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bridges, or: how much setup is "enough"?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    There's an action setting that I've gotten used to, it's "medium low" to where the sound'll be pretty clean as you're playing quietly, then get nice and raunchy when you start digging in. Most of my basses are adjusted that way.

    Let's say I wanted to spec this out for a luthier. I could take measurements with a caliper or some other device, and write the spec to say, "the B string shall have exactly 0.9 mm height off the fingerboard at the nut, and 1.4 mm at the 24th fret", something like that.

    The question is, would that be "enough" for a luthier to set up the bass the way I like it? The context of the question is, we've been discussing bridges and the idea that with some of them, there's a tradeoff between precision and ease of use. So depending on the bridge I'm using (and maybe the nut), someone could set up a bass to my specs and it still wouldn't be right ('cause the saddles are skewed, or the string isn't sitting quite right in the nut, or whatever).

    I'd really like to provide a luthier with something resembling a "quantitative" spec for the action I want, the hope being that they can build the bass with this action in mind, and when it comes to setting it up, optimize it so it sounds best at this setting. Is that a pipe dream, or does it make sense to take this approach?
  2. You could very well do that and it should work if the specs are followed to a "T".

    I would add that to make your neck specs mean more, you should give the amount of relief at the 7th fret when the strings are fretted at 1 and 12. That figure will mean more to you when finding the perfect compromise in the balance of the rest of the specs.