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Bass setup for Dummies

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Weimhunter, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. Weimhunter


    Mar 2, 2007
    The dummie being me! Can anyone recomend a book or website that goes in detail about proper bridge setup? I have always tried to set up my basses to what I think feels and sounds right but ever time I take one to my luthier it seems that he always says the bridge was setup wrong. I mostly play jazz, pbasses and G&L l1000 and l2000s. I picked up a crappy Harmony pbass at a pawn shop the other day for 30 bucks. The action was way high so I thought this would be a fun project. Truss rod has no issues so I started the setup. I am ready to throw the thing know. I just can't get it setup to play. Neck is straight but I got the bridge saddles turned all the way up for every string so it want buzz at the lower frets. This thing is kicking my butt! I know the saddles should not be that high. So what is wrong?
  2. TheMutt

    TheMutt Guest

    Apr 28, 2007
    Quick Google search got me this:

    There could be a number of factors involved with the string buzz. The neck may have shifted in the pocket or have warped or twisted. The string gauge that you are using may not be correct for the bridge and/or nut, or there could be fret work that may need to be done. I also find that just a little bit of relief on the trussrod works wonders to take out some of the buzz. Good luck and if you need to, take it to a reputable tech to see if it's even repairable or just a waste of time.
  3. Buzz at lower frets only usually indicates a lack of relief. Try loosening the truss rod a bit, say, a quarter turn, then lower saddles to taste.
  4. fivestringdan

    fivestringdan Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2001
    Little Rock, AR
    Could be the last few frets are high. Lots of thing could be wrong. When I started doing set up on my instruments it was before the interwebs...1990 around that time. So I tried the public library and found books on everthing I needed and some things I had never thought about like building your own guitar. It was free and I still go there if I run into an issue I can't resolve via internet or colleagues.
  5. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    If you have an instrument that plays, sounds, and feels good to you,
    it it _IS_ set up right! The luthier is the problem.

    Add some relief, as others have suggested, to get rid of the lower fret buzzing.
  6. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    How much relief do you have in the neck at the 8th fret (capo first, press down on the last one) ? Check Mr. Gearhead on Fender's website for proper tolerances ; I don't know them by heart. Your bass is probably either 12" or 10" radius if it's a p-bass copy. You should have some or you'll get buzzing.

    then adjust action at the bridge. If you cannot get the saddles high enough to avoid buzzing with proper neck relief, you probably have high frets. Get a fret rocker and check. Any luthiers will have one.
  7. PaulNYC


    Apr 2, 2009
    New York, NY
    i got paid for a gig once.
    FretMD has a nice setup article.

  8. joeyjazz


    Feb 6, 2009
    If you want to get a book to keep on hand, this is about all you'll need for any repair/maintenance you'd need to do to almost any guitar or bass.
  9. kellogc

    kellogc Kello Bass Extravaganza!

    Apr 3, 2003
    Guadalajara, México
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification
    This seems like a good thread to post this...

    Hopefully you all would be able to shed to light here. It seems the answer is already posted above but I just want to make sure this could be the same problem.
    I'm good at setting up anything in my basses but the neck... more because I don't quite understand all concepts behind it (and haven't really done it much). But I want to understand how this works because it has happened in a previous bass I had.

    I've been checking and the neck seems to be straight, the relief seems within the acceptable range. If I play I don't hear any ringing. Now, the problem is when I bend the strings (specially D, G and A) around frets 12 and above I reach a point on which the string starts to buzz. It'd seems there is something to be done either to the neck and /or bridge settings. In this case I have a HipShot Tremolo, and a brand new Warmoth Jazz Bass neck.

    You mentioned buzz in higher frets is normally solved with more relief on the neck, would that work for this symptom as well?

  10. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    It might be because the fretboard has a short radius. That's why a lot of old blues players chose Gibsons with their 12" radius as opposed to Fenders with their 7 1/4" - 9 1/?". The flatter the 'board, the less likely the problem. It's a geometry thing.
  11. kellogc

    kellogc Kello Bass Extravaganza!

    Apr 3, 2003
    Guadalajara, México
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification
    The neck is 10", so that could be it.
    Is here a workaround for that?
    Any suggestionsare greatly appreciated.

  12. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    Raise the strings at the saddles or live with it as it is.
  13. conqr


    Feb 16, 2009
    Is this a job for an offset half-sized shim, to increase neck/body angle? Seems it might help in some cases of upper fret buzz that only high saddles can cure otherwise.

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