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Setup measurements

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bob Rogers, Aug 22, 2005.


  1. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    I took measurements of the setup of my new bass (my first) so that I'd have a reference point if I decided to make adjustments. Here is what I got:
    • String height at the nut: .020 inches measured with a feeler guage
    • String height at end of the finger board: 20/64 (E) to 16/64 (G)
    • Relief: .090 measured at the "seventh fret" using the string held down at the end of the finger board and the nut.

    Any comments on this? Anything else I should measure for future reference?

    A few comments from me: (1) This electric bass player thought he had a nice work area until he tried to work on a DB. I definitely need better lighting and new glasses (and a bigger bench). But this is a great excuse to buy some new tools. (2) I am prepared to take a pounding for using the term "seventh fret." What's the right term?
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Like a guy who plays Double Bass in a Symphony and fixes Basses is going to know what you are talking about.. funny.....

    For most things, mm is used instead of ". 32nds and 64ths are carpenters #s. 1000s like .020, .825, 1.250, etc is better.

    Try talking in OUR language and you will get some answers.. What was the question?
     
  3. Yeah Bob, you're askin' for it.....I can't tell you a thing about the "seventh fret". I play the double bass. What ever notes are there will probably be what you want to know.
    Oh, the most useful measurement would probably be the string length. measured from the bottom of the nut to the top of the bridge. In other words: the vibrating length.
    Good luck man!
    Oh, take some time and read through the newbie links to learn some DB jargon.
    Hang in!
     
  4. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    The "seventh stop" will probably get the point across without hurting anyone's feelings.... But "D on the G string" might be the clearest. If you use the search feature for things like "nut height" "action" "scoop" (instead of relief) etc you'll find some threads where you can compare your measurements with others'.

    Brent
     
  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    That height at the nut is really going to hurt you. If the fingerboard is properly set up, you should be just able to slip a business card under the strings at the nut. Much higher than that and you are welcoming a case of tedonitis. Do yourself a favor and have this taken care of ASAP!
     
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    So Arnold, would you measure that at about .010" (standard business card thickness) for those without a Card?

    Also, Nut spacing width and Bridge Spacing measured at the centers of each string. A comfortable and common spacing is about 10mm or 3/8 at the nut and 25-26mm at the Bridge. I have played from 9-12mm nuts and 23.5 to 27mm bridges. Huge difference in playability if it's to big or small for you.

    The 7th Fret by the way is the D on the G string. I was just pulling his leg a little. In the future, refer to a note on the FB so we don't get confused here...lol

    I just cut my first Double Bass Nut in over 20 years. My fingers are sore. I used the Ebony I have in stock and it's Macassar from Indonesia. Much harder that the Black stuff from Africa. Feels like stone.. My English Bass (Dodd?) had 12mm nut spacing when I got the Bass. The Neck is also about 3mm wider than my Other Basses. The Bridge was at 27mm as well. I re-cut the top of the Bridge to 26mm and the made the nut 11mm. Still about 1mm more than my other Bass but cutting the difference overall in half was a big help. Being a bigger Bassl, I don't mind the slight difference.

    This Bass came in from London and you could lay your hand over the fingerboard at the end and plam it under the strings (no Bridge adjusters). I was told this was a normal 'London' style set-up. These English Bassists must be Gorillas! The String at the Nut was about .050" if not more. As Arnold, he saw and played the Bass b4 I did anything to the set-up.

    I've lowered a few things but this is only temporary. The Neck is too deep and wide for me as well. I even rounded the FB edge about 1.5mm on each side to make it feel better. Now I can play it without Pain but when I have time to put an Ext. on it, I will go for a New Bridge "with Adjusters" as well. The FB Scoop/Relief is way too much for my liking as well and makes it harder to Play than Arnolds work. Also, I want the Graphite Bar in the Neck so it Plays as easy as my Morelli did after Arnold worked hus Majic.
     
  7. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Well, .020 (and .018 might be a better reading) is about the thickness of an expensive business card. A cheap card slides in with no visible gap, but it's not snug. Still, I set my fretless electric up with about a .008 gap at the nut, so this seems higher than necessary. But I'll show it to someone with more experience before working on it.

    And I will take care to use less offensive language in the future!

    [Edit:] Missed Ken's post while I was posting. .010 is a pretty thin card, but would be a realistic height at the nut.

    String spacing is 10.5mm at the nut and 29mm at the bridge.
     
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Oops! I misread .020 as 0.20. Dyslexics Untie!
     
  9. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI
    This has gotten me to thinking about my bass. My spacing at the nut is 12-13MM and 27-28MM at the bridge. I have very small hands and the scale of the neck has always been a challenge for me. I have decided that thinning the neck was not a desirable option based on the posts I have seen here. However, Ken's comment that he finds a great difference in playability as a result of string spacing got my attention. I'm going to take my bass in and talk to my luthier about bringing in the spacing. Based on Ken's comments, I'm thinking about bringing it in to about 9mm and 24mm. My FB is beveled however and I wonder what issues there might be with this
     
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    24 is way too small for Bowing unless yor are an experienced player. 25.4 (1") on my 5 is tight and I started bowing 40 years ago. I would go with 26 and get used to it. Do the math. It's a huge improvement for you over what it is now. The nut at 12-13 may be better at 10-11 at most so there isn't too much ebony FB overhang outside the strings at either the nut end or end of fingerboard without making the neck Narrower from the heel to the pegbox. I have 11mm-26mm on my Dodd(?) Bass and it feels fine as long at the Strings are low to the Board at the nut and not too high at the Bridge. That is only 1mm less at each end from when I got the Bass but that is also 3mm less overall at each end with the math... Hang in there..
     
  11. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI
    Thanks for your response Ken. I took it down today and the luthier thought it was pretty wide too. He thought the total width should be about 30mm and he measured mine at 37mm. I've noticed in Traeger's book and some of the comments here from others including Jeff Bollbach that 3/8" on center was about normal (9.5mm) which I think fits in with your comments. I'm going to go for that and leave the bridge for now which he didn't think was bad. I guess I don't want to fool with the geometry too much at one time. The strings are fairly close to the edge of the fingerboard at the nut so I don't think there will be too much fingerboard on the outsides.

    It will be interesting to see if it makes a perceptable difference in the sound. In Traeger's book, he says that he believes it makes a difference, likening it to a pole with guy wires - the further the guy wires are spread out, the more rigid the pole will be. Following that logic, a nut with narrower spacing will allow the neck to vibrate more. I know that some of Chuck's views are a little controversial here. I'll report back as to any difference I notice.

    Unfortunately, the guy is busy with the back to school rush so I'll have to wait for a couple of weeks to take it back.
     
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks for telling us this. 37mm wide at the nut tells me you can do 9-10mm with a fair amount of overhang. Remember that we are talking center-to-center and NOT between the strings.

    Here are some visual examples of spacing AND comfortable overhang from the outer strings to the FB edge.
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MartiniBass/martini2.jpg


    This one "was" 12mm (shown) and you can see the difference of space there is outside the strings from the other Bass Nut/FB. I made a new nut and spaced it to 11mm (3mm less overall) so the strings are not too far in from the edge. This is a wide neck so I was limited with what I had unless the entire neck was thinned. I also Beveled in the FB edge to make it 'feel' thinner when playing. I do NOT have an 'After' pic to show at this time. I may update this in the future.
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Dodd/images/dodd5.jpg
     
  13. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI
    Thanks for the pics Ken. They're very helpful. The second pic looks like my bass right now as far as the spacing and overhang - very little on the G side and almost none on the E side.

    If you only moved it in to 11mm and had moderate overhang, I can see where moving mine in to 10mm or so may possibly result in somewhat excessive overhang. However, I think I'm willing to trade off an aesthetically pleasing overhang for the playability given my small hands.

    Easing the edges of the fingerboard sounds like a good idea. Fortunately, if I don't like the spacing, having a nut recut is not so cost prohibitive that I can't change it again.

    Thanks again for your very helpful thoughts on this.
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Have the Luthier re-cut your exhisting nut by shaving down the top surface, re-cutting ity to where you think you want it and 'then' shim it up to the correct height. Then 'spot' glue it in and test it. When you get the spacing you like, have him make the actual new nut. 10mm will be 30mm to the centers and about 32mm to the ends. This only leaves about 5mm to split on the sides. 9mm will leave you 8mm~2 for the overhang. Since this is possible, go for 9-9.5mm (3/8") spacing and round the top edges of the FB on both sides to make it feel like there is less overhang. My 5er is close to the edges because we had no choice due to the size of the FB blank. With the B being .130 gauge it looks worse than it actually is. You should have more overhang on the G than the E or B by about 1mm. The 5; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/5str_imgs/m2_pf.JPG
     
  15. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI
    I got a new nut put on last week. The spacing is narrower than it was. It's not quite as narrow as I wanted it - it seems to be no less than 10mm. However, I think it's how you measure it. When I measure it from the top of the nut, I seems to be 10m to 11mm. However, when I stick a piece of paper under the strings and trace them, it seems to be about 3/8". The overhang wasn't excessive so I probably won't have him round over the board edges.

    However, I gigged with it over the weekend and I definitely noticed a difference in the playability. Thanks for mentioning it Ken. I don't think I would have thought about that. Something about this should be in the sticky for Setup & Repair.