Bass Set-up is a hands-on introductory workshop addresses the basics for a good setup on a standard ¾ double bass. It should be especially useful for shop owners who want their sales and rental basses to play well for customers, as set-up can be a crucial part of playability and customer satisfaction. In addition, musicians and music teachers may wish to learn more about bass set-up. You will learn basic tool skills, including sharpening and proper use of the band saw and drill press. Topics include endpin installation, tailpieces and tail wires, dressing fingerboards, nuts, fitting and adjusting sound posts, sizing and fitting bridges, installing 1/4x20 adjusters, string selection, and tonal adjustment.
Classes meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with open workshop hours from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Materials and Tools Needed
You should bring with you (shipping not advised) one standard 3/4 bass (due to space and time constraints). The tuners should already be installed and an ebony fingerboard attached. It can be an instrument that was set up previously. All structural issues should be resolved before the class – no cracks or open seams, no neck setting needed or scroll damage, no loose bassbars, etc. Bring an endpin (with 10mm shaft and threaded tip), tailpiece, 18mm soundposts (bring 2 or 3), 2 or 3 French model bridges (feet 150 or 158mm, as needed), aluminum bridge adjusters (1/4x20 thread), and strings. It is recommended that you collect a set of tools that you will dedicate to set-up. A complete list of suggested tools and materials may be found on the web at http://www.vkbasses.com/unh/toollist.htm
Julius J. VandeKopple has had a bass shop in northern New Jersey since 1979. He studied bass repair and restoration from 1978 to 1982 with Joseph Cilecek of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, luthier to many of New York's finest bass professionals; and violinmaking with Karl Roy at the UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute during the summers of 2003 to 2008. Julius is an accomplished bassist as well as a luthier, performing as principal bass in New Jersey's Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Adelphi Chamber Orchestra. He earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics with a thesis in musical acoustics, and served on the Board of the Catgut Acoustical Society, sitting as President at the time of its merger with the VSA (Violin Society of America) in 2004. He continues as Chair of the CAS Forum and as CAS representative on the VSA Board, and is Director of the VSA/Oberlin Bass Workshop. Julius, known to colleagues and customers as Jay, specializes in setup and repair and emphasizes development of an instrument's optimal sound. He has given presentations at VSA and ISB (International Society of Bassists) conventions on these topics.
Keiran O'Hara is the owner and head luthier at O'Hara Fine Instruments, a shop just north of New York City specializing exclusively on Double Basses. Studying Music and Environmental Science at Florida State University, Keiran was drawn to work on instruments for the mix of art and science. While at Florida State, he took classes and independent studies in the Piano Technology Shop in the College of Music and then for four years taught a class in String Instrument Repair for Music Educators. Naturally, as a bassist he wanted to specialize in the instrument that felt at home with. This lead him to work in the shop of Arnold Schnitzer. In the Schnitzer shop, Keiran grew to take on the duties of repairs, assembly and set up of the New Standard Basses, chromatic extension, and restorations. After eight years, Mr. Schnitzer retired and Keiran hung out his own shingle in 2017 to serve the greater bass community.