Bridge Spacings and Fret Numbers?


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Posted by Fred B. Stewart on January 07, 2002 at 16:50:59:

Hello Bassists: The vintage style bolt-on neck basses have wider bridge spacings @ 2.361" outside string centers for a 4-string, while today the standard is 2.25" and therefore a new bass may not be layed out to line up with vintage bass pickup poles. Todays standards are for .75" saddle widths and that's why many 5-string basses have 3.00" outside saddle centers. However, there are many spacings available and 5-string Stewart Basses have .708" spacing. It keeps the neck more playable with a reduced width and allows the use of 1 1/4" soapbar style bi-pole pickups which have a narrow sensing humbucker character due to the tall and narrow coil bobbins. I have found that aside from this issue that the neck length into the body is responsible for tone character away from the vintage sound. It's a matter that I call the "trombone affect" and new harmonic intervals are introduced from the neck plate position and neck length. The type of sound you prefer is more associated with the number of frets than you might realize, which in turn may be why an active preamp model sounds great in one bass, but just okay in another. Being specific to these instrument relationships helps identify the search for your sound, and is as important as the action and setup you rely on. This comment only scratches the surface, wood and construction have an important impact too, but I think the tonal interpretation in neck length and fret numbers is a good general evaluation, and yes this statement can vary, it really depends on how much thought went into the instrument. Play On!



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