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String Height? Luthiers in UP?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by travatron4000, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I have a budget bass. Made in China. Not too bad. There are a number of complaints I could list but they're of no consequence here. Despite its short comings it sounds nice. Really nice, I've gotten compliments on its sound actually. I'm doing double duty, Jazz and Clasical. I have Corelli Tungston Mediums on it. I had Height Adjusters installed when I had the cracked top block glued. He said it would be more money than the bass is worth to actually replace the top block. However even with the adjusters cranked all the way down the sting height at the end of the finger board is 11/16ths on the E string and 3/8ths on the G string. The finger board is tapered on the bass side.

    I find it difficult to play in the upper register, thumb position and up. I also find fast jazz playing above 2nd position very tireing. I've played others basses with closer action that were much nicer to play. Speed, vibrato, and upper register playing were much easier.

    The only luthier here in the UP(upper penisula) of Michigan is Keith Davis in Iron River, as far as I know. That's about 2-2.5 hours from me here in Marquette. I don't have a car and had to use my girl friends car before. It's also winter and long drives suck due to sudden blizzards and extreme weather, accompanied by long empty streaches. Is it possible for me to mail a bridge and have it shortened and shipped back? Also, would it be alright for me to take care of it myself?

    I'd rather have it set so that if the adjusters were were all the way down it would be too low so I have a little leeway to adjust for changes due to weather, which is crazy here in the UP.

    I would shorten the top of the bridge with a sander or by hand with sandpaper, take the string grooves down with a small file. then taper the face of the bridge back down with a belt sander. Does that sound right? Let me know what you guys think.

    Travis Burleson
  2. It sounds like the adjusters were simply added without removing any of the wood from the legs of the bridge. My basses both have adjustable bridges, and a good starting point is 8 mm (E) to 6 mm (G) at the end of the fingerboard with the adjusters around a quarter of the way out. You could try removing some of the wood (on the non-threaded part of the leg) using a belt-sander, taking care not to change the angle of the bearing surface. It's quite a simple job for a competent luthier, but I would hesitate to take it back to the guy who fitted the adjusters badly in the first place. I would leave the top of the bridge alone. What do the experts think?

    - Wil
  3. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Not sure of the geography, but my friend Mike Magee is a bass guy in Michigas. He may be able to help you.
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Where most non-luthiers mess this job up is in the string spacing. Keeping a constant distance between strings (measured center-to-center) is important to playability. Before you do anything, make sure your bridge is straight. If it's leaning toward the fingerboard, you're gaining height and losing length. I think the best way for a non-pro to tackle this job is to lower the strings one by one, leaving the bass strung up. When you've got it right, then take off the strings and bridge, and clean up the bridge top so the strings sit about 1/2 way in the grooves, and the top of the bridge is about 3/16" or so thick. Make sure all the string grooves are nicely rounded and lubricate with a soft pencil. Be sure your adjusters are synchronized and mark them so you can keep them so. Good luck...
  5. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    You guys who have adjusters, what side are the threads on? Mine are on the bottom, they go through the feet towards the top. I always though it would go the other way. Also it looks like they're installed on an angle too. It's definatly an intentional angle i just thought they would be straight. I'll try to get my hands on a digital camera and put some pics up.

    I was thinking about taking a little off of the bridge on both sides of the adjusters, and shortening the threads so the adjuster doesnt dig into the top. Though i'm still kinda leary on doing it my self. I'm pretty good at wood working and haved access to good tools but this is all i got. Also, the fact that it's so difficult for me to get to a luthier make me want to do it myself and not to because i'll absolutly have to take it in if i mess stuff up.

  6. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Hi Travis,
    This week I met (via the phone) a luthier who is a little closer to you, in Stevens Point, WI. Here's the info:

    The Sound Point
    (715) 341-0749

    Good luck :)
  7. christ andronis

    christ andronis

    Nov 14, 2001

    Have you gone over to NMU (the university) music dept. and asked one of the people there? I'm pretty sure there's one in Escanaba, just not sure of reputation or who it is. Check it out.

  8. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    thanks for the input guys, but the closest luthier i mentioned above is in Iron River MI. Also, I go to NMU and am a music major, and if some one came to the dept. with that question they'd probabally ask me about it. I haven't heard of anyone in Escanaba, that's a little closer than Iron River though, so i'll look into it.

  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The neck isn't pulling forward on the cracked block, is it?
  10. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    It was. Keith glued it and it seems to be holding up alright. Replacing the top block would cost more than the bass is worth. Its a little off and the button doesnt quite match up and the back is seperated a little around the button but it's not moving or buzzing. I'd like to get a nice bass but i'am THE poor college student. I dont know of any place that lets you make payements. Also, there's nowhere close that has basses to try and i'm never buying a bass without playing it and inspecting it in person again.

  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Good call.

    The first bass I had was a Czech ply -- it was a great ply, too -- and when I first got it, the neck pulled loose a couple of times in the first few years. It had been sitting in a closet somewhere forever before I got it. I would start letting loose slowly, so at first the strings just seemed to be getting higher, blah, blah. Your original post just brought back that memory.
  12. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, Im' really torn on my bass. It has a solid top and i really like the way it sounds but the neck is SO bad. Aside from the cracked block it's either twisted or the head is carved on an angle. You can see knots in the wood on the neck and the back of it isnt smooth, its curvy, and the fingerboard is some wood with black paint that gets on your fingers. If it was finically viable to put a new neck on i would. I really like the sound, but i can get a new, better bass for the cost of a new neck.

    I really need to find a place with basses in stock for me to try but the closest i iknow if is like 8 hours away. You can get to chi-town in 6 if you speed. and i need a loan or a payment plan to get one. so if anyone has any idea on how to help me on my way to a new bass i will GLADLY accept it.

    Also, I got a friend to drive me to Iron River. Keith said he'd re cut the bridge for me. $20 or less +about an hour. As long as the weather's nice for the 2 hour drive .


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