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When to replace a bridge?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by stz, Jul 27, 2007.


  1. stz

    stz

    Nov 9, 2006
    Derby, UK
    Hi all. Just a quick question.

    I think I need to get a new bridge fitted. The symptoms I have are:

    1) Fairly harsh bending of the top portion of the bridge, it pulls towards the pegbox.

    2) The bridge likes to lift up and up and up, I tune up and it lifts a bit more, I tune more and it lifts again, eventually I have to whack it a little further up the body with the spine of a heavy book. Obviously this does no favours to my intonation.

    3) On extreme occasions though not uncommonly the bridge will fall, twice now this has happened. Usually during long periods of playing with others when I can't stop to make adjustments other than to tune up, we play, I go flat, I tune up a touch, we play, I go flat, we tune up a touch, after a couple of hours the bridge falls with a fairly thunderous sound.

    The bass is a CCB, around a year old. The bridge looks to be made of fairly cheap wood and not brilliantly cut either. I couldn't tell you which way the grain runs because it doesn't look to actually have grain.

    What else? Oh yes.

    4) The tail piece seems to pull a little towards the the bass side of the instrument, next time I have the tension off the thing I'll try and pull it a little further over before retuning but is this normal? It does mean that I have more space on the treble side of the fingerboard which I try to correct when whacking my bridge into place (the tail piece usually pulls it back as it is nowhere near centred)

    Thanks and I'll cross my fingers for some replies!
     
  2. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    You need a new bridge. No idea about the tailpiece issue.

    I'd suggest taking the bass to a luthier for an evaluation.
     
  3. I was "babysitting" a very expensive German carved bass for a few months and the bridge kept falling off that too. Never did find out what was wrong with it, but I'd guess it was just a bad setup, or maybe not enough tension with the weather change or something.

    My bridge is currently warping in the other direction, towards the tailpiece. Can't figure that one out. It causes intonation problems but oddly enough I rarely have trouble tuning the thing.

    But yes, take it to a luthier. If it's a REAL CCB, s/he may say it's not worth fixing, but you want to know anyway. I had one of those once. Paid about 3 times what it was worth (of course I had no idea at the time). And in about 6 months the bass bar came unglued. Took it into the shop and they said it would cost more to fix than they could get for selling it (after fixing it). So it was basically totalled. They took it on as a sort of med school cadaver, and gave me a $150 repair credit. uggh.. live and learn.
     
  4. Bishbass

    Bishbass

    Jul 13, 2007
    Boston, MA
    CCB?????
     
  5. Cheap Chinese Bass, if I'm not mistaken
     
  6. Bishbass

    Bishbass

    Jul 13, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Oh, a BSO! (bass shaped object):eyebrow:
     
  7. stz

    stz

    Nov 9, 2006
    Derby, UK
    CCB does indeed = cheap chinese bass.

    I didn't pay much for it, £80 though it needed the bridge fitting and the soundpost putting up and a set of strings. I took it to a luthiar for all of that business.

    I've managed to fix it today, how?

    Place some folded up paper underneath the feet.

    Ugly? possibly worth lynching me for?

    I'll get it fixed eventually! when taking the tension off I discovered the tail gut has pulled several grooves into the wood. Getting the alignment right was a matter of slipping them into a couple of the other grooves.
     
  8. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    :eyebrow:
     
  9. mojoluthier

    mojoluthier

    Feb 17, 2007
    Petaluma, CA
    Lots of players replace bridges that could have been just fine with a little attention. They have a natural tendency to pull towards the FB as time goes by. It is/should be a regular part of maintenance to stay on top of this. If you sit in a chair with the bass face up on your lap with the endpin against your belly, it is not so hard to pull the bridge back at the string end w/o disturbing the foot end. the feet should be bissected by a straight line between the notches, typically, and it is possible to do this under full tension, though losing a couple of pitches makes it easier. The goal is to have the feet flat on the top, and if the bridge is healthy and properly set up there should be close to a 90 degree angle to the back (use a letter size envelope as a square) of the bridge relative to the top of the bass.

    If the bridge has an unhealthy curve to it (tlike the one starting this thread), pull the bridge back another 1/16 to 1/8 so that the front edge of the foot lifts NO MORE than a business card's worth. As the bridge is a triangle viewed from the side it will be mechanically driven to put it's feet back on the top, and it will bend slightly straighter. Do this about once a week, and it will be back to the correct geometry in no more than 2 months.

    I takes far less time to do this than to describe it. Every bassist should be doing this geometry check every month or so, though the bridge makers will say don't bother, perhaps.
     
  10. stz

    stz

    Nov 9, 2006
    Derby, UK
    Hey hey, my bass is in the workshop with a new set of strings and a Bob G adjustable bridge. I'm getting it setup for fingerstyle without much contour to the bridge and also leaving the bridge fairly wide. I'm going for 4mm-7mm for the string heights and he is going to have a look at cutting the nut a little better, it is a bit ropey. The neck is something that has a fairly nice relief to it, but the last 5 inches or so is flat and doesn't continue to curve. He says this should be corrected if I'd like to play that high comfortably. I usually don't on the E string anyway so I don't know, but we are getting there anyway.
     

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