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When is the best time to...

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by So Low Bass, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. .... sand down my bridge? I have a nonadjustable bridge on my 50 yr. old Meisel. The action is WAY too high. I live in Buffalo NY where my forced hot air furnace will soon be running. I am concerned about shaving the bridge down only to have the bass itself dry out and settle over the winter, leaving the bridge too low and thus useless.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    The bass will settle in the winter, more if it's carved than if it's ply. Plan on keeping your home humidity at around 40% and the bass should be happy. Also, make sure the soundpost isn't too tight when the weather changes. You don't want a soundpost crack!

    I suggest getting the bridge cut for adjusters so that you have year round control of bridge height.

    See a double bass luthier for the above work.
  3. If you want adjusters put on your bridge go to crino music in dunkirk ny. They do great work, I've had all my basses worked on by them
  4. Cody Sisk

    Cody Sisk

    Jan 26, 2009
    Lilburn, GA
    Ronald Sachs Violins
    Here's a thread about humidifiers. Have a luthier check your neck angle when you can. Most of the time the neck will warp forward under string tension. As for the top settling, this will only make subtile changes in the bridge height 90% of the time. I suspect the neck is the culprit here.
  5. Thanks for the helpful remarks, especially the thought about the neck angle, but WHEN is the best time to change the action in a Northeastern climate?

    Cody... you don't the wild temp changes we Yankees have. I know in the old ship days, basses were deliberately taken apart before shipment to avoid serious cracks and many old timers had a winter and summer bridge. Do you think adjustable bridges interfere with a bass's "voice"?
  6. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    No, a bass' voice is a combination of many factors. Just about every pro I know has an adjustable bridge. You can always go back to solid if you like the sound better.

    Yes you can do summer and winter solid bridges. Get the bass adjusted for winter when the heat is on full time. For summer, when the heat is off full time. An adjustable bridge means all you may have to do is change the soundpost and adjust height at will.
  7. awp


    Oct 9, 2013
    London, Ontario
    Hi all (first post).

    I have a very similar question to the OP but an individual twist.

    My 10 year old son just took up bass for school this year. We purchased an Eastman 80 laminated bass for him (and I) to use at home. I play guitar but am new to bass (so I know just enough to be dangerous :) )

    When we got the bass the string height seemed high to me so I had the luthier bring the height down a bit. We took it home and I still find the height is too high.
    G = 8mm E = 13mm. From what I've read on this forum and elsewhere this high.

    So I've contacted the luthier to bring the height down a bit more but he is cautioning that this isn't the right time because the weather is changing and getting drier. The bass will contract.

    We live in South-western Ontario Canada. It does get dry in the winter but not like some places out west. The bass does have an adjustable bridge which is currently at its lowest so there would be adjustablility up if we make a mistake.

    My questions:
    1. what is a reasonable string height? Keep in mind this is for a child. I am thinking 5mm to 8mm.
    2. how much adjustability does a bridge have upwards if the bass contracts too far?
    3. how much do I need to worry about the timing of the adjustment i.e. with winter coming?

    For the record the luthier is not saying he won't make the adjustment. He is just cautioning me.

    Help is appreciated.

  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    4-7 G to E will be good. 3/4 quarter bass? if it's smaller, the heights should probably be lower. The bass won't contract that much if it's plywood. It will be at its lowest when the heat is on full time as I mentioned above.
  9. awp


    Oct 9, 2013
    London, Ontario
    Sorry. I missed that detail above. Yes. 3/4 bass. Thanks for your response.
  10. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    For the original bass in question:

    The "best" time to make adjustments is after the seasonal weather has changed. Give it a couple of weeks of your heater being on and it being dryer and your bass will settle in a bit. I would recommend a humidifier for the room your bass lives in and keeping it around 40%. Summer adjustments are best made when you've reached "standard" humidity for the summer as well.

    As for adjusters, there have to be a bunch of posts in the archives about what they do to sound. There was a really good article in the ISB magazine years ago about it. They do make some difference, especially if you can hear them in a "scientific" type setting. (The article I remember did a bunch of things comparing the sound waves, frequency responses etc. of recordings with all the different adjusters and a solid bridge) I seem to remember the aluminum ones "winning" (even over the solid bridge) but the differences being pretty minimal.

    For Warren's bass, I would get the bridge altered. If you want (super) low action, and have adjusters on the bridge, you can't really lose. A reputable luthier isn't going to make the bass unplayable, and if you need to you can always raise the adjusters: that's what they are for.

    Having lived in Central/Southern/Western Ontario (depending on the city I was in, and how you define those regions) our seasonal differences are pretty huge. Most basses successfully living here (and in most of New England/the American North East) have adjusters on them, and some of the few hold outs that have solid bridges have a winter and a summer bridge. There are parts of the world where they are frowned upon, but usually these are areas that have less dramatic seasonal differences in temperature and humidity. Considering all the other variables, the difference in tone is pretty minute, but the difference in play-ability is indisputable.
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I'll add that since we know it's too high now, you might as well get the work done now so next summer it will be at a good height. Then bring the adjusters up when necessary this winter.
  12. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Another thought.. if you try the adjusters and are fine with them it'll likely save you some $ down the line.
  13. awp


    Oct 9, 2013
    London, Ontario
    Just to follow up. I had the luthier bring down the strings to 5mm for the G and 9mm for the E. Plays much better in my opinion. It is an adjustable bridge so if I find the strings are bottoming out due to contraction in winter I can raise it.

    Thanks to the group here.



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