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Loosened strings, now everything is whack

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Stock R, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Stock R

    Stock R n00b

    Dec 5, 2005
    Help please.

    I just started playing bass about a month ago, and before I left the guitar to go home for 2 weeks, it occured to me for some reason to loosen the strings a bit. I gave each of the strings probably about 2 rotations just to ease the tension a bit.

    I got back the other day and tried tightening them back up, but now the entire setup seems to be off. The strings are either awfully loose (if tuned) or the strings touch the top 4+ frets.

    What should I do? This is on a SX P bass btw.

    Also, are my strings suppose to be centered between the dots on the pickupts? Some of them are off, I think the things that guide the strings have shifted on the bridge.

  2. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Take the guitar to a reputable tech and him set it up. The neck most likely straightened out because there was not enough tension on it for a lengthy period of time. All that would take is just a routine truss rod adjustment, but you don't sound like you've done setups before so you should really have a tech look at it.

    Why did you loosen the strings? Even if you're not going to play the guitar for a few months you never have to loosen the strings. No harm will come to the bass by it being at full tension. Harm will come if you loosen the strings and don't put some relief in the neck to compensate.
  3. I agree that a pro set up is the answer but I disagree about the neck tension issue. Aftermarket necks sit in warehouses and stores for long periods of time with no tension at all on them and they aren't damaged. A lot of people loosen the strings when an instrument is going to be in storage for a while and it is probably recommended by manufacturers. Too much tension on a neck is likely to cause damage but no tension won't hurt a neck at all. I think the saddles have shifted which is no big deal.
  4. Correct, no tension won't hurt a neck but it's obvious that loosening the strings created this situation. I've never heard of doing this for storage and this is probably the reason why. Besides, what's the difference between long term storage and hanging on the wall without being played? The bass sure doesn't know the difference!

    I don't recommend a pro setup yet. I would simply tune up to pitch or a full step higher and let the bass sit for several days. After all, the TR was set correctly before vacation and the TR nut hasn't moved at all so going back to the original tension should bring the neck into proper relief. That is, of course, only true if nothing else has been fiddled with.

  5. +1 Hammy, I have a Gibson Ripper that sits for months at a time in tune, with no problems. This has been goin on for 30+ yrs, so if it caused a problem I would see it by now. If the TR is set correctly, think of the neck being held in place between it and the strings.

  6. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Yes, but the aftermarket necks haven't had tension on them at all. Having tension on a neck and then dropping it drastically is going to have some effect.
  7. Yeah. I'd go with that, too. Seeing as how the bass was okay before, then with the proper tension, the neck should settle back in since the truss rod hasn't been changed. If that doesn't happen and you still have problems, then go to a reputable tech and have him look at it. The dollars spent on having it taken care of in a day is sometimes well worth it compared to messing with it for weeks if you don't know what to do. (All due respect, Hambone, but you've got a few years under the belt, and Stock R's just starting out, so after trying you're plan, I'd go with the tech.)
    Give it a shot; it'll work out. ;)
  8. Stock R

    Stock R n00b

    Dec 5, 2005
    Hey guys, thanks for the replies.

    I managed to get the bass working fine again *phew* w/o having to go for a pro setup.

    I don't know if the dry winter we have here had anything to do with it or just a lack of tension, but it seems the neck straightened out quite a bit over the holidays. I adjusted the truss rod about 1/3 turn per day for about 3 days, and it's now playable again , no more rubbing against the frets.

    I would've gone in for a pro setup, but 30 bucks on a $100 bass when I'm most likely going to mess something up tomorrow didn't make too much sense (at least if i could still fiddle with something to fix it myself). Might as well learn now on the sx :)

    Thanks again!
  9. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Yeah, take time to learn setups on the SX.

    Worst comes to worst, the $30 that would have gone towards one of those fretless necks or soemthing...or maybe thats just what I'm gonna do...
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I know this has been resolved, but I think the truth is sort of in between the various theories here. low-tension for long periods of time will mess up a set up...especially when the instrument is fairly new. Necks take a while to stop moving and it's probably longer than most think. I tend to think it's in the neighborhood of about 20 years for the thing to truly dry out and stop wiggling around at seasonal changes and temperature changes. Only part of the problem here is the fact that the neck wasn't under tension the other issue is the fact that it's a new bass that's gone from different conditions multiple times recently.

    I recently set up my 73 P bass after about 4 years...and didn't have to tweak the trussrod at all. The neck is unbelieveably close to straight. Other basses I have take a tweak or two every few months since the weather is odd in these parts.