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Bass Bridge Placement

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Okay, can someone make sure I'm right here? I'm working on a bass - it's a 34" scale, so when placing the bridge, I should set it so the saddles all the way to front are on that line 34" from the nut, leaving me room to make intonation adjustments by making the strings longer? Should I leave a bit of play so I can move the saddle forward if need be? (or is that even an issue?)

Also, I had to change to a different bridge for this project (I made some changes in the plans before the build and neglected to compensate for that in my neck construction, so my string spacing was too wide for my fretboard) and the new bridge is a bit higher than I had planned, so I'm going to have to recess it; should I mask of this recess when finishing the guitar? Just hit it with enough coats to seal it and then mask it? I'm not sure how i would go about cleaning any excess buildup of the lip of the recess without damaging the finish around it. (I'll be using a clear spray finish, I'm unsure which type at this point, I need to experiment with my fathers spray gun a bit.)

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Technically speaking, when intonating a guitar or bass, if the bridge is placed correctly, you won't need to adjust the saddles forward -at all-.

However, assuming you won't be dead on with the bridge (it can be hard to get it perfect), leave yourself about 1/8" of play in front of the saddles just to compensate for any possible error in your placement.

As for the finishing question, it might be hard to make the recess fit around the bridge perfectly. I've never recessed a bridge before, but here's what I would do:

-Make a recess with about 1/8" gap around your bridge and add a 1/8" radius around the edge.

-Make the recess as deep as you need to compensate for, plus the depth of whatver finish you want to apply (thicker for poly, none for oil, etc.)

-Finish it! The recess then becomes a feature, and you won't have any nasty gapping or interior wood showing to deal with if your recess was even slightly off.

Good luck, and don't forget to post pictures! :D

PS Always nice to have another bassist on the site!

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  • 1 year later...

Wait, that can't be right... on a low E string on a guitar you set the bridge back 1/8" (TOM style atleast) so that you have enough distance for intonation. Not so for the high E side. That would imply, the thicker/lower the string the further behind the scale length point it would need to be intonated to... therefore, for something as low as say... a low B string wouldn't it be safe to assume that'd need quite a distance behind the scale length point to properly intoniate...a nd even the high G would need ATLEAST 1/8" (cause that's what a low E on guitar usually has). So shouldn't you place you bridge BEHIND the scale length mark, and angle it, much like on a TOM?


PS: If you're thinking case specific with answers, I'm building a 5 string 35" scale bass where I too will have to recess the bridge, so I better get the placement damned right!

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So shouldn't you place you bridge BEHIND the scale length mark, and angle it, much like on a TOM?

I hope you don't mean actually angling the bridge rather than just the saddles. Bass bridges (with the exception of those designed for fanned frets :D ) are not designed to be angled. The saddles should give you more than enough room to work with. Now, if you are talking about a TOM-style or acoustic style bridge, then yes, it should be angled.

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I'm trying to figure this out too. Obviously different types and sizes of strings are differently intonated, but I'm seeing wierd stuff. The roundwounds that came on my bass 5 were intonated from short on the G to long on the B, as you'd expect, but the B saddle wouldn't go long enough. So I was thinking of moving the bridge a quarter inch farther away.

Then I put on nylon taped rotosounds. These were able to intonate within the range of the bridge in it's original location. (Haven't moved it yet.)

Then I put on flatwounds (roto 88) last night. The B can't go long enough, and the D almost can't go short enough. B through G show a normal progression from long to short, except the D, which wants to be a lot shorter than the G.

I wish I knew more about this. Can anyone address the physics in some detail?

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