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Is there a way for a newbie to know if their bass needs a setup?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Passive Jay, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. Passive Jay

    Passive Jay

    Aug 17, 2012
    I am a novice to bass playing at best. My new bass seems ok to me but I am not really a good judge to say the least, is there a way for me to tell if it is set up right and has ok strings? I can always just take it to guitar center but I suspect they will tell me it needs a setup regardless of if it does or not.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Passive Jay

    Passive Jay

    Aug 17, 2012
    crap, just realized i put this in the wrong spot, sorry!
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    If you're comfortable with it than that's a start but it could probably be more comfortable. People generally prefer lower string height and a straighter neck. If you take a good picture from the side of the neck that would help. Then there's intonation. That's part of the process.
    Badwater and Passive Jay like this.
  4. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Jay, there's a really good article online (Google Premier Guitar bass setup), and check out John Carruthers videos on setup as well... up to you whether you want to get some use out of the strings you got with your bass.

    Do a setup on the originals, then later on get some new strings, and do it all over again... it's good practice. Good luck!
  5. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
  6. Whippet


    Aug 30, 2014
    2.4 mm or somewhere around there on the 12th fret. No buzz, no choke, and I am fine. I personally need it around that spot to play. That's just me.

    Some people are fine at 3mm. Some need 1.9 or even less. But I think 2.4 mm is not too drastic and a realistic number.
    Passive Jay and Spidey2112 like this.
  7. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    You'll learn more by doing it yourself... and with the money you save, you'll be able to leave a six-pack under my tree...

    ... people helping people, to other people's beer...
  8. Passive Jay

    Passive Jay

    Aug 17, 2012



  9. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017

    I follow this video to the T and it has never let me down.
  10. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Learning how to do your own setups is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
    You'll save tons of money over the years, you'll gain a better understanding of the instrument, and you will be rewarded with setups that are absolutely perfect for you, & not just a general factory-spec setup.
  11. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Read the setup guides, but ignore the recommended measurements.
    Once you understand which parts do what, in terms of moving the strings up and down and changing neck relief, move some things around and see if it feels and sounds better or worse.
    Start with a half turn of the bridge saddle adjustment screws. Either up or down. See if you prefer one over the other.
    Keep doing that until you find what you like. Same for neck relief adjustment.
    Passive Jay likes this.
  12. At some point you might feel you want to experiment with different strings.

    This will be where the rubber meets the road on "setup". Strings come in different gauges, diameters and tension.

    You're probably not that far along yet though.

    Quote :- "and has o.k. strings?" Most new basses come with roundwounds. Generally they work unless they are factory defective. They may not be the greatest tone you ever heard but they should be fine for an initial setup.

    Doing a setup may seem challenging at first...but it's really quite easy to learn. Basically (1) neck relief (2) string height (3) intonation.

    One "red flag " area is when you get a set of strings that are a lot bigger in diameter than the ones you took off (such as replacing with certain flats and tapes) and you decide to file the nut bigger yourself. Unless you know what you're doing, don't do that.
    Badwater and Passive Jay like this.
  13. Passive Jay

    Passive Jay

    Aug 17, 2012
  14. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011

    This is my favorite set up video series.. Easy to understand and easily done with just a few tools
    Spidey2112 and BaileyMan like this.
  15. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    As a player it's always good to learn how your instrument works, and how the adjustments affect your playing comfort and sound. As mentioned above, do some online searches on YouTube and learn how to set up. It will save you money over time, and how you use that knowledge could improve your playing.
  16. guitarflinger

    guitarflinger Not all who wander are lost Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Front Range, Colorado
    Looking at your neck pics, I would say you have somewhat of a forward bow in the neck (strings are higher off the neck in the upper frets). Of course everyone else will chime in and correct me if i'm wrong. I would say you need a quarter to 1/2 turn to tighten your truss rod and remove the bow. I just set up a Fender P bass neck that looked just like this, it took about a quarter turn to tighten, and that removed the bow. Better to start with the truss rod before you start adjusting the bridge saddles.
  17. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    A quick way to check is to hold the E-string down at the first fret (with a capo or homemade one with pencil and rubber band) and at the fret where the neck meets the body (about the 15th or 16th fret on my P-bass). Slide a business card under the string around the 8th fret. Is there a gap? If yes, the neck has too much forward bow and could use a set up.

    Regardless, most basses could almost always use a setup...unless you're like many of us replying here who set up their own basses...
  18. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Ggg... Ooo... Www...
  19. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Gimme some room, guys... I think I may have reached him...
  20. Passive Jay

    Passive Jay

    Aug 17, 2012
    ended up bringing it to guitar center, it did need some adjustments, most notable of which being the strings were about twice as high as most people prefer them.

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