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Removing finish under bridge

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ethanbowen666, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. ethanbowen666


    Jan 8, 2011
    Bassist, shadowseerband.com
    Would you recommend it?
    I'm trying to get more "transfer of energy from string to body."
  2. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
  3. samurai1993


    Jun 6, 2010
    What you want sir is a babicz full contact bridge
  4. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    To accomplish what? Are you on a tone quest, a sustain quest, or both? Either way, the finish is inconsequential.

    Let me qualify that - it is inconsequential if we are talking about a typical factory finish. If it's latex paint, all bets are off.
  5. Whatever you do, please post results
  6. ethanbowen666


    Jan 8, 2011
    Bassist, shadowseerband.com
    both my friend!
    but mostly because I can't get the sustain and clarity out of my low B. I do believe it will make a difference. I just don't know if its worth the hassle. If it didn't, then I don't think manufactures that use a bolt on design would go through the hassle of keeping the neck pocket unfinished.
  7. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
    I've grazed these pastures long enough to see a lot of information about improving B-string response, but can't recall any about removing finish. ;)
  8. ethanbowen666


    Jan 8, 2011
    Bassist, shadowseerband.com
    Yes yes, I'm already doing this...

    just wanted to try this in addition
  9. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Well there are two things you must consider. Not all manufacturers keep finish off the neck pocket. In many cases the only reason there is not any finish in the neck pocket is because that's where the stick is placed that holds the body in the spray booth.

    But also note that forming a better coupling between the bridge to the body will transfer more energy to the body, taking it from the string and thus reducing sustain. What you gain in this scenario is more sonic effect of the body. Conversely, if you want more sustain you reduce the coupling to the body, usually by increasing the mass of the bridge.

    If you think that removing the finish under the bridge would actually improve the response of the B string, don't you think the manufacturers would do that? Perhaps one that was looking for a competitive edge?
  10. My opinion is: hard surfaces transmit more vibration than soft. Poly finish is much harder than raw wood. I think you would decrease the transfer. IMHO
    But, if I am correct or not, I don't think you will be able to detect any difference.
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yeah, sounds bogus to me too.

    a good low B is simply hard to do, and is what separates good 5-strings from not-so-good 5 strings. i don't think there's any getting around that. i've never seen a bass (including a "good" 5-string) with the finish removed under the bridge.

    you can try the neck-settling trick, though;

    while tuned to pitch, loosen the neck-mounting screws a little and push-pull on the neck, at which point you might hear a little "creak"; center up the neck with the outside strings and re-tighten, and you might hear a little more solid and resonant tone, due to the strings having pulled the end of the neck down hard into the pocket, eliminating any gaps.
  12. calebbarton


    Aug 25, 2007
    I manufacture for several companies including but not limited to: Bridge City Sound, Catalinbread, more.
    You guys know that the bridge is actually screwed into the body, right?

    Even if you remove some of the finish....what about the sand and sealer? What about the grain filler? What level of finish removal will be "enough" to prove a difference?

    Be extra careful if its nitro dude.
  13. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    It would be far too difficult and unreliable to account for the thickness of the finish when fitting the neck, rounding the corners in the pocket, etc.
  14. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    I have a 35" scale Cirrus, strung w/ Circle K .145-- no problem in either category.

    That said, yes, low Bs are problematic. IMO, you're p*****g
    away your time doing this. I would, however, suggest a conversion to machine screws & threaded inserts for mounting the neck. I've done maybe a dozen basses like this over the past 20+ years, and it had never failed to make a very discernible difference. I use 1/4-20, which can get some serious crush-fit torque happening.
  15. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    What other corrective measures have you taken? Please list all!

  16. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Other than possibly destroying your finish, your accomplishing absolutely nothing. The finish between the bridge and the body has zero effect on energy transfer. If you absolutely have to do this, record your bass before and after. You will see that there is no difference between the two recordings.

    If you want a better low b, I would suggest a string change first. Then maybe a new nut out of different material like brass (or bone if yours is plastic) Other than that, a neck shim at the body end of the pocket can give you more tension and a better brake angle over the saddle.
  17. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I do not think that this will make any difference.
    A well set up bridge will.
    You might want to try a naimish bridge for good transfer or, if you find one hard to find, any of those that followed it on the maximum transfer path.
  18. FunkRenegade


    Jul 7, 2012
    On my fender, even if the bridge plate is flat against the body, saddles are still suspended by tiny grub screws with small surface area.

    When I took apart a warwick bridge, there was a block of brass deep inside the body, and the upper bridge assembly "floats" on it with 6 screws. On top of this floating assembly, individual saddles are held in place by grub screws. Not a big surface area for coupling, but this bass sustains for days.

    I doubt it makes much difference other than neurosis.
  19. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I personally think that people who don't believe that bridge swaps and other mods that affect energy transfer to the body make a difference, are wrong. The slight but well-documented difference when you tie down a 2-screw G&L bridge to prepare it for top-loading, is a good example.

    However, I think Turnaround has it backwards. I haven't seen any hard technical documentation regarding bridge changes, but the anecdotal evidence generally suggests that you get more fundamental and more sustain with a "successful" bridge mod. Assuming that's the direction you want to go, then it's obvious to me that you're keeping more energy in the string, not less.

    IMO, this means that it's less about some sort of mystical transfer of energy into the wood, and more about creating a reliable witness point at the end of the string. Less wasted vibrational energy, because the string is more effectively anchored to the considerable mass of the body.

    Regardless of if you think it's a simple mechanical issue, or a more complicated "wood matters" issue related to body resonance, if you're a believer, then it only makes sense to approach the issue logically.

    Surely, that means that you're going to take care of the big issues before you move onto the small ones, like removing the finish under the bridge.

    Considering the OP's concern, if we're talking about a Fender-style bass with a four or more screw bridge, then you've got a stiff metal backing plate, being jammed firmly down onto a solid hardwood body with a force of tens of pounds.

    I don't think that there's a lot of monkey motion going on there, even if there are a few thousandths of an inch of finish sandwiched in between. I don't know for sure whether the difference would be audible, but it certainly couldn't be much.

    Contrast that to the situation with the saddles on any vintage-style bridge, "high mass" or otherwise:

    The saddles are anchored solidly in the direction of string tension, by the intonation screws. But in the direction of plucking force and string vibration, they're only held down by string tension. Regardless of whether they're brass or aluminum, the saddles only weigh an ounce or two, and a heavy-handed player tugs at the strings with a force of a several pounds per hit. That's a big disparity.

    Bridges with guide slots or rails to limit saddle movement are a partial answer, but the most effective method to reduce lost vibrational energy has to be a lockdown bridge, where the saddles are mechanically tied to the mass of the body.

    Looking at things from that perspective, the Babicz is the best design I've seen in years. I haven't tried one (my bass has an old Gotoh lockdown bridge already), but if I was modding a bass for more sustain right now, Babicz is the way I'd go.

    Each saddle is machined from solid metal, has a large mating surface, and is tied to the backing plate by a setscrew that can apply a force of several pounds. No wonder people report a noticeable difference with that bridge!
  20. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Every modification has the potential to change the sound of an instrument. The first question is which device should be employed to collect the data. Ears are notoriously unreliable.

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