Category Archives: Bridge

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 Houtmerk.nl!

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…

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Upgrading the Stagg

As I made this website after I bought my second Stagg and because I did a lot of the same mods on that bass too, I will only focus here on the mods I did on the black Stagg that I did not do on the new Stagg. The rest I will document while discussing the new Stagg.

I am afraid I did not take too many pictures because I did not know back then that I would make a website about it…

Fingerboard
When I bought the Stagg the strings rattled severely. The main reason was that the fingerboard was not flat. As this is a painted fingerboard (using heavy epoxy) the paint has to dry out very evenly to get a flat board. And on this bass it had not… So In decided to unmount the neck and try to even out the uneven paintjob. Good idea? No…

b_3094Although the paint was applied in a pretty thick layer I sanded right through it pretty fast, thus ending up with a bad looking FB. So I decided to remove all paint from the fingerboard and redye it. This was a long and painful process as below the black epoxy was a thick and hard layer of transparent filler that was very hard to remove. I ended up scraping the board clean meticulously and cut myself several times on the sharp scrapers.. 😦

After scraping the fingerboard clean I turned the thrus rod clockwise as much as I could to give the neck a somewhat convex shape. My theory was that when I now sanded the FB flat and smooth and afterwards turned the thrus rod as much counter clockwise this would create a little bit of relief in the FB. … Well, it did not. Fitting a thrus rod to a neck as thick as on the Stagg is of no use at all!

10077810The last phase was re-dying the fingerboard using Fiebing leather dye I got from a local shop (Guitar Supplies). This worked out pretty well. It was a shame the fingerboard was filled at the bottom with “liquid wood” or something. Don’t know what it was but the Fiebing did not stick to it. After drying I sealed in the dye with a few coats of Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil to prevent me from getting black fingertips every time I played the bass.

After all this I had at least a nice and even fingerboard without bumps. The bass played a lot better but as the fingerboard still had no relief I had to adjust the action to be pretty high in order to prevent the E and A string from rattling. To get it done properly I would have to take the bass to a luthier. But that is not cheap and therefore I started thinking if it would perhaps be a better idea to sell the bass and buy me a new rosewood Stagg version…

Bridge
Because I like the look of a non-painted bridge I decided to strip the paint of the Stagg bridge.  A bad idea… The epoxy was applied very thick and it was impossible to get it out of all corners of the bridge. And to make things worse… the bridge on this bass was made of two kinds of wood! The bottom was some sort of reddish hardwood like meranti and the top was made of maple. So, even if I could get it perfectly stripped it would look like shit… So I dyed it black again using Fiebings…

Below a few pictures of the black Stagg as it looked when it was finished. A few weeks later the black Stagg found a new owner. In the end I did not loose any money on it but I learned a lot from it!