Tail Piece Rope Snaps

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Cathead, Jul 4, 2003.

  1. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    The other night the rope that holds my tailpiece snapped. It snapped right at the knot on one end, so I used the same rope back with a new knot. Trouble is when I put it all back together the action on my bass is notibly higher. I put the bridge back in the same place, so I can't figure out why the action is higher. For my personal taste the action is too high. Does anyone know why this has happened :confused:
  2. Sorry, Cut Head.
    No can tell, since Your profile does not give any hint of what kind of bass was involved at this accident...you only mention bass guitars.
    The tailpiece "rope" is usually a wire ( if it´s not coathanger style ) and it should not be fastened with a knot. This should not have an effect to the action, though.
    Are you sure anything else didn´t snap? Is the neck firm? Is the top alright? Is the bridge at 90 degree angle to the top? Was it before the rope snapped? Tilting the bridge towards the tailpiece or fingerboard affects to the action.

  3. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    Oh well, I'm sorry. I was in the double bass section when I posted and assumed that's what we were all talking about here. Anyway, it's on my upright bass. I have checked everything else I know to check and everything looks the same except for the action. It is a rope like material that holds the tailpiece on. It threads through a hole on either side of the tailpiece and a knot is tied on each end of the rope on the underside of the tailpiece to keep it from pulling through the hole. The rope is looped around the end pin on the bottom of the bass. I hope I have clarified myself :)
  4. You did, man. Sorry for the joke...
    Well, if everything seems all right, check once more that the bridge sits straight, the legs completely flat on the top and the underside has a 90 degree angle to the top plate. If the action is different to what it was, then the bridge was not properly placed before the "snap", and the refitting affected the action. Still hard to tell...but the fundamentals are:
    1. place the bridge properly
    2. check the action AND if you are not happy with it:
    3. put height adjusters to the bridge OR
    reshape the top of the bridge

    hope this helps, can´t tell anything else without seeing it.

  5. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    Thanks, arto.......I will double check all you mentioned. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
  6. I'm assuming the rope you speak of is wire rope. I wouldn't trust a knot by itself- either solder the knots or use a crimped ferrule instead/ as well.

    In case you're not aware of this already, proper bridge placement means aligning the centre of the feet with the nicks on the inside edges of the f holes. If your bridge is too close to the fingerboard now, that would raise the action noticeably.

    If you need a new tailwire, Lemur sells a kit that includes the cable, brass clamp with set screws and hex key, for dirt cheap. Be advised that the length of the cable and consequent position of the tailpiece matters. Search the threads here for info and opinions.
  7. toman

    toman Guest

    the tailpiece cable might be something like what Velvet sells, it uses a knot to hold it together. If it is something like that, there's no reason why a knot can't hold it. Since it did break though I'd say you need something different.
  8. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    OK, fellers, I figured it out. Somebody before me had the bridge closer to the neck and I was going by the marks that it left. However, after looking at some pictures I took of the bass shortly after I bought it I could see that the bridge was farther back. After I scooted the bridge back the action lowered. Thank y'all for your help. I can see I need to get something better than the "rope" that is on it now. Thanks, again :)
  9. kip

    kip Guest

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    check your sound post position. The trauma of a snapping tailpiece may well have caused a shift. You may benefit from the expertise of a qualified luthier on both the bridge and post placement.
  10. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    Kip, I checked the soundpost and it looks like it's about 2 inches directly behind the foot of the bridge on the g-string side. Of course, that means nothing to me. I don't know if that's where it should be or not. Thanks for helping.
  11. That sounds a little too far from the bridge-foot.

    Moving it side-to-side will add prominence to either the "EA" or "DG" strings, and moving close to or far from the bridge-foot will affect volume.

    Moving farther from the bridge will reduce volume, but add mellowness to the tone. The soundpost acts as a sort of tone/volume control for the bass.

    Point is, that if your soundpost is sitting vertical, it didn't shift. They typically don't shift around, they fall down.

    Or sometimes they may partially fall, so that they are left leaning.

    If the soundpost is too far from the bridge-foot, it probably means that you still have the bridge out of position vertically.

    If you're talking about a 3/4 bass, your scale length is probably supposed to be 41.5 inches.

    Get someone to help you put a tape measure against the bottom of your nut, and see how far it is from there to the surface of the bridge which faces the fingerboard.

    It's not a firm rule that a 3/4 bass will have exactly a 41.5" scale, but that IS the norm.
  12. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    The bridge should be positioned in line with the notches in the f-holes. The soundpost position is then measured from that.
  13. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    Wow, people. This is some great info for a novice like me. The soundpost is standing perfectly straight up and down, so I reckon it probably didn't shift. And, I do have the bridge in line with the f-hole notches....at least I do NOW. Until this past weekend the only upright I had ever played was mine, but after plunking on several in a shop I visited I left the shop very content with the way mine sounds. By the way, it's a 4/4 size bass. You fellers have enlightened me mucho...thanks.
  14. I believe that the standard scale length for a 4/4 bass is 42.5".

    I KNOW it's at least 42", and I think 42.5" is the right length.
  15. Standards wouldn´t be standards without exceptions.
    The German bass I have at home for evaluation has body measures like a common 3/4 bass, but the neck is incredibly long, leading to mensure of 109,5 cm. If someone knows how to convert it to inches and dividents, go ahead. Anyhow, the bass is sized like a 3/4 and has a string lenght of very little less than 43 inches !?
    Also the fingerboard is 4,5 cm longer than my standard 3/4. The bridge is also very high due to the neck overstand and angle. The upper register is one of the easiest to reach that I´ve seen.

    Anyhow, like it´s been said here, the centerline of bridge feet should be in line with the notches in the f-hole. Also the top line of bridge should be in line with them. If it ain´t, the bridge is tilted, warped or has a pyramid shape rather than straight downside angle.

  16. Cathead:
    I think it's very unlikely your bass is a 4/4. The only 4/4 basses I've seen were old, handmade, symphony calibre basses, and I doubt your first instrument is in that dollar bracket. Don't think I've ever seen an entry-level/ student type bass in full size, (which is not to say they don't exist, I haven't seen everything.) There are few standard measurements for basses, they probably differ more from one to another than other instruments in the violin family. Most basses are considered "3/4" size.
    Re sound post: If it can survive the snapping of the tailwire without falling over, it's very possibly fitted too tight. A trip to a luthier to have this checked might result in a noticeable improvement in the sound of the bass.

    Re your German bass- High overstand and steep neck angle result in a tall bridge and consequent high string angle at the bridge. This coupled with a long mensure sounds like huge string tension. Is this the case? How is it to play? Is it an Eb neck? Is it an older instrument with a raised saddle?
  17. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas

    The new bass I'm getting (more this weekend when it comes Friday) is a true 4/4, with a 42" SL. It is a handmade makers instrument.

    However, I have seen some cheap new instruments being sold as 4/4, thinking that the bigger size can compensate for the lack of sound from inferior materials.

    In a better new bass, 4/4 and 7/8 have been tweaked by the makers to make them playable. Most of the older instruments in 4/4 sizes had like 45-47" SL, making them hard to play. Modern makers will often do different things to make them easier to play. For example, mine has the neck angle changed to make the upper range more accesible, which wasn't an option on the old cello shoulder Prescott's. However, I doubt student instrument factories put that much thought into it.

  18. Thanks for the update, Monte. I must admit I haven't gone bass shopping for a long time, so I don't have much of an idea what's currently available in entry level instruments. The ones I have seen from the far east have mostly been pretty 'unremarkable' in sound and appearance, I'm not in the market so I haven't paid much attention.

    I understand what you mean concerning decreased neck overstand and increased angle to make the second octave more reachable. 45-47" string length?- ouch! Never seen one that long- monster stretch in half position.

    I recall reading an article in a recent Double Bassist magazine on Prescott and his instruments, don't remember details. Were the cello- shouldered instruments you refer to made without neck blocks? (Not that I'll ever own one- way out of my financial snackbracket...)

    Curious to hear more about your new 4/4.
  19. Cathead


    Dec 13, 2002
    Premier, WV
    Eric, the feller that sold me the bass from the music shop told me it's a 4/4 bass. It sure looks bigger than the ones I plucked on in another music shop while I was on vacation. It's an inexpensive bass I know, but it plays well. I would like a little more response out of the E-string, but other than that I am satisfied with my purchase. As far as the other questions go, I really don't know what an Eb neck is :confused:
  20. Cathead, I stand (sit?) corrected regarding your 4/4 bass, as I said I'm not really up on what's available new. And there's no shame in an "inexpensive" bass- we all start out on one. Once again, a soundpost adjustment might help the E string situation.

    My "re your German bass" questions were aimed mainly at arto alho, otherwise known on TB (in Fuqua-speak) as R2D2, or simply R2. His German bass has a 109.5 cm (over 43") string length, which sounds like a long neck. If you put your left thumb in the root of the neck (fourth position), you get a D note under your index finger on the G string. A particularly long neck might give you an Eb in that spot.