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Am I missing something not getting my bass set-up?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Journey55, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. Basically what the title says...I've never gotten my bass setup professionally, usually just play instruments how they are and tweak it myself if they're really bad but I can't help but feel like I'm missing out on something good but not having my bass setup by a pro, although I'm not sure how much they usually cost and I wouldn't want to over pay. I guess what I'm asking is, for those of you who have had instruments setup professionally, would you recommend/did it make a significant difference and (idk if this is against the rules so if it is then ignore it but) how much did you pay for the setup? Thanks!
  2. I've never had a pro setup. I was just like you tweaking things here and there, but I did a lot of research on here and google and playing a properly setup bass just feels better. You can get the action where you want it and play proper intonation.
  3. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    I have been using the same bass tech in Nashville for years (www.classicax.com) and he's really great. His prices are posted on his website. For small stuff I can do it myself, but if you're inexperienced getting a good tech to set your instrument up will transform it. Highly recommended!
  4. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I'm pretty comfortable setting action and intonation. Fairly comfortable adjusting the truss rod as long as things aren't too wacky. Not comfortable doing fretwork, etc. What constitutes a good setup will vary with the instrument and the player - not everyone likes their action slammed and not every instrument sings its best with the same amount of neck relief, but a really good setup makes a huge difference vs. a poor or mediocre one. You might be surprised at what your bass can do.

    Cost will vary widely depending on region, the person doing the job, and how involved the job ends up being.
  5. Isotonic

    Isotonic Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    I set my own action, intonation, pickup height, neck relief. I don't mess with the frets. I enjoy setting up my basses. A tech can get expensive so I prefer to do most of the work myself. It is not rocket science. There are a lot of tutorials on the web.
  6. I'm like most of you guys now, like I setup my bass alright (I won't say great or anything cause I don't know how it could be but it's the best I've played on a bass...) and the intonation is right but the fret wires are a bit dirty and I can't help but wonder if there's some big benefit to getting it setup by a pro
  7. Fuzz Aldrin

    Fuzz Aldrin

    Apr 5, 2012
    I feel like I do a decent job setting up my bass. I set up the intonation, saddle height, and neck relief myself most of the time. Every now and again I have a pro set it up and it just plays beautifully after. I get it pretty close, but whenever I get it back from the shop, it is a real treat.
  8. Give this a good read....


    Been setting my own up for years

    but having a competent tech set up your bass can really change the way it feels and plays..for the better
  9. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    +1 i can do a good job maintaining and making small tweaks..but every new bass gets a pro set-up and any bass i am playing regularly gets at least one a year
  10. Never had one myself either.

    why pay someone to do something you can do for free and probably more suited to your playing style since you've done it yourself.
  11. Clouz

    Clouz The Ayatollah of Jack and Cola

    Jan 26, 2013
  12. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    I have mine done at Pittsburgh Guitars, I love how they play when I get them back.

    Admittedly, most of mine don't need a lot of work to get right.

    Recently I dropped off my 1980's Peavey Fury off for a setup before I gave it to my eleven year old great nephew, it needed some love. PGH Guitars did a ton of work on it and it plays amazing.
  13. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    The "why" as Dirty Harry says is that a man just has to know his own limitations. I do most of the setup things myself and do more and more as years and my experience goes on.

    So what's the difference between a "pro" setup and one you do yourself outside of money? Well, obviously doing it yourself is theoretially best because it's YOUR bass and YOU know exactly how you want it to feel. So just fooling around if you understand what each adjustment does until it feels right can give you an instrument that is tailored to you.

    But I've had a pro setup too which was part of a level and crown fret job which at the time was beyond my skills. It was sort of great and got everything important into the right range. You can look online at youtube and see how it's done. You basically have values for string gaps etc. that you set to fixed numbers. The problem with that is that you personal playing may not fit the generic setup. With a good tech you can have him adjust the generic setting: I want uber low action or "i like to "dig in". But it still may not suit you.

    On the other hand if the skills go beyond your level of care and patience, (like say fret work for the noob) then paying to have it done can give you a terrific instrument. The "pro" setups I got came back really nice if not perfect for me, but also were easily adjusted by me into perfect for me which might not have happened had I tried to do the whole thing myself.

    In any case I believe it's always best to do the setup things you yourself can handle and put them right where you want them, but when you reach your limitations, don't be scared to go to someone who has the experience to go beyond where you are.
  14. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    I know for me that there is just something a little better when a pro does it..

    I was a chef for years...friends who loved to cook (and were good cooks all in all) could never understand.why my food was just better..same ingredients but the amount of repetition and gained knowledge from creating thousands of meals resulted in a higher quality end product. Imho it is similar with setups and other trades..a professional just sees, feels and handles things on a higher level
  15. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Last time I had a "pro" set up my bass was in 1978, he totally F'd it up. I have been doing my own set ups ever since. Lots of good info online, not that I had that to learn from. Read, ask questions learn to do it yourself.
  16. stingraysvt


    Jun 20, 2011
    I used to work in a guitar shop and we all had our Fender Bronze, Silver or Gold certification for setting up guitars/basses etc... I'd at least make sure there's some sort of level of certification, if you take it to someone.

    Other than that it's pretty easy to do and YOU ARE missing out if you've never had it set up properly.

    It may be close but then again maybe not.... We used to setup every instrument that came into our store to sell... It made a huge difference in most the instruments we had.
  17. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    Basic setup is about like making Rice-a-Roni. You could hire a great chef to do it for you, but why?
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    If you've never had it done, it would be good as a point of reference but setting up a bass isn't difficult.
  19. I realized one day that one of my instruments had the perfect action and that because of this - I gravitated to that bass much more than the others. It just played so perfectly. I play hard and don't like the action too low. I took the bass to my local luthier (Patrick Cummings of iguitar and Brian Moore) and had him measure and log all the settings - especially in terms of the action (in mm of course) - and write down all the basic measurements from all the relevant places on the fingerboard. Then, any time I give him an instrument, he sets it up according to the measurements from the "perfect" bass i gave him.

    He also dresses and levels the frets routinely when he does a set up for me. Now all the basses play pretty much the same - perfect, as least for me.