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Acoustic Bass Guitar Setup Specifications

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Randall Dibble, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Randall Dibble

    Randall Dibble

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    Ok, after a few months of research on Acoustic Bass Guitars I decided to buy one!

    But unlike setup instructions for electric bass that abound, acoustic bass setup instructions are generally poor and lacking in specifics. I think I've read everything that the search function here at TalkBass has produced and other sources online. I'm just not satisfied with what I've found. So I've decided to post the question once again as others have over the last ten years here at TalkBass.

    Based on your measurements what are the specifications for the nut, neck relief, string height at various points on the neck and the saddle. How do you make alterations to these measurements.

    Please don't tell me to setup my acoustic bass as if it was a electric bass, This makes as little sense as giving the same advice to a owner of a acoustic guitar to setup and use the same measurements as a electric guitar.

    I thank you for your response.

    P.S. I'm not a Nubie, I've over 50 years at the Bass.
  2. MD

    MD

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    Speaking for my old Takamine EG512:
    Give or take...
    nut width - 1-5/8"
    saddle width - 3"
    spacing at nut - 11/32"
    spacing at saddle - 11/16"
    string height at octave - 1/4"

    Action setup is a combination of neck relief and saddle height, which is adjusted by filing down to desired height; or replacing with new saddle for additional string height.

    I think a lot of people setup their ABG's like EBG's; and might suspect they are the folks having the most issues with unplugged volume.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

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    If you've been playing bass for 50 years, then you know that there really aren't any "magic numbers" for setup. It's a personal thing that depends on your own preferences and playing style and technique.

    The basic principles are the same whether you're setting up an acoustic bass or an electric one--that is, the impact of things like relief and saddle height and intonation are the same, so knowing what to look at when setting up an electric gives you a pretty good idea what to look at when setting up an acoustic. The big difference is that saddle height is not nearly so easy to adjust on acoustic as on electric, and intonation is generally not adjustable at all.

    If you play hard or need more acoustic volume, you'll need a higher action with more height at the bridge saddle, because you have to be able to allow for a greater range of string vibration and more leverage for the saddle vibrating the top. So, if you're interested in maximizing the acoustic volume, you'll need a rather higher action on acoustic than on electric. The only way to change this on an acoustic is to file down the saddle to make it lower, or replace the saddle with a taller one to make it higher.

    Generally speaking, you can set your neck relief on acoustic bass to suit your preferences on electric. I personally prefer a fairly flat neck with only a little relief on both acoustic and electric, because it makes the action more consistent towards the middle of the neck. You adjust that with the truss rod, same as you do on electric.

    The height at the nut works exactly the same on acoustic bass as on electric bass, as well: Too high, and it's hard to play on the first couple of frets (and possibly out of tune). Too low, and you get buzzing when playing open strings, and sometimes buzzing between the nut and where you're fretting.

    Mike
  4. Randall Dibble

    Randall Dibble

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    Thank Your for your quick response!

    MD
    Thank you for your measurements. What is your string height at the body joint and first fret, relief at 7-9th fret and string gauge?

    Mike wrote.

    "If you've been playing bass for 50 years, then you know that there really aren't any "magic numbers" for setup. It's a personal thing that depends on your own preferences and playing style and technique. "

    Please forgive me as I spout off.

    Yes agree preferences and playing style are personal, and magical number don't exist. The science of Numerology is reserved for higher level of mathematics and kooks.

    Sorry Mike I disagree, setup measurements are useful, knowable and can be a starting point for a personal setup. Yes, 50 years at the bass and a dozen more years in life has taught me that using numbers has saved a lot of time. They are also the third most important invention of mankind following fire and language.

    In last few months I've reviewing near twelve years of forums, various posting and online sources, I have yet to find these measurement for acoustic bass. My past career in science will not allow me to bow to mysticism. For the most part when it comes to acoustic bass I've found bunch of mambo jumbo.

    I have found online many guides and reference numbers available for Guitar both electric and acoustic and for electric bass but as of yet none for the acoustic bass.

    Observable measurements do exist, are knowable and are available to us all if an effort is made. These numbers of measure can be a starting point, A guide, a reference point to start with a setup. From one brand of bass to another these measurements may vary as with the quality and design of the instrument.

    So, anyone interested in helping, please measure your setup and post it with your impression as to playability and sound.

    Questions are;

    Objective Measurements; clearance at the first fret, relief at the 7th or 9th fret, string height at the body joint. Gauge of strings and composition. These are measurements can be observed, repeated and tested.

    The subjective are playability sound and loudness/projection which I'm interested in as well.

    If your a expert please provide reference measurements or other sources and direct them here.

    Thanks
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

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    You're not going to make as many fine adjustments on an acoustic as you can on an electric. You have three to play with:

    1) Truss rod tension - a rather gros adjustment.
    2) Nut - how deep the slots are filed - affects only the lowest frets
    3) Bridge saddle (usually singular) to adjust overall string height...especially in the bottom half of the neck.

    That's it. You can change strings, but make sure the gauge you buy will pass through the bridge holes.

    I made a major adjustment to my Applause A/E bass by removing the saddle, using it for a template and making a new saddle that was about 1/8" shorter from top to bottom. That took an hour (partially using power tools), but it was the only option for adjusting string height because ther's no adjustment in the bridge.

    "String height at various points" is pretty much irrelevant. You get the best overall adjustment you can, and live with it.

    And BTW - put me in the category of not worrying much about measurements, but going by feel. On an electric I have some ballpark measurements I make at the bottom of the neck, but on an acoustic they're not very meaningful because you just don't have much adjustment, and generally no individual string adjustment at all. And I'm not about to make multiple measurements up and down the neck. I'm just not that compulsive.
  6. Randall Dibble

    Randall Dibble

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    Thanks Mike and Pilgrim for your response.

    I apologize for being picayune and anal, meaning interested in the small details, it matters.

    After reviewing a setup instruction for a Martian guitar I ask why not make fine adjustments. It appears that all you need in understanding, practical know how, effort and few small tools.

    Fine adjustments for various points on the neck as I understand are made by adjusting the nut, matching the radius for the fretboard to the profile of the saddle and adjusting the saddle height. This is easier on a electric guitar but described for acoustic guitar at various sources online. I'm interested in those measurements at the 1st, 7 and 9th frets and body joint for a fine playing acoustic bass as starting point to personalize my setup.

    What are your measurements?
  7. MD

    MD

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    Well, there are no frets, but where the first fret would be...
    3/32"; and 1/4" at the joint.
    Relief is a little less the thickness of a CD, ~1/32"?
    Running LaBella 760N tape wounds.

    FWIW, if you've decided to buy an ABG, the best thing you could be doing is getting your hands on as many as possible and playing them. The numbers on my G series may not be suitable for your tastes; or most peoples for that matter.
  8. Randall Dibble

    Randall Dibble

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    Bump !

    Sorry to do this but I hope for some Knowledgeable person to share their experience and/or another bassist interested in the research.

    My New Dean EAB has now settle in after a few months of steady playing is now ready for a good tune-up.

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