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Saddle, Tailpiece

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by JAS, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    About a year ago I had a larger saddle made to raise my tailpiece up to make the strings seem to have less tension. I was never really sure that it did anything except make the bass a little boomier and a little deader sounding. About a month or so ago I had a longer tailpiece wire put on to make the tailpiece closer to the bridge in another attempt to lessen the tension. This certainly worked. My only question now is...should I get rid of the raised saddle? Is it possible that a raised saddle could have a negative effect on the sound or feel of the bass?
  2. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I wouldn't worry about it, if you are happy.
    how does lower tension affect your sound?
  3. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    The lower tension has not changed the sound too much. Ever since I have had the raised saddle though I have noticed a change in sound. The bass seems to have a deader sound with the raised saddle. The sound did not change that much when I had the longer tailpiece wire put on, just made the bass easier to play.
  4. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    Do any of the luthiers have any suggestions about the raised saddle?
  5. If you are in the Chicago area, why don't you take the instrument to one of the qualified bass luthiers (like Pete OLeary or Mark Sonksen) and have the entire bass examined instead of randomly changing things in hopes of improving the sound.

    With that said, as far as your saddle is concerned, it seems to me that you have already answered your own question when you said "The bass seems to have a deader sound with the raised saddle." Change back to your original saddle and see what happens.
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Generally, luthiers will try to increase the angle of the strings crossing the bridge to help "drive" the top, on a bass that is dull or lacks punch/bottom. This tends to make the feel of the bass a little tighter, which is right for some players and wrong for others. Conversely, the angle is lessened to "fatten" a punchy-but-thin sounding bass, or to lessen the feeling of tightness. Either operation can only be accomplished through changes in the neck-set and bridge height, or the saddle. And not every instrument responds predictably to this kind of tinkering. Also, the degree to which the instrument will change is very subtle, and open to suggestion. If I say to a client, "That sounds fatter, right?", he'll likely agree (at least at first). Most people don't want to disagree with a supposed "expert" to whom they are giving their hard-earned dough. So, I've learned to ask the question, "How does that feel (or sound)", instead. Otherwise, we play around in the realm of "psycho-acoustics", an area in which many "luthiers" have made a healthy living. Bob is right on the money suggesting you change the saddle back and see what happens. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you only change one thing at a time. Otherwise, you won't know what caused what to change.