like a too tight normal saddle does.
     
  15. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Here's the minor damage from above. I realize the pic is a little blurry but the dent at the fore of the saddle is about[aboot to you GS] 3mm deep.
     
  16. Ewww, gross! Thanks for ruining my appetite. That's one ugly-ass solution.
    I use rubber/cork gasket material, of a sort used in engines. I have some 1/16th stuff, but usually use the 1/8th and shape it a little after fitting and stringing up once. Spreading the force out over more of the spruce, using a cushioning material which has fairly well established durability, this seems a conservative approach. Of course, the rubber compound could eventually react with the varnish, but I don't think it's a huge risk. When the angle at the bridge exceeds about 142°, and a belly is either thin, or much-repaired, or both, and a client is moaning bout wanting a riser... that's when I toss a bit of caution to the wind and say what the heck, and fit one of the type pictured earlier here. My early models were basically clunkier versions of same, as I had nothing to copy, just guessing. I erred on the side of spreading out the force over a larger area, and used thicker cork then. But utilising the cable to help hold it in, this seems to direct a lot of the force into the saddle cutout/end-block, making for minimal pressure on the belly wood.
    Tell me; how did that brass screw actually do anything? It seems kinda useless.
     
  17. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    The thing is, these saddles should NEVER push down on the spruce top, especially where it is unsupported by the tailblock. No one would even THINK of doing this kind of mischief to a fine violin! If height is needed, the raised saddle should fit into the mortise and press on the block, NEVER on the top plate. It is way less harmful to attach with a screw into the block above the endpin, or to make a unit that the endpin fits through to hold it in place. Jeff's picture says it all--and I've seen MUCH worse!
     
  18. So... um...... the one I pulled off again after 4 years, showing zero varnish damage on the spruce, that counts for nada? Am I in line for a spanking?
     
  19. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    You may be in line for a spanking-I'm not sure how you 'Nucks spend your free time, but I believe you about the nada damage. Judging from what I have seen of your work the saddle was probably designed so that most of the pressure was not sent directly to the plate. The first pic I posted[the corklined lever thingie] did dent the top, but it was cuz while the original design called for the foot to sit flush to the top over time it pulled fore and transferred all the pressure to the leading edge.

    Even given a perfectly designed saddle of this type, I would still be concerned about the constriction of the top at this locale. Just seems like it could lead to some cracking when the top shrinks. Any thoughts on that?
     
  20. Most of the force does seem to be going into the saddle itself, with a small portion going onto the cork, and whatever's left sort of pulling out on the endpin via the cable. Hard things to measure, unless one had some kind of thin (piezo?) pressure guages. Might be an interesting experiment, for anyone gadget-fetishist in orientation. (and no, I'm not one, nor a spanking freak, Jeff)
    I did one a munch of years ago where there was a brass plate fitted inside, adjacent to the ribs but not touching. It was cut in a half-circle, filed to a knife-edge, going right under the shoulder of the endpin plug. The pressure outward immediately distorted that so much that I pulled the brass and replaced it with steel, a Swedish steel edge-trimmer blade leftover from my landscraping career. Worked well enough, but a royal pain to fit. And it meant that the very bottom of the metal had to press against the rib, probably making for some slight varnish damage over time. Don't know yet; the guy's never been back, as he lives in some Eastern place.
    On the plate movement restriction idea, I'm guessing it's far less significant than an over-tight ebony saddle, as the plate is only having to overcome a little friction against cork. (Anyone else have a tiny leftover bit of a Japanese dozuki especially for making sub-1mm cuts to either end of a saddle slot? I'm always doing those on the sly, just not telling players. If I make a big deal about it, they get all nervous about 'damaging' their babies, and I have to go into a whole lecture about shrinkage and gigantic belly cracks....)