# Tailpiece/Bridge distance

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by JAS, Jun 25, 2003.

1. ### JAS

Jul 3, 2001
California
What is the right amount of distance that should be between the bridge and the tailpiece? How does this effect the sound and feel? Right now the distance between my bridge and my tailpiece is about 7 inches.

2. ### JAS

Jul 3, 2001
California
So, do any of you guys have any suggestions on what the measurements usually are and what the effect of more or less distance is?

3. ### tomanGuest

there is no "right" length. The distance between the tailpiece and bridge will determine the tension on the strings, and some guys tune that lenght of string also to increase or decrease certain resonances on the instrument to make it sound better. You can play around with the length and see if it makes your bass sound better...

4. ### sean p

Mar 7, 2002
eugene, oregon
i had a conversation last night with a fellow bassist which raised some questions that seem related to toman's response in the previous post. my understanding of string tension was, as we've talked about here several times before, that it is a constant for a given set of strings at a given string length, regardless of breakover angle at the bridge. however, i am now wondering what part in the equation afterlength plays.

perhaps we've gone over this already and i missed it, but will altering the length of the string afterlength (tailpiece side) affect the perceived tension of a string? my friend asserted that longer string afterlengths result in higher perceived tension on the string playing length. likewise lower perceived tension follows shorter afterlength. he said that by increasing string afterlengths on the lower-pitched strings one can cause the playing length to be less floppy (i guess this could be a problem - i've never had it). is this correct? if so, what are some practical applications?

is this part of the theory behind compensated tailpieces (mike?)?

sean p

5. ### Marty Forrer

Sep 27, 2000
Napier, New Zealand.
The bridge position is obviously a constant, as it should be in line with the F hole nicks, so what are you suggesting? That one has a variety of different tailpieces and tailpiece wires to experiment with?

6. ### Don HigdonIn Memoriam

Dec 11, 1999
Princeton Junction, NJ
The significant measurement is not the distance from the bridge to the tailpiece. What matters is the pitch of that section of the string. The pitch should be higher than the played portion of the string by precisely an octave and a fourth. Precisely. Unless it should be an octave and a third, precisely. Or maybe it should be a fifth. Hmmm. You can probably find vociferous advocates of any of those. There are other consequences that I'll leave for Arnold or somebody to explain. They are all variables without hard and fast rules. Dealing with them is what transforms luthiers from mechanics to magicians right before your eyes.

7. ### sean p

Mar 7, 2002
eugene, oregon
yes, i suppose that's the idea, though i'm not advocating going out and getting five tailpieces to experiment with. i was hoping someone with some physics know-how could weigh in here. i'm trying to determine what the effect of aftgerlength is on perceived playing length tension.

note: this isn't a question of what makes for optimum tone - overtones/harmonics in the afterlength are not my interest in this case. i'm only interested in the effect on feel.

sean p

8. ### mpmGuest

May 10, 2001
Los Angeles
Sean, check out David Gage's article in this months Bass Player magazine. He addresses most of the issues raised in this thread. He seems to think that the added length does contribute to a "feel" of less tension on the playable portion of the string that does have increased afterlength. He also addresses the function/effect of tailpiece cords/wire/hangers.

9. ### Martin Sheridan

Jan 4, 2001
Bass Maker
I've heard different views from players. Some say, am I saying this right(?) and octave and a 10th above the open string tone...or more.
A soundpost that's too long can also affect the tension, at least it can make them feel a lot tighter.

10. ### sean p

Mar 7, 2002
eugene, oregon
thanks, mike! i don't normally check out bp magazine, so i appreciate the heads up!

sean p

11. ### Don HigdonIn Memoriam

Dec 11, 1999
Princeton Junction, NJ
No.
The tailpiece distance is adjustable by altering the length of the cable that secures it to the endpin housing.

12. ### sean p

Mar 7, 2002
eugene, oregon
looking at pics of mike pecanic's adjustable tailpieces it appears that there are 'sliders' under each string that could adjust the individual string afterlengths while allowing the length of cable from the endpin to remain the same. i wonder if there's a difference in string feel (sound aside) with a slider all the way 'up' or 'down?'

sean p

13. ### Chris FitzgeraldStudent of LifeStaff MemberAdministratorGold Supporting Member

Oct 19, 2000
Louisville, KY
I'm also very interested in this, as well as in Don's comment on adjusting the tailpiece wire. How much extra afterlength is required to affect the feel of tension on the strings? Would one of the adjustable tailpieces have enough play to do the trick? What about the "saddle raisers" like Monte appears to have on his bass? I'd love to lessen the feeling of tension my bass has. Nnick? JEFEJEFF? Ahnold? Anyone?

14. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
Well, stop playing those telephone wires of yours!

15. ### Tom Baldwin

Aug 3, 2003
MD / DC / VA
If you haven't already, shoot MIKE AND THE MECHANICS tailpieces an email. He was very good about responding to several questions I had.

16. ### Martin Sheridan

Jan 4, 2001
Bass Maker
Chris,
That feeling of tension can result from the bridge to tailpiece string length. Also, a post that is too tight, bridge too high, nut too high and too much scoop in the board...also type of strings.
And not practicing enough.

17. ### Chris FitzgeraldStudent of LifeStaff MemberAdministratorGold Supporting Member

Oct 19, 2000
Louisville, KY
Let's see:

1)bridge to tailpiece string length:On my carved bass, that distance is almost exactly 7". On my American Standard - which has a much lower string tension feeling - that distance is (by visual estimation) considerably greater than 7", but the Standard is also a larger bass with a longer string length, which (I'm guessing) makes other comparisons somewhat useless.

2)Post too tight: I suppose it's possible, but Nick Lloyd would know better than I. IIRC, Nick was pretty careful about making sure the post was the correct length, but I assume that weather conditions could also affect this.

3)Bridge too high, nut too high, too much scoop: I don't think any of these apply. The nut was a bit high on the G and D strings for a while until I filed it down little by little until it felt better. If it makes any difference, the strings feel tight all over, not just near the nut.

4)Type of strings: You've got me there...to my knowledge, Spirocore Starks are about the stiffest strings made. But I love the sound and projection of them, and if there was a way (or several ways) of "loosening them up" a bit, I'd be all about trying that out.

5)Not practicing enough: No problems there...I notice the stiffness most over the course of a three or four-night stand, when I've been playing the bass the most (yes, I practice before and between the extended gigs).

Pacman's comment is well noted, but I don't want to give up on those strings until I've tried other options.

T-REX,

Message to Dr. Pecanic sent. The tailpiece on the left sidebar of TB DB seems to have extraordinarily long adjuster slots. What I'd love to get expert opinions on is how much added afterlength it is likely to take to cause a change in perceived tension. If only a couple of inches, then maybe the adjustable would do the trick. If more, then maybe a shorter adjustable? Curious to find out what the good Dr. thinks!

18. ### Chris FitzgeraldStudent of LifeStaff MemberAdministratorGold Supporting Member

Oct 19, 2000
Louisville, KY
Just answered a very long an informative PM from Dr. Mike, who seems to feel that a compensated tailpiece might show some change in "perceived tension". He also mentioned that raising the saddle would also be worth a shot, since he believes that the angle of the string over the bridge is very important to tension. I seem to remember someone here (was it Monte?) having a non-permanent saddle extension on their bass, and liking it quite a bit. Will the person with this extension be so kind as to check in and make a comment or two?

19. ### davegr8houseGuest

Aug 13, 2001
Franklin, Tennessee
When I had my MPM Tailpiece put on my Bass I also had my Strings changed also. Dr. Mike recommended Spiro`s but I was hesitant from the feedback I`ve gotten here at TB about there Bowability "is that a word". Anyway I went ahead and ordered a set of Spiro Med Reds to replace my Oblagatos"sp?". When I got my Bass back I did notice a Big change. I dont know if its the Tailpiece or what but Bowing them is not a chore at all. My E speaks very quickly and the D did sound bright but I put that tone filter thingy on it and no prob. But anyway back to what you said. I was sure that the Spiro would take some getting use to comming from Oblagatos as far as tension but to my surprise if anything the tension is less. I highly recommend you trying one of these Tailpiece`s just for that possibility of the Starks being friendlier to the paws...all well..

Dave

Sep 26, 2003
Detroit, MI
Dave --