Monroney's "10 Point" Program For "Tweaking" Double Basses to their Maximum Performance

This is from a post from Robert Monroney, from May 22, 2000. It is re-posted here for your convenience.

1. Replace Strings: Use the best possible for the type of playing desired.

2. Check soundpost length: It should just barely stay in place with no string pressure.

3. Install 3/32" aircraft cable tailpiece fastener. This cable permits the cable to flutter and vibrate and definitely enhances the sound.

4. Lower string height at the nut to .005"-.007" I use a sparkplug feeler guage.

5. Check "dip" in fingerboard. It should be measured at the center of the string, not the center of the fingerboard. The amount of the "dip" should be equal to the thickness of the G string on the G side and equal to the thickness of the E string on the E side. If this "dip" is too great, the instrument will be hard to play.

6. Tune the string length between the bridge and the tailpiece to exactly 1/6 of the string length from the bridge to the nut. The pitch on at least one string and sometimes two should be two octaves and a fifth above the fundamental from the bridge to the nut. By using a tailpiece with adjustable frets, you can achieve this tuning on all strings. This tuning is advocated by Gary Karr and is in place on his Amati.

7. Install modified aluminum adjusters on the bridge (or ebony or graphite adjusters ). My modified adjusters have the shafts drilled out 1/8" and have six evenly space ¼" holes drilled in the wheels. This reduces the mass by about 25% and reduces the muting effect of the adjusters.

8. Soundpost Location: Measure the distance of the bass bar from the F hole on the E side; the sondpost should then be placed the same distance in from the F hole on the G side and one half its own thickness below the bridge. I personally use masking tape on the sharp end of my soundpost setter to find this spot. Put a pencil mark on the tape and use that mark to set the distance of the soundpost from the G side F hole. You have to more of less "eyeball" the distance below the bridge. The post should appear vertical in all directions. This can be checked out through the hole for the end pin assembly. It should fit the curve of the top and back and the grain of the spruce post should be 90 degrees to that of the top.

9. String spacing: Standard spacing of the strings, at the bridge, has traditionally been 1 1/8 ". Throughout the years, working and experimenting with fine bassists and students, we have found that 1 1/16" is better. The fingers have less space to cover in crossing strings. Some soloists have even requested I" spacing.

10.String Height: Through the use of the adjustable bridge, you can set the strings at the best height for you When it is easy for you to press the strings down, you will be applying the maximum pressure and achieve the best sound.

Applying the ten procedures will improve the sound of any doublebass up to the maximum for that particular instrument. Some instruments can only achieve just so much and no more. That's an unfortunate fact of life among basses.

-Robert Monroney, May 22, 2000

hosted courtesy of Gollihur Music last updated June 7, 2006