Maintainance - What can I do?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Cambass, Feb 3, 2001.

  1. G'day

    I was just wondering how I should maintain my bass with regular checkups (Sort of like checking oil in your car). Obviously you should clean it, but are there other things? Should I tighten the truss rod often? How high should the strings actually be off the fretboard?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    No!!! :eek: The truss rod is there only to maintain the proper curvature in the neck, (called 'relief'), and is not meant to be tightened periodically. In fact, there will probably be conditions in which you will want to loosen it...Do some searching in the setup forum for more information...To check the relief, hold your bass in playing postion, hold down the E string at the first fret and the highest fret at the same time, (you should be holding the string down at each end of the neck). The string should clear the twelfth fret by a bit. This setting is a personal preference. Tightening the truss rod will decrease the clearance you see...loosening it will increase the clearance. CAUTION!!! 1/4 turn either way can be a big adjustment on some basses. If you're going to adjust it, I'd recommend a little less than a 1/4 turn, let the bass sit for a day so the neck can become acclimated, and then check again. This takes patience. After you've done this a couple of times, you'll learn how your bass reacts to truss rod changes and can make them quicker.

    Periodic stuff would include wiping the strings down each time you play...keeps 'em fresh longer. I know it sounds elementary, but it's true! String height is a personal preference and depends on your playing style...You adjust this at the bridge, by raising or lowering the saddles. I'm a tad ham-handed and therefore like my action fairly high. I find that this keeps guitar players from dicking around on my bass!! :D

    If you do adjust the string height, you should intonate your bridge. This involves comparing the harmonic at the twelfth fret with the fretted note. If the fretted note is sharp when compared to the harmonic, the bridge saddle needs to be moved back, effectively lengthening the string. If the fretted note is flat, the string is too long and the saddle needs to be moved towards the neck to shorten the string. This is best done with a tuner. After you have it pretty good at the 12th fret, you can fine tune it by doing the same thing at the 7th fret. Usually, you have to go for a middle ground between the two...

    After adjusting the string height and intonation, you should reset the pickup height. I like to press the string down at the highest fret and set the pickup about 1/8" from the bottom of the string. About the best you can do with a soapbar or jazz type pickup is get it set at the E and G strings, (for a 4 string), but with a P type pickup, you can pretty much set for each string. Again, this is a personal preference, but 1/8" works nicely for me.

    That about does it for my monthly maintenance. :cool: Welcome to TalkBass...we're glad to have you here! Hope this helps you out some...Have fun, and more power to do-it-yourselfers!!!


    [Edited by rllefebv on 02-03-2001 at 03:15 AM]
  3. Thanks! I won't be touching that truss rod in a hurry, I'd rather wait until I know what I'm doing! I'll also have a go with checking the strings.