Bridge building

StaggBridge-7The bridge on a stock Stagg is of a two piece fully adjustable design. Is is made of maple (?) and painted in a thick black epoxy. It can be adjusted up and down by two large chromed M8 adjusters. The design is not bad but In my opinion the stock bridge has a few issues:

The strings are spaced about 21 mm apart which is quite a lot less distance than on a normal double bass (25-28 mm). This makes playing (especially bowing) harder. Making the string distance larger is one of the standard modifications the luthier that planed my fingerboard does on a Stagg bass.

P1380378The bridge rests on the two piezo wires in the bass body. In the old black EUB this was a straight wire in the middle of the bridge feet which caused the bridge to wobble. It was very, very easily drawn towards the end of the fingerboard which is also due to the uneven string tension on both sides of the bridge.

On the new Stagg the piezos are looped which gives a much better resting point for the bridge. This makes the bridge much more stable, even the stock one. I super glued them to the bass body to keep the loops in shape and roughly the same on both sides.

StaggBridge-1The last issue with the stock bridge has nothing to do with the bridge itself actually… it is to low for my honey bass after the enlarged neck angle! So I decided I needed a new bridge… After looking at my possibilities The easiest way would be to adapt a normal double bass bridge. But those are pretty expensive and I found it hard to find one with the right feet distance as well as the correct height. So I decided to try carving one from scratch…

Challenge one was to find a suitable piece of wood, preferably maple. I searched the web for local wood suppliers and I found a local furniture maker that had some maple in stock. I was welcome to come by and pick up a piece for free. Thanks again!

StaggBridge-9At home I noticed the wood not being of the best quality. Both me as well as the guy from Houtmerk had not noticed it as this was on the back side of the (very large) beam. It had a dark patch with some cracks. But as this was all I had I decided to have a go at it anyhow…

First step was to make a cardboard template of the bridge that I then traced on a piece of thin MDF. After I had cut this out using a power saw I meticulously filed it to the correct shape. This template was the starting point for routing the maple. I fixed the template to the maple and carefully routed the outer lines. Thus I ended up with a very rough bridge. After that I put the table at an angle and routed the bridge top so it got a wedge shape. I am afraid I have no pictures of the proces…

And then disaster stroke… when I routed the legs the router suddenly grabbed the wood and my freshly made bridge broke in three pieces… I guess the cracks in the wood were deeper than I had hoped… As I did not have any more maple left I decided to glue the pieces together using Titebond.  I really like this giue a lot. I is a pleasure to work with and once dry it is very strong.

After the bridge had dried I drilled a hole in the bridge foot and hammered in two hardwood dowels covered in Titebond to reinforce the fix. It worked out really well, it might not look as beautiful as it might have looked when being made from a perfect piece of maple but it works just fine and is very strong.

After the disaster I did the final routing and filed and sanded the bridge to its final shape. The last thing I did, after a few fitting and trimming exercises, was routing the oval hole in the bridge and give it a light coating of Tru-Oil. And of course filing in the string slots at about 26 mm distance.

I am still pretty pleased with the end result! The bridge looks nice and works fine. The glued cracks are holding up well. Below some more pictures of the finished bridge.

Come to think of it, the stock bridge had one final flaw… its colour. I like a bass bridge to be non painted. But this is of course purely a matter of taste…


2 thoughts on “Bridge building

  1. What about the Piezo Pickup that is supposed to be inside the Bridge? Isn’t it necessary for getting the Double bass amplified?


  2. Hi Manfred, as you can see on the second picture of this page (the body of the bass showing the two bridge feet cavities) the piezos on a Stagg consist of two looped piezo cables that are between the bridge feet and the body of the bass. So they are not actually a part of the bridge itself. The bridge can therefore be easily altered or swapped as long as the feet give nice and equal pressure on the piezo cables.


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