First DIY setup

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bdkthunder, May 18, 2012.

  1. After reading through lots of guides on doing setups, I finally tried to do one myself and have not found a way to get the bass setup exactly as I would like. I have had no problems with adjusting action and intonation (fairly simple) but I have always been afraid of neck adjustments since I've heard inexperience can lead to damaging the neck. I figured that I would start out practicing on my starter bass, a pbass copy, and wouldn't be too upset if I do any damage to it.

    The initial starting points were a straight neck and mid-height action (still higher than my preference) which gave lots of fret buzz in the lower frets.

    So I start off checking the neck and it was straight so I decided to add relief (0.012") and everything seemed fine. This resulted in a very high action so I lowered the saddles until they bottomed out and the action was still higher than I would like. I was reading about neck shims and figured that would help. Looking down the neck, it appeared to me that changing the neck angle would help my problem so I added a shim to angle the neck further away. Turns out it helped a little bit but added a new problem: the higher frets would start buzzing or not playing because the string is touching the next higher fret as well. Since this would be undesirable, I changed the shim to just increase the height of the neck without changing the angle. This solved the upper fret buzz problems but did not help that much in regards to getting a lower action. Even with the shim now (two folded pieces of cardboard from a chewing gum package), I still have the saddles bottomed out and the action is still higher than I would like.

    As it currently is, it is playable and barely has any fret buzz (which is good) but I dont really see a way to achieve lower action since the saddles are bottomed out and I have already added a neck shim.

    Is lower action only achievable with a straighter neck? I can live with some fret buzz with a lower action but I can't seem to figure out a way to get lower action with the neck relief set as it is (following the guides I've read).

    Might it just be that because this isn't a high quality bass it is more difficult to do a proper setup or am I doing something wrong? Once I'm comfortable with playing around with the setup of this bass I will try it with my other higher quality basses and hopefully have better luck with them.

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    You can only get action as low as the condition of your frets allow; if some are high, they dictate how low you can go. It's that simple.

    Other things to consider: if relief is too low, you'll buzz on lower frets; too high and you may buzz higher. In your case try angle shim, flatten your relief a bit and set action again. You can play with it, but your frets are calling the shots.
  3. Which direction should I angle the neck?
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Towards you: put the shim in the bridge end of the pocket, or else your saddles will be too low as they are now.
  5. 1SHOT1HIT


    Feb 17, 2012
    I'm gonna post these for you also they seem to have helped everyone else so far.

    Please avoid cutting corners, if you don't have a tool that the videos call for get it. It will only help you in the long run.
    The third video goes over action at the nut: This step should be used as a last alternative simply because once you file off something there is no going back, and unless your comfortable installing a new nut I'd just skip the third step all together. This is not saying that you may not very well need to file the nut but the odds are not real great that it will need to be done, or that it would need to be done so bad that it would even make that much of a difference.
    You will know whether or not you need it by having the proper tools and taking proper measurements.
    Some people eye ball their set up's from what I understand. I don't advise this as you are just getting started and really should try and stick to some uniform measurements.
    (Keep in mind that the measurements on the videos may very slightly on your bass)
    What I mean by uniform is the measurements you find to work for you after the process is over.

    If you follow these steps you will find that it is by far one of the easiest things you have ever done. This really is not difficult at all.
    Watch the videos pay attention and ****make sure you get the right tools****

    Here you go;
    Step one:::
  6. 1SHOT1HIT


    Feb 17, 2012
    And stop being scared of the truss rod......Apply common sense, make very small adjustments at a time......Don't over do it.

    Most important is to remember: right is tight / Left is Loose. Or clockwise is tight, counter clockwise is loose.

    If you think of the truss rod adjustment nut as a clock 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12

    Your first adjustment should be to loosen it, turn it counter clockwise, this will assure that you know your not already maxed out.

    and then in short intervals tighten it until desired measurements are met. So on your clock turn it from 12 O'clock to 3 O'clock then check.

    Then if it's needed turn it from 3 O'clock to 6 O'clock

    Then from 6 O'clock to 9 O'clock

    and from 9 O'clock back to 12 O'clock

    Seeing a pattern here? Your turning only one quarter of a turn each turn then checking it.
    If you break it like this I'd recommend just paying for set ups in the future. No offense meant.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    I'll add that to get the feel of a trussrod first loosen it a quarter turn. Now since you know you can safely tighten it that same quarter, go ahead and re tighten and take note of the pressure required. If you need more tightening and you exceed that pressure, stop. You have run out of threads. Install a washer and proceed. A washer will likely gain at least one thread length equaling one full turn which is a lot if your neck isn't a crazy banana.
  8. eagle67


    Nov 12, 2010
    And remember - after you adjust the truss rod say from 12 to 3, to Wait for the neck to settle before any further adjustment
  9. 1SHOT1HIT


    Feb 17, 2012
    Very good catch, sir.

    Yeah this is a delicate procedure not a race. Take your time.
  10. Thanks for all the help, everyone. It turns out the truss rod was the least of my worries trying to fix the problem. I had no trouble setting the relief but the issue with the saddles bottoming out was due to the angle of the neck. I removed the shims I had put in and set the saddles back to a normal position to just start over again to try to figure out what the problem was. Looking at the neck, it was angled WAAAAAY forward (just from the cuts of the neck or pocket) which was causing the action to always be so high. Now I've fixed it with a shim to angle it further back and I can get the action nice and low now with the saddles at a reasonable level. Problem solved!

    At least now I've learned a lot more about the geometry of a bass which helps with understanding the role of all the different adjustments in a setup.
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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