Recommended action for Ampeg Baby Bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by 65AmpegBB4, May 8, 2019.


  1. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    Hello all,

    The answer to the question that I'm about to post can be subjective, however, I am curious to know the general consensus on the subject. Where do you keep the action of your baby bass, and why?

    Personally, I find it that if the action is on the high side, playing can get tiresome in the upper register of the instrument, and transitioning between strings/positions becomes difficult. I recently acquired my Ampeg Baby Bass and I have not made any adjustments, however, I am thinking about lowering the action. Currently, at the highest point of the fingerboard (end closest to the bridge) I measured 0.5" between the fingerboard and the E string, and 0.25" between the fingerboard and the G string. Any thoughts on these values?

    Also, does anyone know if the neck and heel on the Ampeg Baby Bass are all one piece of wood, or are the neck and heel two pieces conjoint?

    Looking forward to the responses. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  2. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    Reframing the question: for those with a baby bass, what is the current action height on your bass, measured at the bottom of the fingerboard (end closest to bridge)?

    Thanks!
     
  3. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Is there some reason the heights wouldn't be similar to double bass string heights, which depend on strings used, playing style, comfort, and fingerboard scoop/dressing? 5-8mm G to E is a place to start.
     
  4. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    Hi,

    Thanks for your response! I don’t know the answer to your question, which is why I decided to create this post. I’m sure it can vary based on preference/strings/etc, but I wonder if there’s a baseline or “neutral” string height. When you say 5-8mm G to E, are you referring to all strings having the same height? How are you taking your measurements on your bass? Also, the fingerboard on an Ampeg BB is shaped like an arc (uniform radius) from G to A, and then there’s a more abrupt drop at a steeper angle for the E string - I’m not sure if this is the case for a regular double bass.
     
  5. The last is called a Romberg bevel, not very popular today, but many older basses have it. It gives the E a bit more room to vibrate, but this is mostly for gut strings, not for modern steel core.
    Measurement is at the end of the fingerboard, air between fingerboard and string. 5 to 8 mm is rather low, but useful for higher tension strings. 5 mm for the G string, 8 mm for the E string the other strings in between. With metal wound synthetic core strings I prefer 6 to 12 mm, might work for metal wound gut as well. For naked gut and purely synthetic strings you can go up to 12 to 18 mm, but because of the distance it is harder to play in thumb position then.
    The lower you go, the better your fingerboard needs to be dressed or you get buzzes at some positions on the board. If you like it low with your preferred set of strings, spend the money for a good setup if needed.
     
  6. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    I play with the strings as low as they can go without buzzing. If you are using the original metal bridge, it's going to depend on the condition of your fingerboard as to how low you can set it (on my bass it isn't a great match). Many people have wooden bridges fitted so they can get a better setup. I assume that most players use a slightly lower action than they would on upright. I'm going to assume that the neck and heel are one piece or else there would be lots of problems with breakage at the heel.
    I
     
  7. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    This is great information, thank you! I measured in inches, but they translate to 6.35mm for the G string, and 12.7mm for the E string (the Romberg bevel definitely adds a bit to it). I am currently out of town, but as soon as I return home I have a set of new Spirocore Solo's waiting on me ... I plan to put them on my bass tuned to orchestra, which has been the recommendation of most EUB owners on this forum. As I understand it, they are medium to low tension strings, and when tuned to orchestra the tension is definitely on the lower side - this may be favorable with the current action setting of my bass, as I'm not a fan of high tension strings.
     
  8. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    Thanks for your response! My bass has the original metal bridge, however, the rubber bridge crown (rubber piece that sits on the bridge) became brittle and disintegrated due to age. I just constructed a replacement out of rubber trimming, and I expect it to sit the strings at about the same height as the original one ... I even put grooves into the new piece to align with those on the bridge.

    The neck and heel are usually one piece on these basses; having said that, due to age, many of these necks have cracked over the years, needing repair. The heel of my bass' neck has two little plugs on the back, which tells me that there was a repair at one point. Thankfully it was done beautifully and it looks oem - after speaking with Bruce Johnson, he believes that he was the one to perform the repair some years ago. He is a very well known luthier in this community. :)
     
  9. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    Bruce certainly will have your answers. My rubber trim is gone, too. I just go without it. I'm not convinced it makes a lot of difference in the sound. What I wonder is how many people have had fingerboards replaced on these to get rid of the Romberg bevel.
     
  10. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    Yes, Bruce was gracious enough to spend about 30 minutes of his time on the phone with me answering all of my questions. After describing the little heel plugs and sending him a few photos he was convinced it may have been his work.

    He also mentioned that what I ended up doing with the rubber crown is exactly what he has done on the past. Check out the attached pictures, it almost looks oem. If you’re happy with your sound, let it be; but if you’d like to try out my solution, I’d gladly make you one and send it your way.

    As far as I know, those who have replaced the fingerboard have done it as a result of having to replace the entire neck, due to problems. I have not heard of anyone replacing it just to get rid of the Romberg bevel.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    I'd love to try one! By the way, I read your other thread. Did you end up getting the Ray Ramirez bag? I'd love to see a picture!

     
  12. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    If you can wait 4 days until I return home, I’ll make you one and drop it off in the mail. PM me where I’m sending it to.

    I did get it, once I get home I’ll post a picture. The finish and quality are great, but because it fits all of Ramirez’s basses, the Ampeg BB doesn’t stay snug and has a little bit of movement while in it. Not a perfect snug fit but it protects the bass. I wrote to KK Basses as they make a traditional bass with the Ampeg BB dimensions, to see if they make a snug bag for our basses.
     
  13. Assuming baby bass fingerboards are the same as other DB's, an experienced luthier can dress the existing fingerboard to get rid of the bevel. There's no need for a replacement unless the board is already really thin. I had our local guru do this very thing for me and it was WAY cheaper than a new board.
     
  14. 65AmpegBB4

    65AmpegBB4

    Apr 26, 2019
    Florida
    Thanks ... yeah I don't think I'd replace the fingerboard just to get rid of the bevel. I think once I put the Spiro Solos on, I may not mind the bevel with the lower tension strings. Let's see how it goes. :)
     
    bassmanbrent likes this.
  15. tumba94

    tumba94

    Oct 11, 2006
    NYC
    This is a great and informative post. Having said that, if anyone has extra bridge rubber for an Ampeg Baby Bass, may I have it or buy it from you ? My first Baby Bass had it lost in repair and my second has the hard plastic kind. I love the sound of the old rubber as I play a lot of Latin gigs and haven't been able to find anything quite like it.
    Thanks
     
  16. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    They seem to be rare as hen's teeth, Leo. Ruben Rodriguez might have some tips. Mine broke at the E string long ago. Do you know if Andy G. used a wood bridge? I got one from our friend 65AmpegBB4 above in the thread. It's made out of plastic and it works great!
     
  17. tumba94

    tumba94

    Oct 11, 2006
    NYC
    Thanks, Dylan. Yea, Ruben has helped me a lot in the past and recently came over to help take apart and pack a '65 Baby Bass to ship to LA to Oskar Cartaya. I helped Don Byron Sr. sell it. I'll give him a shout.
     
  18. tumba94

    tumba94

    Oct 11, 2006
    NYC
    Funny bass story: The first time I ever played a Baby Bass I borrowed one from the late, great Victor Venegas for a session. When I started recording it, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting that classic Baby Bass thump on a cha-cha. I had no idea that the bass normally was supposed to have rubber on the bridge, dampening the strings. Victor had replaced the bridge with a wooden one to get more of an acoustic sound ! Also, at one point, I looked down and saw a big crack in the bass and thought I had done it ! Thankfully, it came with the bass. RIP Victor Venegas and and thank you !
     
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