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Just got my bass set up by a pro now I don't like it?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Oct 26, 2004.

  1. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    The guy is very reputable. Every guitarist or bassplayer in my area knows who he is and respects his work. But... I do not like the action. First off my strings are stiff, they don't wobble like they use to which make my bass quiter since there is less string vibration for the pups to register. I raised the pups but no luck, it's almost like the saddles are to far forward. Secondly it's very difficult to pluck or fret. Both of my hands and forearms hurt after playing because I have to apply so much pressure. Before my strings were more flexable. I know my intonation was a little off before but this thing is now a chore to play and my tone has totally lost been sucked because my strings are like playing steel rods....what gives? Is this natural?
  2. Bassart1

    Bassart1 Guest

    Jun 26, 2003
    Go back to him and explain how you want the instrument to play and he should work with you. That's part of the "Pro" job, setting the action up according to "your" requirements.

    IMHO if he is a pro then he should have no problem with that.
  3. I like my action a bit higher than the average bear. When things aren't quite right, I take it to one of 2 guys. Both know me, my equipment, and my tastes well enough to set the action a bit higher.
  4. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    He's totally cool about getting it right. I thought I guess it would play better, not as stiff and my tone choked out. I am sure the innotation is good. I like my strings when I hit them to have a good sustaining wobble, right now they die really quick and it has no sustain..I just thought that was wierd, or maybe it was just me not use to a pro setup?
  5. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI

    Thanks for your response. It's a Spector Rebop 5 and 4. As far as strings they are the same I have always used, DR lowriders. The strings are higher and the tension is much tigher. There is a lot of wraps on the tuners. I already replaced the battery since the set up to rule that out. I can live with how the 4 string plays but the 5 is a chore?
  6. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    DR Lowriders are some of the stiffest strings available. They have a hex-shaped core, so that they are stiffer. If you like them "wobblier", I suggest you switch to DR sunbeams.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sounds like a string height issue to me. A small change in string height can result in a completely different feel. I've always liked 'em a little high so I can dig in more, but that just may not be your vibe. I think it's a good idea to always be specific about what you want. For instance, I know down to the millimeter how high I like each string to be to feel right. Your setup guys needs to know this before he starts the job. Hopefully, he'll work with you to set it right.
  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Well the strings are higher and the relief seems to be more too. I left him a message, I have spoken with him he says he will work on it while I am there untill I like how it feels. That's all I can ask for. From what I have read in regards to action, tension, relief, and string height this now makes sense. Thanks for your responses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Like Josh says, this is tough to diagnose over the wires...

    But I can say with unequivocal certainty that nothing your technician did (other than change strings) could have increased the perceived string tension on your bass.

    It simply isn't physically possible. String tension is first and foremost affected by tuned pitch, then by string composition and scale length. String tension cannot be changed by raising action, leveling frets, adjusting trussrods, or intonating the instrument as long as the strings are re-tuned to the original pitch.

    Could you have perhaps had a set of Sunbeams mistakenly packaged as Lowriders? Farfetched but possible given the situation describedl.
  10. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA

    I recently purchased a digital micrometer for the express purpose of measuring string height. Here's the story. I found out about a "computerized setup method" in the TB Setup forum, and rushed over to the nearest rep to check it out. The first bass we tried it on, didn't come out very well. I could tell that it was a good setup, but the strings were way too high (and the instrument had some of the same symptoms you're describing). Well, after considerable research, I discovered that the problem was my fault, not the tech's. The bottom line was, that I didn't know enough to be able to tell him exactly what I wanted. After all, the computer is very precise, it's does exactly what you tell it to, down to a few thousandths of a millimeter, and it's 100% reliable, it does a perfect job every time.

    So after that exercise, I bought the micrometer and took a whole bunch of measurements on all the various basses in my collection. Then I went back to the tech with another bass, and this time I gave him very precise instructions on what I wanted the computer to do. When I got the bass back, it was spot on. The only thing I had to do was lower the G string about a blonde p*ssy hair (can I say that?). That's about as good as it gets with a setup that's done by someone else. The important point here, is that the computer is better than "any" tech. The "really good" techs, are almost as good as the computer. So, what I'm saying is, if the guy's really good, he probably needs very precise instructions. If he can't get precise instructions, he'll take his best guess and try to set up your bass the way he thinks "most people will like it", and if you're like me, that can be a little different than the way I actually like it.

    Anyway, the micrometer was a very helpful tool for my research. I got a pretty good digital one for about forty bucks, but I'm sure you can get one for a lot less if you're willing to forego the high technology. That would probably be a good longer term investment. Or, you could bring it back to the tech and look over his shoulder till he gets it right. Or, you could lower the strings yourself (a setup is more than just intonation and string height, if the tech set the neck relief correctly then it should be fairly easy to dial in a lower action).
  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    The string tension issue I believe has to due with the saddles. He moved the saddles way forward from where they were increasing tension and decreasing wobble from the strings themselves to the point that it is pointless to play over the bridge pup. I want him to move back the saddles to increase wobble and sustain, decrease string tension while still having proper intonation if possible. I was very specific with him, told him which basses were tuned what, what bass I drop tune on, and to keep the action low as possible with little or no fret buzz.
  12. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Moving the saddles forward or backward affect intonation.
    So, either it was way off before or it is now. You can check this by tuning your open strings and then check the tuning at the 12th fret.

    This is a prime example of why we all should learn to do our own set ups.
  13. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    BTW, why did you take it in for a "pro" set up in the first place?
  14. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Well I thought a pro could get the action better than I ever could. There's no doubt the intonation is spot on, it's just the action I am having a problem with. Those pesky saddles when I fiddled with it caused me fits.
  15. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    If you're using stainless Lo-Riders, you might just want to switch to Hi-Beams. Similar sound but more flexible.

    Sometimes one change leads to another. Now (assuming) that your intonation is set properly, you no longer prefer the feel of Lo-Riders.
  16. Bassart1

    Bassart1 Guest

    Jun 26, 2003
    Glad to hear it. My luthier never lets me leave the shop without playing the instrument after he's done any work.(usually fret jobs)

    I'm sure he'll have you sorted out in no time.
  17. No, the string tension issue has NOTHING to do with the position of the saddles and continuing your diagnosis based on this fallacy will only lead you to a frustrating conclusion.

    Ric, a given string, on a given bass, with a given scale, tuned to the proper pitch, will have one and only one proper tension. Increase the tension and it will raise the pitch, decrease the tension and pitch is lowered. You do this every time you tune up. Moving a saddle does none of this. Now, why would a longer scale have more tension? Because the additional mass of the longer string requires more tension to achieve the same proper pitch at that set scale. Change the scale and tension changes but, of course, this is impossible to do on a bass.

    If you need further proof, just take a look at the back of any D'Addario string package. See the tension figures on the back? They aren't a range of tensions, they are single figures that represent the tension of the given string at the proper pitch. Simple as that.
  18. If you are in detroit I hope you took your axe to Mike Koontz. Best in the area, hands down. If it's not right, he'll get it right...
  19. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    The only thing I can think of that could drastically change the tension of your strings is if your truss rod was way too loose, not giving proper support to the neck, allowing it to flex with the plucking and vibration of your strings. This could definitely create a "wobbly" feeling. That is NOT a good situation. When the "pro" properly adjusted the truss rod, it added a bit of stiffness to the neck, thus making the strings feel a lot stiffer. If your action is set up well, it shouldn't be difficult to play, even with stiff strings.

    As far as lack of sustain and volume, your pickups may be either too far away from the strings, creating a weak signal, or they may be too close to the strings, allowing the magnets inside the pickups to exert too much "pull" on the strings, choking their vibration.
  20. By "too much tension", do you mean it's harder to fret a string? I'm not sure I fully follow you :-\