How bridge adjusters work on double bass

Let's explore why double bass players use bridge adjusters and the pros and cons of having them on a double bass.

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

  Double bass bridge adjusters are made of many materials. Mine happen to be plastic, and I used to have aluminum bridge adjusters. You’ll see wooden bridge adjusters as well.

They are on your bass for a specific reason, and that is to adjust your bridge.

Misconceptions about bridge adjusters

A lot of people think that bridge adjusters work kind of like electric bass bridges and how you can move them up or down.

That’s not really the case because what happens is when you turn one side that will move the bridge up or down, but will also change the angle of the bridge. So you’re actually going to shift your action slightly to the left or slightly to the right.

So you want to make sure that you bring both sides up or down the same amount. And that’s why a couple of different luthiers have put dots on my bridge adjusters. I have these white dots, and on the other side I have these red dots and.

I found that doing a half turn is the best way to do it. So just do one half turn on this side and then one half turn on this side and you’re gonna check and see how things feel. And of course your bass is gonna be going out of tune. So when you get to where you think it might be good, uh, you can. Get it in tune and test it out.

How do you know how high or low your bridge should be?

That is a subjective thing for sure. We bass players play all different kinds of styles. In general, if I’m playing pizzicato or I’m playing solo, I’m going to have my strings a little bit lower than if I’m playing with the San Francisco Symphony or some sort of heavy arco playing where there’s a lot of verticality in the bow stroke.

You also want to keep an eye on your bridge angle when adjusting it, and make sure that it’s staying 90 degrees to the body. That can shift around a little bit if you’re making radical changes and tightening and loosen your strings.

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