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Setup advice for Tonal Balance

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    (I could have replied to several old threads about this, but I thought it might make a useful addition to the newbie links if it had its own space.)

    Depending on various conditions like abrupt weather changes, gigs in extremely dry or humid rooms, and seasonal differences in humidity, I often end up having to fight to get my G string on my carved bass to speak as loudly as the others - sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. Since I'll be taking both of my basses up to LUTHIERLAND (Cincy) in the next few months, I was wondering if I could get some advice/info from Lex & Co. on the some of the following questions:

    * What are some of the (correctable) variables which affect the balance of volume between strings on a DB? I know that string height is probably the greatest variable, and have learned from some of the luthier types that the best way to correct this is to reshape the contour of the bridge, but what other factors come into play as regards string balance?

    * How much adjusting of an adjustable bridge is really healthy for the bass? I'm asking because I played a really dry room last night, which brought my action down. I raised it back to where it was before, but the tension seemed much higher ( like barbed wire, actually) and the G string had a kind of "choked" sound. On break, I lowered it back to where the adjuster was when I started and the sound and sustain improved a bit, but the string felt too low. Should I only try to adjust for seasonal changes once or twice a year, or is it okay to try to adjust for the room you're playing on any given night?

    * While ****ing around with the string height on the gig, I noticed that it appears that the bass foot of the bridge is a bit closer to the fingerboard than the treble foot. Both are still within the notches on the F-holes, but the bass foot was not nearly as centered as the treble foot. What effect can this have on the sound, and should I be looking to correct this?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Tonal balance variables include: soundpost position, tension and fit; bridge construction, thickness and position; strings and string tension; saddle position; endpin type and wire type; fingerboard setup. That's just the stuff on the outside.

    Spin those adjusters to your heart's desire, as long as you're keeping the bridge feet straight and in the right place.

    The feet need to sit exactly evenly. Check with a straightedge that extends to the f-hole notches. An envelope works fine.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    And if the feet are not exactly even, what is the procedure for moving the one that's out of place? Is this a "take it to a luthier" thing, or is this doable at home if I'm careful?

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