Category Archives: Neck

Finetuning the bass

During the last 3 weeks the Stagg accompanied me on my holiday. Such a holiday is perfect for small imperfections to surface… And they did. This post documents a few minor tweaks I did after I got back from holiday.

Thrussrod rattle
The Stagg is fitted with a totally useless thrussrod. During my holiday I found out that the only thing it did very well was rattling in its slot. I tried to fix this using bathroom sealant. Read about it here.

Endpin got stuck
At the campsite we had bbq that ended in a jam session. I could not join as I did not bring my amp but I did show the bass on request. Only to find out the endpin got stuck in the new plug. I knew the fit was quite tight and after taking it out there appeared to be some transfer from the (softer) aluminum to the steel of the rod. After carefully removing this the rod was OK again. Something to keep my eye on.

Endpin rattle
EndpinRattleInside_1At the campsite I mainly used the bass with the pin as far in as possible. This leaves a long part inside the bass which is a possible cause for vibration. So while I had the pin out anyhow I decided to make an endblock that fixates the endpin when it is as far in as possible.

EndpinRattleInside_2This might well be the most unnecessary modification I have done but it took only a few minutes. I made a maple wooden insert with a 10,5 mm hole in it. The endpin was chamfered a bit more  so it would “guide itself” into the hole. The block was made to exact size and fitted with a couple of screws. When the pin is in the block it is under a bit of tension so it will not rattle.

Battery compartment
BatteryCushionAnother modification that might not be all that necessary is fitting some padding material to the battery compartment to prevent possible rattling. It implied nothing more than sticking two pieces of foam tape inside the compartment and on the lid. Better safe than sorry 🙂

Body support and tuner
BodySupportTuner_2The body support that I made for playing seated turned out to be on the wrong side of the bass. At home, sitting on a high bass stool, everything was ok, but on the campsite, sitting on a picnic bench the balance point proved to be a bit off. So I moved the body support over the left hand side (G string) of the bass. My first impression is that this position feels a lot better, the bass appears to be better balanced. But time will tell I guess…

I used (and have hidden) the hole on the right hand side to fit a small Planet Waves NS micro tuner. This way this can stay on the bass permanently and not look obtrusive. And I won’t get caught again without a tuner!

Apogee JAM
apogee-jamThe last thing I did was treating myself to an Apogee JAM guitar interface. With this nifty little device you can connect an electric guitar, or EUB, to an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC and record the sound in an application like Garageband. I wanted to be able to hear myself back for a while and this makes it possible. I have yet to find out the optimal settings but is is very “educational” to hear yourself play…

Thrussrod

As I wrote at the bottom of my posting on the finished honey Stagg I started to notice a buzz on the D string. I decided not to tinker with the bass until after my holiday. The bass would accompany me and would sure show all things that would need further work during those weeks. But the buzz or rattle, don’t know the best term to describe it, became worse and worse and started to occur on all strings. As I had eliminated most sources for this noise before I was pretty sure the thrussrod was the culprit…

The Stagg EUB is fitted with a thrussrod. But with the thickness of the EUB neck this is totally useless. Turning it (counter)clockwise as far as possible has no noticeable effect on the neck whatsoever. On both Staggs. So the only thing I did a while back was to give it a little bit of tension to prevent it from rattling in its slot. But obviously this was not enough…

I borrowed a allen key from the campsite owner and tried several adjustments to eliminate the rattle. It worked for about 80% but there was still some rattle left. As the rod cannot be taken, the only way of preventing it from rattling is filling the slot with something to prevent the rod to move at all.

NeckSiliconeWhen I got back from holiday I to took off the neck again (which also gave me the opportunity to take some more pictures for the post on the neck angle). Tapping on the bare neck showed that I  guessed right, I clearly heard the rod rattling in its slot… Adjusting the rod made little or no difference at all…

So I drilled three holes the rear of the neck until I reached the thrussrod. After that I pumped some silicone bathroom sealant in the holes hoping this would reach the thrussrod slot. Well, it seemed to  work as the rattle has gone now!

A trip to the luthier

After most of the work was done I took the bass to the well known Dutch luthier Lucas Suringar. He is also selling the new Stagg RDL bass as I mentioned before in this posting. The one thing I did not trust myself with was planing the rosewood fingerboard… As he has a lot of experience with the Stagg EUB I was more than happy to drive quite a bit further to visit him. And it is always fun to chat with him and other customers while waiting for the work to be finished.

WP_20131116_006He took off the strings and removed quite a lot from the fingerboard. The planing revealed some lighter spots on the board but I think this only adds character to it. And after re-oiling the board it was a lot less visible anyhow.

In order to be able to plane the board Lucas removed the top nut. On most Staggs this is glued into place and removing it almost certainly will damage the epoxy on the headstock. As it did on my bass too 😦  But I was able to recover the paint flakes and I have glued them back in place at home and the damage is hardly visible. Strangely enough the top nut on my black Stagg was not glued on at all, something he had not seen before on any of the Staggs he had worked on so far.

The nut itself was also modified. On a stock Stagg the string spacing is not correct (too large). This should be 10 mm heart to heart. So three of the four slots were filled with a mixture of super glue and ebony sawdust and some new slots were cut. A quick re-oiling with some linseed oil finished the job.

After all work was done the Stagg played a lot better. No more buzzing! Top job and also at a very reasonable price (about 30-50% less than other quotes I got)!

Adjusting the neck angle

The neck angle on a stock Stagg is pretty small. The fingerboard runs almost parallel with the body of the bass. I have pretty wide thumbs and every once in a while I practically got “stuck” between the fingerboard and the body… Besides that, such a non-existing angle makes bowing harder and gives a whole different feel than that of my normal double bass. So I decided to have a go at making the neck angle larger. Of course this would necessitate a new and taller bridge but that was of later concern. The stock bridge is not that good anyway so…

NeckAngleIn order to enlarge the angle of the neck I made a MDF wedge that fitted in the neck cavity. In fact I made two, the one in the picture on the left is the one that “just did not make it” as it made the neck angle way to large… So the one that I used in my bass right now is a bit smaller.

NeckAngleI filled the screw holes in the neck with some hardwood dowels glued in place using Titebond. That way I could drill new holes and make sure the screws would be nice and perpendicular to the bass body instead of crooked as might have been the case when I had reused the old holes.

After drilling some new holes and fastening the neck I ended up with a nice angle that has a good, and much more familiar feel to it. A 110% improvement.

The picture above compares my neck (bottom) to the stock neck on a red Stagg (top). The difference is quite a lot! And by using a separate wedge the modification can easily be undone.