expert setup tips???

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lo-end, Jul 24, 2001.

  1. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    I am setting up my bass by myself (since I dont have enough money to take it to the shop and my parents wont spend any money on me), and I've never done this before. I already know the basics, plus a few tips I've learned from,, and some posts on TB. I was wondering if anyone has some "secrets" that they use on their basses to make them play better or set up better. If so, please share them with me as I am new to this kind of thing. Who knows? Maybe I'll become a luthier and start making basses for a living like Lakin or Sadowsky...

    well not really. Anyway, whatever advice or tricks you guys have to offer are much appreciated!
  2. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    I'm certainly not an expert but here's some advice anyway:
    1. Patience.
    2. Patience.
    3. Truss rod turns should be small and results
    usually don't happen immediately.
    4. Don't try to be "perfect" with any part of your
    setup. Sometimes good enough is just that.
    5. All variables (action, relief, etc.) are equally
    important and work together.
    6. Wooden instruments will change due to weather
    and will probably cause your setup to change.
    7. Patience.
  3. treaten your bass with respect, have patience, etc

    Don't use a ruler to adjust your action.. use your instict... it

    daily meditation also helps.
  4. Practice makes perfect. The first time takes a while. Also, buy or make a radius gauge to make it easier to match the bridge saddles to your fretboard radius.
  5. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    keep the tips coming! By the way, as I said above, I already read Gary Willis' setup tips. Thanks anyway, JMX.

    Thanks again! by the way, where can I get a radius gauge?? How much do they cost? How do you use them?
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Make a circle on a piece of cardboard that duplicates the radius of the fingerboard.

    cut a segment out and you have a radius guage.

    I have found that eyeballing works just fine. In fact I usually have to raise the bridge saddles higher on the low string side which would make a radius which is slightly different from the fingerboard radius.

    There are lots of differing opinions on how a setup is accomplished. It really doesn't matter so long as you get the required result.

    I totally agree with rsautrey, patience along with one golden rule:" First, do no harm."

    Don't do anything in big steps. Adjust and check, adjust and check.

    In my opinion more set ups are screwed up because someone didn't understand basic cause and effect. There are almost "0" problems that are setup related that can't be diagnosed and a plan of action layed out before the first adjustment is made.

    If a person ever changes an adjustment on an instrument just to see if it may fix it, they are very unlikely to end up with a good setup. It may be playable, but it wont play well.

    I don't advise using pennies for neck shims either, so what do I know? :) :)
  7. Yep, that'll work. Also, there's the lazy way (the one I used); buy a set from Stew-Mac.

    I use the radius gauge to give me a reference point to start from. Typically I'll raise the saddle under the B and sometimes the E a little higher.
  8. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    "I use the radius gauge to give me a reference point to start from. Typically I'll raise the saddle under the B and sometimes the E a little higher."[MM]

    The more I think about it, the more I think the radius guage as a starting point is a good way to go.

    I'll sure give it a try.

    Good tip. Thanks.

  9. Something that I do that I think helps when adjusting a truss-rod is that I will physically pull the neck in the direction it needs to go and then adjust the rod to that point and release the neck. My thinking is this: A truss rod (any) is likely strong enough to hold a neck in adjustment. I think the reason truss rods break is a combination of the twisting force (turning the rod) and the stretching force acting together to weaken the threads at the bottom of the rod. By removing some of this tension in the first place, I believe that the rod will take nearly any amount of adjustment and won't break. By letting the neck settle back onto the truss rod it gradually increases the tension without having to overcome the resistance in the nut at the same time.