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Visual opinions needed on my bridge setup

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bonafide, Feb 27, 2003.


  1. Bonafide

    Bonafide

    Oct 15, 2002
    Howdy everyone.
    I bought my first upright this month, a new Engelhardt ES9 Swingmaster. It is a cheap bass overall but it is my first upright and I am excited about the process.

    Because of my extensive reading here on the DB forums over the last 2 months I have gathered much info and research.
    I already had a new bridge, strings, soundpost and tailpiece wire ready before my bass arrived.

    Short background: I have a guitar repair shop here in Santa Barbara Ca, and though I specialize in electronics, I setup instruments on a regular basis-I do repairs for local shops as well. New nuts, truss adjust, fret leveling / recrowning etc. (I don't do complete re-frets though) Primarily electrics but the occasional acoustic.
    What I am trying to say is that I am not 'completely' ignorant about instrument setup and working with tools. However... This was first 'REAL' upright setup.

    My questions are:
    I had to cut the bridge down a good 4" before It was short enough to start shaping- By looking at the pictures, do you think I have the top of the bridge 'thin' enough? Too thin? After I cut 4" off the bridge, it was mighty thick.

    Is this affecting my tone?

    How deep should the bridge string slots be cut? right now I have them cut like a typical guitar nut, about 1/2 the string diameter deep. Too deep? Not deep enough?

    Is this affecting my tone?

    Any insight based on my photos would be a big help.
    There isn't anything 'concrete' that I have found by serching the posts (with my brutally slow 56k dial-up).
    Thank you for help, sincerely appreciated.
    Rodney
     
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    well, from looking at the photographs, it looks like you have a good amount of wood above the heart, the string grooves aren't too deep, (I like 1/3 instead of 1/2, FWIW), the bridge crown is in line with the fingerboard, but the bridge thickness is a bit on the heavy side. it appears that the face of the bridge (the fingerboard side) starts to taper @ 7 mm down from the crown. (crown/profile is where the grooves are). I would like to see a longer taper, further below the crown, where the heart is. It's just a little thick, that's all.

    Do you have any photographs of the feet?
     
  3. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Looks pretty good to me. It's a little thick in the middle area, but that's hard to avoid with such a short bridge. Slots and finish work look good but you might wanna check the bridge angle. The back of the bridge should sit at a right angle with the flat plane of the bass top. It looks like you have a pyramid thing goin on there. Shouldn't affect the tone, but does have some structural import.
     
  4. Bonafide

    Bonafide

    Oct 15, 2002
    Nick and Jeff, muchas gracias!

    So nick, here are pictures of the feet, only photos I have.I had installed the adjusters (Per instructions found here- Thank you) prior to getting the bass. I cut some wood from the feet and shaped them to the top. Not sure what the 'proper' method was but I used the instruments top as a guide, secured my sandpaper to it and went to town until they fit snug and tight. BTW- the finish that comes on a new Engelhardt is very sad.

    Nick- "the bridge crown is in line with the fingerboard, but the bridge thickness is a bit on the heavy side". Please elaborate. IYO, should I sand the bridge thickness down? And if so how thin? I am willing to buy another bridge and take more wood from the 'feet and legs' . If I sand it thinner, do I sand both sides of the bridge?

    Jeff-"The back of the bridge should sit at a right angle with the flat plane of the bass top"
    Also please elaborate if you would. Maybe the picture is decieving? I have the bridge set up like every photo I have seen but I am not certain what you mean.
    Thank you- BTW I have learned much from your site. Very informative and appreciative.

    I have no desire to delve into the art of acoustic repair or setup, I just want my own bass to play and sound as best as possible.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    German bridge blanks come in "pyramidal" form. This means that if you look at the bridge from a side view the angle that the face makes with the bottom of the foot is the same as the angle the back makes with the foot. I guess each angle is like 100 degrees. French bridge blanks come with the proper angles. If you get a Despiau or Aubert it will come with the back and sole angle at 90 degrees and the front I guess will be about 110. The French do get some things right. To fit a German properly you need to tilt it back and take a little more from the backside than the frontside. You have to be able to see what the flat plane of the bass is. Basically it is just the gluing surface of the ribs as they meet the top. On most basses this will be a flat straight line. The back of the bridge should, in general, sit perpendicular to this. The front of the bridge should be slightly crowned. This configuration is mainly to offset the tendency of the bridge to warp forward as the strings pull it.
    BTW, your fit also looks good-there is nothing amatuerish about your set-up. Don't move to Long Island, NY.
     
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    as far as the thickness goes, you could take a little more wood off the face, from the heart up. BUT, this isn't a big deal, especially on this particular instrument. ahem... they are good basses, but fussing with your already finished product is not necessary.
    the removal of wood, however, would be on the face of the bridge. the back of the bridge (tailpiece side) sits flat, and 90 degrees to the top of the bass. jeffers explained that all...
    the feet are a little thick, too. However, this is just an aesthetic point, mostly. Usually I finish them @3mm on the sides, getting thicker as the feet go into the leg. FWIW.