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Bad Setup

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MycooLeeyun, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. It's not exactly a bad setup. The action is really low and the neck seems straighter than I've ever seen it. But I just don't like how it feels to play now for some reason. There is a little bit of buzz and something just feels off about it. I think the action is actually too low for me or maybe the neck doesn't have enough relief?

    It's a g&l jb2 that I'm talking about here.

    Do I contact the guitar tech and ask him to readjust it or do I finally learn how to do this by myself and figure it out? Should i raise the saddles or give the neck a little relief? This stuff gets so confusing to me.
  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Learn to do these simple adjustments yourself. Only tools needed are a screwdriver, some hex wrenches and a 6" machinist's rule. Lots of great, and some not so great, tutorials on the tube. I am sure you could figure out which are the ones that are of real value.

    Go for it.
    dab12ax7ef, 96tbird, C_Becker and 2 others like this.
  3. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Exactly. You need to be able perform minor maintenance and adjustment on a bass guitar yourself. Buy $20 worth of tools and get acquainted with what does what.

    I'd probably leave the neck alone (it's like tuning down to a note to get the right amount of relief from straight), put different strings on it and do some saddle height adjustment to derattlefy it.
  4. Hey thanks for the info. The strings on it are a new set of DR Fat Beams 45-105. I guess I can just raise the saddles a bit. But don’t some people prefer some relief in the neck for a reason?
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  5. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    I agree it’s a good idea to get a few tools & familiarize yourself with the basic techniques of adjusting & maintaining your instrument. It frees you from the need (and cost) of seeing someone every time a little tweak is needed, plus it’s just a good idea and feels good to understand how your instrument works and be able to work on it yourself.

    However, if you’ve just paid someone to it set up, I say go back, explain the situation, and work with the tech to get it feeling comfortable.

    That way: a) your getting what I assume you paid for, a bass properly adjusted for you, and b) you can hopefully observe what your tech is doing to get the changes that you request.

    Talk with him/her a bit, pick their brain a bit. Most tech’s I’ve dealt with have been very cool, and more than willing to explain and share few basic tips & techniques. Just repay their kindness with repeat business when problems you can’t fix arise, and recommendations are always appreciated.
    saabfender likes this.
  6. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Right, but letting a neck out only a bit is a little tricky. Most necks I’ve seen naturally have a small amount of relief left on the low side even when the high side is flat.

    If a neck goes convex with seasonal change, I’ll adjust it then but if if it’s flat I’ll leave it and see what happens. My 5 string is really flat and I prefer that much real estate be predictactable. It’s low but not rattley at all. Playing hard with a pick is a little unpleasant but I can dig in plenty hard and it’ll still behave.
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yes as it better accommodates a vibrating string. There are those who prefer a perfectly flat fingerboard...go for it. How much relief do you currently have on board?

    RustyAxe and MycooLeeyun like this.
  8. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Three benefits to doing it yourself:

    1) You can figure out how you actually like your guitar setup. If you can't experiment and adjust things, how will you know what you actually like?
    2) Seasonal changes happen, so it is nice to be able to make adjustments right at the time of needing them.
    3) Cheaper.

    Right now, I only pay for fret leveling and crowning. It costs around $50, I have to do this once really only when I buy used basses sometimes. The tools for it would run around the cost of the leveling, but I would also have to get practice at it.

    By contrast, I setup my basses about twice per year times 15 basses...starts looking like $1000 a year.

    Tools I would suggest:
    1) Metal ruler that starts at the edge. Don't get one that has a gap at the end. You will use this to measure height from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret.
    2) Capo. One is good, two is nicer. It makes it easier to hold the strings fretted.
    3) Feeler gauges. Make it easier to measure neck relief. I set mine to 0.25mm. Hard to see that small on a ruler.
    4) Appropriate truss rod adjustment tool for your bass.
    5) Appropriate hex wrenches for your saddle or nut.
    6) Tuner.

    May want to consider:
    1) Straight edge: if you have to take off your neck to measure the relief. Needs to be as long as your fret board.
    2) Tools to adjust the depth of your frets...fret slot files. They depend on your string gauge. You can also take off the nut and sand off the bottom if you want to go the less expensive route.

    Good luck. It is very easy to do. You are very unlikely to cause a problem by doing this. While most people on here prefer relief set to 0mm. I have read a couple setup guides from manufacturers, and they typically recommend 0.5-1.0mm relief.
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  9. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    It sounds like a perfect setup for me. Super low action means you don't have to wrestle the bass to get a note.
    Relax your fretting hand, don't use more pressure to fret than you have to.
    You may find you can play longer and better with less tension in the action.

    Or it could not be for you.
    If you had a tech set it up, you should be able to contact them and work with them to get it "right", at no charge.
    If they DO try to charge, then don't ever use them again, gather some tools, watch some tutorials, and get to work!
    Basses are resilient things, harder to break than you'd think.
    Don't be afraid.
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  10. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    4 major parts of a setup (in my experience)

    1. Nut height (Once this is done right, it doesn’t need to be redone)
    2. Neck relief/truss rod (if this is done right, shouldn’t need to be adjusted for a long time)
    3. String height/Saddle height (subjective to player)
    4. Intonation (should be done after saddle height adjustment)

    So if you’ve had it professionally done, steps 1 & 2 are complete. I imagine you need to adjust the string height/saddles. For this you’ll need a hex key set. And then you’ll need to recheck the intonation, and probably make a minor adjustment. For this, you’ll need a philips screwdriver.

    Steps 3 & 4 you should be able to do yourself. So I say get a hex key set and screwdriver and finish it. Technically the tech did a fine job I imagine. What you’re experiencing is just personal preference.
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    MycooLeeyun and saabfender like this.
  12. I’m not sure but it seems as though there’s is a little bit of relief
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    This is kinda mission-critical. You should be able to fret at the 1st & junction (fret which aligns with the heel) and slip a ~.012 feeler gauge between the 8th fret and string.

    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  14. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    Adjusting a bass is easy, once you solve the mystery of it all. I think the truss rod fiasco about breakage is set forth by techs to gain business (keeps people from attempting their own work). It’s a possible conspiracy theory!

    Learn to do this stuff, it’s real, real easy once you pin it down.
    MycooLeeyun and TrevorOfDoom like this.
  15. Roger that, I’m going to give it a go
    AboutSweetSue likes this.
  16. Thanks! That’s very helpful
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  17. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017
    A couple of things jump out at me here - *IF* the OP's bass was properly set up to begin with, then it's almost certain that the neck relief needs to be adjusted, since saddle height won't normally change by itself... Neck relief adjustment intervals have nothing to do with length of time between adjustments, and everything to do with seasonal/weather changes...

    Again, *if* the bass was properly set up to begin with, probably less than 30 seconds adjusting the truss rod is the answer, and definitely not adjusting the saddle heights...
  18. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    We may differ in opinion, but in my experience:

    1. If the neck relief is off, and the setup was just done, then the setup was done wrong. On all my basses I set the truss rod once, and haven’t had to touch them since. If a truss rod is off after a few days of a proper setup, I’d consider a new bass, or maybe how you treat your basses.

    2. If the instrument only has fret buzz in some areas, then the truss rod may need to be adjusted.

    3. If the instrument is buzzing equally across the whole instrument, then the truss rod is likely perfect, and the saddle height should be adjusted higher to preference.

    My assumption is the tech is competent enough to set a truss rod. So I assumed the OP is in scenario 3.

    (Maybe we’re saying the same thing. But that’s my experience above as to what to do)
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I have a few concerns with what is laid out here.

    First, If there is fret buzz above the 12th fret only, the truss rod can't help. If has no effect beyond the 12th fret.

    Second, if there is buzz only below the fifth fret, there is likely not enough relief - it probably needs a truss rod adjustment.

    And finally, if you are fussy about your setup, the truss rod will need to be adjusted on a seasonal basis. Unless the relative humidity is constant in your area of if you have a non-wood neck, the truss rod will need to be adjusted as the RH changes. It's not a case of set it once and you are done. If you are not so fussy about your setups you MAY get by without seasonal TR adjustments.
  20. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017
    Well said...

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