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Saddle separating from bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by DILYSI Dave, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. DILYSI Dave

    DILYSI Dave

    Jan 26, 2013
    Hi all - First time caller, long time listener...

    I recently picked up a Palatino (yeah yeah yeah, I know...) 3/4 upright used. Despite the name, it sounds decent, has nice volume, and plays pretty good. Since it is a relatively cheap instrument, I also have less issue dragging it into bars and such for gigging. That said, it's got some setup issues, and a crack, and they are possibly related.

    First, some overall pics -

    Part of the setup I alluded to - the tail wire is off center.

    Another view.

    This looks to have shifted everything over, bridge included.

    Stings aren't centered. Lots of room past the G string, hardly any past the E. You can also see in this pic that the bridge has been moved at least once.

    And now the closeups...

    Top view. I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "saddle crack" as most of my reading on those seemed to involve a crack in the top, at the saddle. The top seems fine on mine, just looks like the saddle is separating from the instrument.

    You can see a little bit of lift from this angle.

    You can see it lifting more from this angle.

    My theory - Whoever strung it let the tail wire get off center. This introduced sheer stress into the joint rather than just compression, and the glue failed.

    My proposed fix - Unstring it, us a hypodermic to inject glue into the crack, clamp and let it dry, and then re-string it, centered this time.

  2. The pressure of string tension and the tailgut should hold the saddle in place. I know luthiers who do not glue saddles or nuts because they feel there's no reason to.

    Straighten everything out, wait a while and reassess.
  3. DILYSI Dave

    DILYSI Dave

    Jan 26, 2013
    Didn't even consider that, but it makes sense.
  4. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    Are you near a violin shop? If so, getting this fixed will be a relatively cheap affair. Most likely, the saddle isn't making good contact with the block and throwing more glue at it won't necessarily be a permanent repair.
  5. DILYSI Dave

    DILYSI Dave

    Jan 26, 2013
    Yeah, there are a couple of shops near me. Figured bringing a chinese bass to a proper shop might be akin to showing up with a Yugo at the Ferrari dealership though. :)
  6. Most will be happy to take your money no matter what you bring in. The good ones, faced with a major repair (not a small problem like yours) will advise you not to throw good money after bad.
  7. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    Maybe its the angle I'm looking at it from, but the bridge does look off center. Your description of the string positioning being out of whack supports this...
    I'd also just get things back in order and the string tension might just hold everything in place.
    BTW, you won't need to take the strings right off or anything - just detune enough (while the bass is lying on its back, so the soundpost doesn't fall) so the strings are slack, lift the tailpiece wire and get it centered, then get the bridge in its proper place. If you want to get real fancy, move the bridge north temporarily and get some rosin on the body, directly where the feet are going to be when its in the right spot.
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Everyone glues the saddle in place. Otherwise it will separate.
  9. Shows what I know. Thanks for setting the record straight.
  10. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    OK, this is an inexpensive bass. When I started playing double bass, I also purchased an inexpensive ply bass, just so I could tinker with it and get it to where I wanted it, and learn the mechanics about how double bass works. So I've done my own setup: bridge, pickup installation, nut contouring, soundpost, etc., knowing that if I screwed up something, there was no loss, and I would learn more having to fix it myself. If this were my own bass, I'd just loosen everything enough to fill the joint with Titebond pre-prepped hide glue, hold it in place, retighten everything with the tailgut properly centered, and just keep going. It's an end saddle, not a soundpost, bridge, nut, etc., where alignment or setup is a critical issue. It just has to sit there securely. $5.00 for the glue at the hardware store is about all I'd spend on it. I'm not meaning to be condescending, just acknowledging that I'm in the same boat (literally) with my CCB, and if I can't do it myself, my bass is not worth sending out to a luthier, and that of all the things that can go wrong with a double bass, this is a very minor issue. Just glue and go and don't worry about it.

    (Yes - I said Titebond prepped hide glue. If it were the top, neck, or some other signficant repair where lateral or shear stress were an issue, then traditional hot hide glueing methods would, of course, be proper. But on this bass, just like my bass, it's definitely the cost/benefit analysis for a simple compression repair that is the overriding factor.)
  11. DILYSI Dave

    DILYSI Dave

    Jan 26, 2013
    We're are definitely on the same page here, with the adendum that I would like people to stop me before I do something dumb. :) A DIY glue and clamp on this didn't seem like it had much potential to screw anything up though.
  12. homersbassfarm

    homersbassfarm Banned

    Feb 4, 2013
    western TN
    I wasn't going to post until your request to be stopped before you do something dumb.

    I'm afraid that you are going to have your soundpost to fall if you start doing some of the suggestions. The saddle is an easy fix for a luthier, And, while he's at it maybe he will suggest you let him install a 3/32 stainless steel cable and get rid of the thick wire. I have owned a few of the Palatino basses and everyone of them sounded good. Yours would probably sound even better if the bridge was a little thinner. Your best route is to take it to one of those bass luthiers in your area, or at least call or email them about it-
    good luck.
  13. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I still recommend taking it in. That saddle wasn't glued in with hide glue, and the old glue will need to be cleaned off for a good joint. If you just bought it, it might also be a good idea to see if there is anything else that needs looking at. I understand not wanting to spend money on a cheap bass, but for the time being, it's your only bass. There might be small adjustments that could make playing this bass a little nicer for the time being.
  14. DILYSI Dave

    DILYSI Dave

    Jan 26, 2013
    Alright - local pro saw the pics and description and gave me the green light on a DIY repair as I described. Also cautioned to be careful of the soundpost falling, but said that it's typically pretty tight on Palatinos. Got the titebond liquid hide glue on order, so should be diving in when it arrive.
  15. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    I think it's a good way to go. The soundpost is not going to fall if you're careful enough. And you can replace your tailgut with braided steel yourself also.

    By the way, real (granulated) hide glue is not hard to work with and its shelf life is pretty much forever. I'm probably the only person who likes the smell of it in the workshop.

  16. homersbassfarm

    homersbassfarm Banned

    Feb 4, 2013
    western TN
    +1 on the smell

    we're talkin fresh stuff-right?

    OP let us know how it turns out
  17. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    I guess I've been lucky so far:)
  18. DILYSI Dave

    DILYSI Dave

    Jan 26, 2013
    Alright, glue took forever to arrive, but she is glued and going back together nice and straight. Question on the string length ratio. I read that you want the after the bridge length to be a 1/6 ratio to the distance between the nut and the bridge. With the bridge set to line up with the F-Hole notches, I've got 8.25" after the bridge compared to 41.25" between the nut and the bridge. So that ratio is 8.25 / 41.25 = 1/5. However, if it's the ratio of after the bridge to total length, I've got 8.25 / 49.5 = 1/6.

    Which is the proper ratio - after the bridge / nut to bridge, or after the bridge / total string length?

    Also - if it's the former, then that means I need to aim for 7.07" after the bridge, which would net me 42.43" from nut to bridge. 7.07/42.43 = 1/6. The thing is, that requires moving the bridge down over an inch, putting it basically on top of the sound post, etc.

    So, what's the story?
  19. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    Your bridge should be directly between the inner notches which looks about right according to your pics. Regardless, that's where it goes. If you want to reduce the afterlength, the only way is to lengthen the tailpiece cable and move the tailpiece closer to the bridge. In my opinion you won't notice much, if any, difference. Go practice.