Sound Post Installation

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by J5stg, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. J5stg


    Nov 20, 2005
    Durham, NC
    I've been setting sound posts on violins for thirty years. I've never set a bass sound post. It's a little daunting. I just acquired a bass that has a sound post that is 3/4" too long. It was jammed in against the bass bar. Needless to say there were some pretty weird sounds coming from it. Is there any info online that anyone knows of on setting bass sound posts?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Check the double bass side and ask them. There's a lot of luthiers over there, and there's been a discussion on setting soundposts this weekend, too.
  3. M_A_T_T


    Mar 4, 2004
    Then you shouldn't have a helluva lotta trouble doing it. I had set only a few violin soundposts and one 'cello post before setting the one in my bass. Took me two posts and about 5hours...
  4. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    i tie a string to one end about a foot long and leave it there
  5. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    J5stg- if you have experience setting violin soundposts, what information are you looking for re: bass soundposts? Do you have a bass soundpost setter? Are you curious about placement? What kind of playing does the owner of said bass do?

    Oh, and welcome to Talkbass. It would be nice if you could fill out your public profile a little more. Thanks!
  6. Sounds about right.... I've never worked on a violin in my life. I've set 3 DB sound posts now and it never is a picnic if you are persnickety about the fit. Toughest situation is a DB with a full swelled back, easiest is a flatback with the post on a brace. The post on the swell back is likely to only fit in one spot. If you move it 1/8 inch any direction, it no longer fits and you need to start over with another post if you want to hear it in another position. I made a little gauge of dowels and scraps of basswood to get a fair determination of a good starting length. I try to measure at the middle-most point and cut the post about 1mm longer and then gradually work it down, checking the fit often. I made an improvised tool from wire that works as my setting tool. An inspection mirror and an itty-bitty book light are the other implements I use. I carve the post ends with Flexcut knives and smooth them with fine grit paper. You know, for some reason a violin would seem far more tedious to me than a bass.

    It's just a big violin ... VERY big violin...
  7. Here's a photo of the gauge I made.

    Attached Files:

  8. J5stg


    Nov 20, 2005
    Durham, NC
    Thanks to everyone for the insight and encouragement. I'll sally forth and report on the results.
  9. M_A_T_T


    Mar 4, 2004
    I made something similar for a violin & cello, but mine are metal.

    I actually found the articulation of the post in my DB easier than with violins, because of the giganto f-holes. Actually, I only ONCE dropped the post while fitting. Whenever it didn't fit, I used a homemade 'grabber/nudger' to retrieve it - with my violins the post basically falls over until it fits.

    Good Luck, J5stg. :cool:
  10. Some one might ask, "How do you know when the post fits?" Well, it fits when it suddenly grabs into place and is not easy to rotate. And you can check around it with the mirror.
  11. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Not to sound like a meanie, but should a person who has fitted three soundposts be dishing out advice? My assistant Jed fitted and adjusted three soundposts YESTERDAY! :D
  12. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    You mean to tell me Jed is able to find time to set 3 posts in a day between all PHAT cee-gars??

  13. So Arnoooold, did you have any advice for this fellow or are you just jerking my chain? :smug:
  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    No chain-jerking, just attempting to be a voice of reason.
  15. Am I the only one that mistakes this type of "reason" as "authority" cloaked?

    More importantly, do you or Jed have any advice for this fellow? If you want to be reasonable, point out the errors in my advice, please. Offer counter methods. There are so many helpful comments that could be made. You could compare the metal gauges to wooden one. You know, accuracy vs. hard/soft materials going into an f hole, or you could offer some other advice beyond what someone who has set 3 soundposts offers.

    Bashing my inexperience seems to be more your approach to establishing an authoritarian voice than an attempt at being reasonable.

    Sometimes a beginner stumbles on a method out of invention that even a more experienced person can benefit from. Chew on that with some turkey and cranberry sauce. The stuffing is just that. Happy Thanksgiving, Arnold. I'm thankful for an open forum where we can all exchange experience and method.
  16. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    You want Avdice? Take a hint... When I am sick, I go to the Doctor! When a Doctor is sick, he goes to another Doctor! When a Dentist had a Bad tooth, he goes to another Dentist.

    When I used to buy, restore and sell Basses on the side as a hobby, I would always take my Italian Bass to Biase if it needed something. I only cut the Bridge top and glued one Corner after ripping it off from a chair. I would never do work on my main Bass myself. It was too personal to me. I just did my own tweaking. I had fit quite a few sound posts as well but never liked doing it. Fitting a Bass Bar or half edging was more predictable as I could see and feel everything I was doing. Recently my 4 year old Shen needed a new Sound post so I gave it to Arnold. I watched him make the post from left over Top wood. He rounded it and then made it fit like a glove. That in itself is an Art!
  17. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I used to get Branstetters goat when I said this, but I still stand by it. Post setting is pound for pound as difficult as doing a neck graft. I still find it to be one of my least favorite jobs after 20 years+ of working on dbs FULL TIME. What I think Arnold is referring to is that we see way to many amatuers setting posts thinking that it is akin to changing your own oil resulting in damage to the top which of course makes future fitting more difficult. [i know, run on]. SS's advice is accurate as usual but the more correct advice would be -don't do it.
  18. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    for something as serious as a soundpost i would definately take it to someone with tons of experience.
    it is just like anything that takes very precise countours, measurements and persons idea of a good shape and fit might be vastly different than another persons. a soundpost is one thing i would leave to an excellent luthier.
  19. +1.

    As it happens, I was at my luthier's today to have my soundpost fitted and adjusted. My bass sounds way better now, I got to drool over all the basses in the shop, we had a nice chat, and he charged me €20. What's not to like?
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I agree 100% with Jeff on the 'do it yourselfers' thing. You can easily hurt more than you can help if not done right. An amateur will not always know right from wrong in Bass repairing. There are way too many Basses butchered in this world.

    Arnold just took the Top off my Prescott to start the Restoration. He found a disturbing thing inside. Someone had damaged the Top when fitting a Post. The Top was filled with wood putty under the Post as a repair. This Bass does NOT have a Soundpost crack but WILL need a Soundpost Patch now due to the past 'do it yourselfers' thinking they know how to fit a Post. I'm sure it looked fine to them when the put the Post in then (pre-damaged) but the next time the Top was removed, some 'rocket science' repairman though woodpuddy was the solution.