String Instrument Setups: 10 Setups That Will Make Your Instrument Louder, Better and Easier to Play
Every bass player, upright or electric, is on a lifelong journey to find their voice. If you are lucky, you find that special instrument early on and never let it go; more often than not, we accumulate numerous instruments as we continue to search.
Now, if you play an upright bass, the cost of these instruments is such that you might have one bass if you are lucky. I recently interviewed a bassist who just found our that his dad took out a second mortgage to fund his upright. For this reason it is Imperative to try to get the best bass possible from the beginning, but if it that is not possible, one would wonder if you can improve your bass once you have it.
Master Luthier Charlie Traeger spent a life dedicated to just this concept, until his passing in 2016. Fortunately, he left us his discoveries in his book “String Instrument Setups: 10 Setups That Will Make Your Instrument Louder, Better and Easier to Play” and we can enjoy the fruit of his tireless efforts.
If I played an upright bass, I would go over this book with a fine tooth comb to be able to take these 10 concepts to my Luthier in the interest of making my bass the best it can be.
Charlie was very clear that these are procedures that are best performed by a Luthier and not the general public and It would seem that not all Luthiers are in agreement with his theories. Nonetheless, as I read them, Traeger’s principles make sense to me and if they are responsible for legendary Ron Carter’s bass sound, I would say that they are tried and true. Many of the possible improvements are relatively inexpensive and not too labor intensive.
If I played upright, I would probably give this book to my Luthier as a gift with the idea of being the beneficiary of Charlie’s years of hard work and optimizing my instrument.
I encourage our upright bass playing readers to check this book out and let me know how it goes if you make some of the changes. I also think this should be required reading for any Luthier that works on upright basses as well as other string instruments. Why not benefit form many decade of methodic research into bass optimization.