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Right Hammer to Tap Bridge Into Alignment

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner [DB]' started by Steve Freides, Feb 6, 2017.


  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Would someone be kind enough to point me to the right kind (size, material, etc.) of hammer to deal with bridges that are starting to pull over towards the neck side? This happens often enough, and several of my students rent their basses from me - it would be a good thing to be able to do myself.

    While I will certainly appreciate suggestions like, "use a regular hammer and a piece of wood", I'd like a link(s) to buy what I need online. I like to have the right tool for the job, and I'm always hesitant to take on something like this myself. Is there a Stew-Mac equivalent for bass? That's where I've bought guitar-related tools, and I feel handier with guitars, probably because I've been playing them a lot longer than I've been playing upright, and also because they're a lot less expensive.

    Thanks in advance for advice, links, etc., and if anyone has a spare hammer of the right sort they'd like to sell me, I'm perfectly happy with a used tool.

    -S-
     
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Hammer? I just press the bridge gently with my thumb. Have I been doing it wrong all these years?
     
    powerbass likes this.
  3. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    @Tom Lane, I have always found I put too much or too little pressure on the bridge when I do this by hand - no idea if it's what sort of strings I tend play versus what you play, or if you've simply got the better touch.

    -S-
     
  4. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    NO. (I would never use a hammer. Even a Nerf Hammer.)
    IMO.
    I just take some of the tension off of the top by detuning the strings a bit, then, (gently) "coax" the bridge in the desired direction, (using BOTH "thumbs/hands"), then slowly retune. During retuning, I can check and re-coax, if needed.

    But that's me.
    Thanks.
     
    Matthew Tucker likes this.
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I believe I've seen several luthiers do this by tapping the bridge without detuning, but perhaps I'm misremembering.

    -S-
     
  6. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I think I was "shown" once by a luthier but now I can't remember which one. (S)He told me that I didn't need to detune (and I don't because it usually happens when I'm installing new strings so...) and that I should hold the bridge feet with one hand while gently using my thumb until the feet fit flat against the top. Steady and slow was their instruction. I've also been told to use the edge of a paperback book but the first luthier did not agree because he felt that any kind of tapping was too uncontrollable and I might whack the bridge too far and knock it over. Steady pressure seems to work well for me. I've always used synthetic strings except for the occasional Spiro or Heliocore, but my method seemed to work fine on those too.
     
    Matthew Tucker likes this.
  7. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    I guess it wasn't "Peter, Paul and Mary's Bass Repair"?
    They sure did liked "Hammers..." A Lot.
    Thanks.
     
    rgull and Tom Lane like this.
  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I don't want to hammer all over this land, just a bass bridge every once in a while.

    [Dangerfield]

    I can't get no respect.

    [/Dangerfield]

    -S-
     
    Don Kasper and Tom Lane like this.
  9. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I think it might have been the guy from the horror show with the really long knives on the ends of his fingers. Sure came in handy for setting the soundpost!
     
  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    [Dangerfield]

    [wiggles tie]

    [Dangerfield]

    -S-
     
  11. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    I've never met a luthier who uses any kind of hammer to straighten a bridge. Too risky for the bridge and the top! Do what Don said, slack the strings a few turns, push it over carefully, tune up and pull it straight.
     
    Don Kasper likes this.
  12. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    I was taught to lay the bass down, stand at the endpin (endpin meets navel if you've got it on a bench, which I almost never do), grab the bridge with both hands and pull it back into plumb. Lots of control, and very little chance of a catastrophic event. YMMV.
     
    bassmanbrent likes this.
  13. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Well, I guess I sit corrected - I will try this by hand tomorrow and report back.

    -S-
     
  14. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
     
    misterbadger and Tom Lane like this.
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I was also told/shown by several luthiers to tap the bridge back into place using a paperback book between the D and A strings, no detuning necessary. I've done this for ages now with no problems. I often end up using a Vonnegut novel, but that may just be coincidence.
     
    robobass likes this.
  16. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Well, Vonnegut books tend to be under an inch thick, which is what you want. Some of the Neal Stephenson tomes on my bookshelf would barely fit under the strings!
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  17. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Alright, now we're getting somewhere - thanks, Chris.

    -S-
     
  18. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    I don't always smack my bridge with a book, but when I do, I use this...
    220px-A_Bridge_Too_Far_-_1974_Book_Cover.
     
  19. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Books you use to smack your bridge back into alignment - now _there_ is a talkbass thread.

    -S-
     
  20. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    You guys, if you smack your bridge with anything other than "The Art of the Deal", well then...
     

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