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Soundpost is splintered

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by erikwhitton, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    hello, bear in mind i'm a noob.

    My bass is a Kay C1 (1956)

    I was checking out my bass last night, really examining my bridge and neck b/c i know some work is needed. Well - i saw that my soundpost is split or splintered.

    What's the threat level with this?

    also - there is a circle of wood or board on the inside of the back of my bass where the soundpost sits - however the SP is not centered on this circle. Should it be?

  2. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    hi, erik. while i don't have answers for your questions regarding risks and setup specifics, i have a 1940 kay c-1 with the same characteristics. the sound post appears split (i haven't taken it out to look at it better, but from the outside it looks as though it may have been cut that way, perhaps for some tonal adjustment - fairly intentional-looking), and rests slightly off-center on a 3-4" diameter 'patch' on the back of the bass.

    i have wondered the same things as you, but in the seven years i've had the bass everything's been stable without adjustment (and the guy i bought it from didn't seem like the kind of person that had it tweaked in the time he'd owned it either). and since it sounds fine, i haven't strongly considered having the post adjusted.

    sean p
  3. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    thanks sean. i hope you don't mind me asking another question about your Kay - just to see if you have a similar fingerboard as mine.

    mine is rounded for the A-D-G strings, but between the A & E - it is more of a bevel than a smooth roundness.

    The shape of my bridge also reflects this - the E is cut way higher than the rest.

    I'm wondering if the previous owner did this on purpose, (if so - why) or if it is typical.

  4. The slit on the side of the soundpost is perfectly normal. Kay made them that way. The soundpost setter goes in the slot when you adjust the soundpost.

    Most Kays will not have the SP set in the center of the circle.
  5. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    erik -

    yeah, i have a bevelled fingerboard as well, though the bridge is pretty evenly cut. mine definitely isn't the original board. i've heard people talk about a bevelled board as being part of a 'jazz setup' (or was it an 'orchestral setup'?) but i think lots of both styles of basses (and bassists) have lots of both styles of boards. that is, we swing both ways. more fun that way. :)

    sean p
  6. Yes, it was done on purpose, and 60+ years ago it was pretty common.

    When all strings were gut, and lower tension than steels, this was often done to keep big, fat, loose the "E" strings from rattling against the fingerboard.

    I've seen rockabilly basses beveled this way, but also a bass that was formerly used in a symphony orchestra (and not 60 years ago).

    Rockabilly players use low-tension strings for playing slap-bass, usually favoring plain gut, if they can afford it.

    They frequently have a bevel cut under the "E" string to "give it room to fly".

    Unlike orchestral players, they WANT it to rattle, under their control, of course.

    The bevel lets them get extra clearance on that string without raising the bridge even more.

    Extra clearance makes it easier to hook a finger under the "E", pull it away from the fingerboard, and let it slap back, with a sharp "click".

    I don't play with a symphony, or use a bow at all, so I don't know why an orchestral player would have it bevelled, but I HAVE seen it done.

    It's normal, and does no harm, though I've heard doubt expressed as to whether it's actually of any value, either. Diff'rent Strokes, I guess! ;)
  7. Sorry my friend. It's still pretty common today.
  8. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    That bevel was actually invented by the great German rockabilly cellist Bernhard Romberg. He lived in the late 1700's-early 1800's. The purpose was to prevent the c string from hammering the board during strenuous arco. He was buds with Roll over Beethoven. The bevel is actually called the Romberg Bevel.
  9. Buddy Lee

    Buddy Lee

    May 5, 2002
  10. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    they had rockabilly back then?

  11. He's just yankin' your chain.

    They had Rockabilly then, but not in Germany! :bassist:

    Unlike Ludwig, Rollover lived in the USA, so Romberg must have too, if they hung out together.
  12. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    oops- looks like i win the award for most convincing sarcasm!


  13. Rowka

    Rowka Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2002
    Jacksonville, FL
    But they did have Bluegrass.