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String Height Question

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by nickchalk, Mar 12, 2001.

  1. nickchalk


    Jan 30, 2001
    On my bass the string height is weird. The string height is really high at the end of the fingerboard and is really hard to play past C in thumb position. But below the octave it's playable.

    I'm guessing there is something wrong with maybe the bridge and/or nut but really have no idea. Anybody have any ideas?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Reedo's the guy who would normally handle this, but he's in the middle of a move, and may not be around. It might help if you could give some measurements of your string height at the end of your fingerboard. For instance, on my bass (set for jazz playing), the G string is 1/4" off the fingerboard, and the E string is about 1/2". String height for orchestral playing is typically a bit higher, but I'm not sure how much. Does your bridge have adjusters?
  3. nickchalk


    Jan 30, 2001
    Alright, the G and E are both about half an inch. The E is about a tenth more.

    And I play mostly orchestral stuff awell as some chamber stuff.
  4. It's gettin' kinda hectic around here, but I will still be around for awhile.Some generic measurements for string height are- at the nut, you should just be able to slide a business card through without getting stuck. Now, height at the end of the fingerboard is more varied, accordind to preference,
    and you can only go so low before the strings rattle on the fingerboard, or so high that you can't push them down. But, for example, I do know that Rabbath has his string height at 11 MM (about 1/2 inch)at the end of the fingerboard.Strings make a difference, as well. When I got my Obligatos, I had to raise the action a few MM for optimum sound.
    another question, in addition to having fingerboard adjusters,is your fingerboard round or beveled?
    Makes a big difference in string height.
  5. nickchalk


    Jan 30, 2001
    I have no adjusters but I was think a while go about putting some on. The fingerboard is round.

    I think its pretty oubvious my strings are to high because it really hurts to play up near the top (especially my thumb!).

    So should I get adjusters to lower the height aswell as having them for the future (I'll be playing this bass for a while), or get a luthier to lower the string height? What would those two operations cost?
  6. You're talking long term vs. short term returns here.
    It would be cheaper just to have a luthier shape your bridge, but when the weather changes, you may need to get adjusters anyway, so my advice is to go have it set up with aluminum or wood adjusters. Depending on who does it, it could cost anywhere from $75 to $150, which may seem expensive, but a worthy investment. BTW, you can get bridge adjusters from Lemur or Kolstein's, if you're thinking of doing it yourself, but fair warning, if you've never done any bridge work before,
    DON'T START NOW! You could wind up with a much more expensive problem. (up to $350 for a bridge replacement w/adjusters..:eek: gulp!)
  7. nickchalk


    Jan 30, 2001
    What's better metal or wood?
  8. There's a report linked to (All Hail) Bob Gollihur's site. The least interference was with maple adjustors, but you'll never find them. Mine were hand made. Next best was ebony. Aluminum was better then brass. But in a way, this is hair-splitting. Plenty of good players specify aluminum, which is less expensive. Avoid brass.
    When you measure string height, put the ruler perpendicular to the arc of the finger board. My G is 5mm, the E is 8, with steel strings.
  9. nickchalk


    Jan 30, 2001
    Thanks guys :)
  10. is your fingerboard round or beveled?
    Makes a big difference in string height. [/B][/QUOTE]
    Hi ,
    How does fingerboard shape affect string height?
  11. I wish I could draw a picture, because it's difficult to explain. On a beveled fingerboard, the bridge must be cut slightly asymmetrically to go with the different radius, which is different than a rounded fingerboard, which is,well, round and according to most luthiers I know, easier to work with because they don't have to adjust the string height for the beveled edge. All I'm really saying, I guess (Because I'm starting to confuse myself :oops:) is that the string heights on round fingerboards are just different than those on beveled boards because they have to account for the different radius.
    Did I just say the same thing twice? :confused:
  12. I read this topic today from my office and was curious as to what the height of my strings were.
    I am especially interested in string height relative to sound and manufacturer. My obligato's are 4mm at the G string and 6.5mm at the E string. Considering that I have a Kolstein bass I only have 5.5 inches from bridge to the end of my finger board.

    Question, would I improve my tonal quality by raising my string height? I am not dissatisfied with it now.
  13. That was about what my string height used to be before I got the obligatos. I found that raising the action just a MM (to 5 at the G and 8 at the E) greatly improved my arco sound and although at first it seemed a bit higher than I was used to for pizz play, I found it to be a more "ballsy" sound than when I was just relying on the pickup and the amp to do the work.BTW, I also have a Kolstein Fendt Model and I have it set up the same as My Juzek.
  14. Oh oh What's the story on adjustable tailpieces? I thought I'd try one out. You're scaring me.
  15. See the thread ORCHESTRAL TECHNIQUE-DB- Harmonics.
    If you have a proper tailpiece to begin with, you, like 98% of all bassists, won't need an adjustable tail piece.
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hope you guys don't mind, i did some cleanup on this thread.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

  18. Barrie Kolstein sent me an adjustable tailpiece to try on my base. When it is correctly tuned I do not have to use a wolf eleminator. Needless to say, I sent the original one back to him asap. He says that it isn't getting rid of the wolf, it is some how masking it. I won't pretend to understand how it works, it just does.

    Last evening I raised my extended E string height to 8mm to see if it improved the tone quality. It actually made it worse. Just goes to show that every URB has a personality of it's own.
  19. When you raised the E, did you try (within reason) a different interval for that particular string, or did you make it the same as the other strings?
    The theoretical argument for adjustable tailpieces is persuasive; on the other hand, I know they are not used at all in some very repectable sections. How much does an adjustable cost?

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