Soundpost Adjustments

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Johnny L, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I don't mind moving the soundpost around on my Strunal. But then, I couldn't resist the tone knobs on my electric bass either...

    I wanted a dark, mushy sound. So I moved it further away from the bridge to achieve this (about an inch and a half). But last month I went in the other direction, really close (if it went through the top it would touch the bridge foot).

    From where I stand, it sounds better than ever...even darker and fuller to me.

    Even if I buy the "every bass has its own tone signature" argument, there's got to be some useful generalizations for soundposts at least, right? What generally happens as the soundpost moves closer to the foot?
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thanks Bob for the informative link.
  3. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    One last note: Just be careful moving that soundpost. Twiddling the knobs on a fender won't risk busting open your instrument, but incorrect soundpost settings will. Get knowledgable.

    All the best

  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    The article almost motivates me to grab ahold of several soundposts of varying height so I can play with a wider range of soundpost placements.

    On that note, why are there no adjustable soundposts like there are adjustable bridges?
  5. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    Would you really want to have to mess around with a little knob way down in there? I know I wouldn't.
  6. Well, if that's all that matters to you, then you're fine - but have you ever thought of how it might sound across the other side of the room - or even half-way across? Get someone else to play your bass and go take a listen - you might be surprised at what you hear...

    - Wil
  7. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    To my beginner ears people pretty much sound the same regardless of my position, but I'll try your idea when I get the chance.
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    The idea that there is only a 1/2" soft wood dowel making the difference between a bass and a crushed pile of kindling is scary enough. I sure don't want something mechanical in there to fail.

    It wouldn't really do anything of value anyway.
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    If you mean it won't hold a person back from picking the instrument up and playing something musical, I agree wholeheartedly. But for the good folks out there splitting hairs over poplar vs. maple vs. beveled fingerboards vs. rounded fingerboards vs. rosewood fingerboards vs. 4/4 vs. 3/4 vs. carved top vs. solid top vs. carved top vs. Italian vs. German ad nauseam, it didn't seem like I was going too far off the deep end.
  10. Anytime you're around here, you are in the deep end.
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    You go, Johnny L! More power to the tinkerers who HAVE signed the "yes, I understand and accept all the risks" release.

    I have to send in one message like this for every thread where the nervous nellies ("don't even open up the gig bag, take it to a luthier RIGHT NOW! Quick!!") do their fear-mongering.

    Speaking of getting informed, I think it's a long way to go from adjusting the soundpost to "crushed pile of kindling". Are there really people out there who think they'll crush their bass if they move the soundpost? Yes, you can screw up and damage your bass; crushing is not one of the likely outcomes.

    And I agree with Wil: your bass can sound quite different to your ears when you're 30 feet away and someone else is playing it. Check it out, you may be surpriseed.
  12. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Big props, Damon & Johnny!

    Nowhere in my life have I seen so much "hands off -- take it to a pro" banter than in the world of double bass. Granted, yes, there are many ways to royally screw up your bass if you haven't a clue about what you're doing. However, if you do a little boning up, ask the right people the right questions and head into your project understanding the possible consequences, a beautiful thing happens -- YOU LEARN.

    Here's to the DIY philosophy :)
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Maybe if I started out on a $20,000 carved bass, I would have thought twice about playing around with my bass's innards. Besides, if someone is going to fork over that kind of cash (or more) for a bass, chances are greater he/she can afford a luthier's personal attention and pampering also.

    More power to those folks. If I ever get there you bet I'll be carrying around a luthier's dream bass and relishing the attention/cost myself.

    Until then, it's back to appreciating what I've got now, jacking around with it for fun/knowledge, practicing, and becoming the best player I can be.
  14. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If you drop $20K, it better be right when you get it.

    I didn't intend to imply that moving the post around was a recipe for a disaster. I was more speaking to the idea that this little dowel is keeping the tension of the strings from crushing the top. So, adding an adjuster in the middle seems a little worrisome.

    Although I have seen an old Kay tuned to pitch with no post in it at all. It's destiny was certainly sealed, but it didn't collapse.
  15. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm purposely a DIY advocate around here even though I know and understand why DB players are quite conservative about dicking around with their instruments.

    They're freaking, outrageously expensive! Who in his right mind wants to screw up an item valued in the thousands, only to face a repair bill possibly valued in the same order of magnitude?

    You go down this DIY path one step at a time with lots of mistakes littered behind you. That's how you learn and it's how you build confidence (or the lack thereof.) The trick is to make sure the mistakes aren't devastating.

    The only thing I've ever truly RUINED in close to 30 years of horsing around is an old Fender Bassman amp head. I know, I know. Everyone wants 'em now (I think it was one of the worst bass amps I ever played, but to each his own.) Well, I've got one buried gawd-knows how deep in the local landfill. I screwed it up BIG TIME and have never touched another electronic item in my DIY affairs. If ain't wood, I don't horse around. If it IS wood, I don't let it intimidate me.
  16. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Personally I like to start with the soundpost about half the diameter of the post behind the bridge foot. I used to center the post with the leg, but many orchestra players have pursuaded me to put the post at the same distance from the edge of the foot as the bass bar. This seems to work better for bowing. When I adjust from this point I only move it about a hair each time in the direction I want.
    I once had a well known orchestra player bring his bass to me to adjust the post. He said he'd decided to move it back a little. It was about 5 inches from the bridge foot and almost at the center of the bass. And he had played and been around basses for decades. A soundpost setter in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing.
  17. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I wouldn't be suprised that the $20,000+ range is a very sweet spot on a luthier's scale. Maybe experience will show me the truth someday.

    Yeah, I guess bass repair advice or queries have their drawbacks after all. I assumed you had already looked inside your bass to find out what was really going on before you threw the feelers out on your endpin issue, and probably shouldn't have.

    To be clear, I don't advocate destroying a perfectly usable bass for the sake of learning. To me that's a total waste. I only advocate forking over hard earned cash for the absolute best quality work or object as wisely as possible, and then using the darn thing for it's intended purpose.
  18. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    I think its awesome that you move the post around yourself. I bought the adjustor but I havent tried moving it yet probably for the same reason that most dont. Moving it around blindly without proper fitting can be misleading though I would think because if you move it closer to the center it will be looser fitting and closer to the ribs it would be slightly tighter. I had a sound post that was too tight and it choked off the sound. One that is too loose wouldnt transmit enough vibration. Might as well get a few sound posts at slightly different heights to experiment with!
  19. Moving your soundpost around is one thing, getting several to experiment is a whole different ballgame. EACH soundpost would have to be FITTED for the particular spot you want to try. It isn't just length that you have to be concerned with. The curvature on the underside of the top is not constant on basses, so that a post that fits perfectly one place can have big gaps when the post is move a fraction of an inch away. Learning to properly fit a soundpost is not one of the easier tasks a luthier has to learn and definately not a task for the new DIYer.

    One other item needs to be addressed. The relative hardness of the soundpost can make a huge difference in the sound. If you were to perfectly fit two different soundposts, one soft and one hard, and set them in exactly the same spot (no, not at the same time!) the instrument will sound considerably different with each post. In some basses, a hard post will give the best sound, while in another a hard post will sound terrible. How do you know which to use? You don't. That's where your luthier's experience come in.