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Compound Radius Set Up Job?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by DiabolusInMusic, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    I like to use a radius gauge when doing my setups; I find it easier to get a quick, consistent radius across the saddles and it leads to a much better playing bass.

    When I am doing this to a compound radius neck I usually use the beginning radius (by the nut) but I have never really found any concrete info or instructions in regards to what I should be going for. Should I use the end radius instead? Maybe the middle? If there is no rule, what are you guys doing? What I am doing is working, but as always I want to do it better, so enlighten me.

    This is not a debate about tools vs. touch, and even if I did this by touch, the question still applies.

    Thanks in advance for the replies!
  2. pfox14

    pfox14

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    You should be measuring string height from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of each string, so the radius doesn't really matter because each string's height is set individually. However, the wider the radius the lower the strings can be, but that's a matter of personal preference. Do you like low action or high, etc. A good rule is to set the action as low as possible without fret buzz coming into play.
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    You want to set your outside two strings and have the inner ones follow the radius of the fretboard based off their height. Trust me, your bass will play better.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

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    correct, but the way to get there is with a little ruler to measure all the string heights off one certain fret.

    that automatically adjusts to any compound radius, as well as to the way the string spread starts out narrow at the nut and widens towards the bridge.

    it's easy enough to "average out" the distances of the middle strings if say, you want 2/32" on the G and 3/32" E over the 15th fret.
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    Here is how I do it: I measure my two outer strings based off the last fret and then put a radius gauge on top of the strings, I lift or lower the inner strings as necessary to match the desired radius, I usually adjust it at the bridge for simplicity since the radius is usually consistent across a neck. The gauge I use depends on the radius of the bass, on my compound radius bass I set it up based off the radius at the nut, 7.5". The radius at the end of the fretboard is 16".

    While a little ruler sounds consistent, it seems like a lot more time and effort than a gauge over top of the strings. With my method in mind, where would be a better estimate to radius the strings off of, the 12th fret?

    My gauges basically look like this. They are CNCd, so the radius is correct. It is a lot quicker to find a bass' radius than the string method.
    http://www.tunemybass.com/bass_setup/bass_guitar_radius_gauge.pdf
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

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    oh, i thought you were at least using under-the-string gauges, like these!

    using a gauge over the strings is no good at all, due to the huge difference in thickness from the low string to the high strings; your actual distances from the string bottoms to the fret won't be consistent at all.

    on top of that, you'd want the under-the-string gauge to be flatter than the last fret, especially with a compound radius; the geometry of your 7.25" to 16" setup probably continues flattening out to like 20" by the time it reaches the bridge (where you'd be using the gauge).

    the ruler bypasses all these issues, because it just measures the distance from the string bottom to the fret. it automatically factors in the compound and the string spread, and doesn't get thrown off by different string thicknesses. lots of techs won't bother with anything else.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    Those gauges look great, I will probably snag a set and switch. The thought about the strings being inconsistent on the bottom across the fret never occurred to me.

    Thanks for the info Walter.

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