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Factory set up ok?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sturg, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Sturg

    Sturg Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2013
    Do new guitars come from the factory already set up, and ready to go?
    Or do they need tweaked before delivery to a customer? Still looking to make my first bass purchase. My local GC says they come from the factory "good to go", but would charge $50.00 if I would want any type of custom set up. Just want to make the right first move. Read on here somewhere about a guy having trouble playing due to poor instrument set up.
  2. StevieMac

    StevieMac Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Basses are setup at the factory, some better than others of course, BUT being that most basses are made of wood they are affected by temperature changes and the action may end up being higher or lower in the store than it was at the factory.

    You can spend a few minutes on youtube and buy a few inexpensive tools and you’ll never have to worry about setting up a bass again. It’s not that complicated and you'll be able to set it up EXACTLEY the way you like it.

    You can probably negotiate that setup fee into the purchase price....

    Even if the setup was perfect when you buy it, it's likely going to change over time and will need adjustments so learning to do it yourself is really the way to go.

    GC has a great return policy so if you aren't happy you have time to return it..
  3. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    A factory setup is "good enough" and will basically be useable to the widest range of people. Whether or not you like it is completely up to you. Some players like really low action or really high action, two things that factory setups are not.

    With that said, GC are notorious for having very poorly set up instruments. If you decide to buy a new instrument from them make sure they have their tech go over it and get it to factory spec and have them put on new strings as the strings on the bass are probably old and dirty from being on the floor. Negotiate that in with the price of the bass. You shouldn't have to pay for that, but they will try to take you for a ride as they don't want to give things away for free.
  4. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    In my experience, which covers working on guitars and basses for over forty years,


    It gets worse. The people who work on your instruments to "set them up" don't have a freaking clue what they're doing.

    You've caught me at a bad moment here, as I've spent the past week trying to salvage eight new or near-new A-stock Fender guitars (MIA and Cor-Tek) with nuts so atrociously bad that the instruments will not play in tune, even after some pothead "guitar tech" claims he's done a "setup." :mad:

    This situation is the rule rather than the exception, too, as builders move to pre-cut or molded nuts that they don't fit or test because nobody cares and notional "musicians" can't even hear cumulative 30-cent pitch faults.

    You should not have to pay to have this level of crap build remediated, nor deal with that level of shop incompetence, nor be that tone-deaf.

    It's not as bad with basses, but it's bad enough.

    When you're screwing around with a guitar or bass in a store, ask for a chromatic tuner and tune the big E (which with a lot of basses is a task in itself, and sometimes impossible, but I digress).

    When you have a stable open E (that's more or less confirmed at the 12th fret), then fret the F, F# and G. Check their tuning. They should be on-pitch to +3cents, max. Check other strings, but the big E is usually the worst culprit.

    I see new MIA Fender$ that are 15 cents out or more because the nut is improperly cut, and that instrument will never play in tune until those faults are fixed.

    What do you say?

    This: "Make this play in tune and I'll buy it."

    No $50, not an extra penny. ;)
  5. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Coming from the factory, most of them will be set up decently and will be playable to a wide variety of people, like others in this thread have stated. Setups really aren't hard to do on your own, you just need patience.

    Now what to look out for are things that would require too much structural or irreversible changes to be made. A neck joint that is angled is bad news, you can fix it with a shim, but that may or may not be in your realm of comfort. A nut that is waaay too high (the Douglas 5'er I bought) can compound this issue big time, nuts are also something I wouldn't recommend messing with. A warped neck (not one that just needs a truss rod adjustment, more like the thing is twisting) means you return that sucker to the manufacturer. I would also say that fret leveling and crowning should be handled by someone else.

    I know they typically get a bad rap, AND this varies depending on the area you are in, but the Guitar Center in Houston on Westheimer did a freakin phenomenal job getting my Douglas up and running. Thing was unplayable, but a great tech there named Adam got me rocking in about 10-15 minutes for the price of a mere $10. Filed down my nut, checked and saw it was still not looking good further down the neck, adjusted the truss rod and then saw the neck pocket was messed up. Even though he couldn't shim it due to how the bass was designed, he kept at it and now it plays AMAZINGLY smooth all over. Not saying your experience will be the same, but I had a good run at that store.
  6. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    Hire a trained professional!! You'll be glad you did
  7. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    For a first bass purchase, a factory setup will very likely be more than adequate.
  8. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Bongolation is a wise bassman!

    My first question if I was considering a $50 setup fee would be: what are the qualifications of the guy that would perform the setup? The answer better be something specific that I could sink my teeth into, and not a standard answer like: "he's got lots of setup experience." :D
  9. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Find one.

    In my city, I do not know of a single "guitar tech" doing business with the public (I no longer do) who actually knows what he's doing. There may be some, but I've never run across them. Every one I see is just a butcher.

    I know a guy who has a great reputation and far more work than he can handle, but for all his good intentions he doesn't really know what he's doing (he's clueless about the nut problems, above, as one example). The best I can say about him is that he doesn't damage very much stuff.

    A real setup takes knowledge, skill and time, which is exactly why they no longer do it at the factory on production instruments.

    It's also why you don't get it for $15 while-U-wait.
  10. MoreBeer


    Jan 5, 2014
    Factory setup these days on halfway decent bases normally just translates into slightly high action. That's probably the only adjustment you'll need to do and an idiot can do that. Youtube is your friend regarding guitar setup.
  11. At the end of last year i purchased a MIA Fender Jazz Bass, when it finally arrived, the action was so high, it was totally unplayable, so i bought a wrench for the truss rod, BadAss II bridge, new strings, adjusted the PUPS, different color pickguard! Needless to say, Its a beautiful thing now, all that i need now is a little more time! :)
  12. Not to mention, Super Low Action!
  13. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    The problem is very basic, but not easy:

    To assess any of this, you have to know what a good setup actually is in the first place, and few amateur musicians do...because in 2014, most of them get their information from chit-chat guitar forums, which are primarily just vast wells of ignorance and misinformation and gristleheadedness (which is why virtually all professionals soon leave in despair unless they're trying to sell something).

    If you know of what a proper setup consists, you're already about halfway to being able to do it yourself.

    Most production instruments completely irrespective of price leave the factory too screwed up to ever be really right, so you're in the unenviable position of just trying to minimize or compensate for the damage the instrument was "born" with.

    Usually it's not insurmountable, but once you actually understand these instruments, you will never, ever see an instrument as being better than, "hmm...not too bad."

    And that's good enough.

    If a setup means anything, it means that it plays in tune (and if you're a musician, you should be able to HEAR this [see nut rant, above]), is comfortable for your playing style and sounds right, without buzzing and clanking and popping.

    It frequently takes a lot of work to get a brand new instrument to achieve these modest goals...which, again, is why they didn't do it at the factory in the first place. :meh:
  14. StevieMac

    StevieMac Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    ^ You're doing a pretty good job scaring off a new player who's just trying to buy his or her first bass IMHO. That's probably not your intention but that's how it reads to me. No offence intended.

    OP, just play some basses in your price range and see what feels good in your hands and sounds good to you. You can always return it, or have it adjusted later on if you are not happy with how it plays. And keep in mind that your first bass is likely not your last. Especially if you hang out here much. Good luck.
  15. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Basically this. Yes, it's a good discussion to have, but this isn't really the time/place for it IMO... I'm pretty sure the OP wouldn't be able to really tell a purchase altering difference between a mediocre setup and a killer one.
  16. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Well, then, how about reducing it to:

    If a setup means anything, it means that it plays in tune (and if you're a musician, you should be able to HEAR this [see nut rant, above]), is comfortable for your playing style and sounds right, without buzzing and clanking and popping.

    Is that basic enough? If so, disregard the rest and you can all hurry back to your awesome new MOTO pickguard discussions. ;)
  17. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Don't you know how those pickguards bring out the low mids? :)
  18. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    Bongolation is my hero.
  19. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Northeast Ohio
    It's a good thing that only about 2% of players are interested in achieving the setup nirvana that Bongolation seems to be striving for or we'd all just throw our hands up in disgust and walk away.

    Simply stated...for the style and level of accuracy most of us amateurs require, just a little tweaking to a factory setup is all that is required to have fun on your instrument. It could literally be years before you really understand what you want in your ideal setup.

    So go pull that Squier off the shelf and bang on it to your heart's delight!
  20. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    My, you HAVE had a nasty week, haven't you? For a while I thought you were in "Abandon all hope, ye who enter" mode.

    Thanks for boiling it down as you did here. On a practical basis, that's a pretty decent take on it...and it doesn't give cause for despair.

    In my experience, basses generally come out of the factory playable. Sure, one can fine-tune them, but as a new player it will take a while to even develop preferences. I agree that paying extra for an initial setup is OUT. The place you buy should be able to give you a playable instrument, and if that means another 30 minutes of their time doing whatever they call a setup, that should be part of the deal.

    No setup, no buy the bass.