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Old 07-27-2007, 07:27 PM
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Arrow String Spacing at the Bridge..

I searched through Arnold's Set-up specs and I see that the subject of String Spacing at the Bridge has been mostly left out here. It is mentioned that a 5-String Bass usually has tighter spacing than a 4-String BUT, what are the normal or various Spacings used for the 4-String and How and Where do we measure this.

First off, like with any other Spacing measurement my belief is that we should always measure from center-to-center and not in between the Strings. Once the notch is made and filed correctly assuming the spacings are even, the distance between the thicker strings will measure less in between than between the thinner ones. The 'E' and 'A' will seem slightly closer to each other than the 'G' and 'D' but that is just an illusion as the center measurements being the same, the thicker strings just take up more room from side to side thickness wise.

So, with that out of the way, what are these measurements and which are better for whom?

In my earlier youth I used a very narrow spacing averaging 23.5mm-24mm or about 15/16". I played Jazz and practiced Classical Solo pieces as well as a few Orchestral type bowing jobs but more on a commercial level than in a regular Symphony. Actually, I still have that old Bridge to look back on when ever needed. Boy was that tight!

More recently I moved up to about 1"-1 1/16" or 25.5-26mm. Every time I get a new Bass or have a Bass set-up I always tell the Luthier that I want no more than 1 1/16" or 26mm depending on the language. Perfection is not possible when slotting wood no matter who does it including me. Actually, there is not a single Bridge that I can recall I did not re-cut myself if just a slight tweak if not more.

Recently I was playing this old English Lott Bass that was left for evaluation here and I could almost swear it's one of the easiest playing Basses I can recall ever playing. When I measured the spacing it was averaging 27.5-28mm wide to the centers. That is about 1.100" (overall average was 1.111" or so). The Nut is spaced at 10.5mm or just over 3/8". The widest I have ever played was the Dodd which arrived with 12mm Nut spacing and about 28mm Bridge spacing. No adjusters and the strings were HIGH off the FB. I adjusted that Bass and got it down to about 27mm and 11mm at the Nut.

My Martini Bass here at the office has 10mm at the Nut and had 26mm spacing up until a few hours ago. I just re-cut the spacing to simulate the Lott and left it at about 27.8mm or 1.095", just under 1 1/10".

This new spacing for the Martini not only feels comfortable, it also sounds as if the Bass has just gained a few more ounces of Power. Can this be possible? By spreading the strings across the Bridge only 3/16" wider overall the Bass gets louder? Actually, I left the 'E' alone which was a tad on the low side and re-cut all the others with the 'G' moving over the most. From my tighter spacing before, the 'G' was way inside the fingerboard and hard to go up into thumb position. I kept missing the string having to reach over more as I jumped into Thumb position.

Now, the Strings are much better centered over the Top of the Bridge and it plays easier as well.

Please, share you String spacing stories here or ask questions if you need help. I do know what widths Orchestra players need to play with the Bow. It's just that for years, I preferred not to go wider than I had been used to.
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:35 AM
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OK I'll play.

As a guide to correct string placement for bowing, are there any rules of thumb for relative string heights? By this I mean, if you place a card between G and A string at the bridge, what height ABOVE the card should the D string be? Same same, if you place a card across the D and the E, what's the ideal height for the A string?

I'm aware that the height of the A and D are limited by the position of the C bouts in relation to the E and G strings. But what, for example, is too low, and therefore not enough arch?

Of course, this will vary from player to player I guess, but as I am not a trained arco player I'd like to know if there's something to shoot for when I cut a bridge.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:14 AM
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Cool Arch..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Tucker View Post
OK I'll play.

As a guide to correct string placement for bowing, are there any rules of thumb for relative string heights? By this I mean, if you place a card between G and A string at the bridge, what height ABOVE the card should the D string be? Same same, if you place a card across the D and the E, what's the ideal height for the A string?

I'm aware that the height of the A and D are limited by the position of the C bouts in relation to the E and G strings. But what, for example, is too low, and therefore not enough arch?

Of course, this will vary from player to player I guess, but as I am not a trained arco player I'd like to know if there's something to shoot for when I cut a bridge.
I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in the past somewhere but it's not in my Post above as I was mainly working on spacing in that post. In either case the rule I go on is sighting it by eye. Measuring the height of the D as the center of 3 strings I go about 4-6mm height or 3/16"-1/4" as an eyeball measurement. I have drawn pencil lines and measured them but generally I just look at it. When arching a Bridge I try matching it with the String height off the end of the fingerboard with a 1-1.5mm height progression from the G to the E (G=5mm, D=6 or 6.5mm, etc depending on the curve wanted). This also greatly depends on the Fingerboard curve so it is important to know that you can only get the heights as good as your Fingerboard will allow. What you can't do is put less arch in the bridge to compensate for a flattish fingerboard. You must maintain the arch heights at the bridge for bow clearance between the strings.

The arch heights might be varied by the player, technique, spacing width, strings used, tension of the Bass, music being plated etc. or any combination of the above. French and German bow players also differ as I usually see less arch on a French bow set-up than for a German bow.

I hope my explanation is clear above. I am so picky with my bridge set-up that regardless of who cuts a bridge for me, I almost always re-cut it the way I like for that particular Bass. And yes, even the same player might want a slightly different set-up between Basses to match the desired feel for a given instrument.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:00 AM
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Obviously the spacing and arch are the main things, and fingerboard width will play a part, but I'm curious what people think about how far the G sits inside the edge of the fingerboard. I suppose this applies to the E too, especially with a beveled fingerboard, but since most of the playing higher on the fingerboard is on the higher strings I think it is more noticeable if the G is closer or farther from the edge.

Personally I go back and forth; some days I find it easier to play in thumb position when the G is close to the outside, and others I like to have a lot of fingerboard under the string to work on top of. Maybe the type of string factors in too, now that I think of it. I do prefer tighter string spacing and more arch to the fingerboard, so that gives me more room to play with how the whole arrangement sits over the board; perhaps it's just those basses with wide spacing where the G is right out to the edge that I particularly dislike...
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:28 PM
Pino Cazzaniga Pino Cazzaniga is offline
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Usually I let more space at G side than at E side, string to edge of fingerboards.
Some clients prefer that part of the fingerboard flatter (crossway) to give a "platform" to the thumb.
If you prefer close string spacing and high arch this is not advisable, as it can result in buzzing low positions when you dig.
I can't say about beveled ones, here they are a rarity.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:16 AM
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Cool ok..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Erickson View Post
Obviously the spacing and arch are the main things, and fingerboard width will play a part, but I'm curious what people think about how far the G sits inside the edge of the fingerboard. I suppose this applies to the E too, especially with a beveled fingerboard, but since most of the playing higher on the fingerboard is on the higher strings I think it is more noticeable if the G is closer or farther from the edge.

Personally I go back and forth; some days I find it easier to play in thumb position when the G is close to the outside, and others I like to have a lot of fingerboard under the string to work on top of. Maybe the type of string factors in too, now that I think of it. I do prefer tighter string spacing and more arch to the fingerboard, so that gives me more room to play with how the whole arrangement sits over the board; perhaps it's just those basses with wide spacing where the G is right out to the edge that I particularly dislike...
I think the overhang (inside spacing to edge or outer strings) depends on many factors. On some basses you have no choice. Take for instance a bass that was originally 3-string and has a narrow taper from end to end. Putting 4 strings on that will bring the outer strings closer to the edges. Now you just have to do the best you can and get used to the tighter overhang. If not, the neck comes out, the block widened or changed (the top off for the new block), a new neck grafted and tapered to demand and then fingerboard, bridge and set-up. A huge job costing thousands of dollars to alter a 3-string converted neck width.

On some basses the fingerboard fans out quite a bit. Go measure a 12 fingerboards on 12 different basses measuring them at the nut and end at the 34" point. You will see quite a variation I am sure.

Now, depending on the bass itself, overall size, upper bout width, rub depth, rib taper in the upper bout, neck pitch in block, neck stand over body, bridge arch etc. each bass will play differently from slight to extreme with the same player.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
I think the overhang (inside spacing to edge or outer strings) depends on many factors.
Indeed.
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