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Tailgut length change - good results

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by George700DL, Apr 26, 2010.


  1. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    After reading a section in Mr. Traeger's book on tailgut settings, and after reading some old posts here on the subject, I made some changes to my setup. I'll post before/after pictures when I get a chance.

    Basically, before my tailpiece was pretty much sitting on top of the saddle, and my gut wires were nearly 2 inches apart. This allowed almost no twist in the tail piece. So I installed a new cable (same type as before - 3/32" braided steel cable, coated) and filed grooves into the saddle, forcing the spacing to be about 18mm. I'm sure it could be less. The distance saddle-to-tailpiece is now close to 2", and the tail piece is free to twist nicely. I believe this opened up the bass quite a bit (volumewise).

    But what that also did was reduce the afterlength (bridge-to-tailpiece distance), where now it's about 6 3/4" from the bridge top to the string slot in the tail piece - meaning, the vibrating length there is actually a bit shorter, since the string remains in contact with the tail piece for another 1/4" or so in front of the slot. That means the afterlength is less than 1/6 of the mensure.

    The bass is now louder, but I wonder if I'm also missing out on having that afterlength be 1/6 exactly. I'm tempted to move the tailpiece back by about 1/2", where I still have a enough length on the tailgut AND a 1/6 afterlength :)

    ...but at the same time I'm tempted to leave it alone, since my volume is improved already. Any thoughts on this, specifically trying to shoot for that 1/6" afterlength in my scenario?

    If I mess with it even more, I'm considering also installing a rosewood "nut" on the tailpiece, which would precisely define the afterlength. Am I just nitpicking here?

    George
     
  2. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    "Am I just nitpicking here?"

    There's only one way to find out! Tune the afterlengths to 2 octaves and a fourth and see what it sounds like. :)
     
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Sounds like a use for one of the old bass guitar tuners in my junk box. :D
     
  4. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    OK, done. I went for a 1/6th afterlength, which allows for about 1.5" tailgut length now. I also filed the slots in the saddle a bit closer, so the braided cable is pinched closer together. I also cut a piece of the tail piece off, and removed wood elsewhere to make it lighter still.

    I believe I did something right. The tailpiece vibrates nicely when I lightly tap the fingerboard. I didn't exactly go for mode matching, but I might have done it by accident :) It also seems that my A0 is the note A exactly.

    Jake, I might try the 2 octave+4th tuning with maybe some temporary inserts under the strings on the tail piece. I'm just a few hairs off from that anyway.

    I think at this point it's really OCD :) Let's remember that I bow thick plain guts with a meat cleaver. But volume is good.

    George
     
  5. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    You can just cut yourself some softwood wedges to temporarily fine tune the afterlengths.

    So does the bass sound better? You didn't really say...
     
  6. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    Well there was a noticeable increase in volume when I increased the tailgut length the first time, but I ended up with less than 6 3/4" afterlength. So last night I moved it back a bit (still much longer than originally) along with a few other tweaks. I didn't have the chance to really test it yet (really lay into the bow) because I finished my modifications at 3 AM :). I suspect this modification will be more subtle than the main one (freeing up the tail piece so it can move easier). But overall things vibrate a lot more than before, and I think that's a good indication. I'll post results later tonight when I'm free to make noise without scaring the neighborhood.

    George
     
  7. George700DL

    George700DL

    Jan 9, 2009
    Maryland
    So yeah, it's definitely louder, but I think the main factor is having a decent tailgut length, period. The other tweaks had only a minor effect in comparison. That being said, I will keep playing with the afterlengths.

    George
     

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