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setting a "jazz" bass up for bluegrass

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by HolyGrass, Apr 18, 2010.


  1. HolyGrass

    HolyGrass

    Apr 18, 2010
    Howdy everyone

    Yesterday, I picked up a very good deal on what I believe to be a pretty decent upright bass. The label on the inside says "Wilhelm Kohl copy of Antonius Stradivarius".

    The bass was played previously by a jazz player, so the adjustable bridge is at it's lowest setting.

    What should I do to set this bass up for bluegrass? I know I should raise the bridge height, but how much, and what is the proper way to do so?

    The bass sounds amazing now, so I don't want to mess anything up.
    Any help you could offer for a newbie upright player would be greatly appreciated
    thanks!

    also, I have been trying to find the particular maker of my upright, Wilhelm Kohl (or thats what the label says, at least), but I can't find anything. Does anyone know anything about this maker?
    thanks again!
    :help:
     
  2. Holy Grass,

    Not sure of your experience and whether I'm teaching you to suck eggs here.

    Just as there is no one set-up for jazz, there is no one set-up for bluegrass. It all comes down to personal preference.

    Having said that, most jazz players have a lower action than most bluegrassers. Most BG players like to play slap now and again, which means the strings need to be a reasonable height to get your finger underneath the strings to lift them.

    Simply wind up the bridge until it feels comfortable for you. You shouldn't need to loosen off the strings to do this. Be sure you keep the bass and treble sides relatively even.

    If you're a new player who doesn't slap, a lower action will be less tension which will be easier on your fingerboard hand (left if you're a righty).

    Good luck.
     
  3. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    HG, you should tune your bass down a whole tone or so and turn the adjusters until you have about 6mm between the 'G' string and the end of the fingerboard and about 9mm under the 'E'.

    That's a pretty common place to start from - have a blast! :)
     
  4. HolyGrass

    HolyGrass

    Apr 18, 2010
    thanks to both of you for the advice and input
    =)

    i think for now i will leave the action as is, for comfort, because i am just starting to learn the upright. i play banjo mostly, guitar, fiddle, and a little bit of mandolin.

    has anyone heard of the Wilhelm Kohl maker before? I'd still like to know a little bit about this bass
     
  5. HolyGrass

    HolyGrass

    Apr 18, 2010
    i checked the string height today and it's exactly the measurements you said to start from. is it common for bluegrass bass players to have higher string height than this?
    thanks for the help!:D
     
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Some do, some don't - it depends on the player, the strings and the bass. :)

    Use the forum's 'Search' function to look up 'String Height' and you'll find a lot of discussion on the topic.
     
  7. HolyGrass

    HolyGrass

    Apr 18, 2010
    =)
    thanks again for the advice

    i am off to go searchin for the perfect string height!
     
  8. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Its a worthy quest HOLYGRAIL! :)
     
  9. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I like my action a little lower then most for bluegrass, paired with kinda thumpy medium tension strings . With the right attack, I can get a good loud pizz sound without needing my strings an inch above the board. Slapping is rough though....
     

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